Depression is a serious mental health condition that can affect people of all ages and genders. It can feel like an overwhelming darkness that clouds your thoughts, judgment and worldview. You may feel hopeless, worthless and unable to live normally, but you are not alone. Depression is a treatable illness, and there are many things you can do to help yourself or someone you love.
In addition to getting enough sleep, eating healthy, staying hydrated and exercising regularly, it’s important to spend time with friends and family. This is particularly true if you are dealing with depression, as isolation can worsen symptoms and make them last longer. Try to schedule regular face-to-face meetings (or video calls if that’s more convenient) with those close to you, and make sure that you actually follow through on these plans.
A variety of factors can lead to depression, including biological, environmental and psychological causes. It’s also common for the condition to run in families, and people with certain personality traits are more prone to depression. If you are depressed, it’s often best to see a GP who can signpost you to more specialist services, such as a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist.
Some people find that psychotherapy helps them overcome depression, while others benefit from taking prescription medication to change their brain chemistry. Either way, it’s important to stick with your treatment plan and not give up, as the symptoms of depression can take time to improve.
Suppressing emotions is a common way to cope with depression, but it is not helpful in the long run. Instead, it’s important to recognize your feelings and allow yourself to have them — it can even be helpful to write them down. Try to avoid self-criticism, as this can exacerbate feelings of depression.
If you are caring for someone who is depressed, it’s essential to be patient and supportive. Explain that depression is not a weakness or flaw, and that it usually gets better with treatment. You can also help by encouraging the person to talk about their feelings with a trusted friend or mental health professional, and reminding them that they are not alone.
Depression can cause you to lose interest in your hobbies and favorite activities, and you might have trouble sleeping or concentrating. It can be hard to get up in the morning, and you might feel exhausted even when you’re well rested. Having a healthy diet, getting enough exercise and avoiding drugs or alcohol are all good ways to boost your mood and energy.
Often, when you’re depressed, your appetite can change. You might eat more, or you might not want to eat at all. In either case, it’s important to eat a balanced diet that includes lots of fruits and vegetables and lean proteins. Try to limit sugar and refined carbohydrates, as these can trigger depression symptoms. Try to eat plenty of foods high in folic acid and B vitamins, which can help improve your mood.