FAQ

Find answers to some of the more frequently asked questions on the Forums.

Forums guidelines

Our guidelines keep the Forums a safe place for people to share and learn information.

Announcement Icon
You can win one of three $200 gift cards. Complete our survey by 5pm, 30 June 2024 AEST to enter the draw. Your response will be anonymous so you can't be identified.

Pinned discussions

SELF HELP TIPS FOR MANAGING DEPRESSION

AGrace
Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hi Everyone,

Here are some ideas you might like to try for managing symptoms of depression. Of course everyone's different, so let us know what works for you, and please feel free to add to the list...

Mindfulness – through breathing or engaging the 5 senses

Distress Tolerance – Accepting Emotions and Self Soothing

Distraction – Put the thoughts/feelings aside and come back to them when you are ready to deal with them

Positive Affirmations – Have some affirmations written down repeat them to yourself daily

Sleep/Exercise/Diet – All 3 aspects of our lifestyle can impact the way we think/feel

Increasing Pleasurable Activities – Engage in at least one pleasurable activity per day

132 Replies 132

Bobbi
Community Member

Hi everyone, I've read all the posts on this thread with interest and just wanted to add my own thoughts. I have suffered with depression on and off for many years. When I find myself depressed, my psychologist suggested making one or two goals per day. It doesn't matter what they are. I get a sense of achievement when I have done those tasks.

Distraction therapy works well at times too. Talking to some friends online, looking at stunning photographs, 'visiting' a foreign country on google maps/earth, reading a good book, making myself a cuppa tea and watching the world go by outside of my window, watching funny youtube clips etc. The only effort needed is to think of something that you find enjoyment in.

Acceptance of the depression. No matter how hard you 'fight' depression or don't want depression, it doesn't just go away. I say to myself "I'm depressed. I feel very lethargic and unmotivated. I give myself time for my brain chemicals to get back to some sense of normality." I also remind myself that this wont be the last time I am depressed. That's OK. It is not something I have control over. I don't have a switch to flick to change the brain chemicals.

Making allowances for the limitations the depression causes. Find the things I can do and put the things that I can't off until I am healthier. We can be our own worse critics. Practicing being kind to yourself has been very important to me.

Making sure I take my medication as prescribed is of paramount importance. Taking an antidepressant at the same time every day not only helps us remember to take our medications but helps our body absorb and utilize any medications prescribed.

The last thing I wanted to mention is that if you are going to spend a lot of money on alternative therapies, its useful to look up the scientific research on the product. Many of us are making someone else rich by buying expensive products that have no evidence to support their use.

Oh, one more thing. For the people worried about using medication because they are a chemical, everything you put in your mouth is a chemical. Our bodies are chemicals. The air we breathe is a chemical. There are no hero's when it comes to this. Take the medication the doctor prescribes, please.

recoveryourlife
Community Member
I'm new here, and suffer from a few mental illnesses, including depression. Just wanted to thank everyone for the suggestions in this thread, it's giving me some motivation to at least try to implement some self help strategies to get my mind a little clearer again. For me, diet, exercise and sleep are all areas of my life that simply fall apart during depressive episodes, and getting them back on track usually helps alleviate some of my depression. So I'm going to focus my attention on those three fundamental aspects of physical health in the hope that my mental health might respond accordingly. Easier said than done though, right? Haha.

Fiz
Community Member
I feel that if you have depression, you shouldn't distract yourself from it. Depression is the body's defence mechanism, signalling that something is amiss in your life, so you have to reflect on it and figure out what's wrong. It could be employment/social isolation/family trouble/debt etc. If we can't stay on top of it, depression then sinks in. But if you distract yourself, at this point, the depression gets worse; and that's when you either end up: on medication; or; in a psych ward; or suicide. People place too much reliance on medication these days: they've missed the point entirely; that feeling this way is part of life and there's no magic pill or cure/treatment for it. People who despair and self-destruct are those that have avoided facing up to what their depression means (and may be surrounded by family/others that feed this) or feel it's too much and so they've given up. They get themselves into such a tizzy they can't think straight or function. You need to re-evaluate your life and see what needs fixing. By working on that, you'll find that your "depression" will start to lift because you'll start to think differently (because you have a purpose/are actually doing something about your life).

Tired__Sad_and_alone
Community Member

Thank you for your words of help.

Lastnight I was feeling pretty low and my friends children ask their father for pancakes. I decided to make the effort for them. Even though I was feeling pretty low and sad at the time it was good seeing the kids enjoy them.

It allowed me to have a positive though for a change.

Thanks

blondguy
Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Just a respectful note regarding Fiz's post from my experience with having depression since 1996.

  • depression is an illness just like diabetes or heart disease..there is no difference..
  • the meds arent a cure but do reduce the highs and lows of depression..and can curb anxiety symptoms too
  • Expecting positive thinking to cure depression is like expecting a person with diabetes to lower their blood sugar level by thinking happy thoughts

This is only my opinion of course. I did try natural remedies and positive thinking for 12 years when I had acute anxiety prior to my depression that 'developed' as a result of being anti-meds. I paid a big price for refusing meds for those 12 years.

Thankyou Bobbi for your post.

My Best. Paul

blondguy said:
  • the meds arent a cure but do reduce the highs and lows of depression..and can curb anxiety symptoms too
Just a data point from a past depressive episode: SSRI's certainly can lift your mood, but they have some pretty difficult side effects in my experience - they wiped out my libido, and gave me a nasty skin rash which recurred for months after discontinuing. They helped me a lot then, but I won't be taking them again. YMMV of course.

Greybird
Community Member

Being a sufferer of Major Depression for most of my life I have learned what works for me. My mind has a habit of 'cycling' bad thoughts... it tends to go over them again and again. To combat this I've used distraction to give myself a break from the cycle, it works but it is no cure as it always comes back. Doing something different like going for a walk along a new path is good. Learning to sing a new song is good. Going for a swim helps as well, almost anything energetic is good.

Getting the motivation is hard but it is like anything, you need to practise it to be good at it so I push myself to do things, I never give up. Working on self esteem is a very important of motivation, feeling 'worthy' makes a big difference so self talk is important. Storing up a cache of things about myself which are good and then reminding myself of those things when I need to helps get me going.
I have learned that the past can never be changed but the way I view my past can be changed. I try to take the negatives and turn them into positives to 'rewire' my thought patterns (pathways), again, repetition strengthens pathways (learning by rote) so I do what I call 'Replacement Therapy'. What I mean by that is I have never been able to remove something from memory but I have been successful in replacing bad repetitious thoughts with better ones by 'linking' my bad emotions with events to better emotions for that event and repeating that over and over until my brain's automatically goes to the good emotion.
I have also suffered PTSD which taught me more about my depression. I suffered 'Hyper-vigilance' and my mind would blow everything out of proportion. I was given a task by my psychologist to make a scale on paper from good to bad with things next to it that were 'good' or 'bad' and where they truly fitted on the scale. I posted that on my wall near the door so every time I came home I would look at it and the things I thought were huge got a reality check on the scale. To my surprise doing this helped me get thing into proper perspective and helped calm me in bad times, it made me realise that my mind can zoom in on things and totally exaggerate the reality. This was a life saver for me and helped take the panic and anxiety out of situations.

RandR
Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hi AGrace,

Thanks for the post and sharing a few ways you managed your depression. To further add to your already great list, here are a few things I did to manage my own and get ahead of it:

SURROUND YOURSELF WITH POSITIVE PEOPLE: Like attitudes and enthusiasm, they can be contagious. I ensured the circles of friends I spent most my time with were optimists and not pessimists.

HOBBIES/ACTIVITIES: I can't imagine people not having any hobbies/interests or being involved in some kind of activity. For me it was golf (getting out in nature), cooking (a way to truly nourish the mind and soul), Mixed Martial arts (fantastic for fitness and to discipline the mind) and finally listening/mixing music.

WRITE DOWN GOALS/OBJECTIVES: I didn't always have depression. And even when I did, I knew when I was young that I wanted to be successful and accomplish certain things in my life. I used to always write them down so I could visualize them and when the going got tough, I ensured I picked up my goals journal and reflected as well as 'reminded' myself what I was about and what I was trying to achieve.

Thanks.

Raman.



thebetterside
Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hi everyone,

I have had clinical depression for 6 years now (since I was 16) and found the below things to help me the most. Everyone is different and finds peace and clarity in all sorts of things, so I cannot stress enough that what I say has helped me, does not mean it will 100% work for you.

READING - I find that reading books is a great way to escape your thoughts and your own reality. During the first 1-3 years of my depression, I was reading a new book every few weeks. I found that it allowed me to escape from my own dark thoughts for a few hours and really calmed me down during tough times. Now, I still use reading as a coping mechanism during my rough patches.

EXERCISING - I found this to be extremely helpful and pretty much a main factor in feeling mentally stimulated and happy again. This is because when you exercise, your body releases happy endorphin's. I only started doing this approximately 2 years ago though, and understand that during your darkest days, exercising is the last thing you feel like doing/even want to do. However, I exercise everyday and I have never felt better. Diet also goes hand and hand with exercising but that's a whole other topic.

JOURNAL - I found that when I was on the road to recovery, keeping a journal of all the positive thoughts and things I had accomplished for that day was a really great way to reflect at night time or rough days. It's very easy to get caught up in thinking about self-harm to feel any sort of emotion but you would be surprised at how much satisfaction you get when you read great things that you've thought and done and remember that you are awesome and not just stuck in a spiraling circle of darkness.

I cannot stress enough that the road to recovery is not easy. I don't think anyone fully recovers from this terrible illness. However, you learn to live with it and once you see the brighter side of things, you actually appreciate your life and what the world has to offer you. Don't get me wrong, there are many days where I feel like I could stay in bed for a week straight and not eat or shower, I'm not saying in anyway, shape or form that I am 'recovered' but I have certainly accepted the fact that I have a mental illness and am never afraid of admitting to myself that it's okay not to be okay. Please know that we are all hear to listen and anytime anyone needs to speak, please do not think you're being judged.

Sending my thoughts and love to you all.

L, x.

Dexter67
Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hi everyone,

It's been wonderful reading everyone's strategies for coping. I think avoidance has been my strategy for most of my life! I now realise that I need to face my depression and deal with it more proactively if I want a better life.

There are so many resources, apps and books on managing depression that it becomes overwhelming. I find that I buy books, download apps, seek out tools and resources but then never act on them. In some way 'over resourcing' myself allows me to continue to avoid my feelings and pain.

It too use reading as a escape. I read a couple of books a week and would live my whole life reading so I don't have to live in the real world if I didn't have to work for a living.

Journalling is something I'm currently exploring however I don't want to get stuck in a cycle of documenting my pain and negative self-thoughts. A gratitude journal seems overwhelming and unachievable for me at this time. I know I have many many things in my life to be grateful for. I have 3 beautiful children, I have a home and a job I love, I have my health and family. But I don't love myself, I don't see a reason for my life. It stretches before my like a black hole with no hope ahead.

Setting goals sounds like a good strategy. My goal is to get out of the hospital and reclaim my life. To do that I need to set some 'life' goals.

I'll let you know how I go 🙂

Dexter67