It has just been announced, after a study by a team from King's College Hospital, that depression is now the biggest reason for people claiming long-term sickness benefit in the UK, having taken over from musculoskeletal problems such as back
problems. The research shows that 176 million working days were lost because of depression in 2003. Depression now affects 1 in 5 of the population, with most people using various types of medication. Most people would like other types of treatments, such as 'talking cures', but there is a huge shortage of such therapies or therapists in the NHS system.
The aim of this article is to highlight 7 things that anyone with depression can do to
help themselves. This is not meant to be instead of any treatment you may be
having, rather, these are things you can do in addition that will help you to regain
control of your life as quickly as possible.
1. Change Your language
2. Focus on a better future
3. Stop blaming yourself
4. Stop telling yourself you are a failure
5. Have a safe moment every day
6. Have a fun moment every day
7. Get reading
These may seem simple, and to some of you may seem difficult, but the more you
practice these 7 things, the more you will help yourself to get over your depression.
I want to say a little bit about each of these things, so you know exactly what I
1. Change Your Language
The language we use expresses how we understand ourselves and our world. Too
much language around depression is the language of the victim or is the language
of a war. Indeed, put them both together and you can be a depression war victim.
Stop saying things like, 'I suffer from depression'...', or 'I am going to beat this
damn illness.' Change you language to one of experience, if you have to use
language at all. If you stop telling yourself you are a suffering victim in a battle, you
will stop being one.
2. Focus On A Better Future
This can be a tough one, for depression is so often about the inability to see a great
future. But, too much depression is actually about a morbid focus on the past and
what went wrong, and this will only make you feel more depressed. Start to
daydream what you would like your great future to look like, or build up a
scrapbook of lots of photos and ideas about what it will look like. Think about or
write down how you would like to feel in this glorious future.
3. Stop Blaming Yourself
Most people with depression go through the blame thing. You will start to blame
yourself for being weak, not being able to cope, letting friends and family down and
that sort of thing. Apart from the fact that it is wrong, blaming yourself for your
depression is about as useful as blaming yourself for the weather - and I'm sure the
really depressed among you might have even done that! But seriously, there is
nothing to blame yourself for; your only job is to deal with your depression and get
your life back on track.
4. Stop Telling Yourself You Are A Failure
When depression strikes, apart from blaming ourselves, we often combine this with
the belief that we are failures. I have failed at my job, my life, my relationships and
so forth. Many of you might see depression itself as some sort of failure to cope.
Again, this is not true, and neither is it helpful. You have not failed just because
you've got depression, and the more you tell yourself that you are not a failure the
more you will begin to believe it.
5. Have A Safe Moment Every Day
Depression makes us feel unsafe. Feeling safe is essential to good health and well-
being, so it is important to practice feeling safe again. You need to find something
that you can do, that you know that you can do without thinking - something you
feel safe just doing. It could be cooking, reading, making something, writing or
whatever. Once you have found something that you feel safe doing (or several
things) you then need to make sure you do this for at least 30 minutes a day. At
first it may seem pointless or difficult, but very soon you will start to feel much safer
again, and therefore much better.
6. Have A Fun Moment Every Day
One of the most damaging things about depression is that it takes the fun out of
life. This may seem trivial until you have had the fun removed, then you know what
a serious business it is to have fun. Life feeling safe, it is important to establish a
fun moment every day in order to practice having fun again. So, as with the feeling
safe, you need to think of some things that are (or were) fun for you, and start to do
them for 30 minutes a day. It does not matter how silly your fun thing is, and it
doesn't matter if it doesn't feel like fun at first. Give it a chance, and those feelings
of fun will begin to return.
7. Get Reading
There is an old saying that knowledge is power, and in terms of depression this is
absolutely true. It is important to understand what depression is, and what it is not,
so start to read some good books about it so you know what you are dealing with.
But, even more importantly, there are millions of people that have had depression,
got over it and built wonderful new lives, and many of them write about it in
magazines and books. Start to read inspirational stories about how other people
have dealt with their own depression and see what you can learn from them.
Reading can also mean listening or watching as you will also find great stuff on the
radio, television and in some films.
These 7 things are not a miracle cure, but I do know from my own experience that
they will help you to transform your depression. The problem with depression is
that it is like a prison and it is very easy, and sometimes actually easier, to just stay
put in this bleak and depressing place. These few things will help you to unlock the
door of that prison, walk out and throw away the key.
Remember that depression is now a very common complaint, so you are not alone.
The more you practice these 7 things, and embed them into your life, the more you
will start to regain control of your life. Depression is a temporary phase, and you
have the tools to create a new and wonderful life. Good luck.