- Depressive disorders make you feel exhausted, worthless, helpless, and hopeless. Such negative thoughts and feelings make some people feel like giving up. It is important to realize that these negative views are part of the depression and typically do not accurately reflect your situation. Negative thinking fades as treatment begins to take effect. Remember that the feeling that nothing can make depression better is part of the illness of depression. Things are probably not nearly as hopeless as you think they are.
- Do not set yourself difficult goals or take on a great deal of responsibility. Break large tasks into small ones, set some priorities, and do what you can as you can. Do not expect too much from yourself too soon as this will only increase feelings of failure.
- Don't overdo it or get upset if your mood is not greatly improved right away. Feeling better takes time.
- Write. Keep a journal. Somehow writing everything down helps keep the misery from running around in circles. Make a list of the reasons you are feeling down. Then list the options you have to handle each of your reasons. Rank your options. If suicide is on your list at least you are listing all your options. If it is high in your rankings, run, don't walk, to your nearest mental health clinic or doctor.
- If you are trying to remember too many things to do, it is okay to write them down. If you make lists of tasks, work on only one task at a time. Keep a list of what you have accomplished, and congratulate yourself each time you get something done. Don't take completed tasks off your to-do list. If you do, you will only have a list of uncompleted tasks.
- Read (anything and everything) Go to the library and check out fiction you've wanted to read for a long time.
- Even when busy, remember to sleep. Notice if what you do before sleeping changes how you sleep.
But get up. If you've had six or seven hours of sleep, try to make yourself get out of bed the moment you wake up...you may not always succeed, but when you do, it's nice to have gotten a head start on the day.
- If you might be a danger to yourself, don't be alone. Find people. If that is not practical, call them up on the phone. If there is no one you feel you can call, suicide hotlines can be helpful, even if you're not quite that badly off yet.
- Remember to eat. Notice if eating certain things (e.g. sugar or coffee) changes how you feel. Try to alternate foods you like ( Maybe junk foods) with the stuff you know you should be eating.
- Do something unexpectedly nice for someone. Do something unexpectedly nice for yourself.
- If you can meditate, it's really helpful. But when you're really down you may not be able to meditate. Your ability to meditate will return when the depression lifts. If you are unable to meditate, find some comforting reading and read it out loud.
- Pick some action (like sweeping the floor) that is so small and specific you know you can do it in the present. Or, clean up one side of a room if you are trying to regain control over your home.
- If you're anxious about something you're avoiding, try to get some support to face it.
- Volunteer work. Doing volunteer work on a regular basis seems to keep the demons at bay, somewhat... it can help take the focus off of yourself and put it on people who may have larger problems (even though it doesn't always feel that way).
- In general, It is extremely important to try to understand if something you can't seem to accomplish is something you simply CAN'T do because you're in depression (write a computer program, be charming on a date), or whether its something you CAN do, but it's going to be hell (cleaning the house, going for a walk with a friend, getting out of bed). If it turns out to be something you can do, but don't want to, try to do it anyway. You will not always succeed, but try. And when you succeed, it will always amaze you to look back on it.
- Do not make any major life decisions, such as quitting your job or getting married or separated while in depression. The negative thinking that accompanies depression may lead to horribly wrong decisions.
- While people may tell you to "snap out" of your depression, that is not possible. The recovery from depression usually requires antidepressant therapy and/or psychotherapy. You cannot simple make yourself "snap out" of the depression. Asking you to "snap out" of a depression makes as much sense as asking someone to "snap out" of diabetes or an under-active thyroid gland.
- Even though you may not feel like it, work at making your physical appearance as attractive as possible.
- Seek out people who are positive and avoid those who are currently having emotional or situational problems.
- Remember - there is hope. Depression is very treatable and the hopelessness you are feeling will not last forever.
Don't punish yourself by:
- wearing something you hate
- cooking something you don't like
- listing all the reasons you are bad
- calling someone you cannot stand
- doing something you know will make you feel more depressed
If you are on medication:
* Take the medication as directed. Keep taking it as directed for as long as directed.
* Discuss with the doctor ahead of time what happens in case of unacceptable side effects.
* Don't stop taking medication or change dosage without discussing it with your doctor, unless you discussed it ahead of time.
* Remember to check about mixing other things with medication. Ask the prescribing doctor, or the pharmacist or look it up in the Physician's Desk Reference. Redundancy is good.
* Except in emergencies, it is a good idea to check what your insurance covers before receiving treatment.
Talk to your doctor if you think your medication is giving undesirable side-effects. Do ask them if you think an alternative treatment might be more appropriate for you.
Skipping appointments, because you are "too sick to go to the doctor" is generally a bad idea..
In general, drinking alcohol makes depression worse. Many cold remedies contain alcohol.
For more information, contact:
Your school / university / private practice counsellor
The Mental Health Unit at the hospital