First, it’s important to remember two key things about depression. The first is something that is very important to us at Profmed, and it’s that anyone can be susceptible to depression. There are risk factors that can suddenly trigger stress and depression, even in people who have never experienced anxiety and depression before in their lives.
To fight the stigma associated with mental illness, it’s important that we all acknowledge and continue to support each other.
The second is that while clinical depression must be treated by a doctor and medication may even be required, for many people – particularly if the depression is still mild and has been recognised – there are daily coping mechanisms that can boost a person’s mood and actually hold any feelings of stress, anxiety and depression at bay.
In many cases, these activities become positive habits that support mental health and wellness.
Here are a few that you should consider – particularly if you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed at the moment.
- Reach out to other people. We often think that we have to see a psychologist if we’re depressed, and some people think they aren’t feeling depressed enough (‘it’s not so bad and I won’t be taken seriously’), or they’re uncomfortable talking to a professional. The reality is that mental health and wellness often begins with simply reaching out tothe people in our lives.Isolation – whether physical during the pandemic, or emotional when we keep our anxieties to ourselves – does not promote mental health. In fact, it just fuels depression. And the more depressed you become, the less you will engage with others. Your loved ones want to support you. They want to talk to you about your anxieties. You are not a burden. This simple act of talking to someone face-to-face about how you feel can be an enormous help. The person you talk to doesn’t need to be able to fix you. They just need to be a good listener — someone who’ll listen attentively without being distracted or judging you.
- Get moving. When you’re depressed, just getting out of bed can seem daunting, let alone exercising. But regular exercise can be as effective as antidepressant medication in countering the symptoms of depression. Take a short walk or put some music on and dance around. Start with small activities and build up from there.
- Eat a mood boosting diet. Reduce your intake of foods that can negatively affect your mood. These include caffeine, alcohol, trans fats, sugar and refined carbs (we know, delicious, but still unhealthy). Instead, increase mood-enhancing nutrients such as Omega-3 fatty acids. If you aren’t into fish, you can add walnuts, brussel sprouts, chia seeds and avocado to your diet. If you love fish, you can eat as much salmon as you like, guilt free.
- Find ways to engage again with the world. Spend some time in nature, care for a pet, volunteer, pick up a hobby you used to enjoy (or take up a new one). You won’t feel like it at first, but as you participate in the world again, you will start to feel better.
- Start small. It’s difficult to change overnight, but if your goal is to boost and stabilise your mood, doing something to help your mindset every day will add up. The key is to start with a few small goals and slowly build from there, trying to do a little more each day. Feeling better takes time, but you can get there by making positive choices for yourself.
When to seek professional help
If support from family and friends and positive lifestyle changes aren’t enough, it may be time to seek help from a mental health professional. There are many effective treatments for depression, including therapy and medication.
Consulting a therapist can provide you tools to treat depression from a variety of angles and motivate you to take the action necessary. Therapy can also offer you the skills and insight to prevent the problem from coming back.
Medication may be imperative if you’re feeling suicidal or violent. But while it can help relieve symptoms of depression in some people, it isn’t a cure and is not usually a long-term solution. It also comes with side effects and other drawbacks, so it’s important to learn all the facts to make an informed decision.
If you or a loved one is suffering from depression, anxiety or a mental health disorder, please reach out for support.
For assistance you can contact:
CALL: 0860 WHISPA (944 772)
SADAG Mental Health Line
CALL: 011 234 4837
Department of Social Development Substance Abuse Line 24hr helpline
CALL: 0800 12 13 14
Suicide Crisis Line
CALL: 0800 567 567
Adcock Ingram Depression and Anxiety Helpline
CALL: 0800 70 80 90
Cipla 24hr Mental Health Helpline
CALL: 0800 456 789
Pharmadynamics Police &Trauma Line
CALL: 0800 20 50 26