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Cope with depression

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When you suffer from depression, you are stuck in your own negative patterns. Breaking free of these patterns can be difficult. Acknowledging your depressive symptoms is the first step upward. Once you have reached the point of acknowledgment, you can try the tips below to deal with depression.

What can you do?

Depression is a mental disorder where professional treatment can help. If you suspect you are depressed, you can try the tips below or seek help from a doctor or psychologist.

 

9 tips to get started yourself when you experience depressive symptoms:

  1. Talk about it with friends, family or your doctor
    Try to keep talking about your feelings. With your partner, for example, your friends or family. Do you find that difficult? Then see your family doctor. Often the family doctor has a psychologist on staff to talk to from time to time. It not only relieves to talk about your depression, for your loved ones it also helps to understand you and your depressive symptoms better. After all, depression can also be tough on a partner or loved one.
  2. Bring structure
    Establish a rhythm, go to bed around the same time every day and set an alarm clock. Try not to stay in bed too long but get out when the alarm has gone off. Be careful not to forget or skip meals and also try to have your meals at fixed times. Schedule (social) activities such as walking or doing something in the household. Give yourself something to hold on to by keeping a rhythm.
  3. Eat healthy and drink enough
    Make sure you continue to take good care of yourself. Healthy eating is part of that. It is essential for your body that you get enough nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Your body consumes quite a bit when you’re depressed, and there’s a reason that links depression to vitamin and mineral deficiencies. In doubt about whether you are getting enough? Then ask your doctor if you can get a blood test.
  4. Keep moving and exercise
    It sounds like an open door, but it’s really important that you keep moving. You don’t have to work out really hard, as long as you keep moving. Try to take a daily walk, preferably in the woods or somewhere else in nature. As soon as you move and exercise your body produces hormones that make you feel happy: endorphins. If you take a half-hour walk every day, you will already notice the difference it makes in your mood.
  5. Reduce or stop alcohol and drug consumption
    Consuming alcohol or drugs can have a negative effect on your depression. It sedates briefly but soon affects your stress hormones and actually intensifies gloomy and listless feelings. Sure, a few glasses of wine make you feel calm and rosy and so nicely numb those nasty and gloomy thoughts. But as soon as the alcohol is gone from your body, this feeling rears its ugly head again. The same goes for drugs. This includes sleeping pills and tranquilizers. You also run the risk of falling into a vicious cycle.
  6. Do things you like
    The important thing is to do what normally makes you happy – even if only a little bit. Whether it is useful or not is secondary. Most importantly, do activities that make you feel good. For example making music, painting or doing something else creative with your hands, gardening, cycling, playing sports or carpenter a nesting box for the hedgehog in your garden. And don’t start with something impossible right away. Start with small goals so it’s not a disappointment if something doesn’t work out or you don’t stick with it.
  7. Write down at least 3 positive things every day
    When you suffer from depression it is very difficult to think of positive things, yet there are always 3 things you can think of. Examples of positive things can be: I got out of bed this morning, I took a shower, I saw the sun shining, I read something from a book, I talked to a friend, etc.
  8. Undertake social activities
    Make every effort to get out of the house, have your friends drag you out the door if necessary. Or invite them to your house. Social activities are good distractions and help take your mind off things for a while. Try to have social contact at least once a day. A chat with the neighbor, mailman or cashier at the supermarket already helps. You don’t always have to talk about your depression. Think of these activities as distractions, too!
  9. Check out self-help options
    There are several online self-help programs for people with depression. The idea behind them is that you learn to improve, and appreciate, your quality of life again. You can also buy several books that are full of tips but also recognizable stories and situations to help you on your way. By actively dealing with your depression you take back control over your life. However, it does require the necessary dose of motivation. Ask a friend to support you if that’s what you need.

 

More information

Note: Do not apply the tips all at once. Start with one or two tips. Don’t be too hard on yourself if one time something doesn’t work out.
Have you tried the tips above but do depressive symptoms persist? Then it is wise to talk to a psychologist.

Frequently asked questions

Is sleeping a lot good for depression?

Insufficient sleep due to sleep problems negatively affect your mood. It is important to get enough sleep (7 to 8 hours a day), but sleeping too much or staying in bed for a long time can actually have a negative effect.

What foods to avoid when suffering from depression?

Nutrition affects depression. For example, there are some foods that are better left out. Often these are the nutrients that also do not benefit your physical health. Big culprits are sugars and processed foods like French fries, sausage, potato chips and cookies. You also prefer to leave out beverages that are high in sugar, such as soft drinks, fruit juices and chocolate milk.

What to eat when suffering from depression?
It is most important that you take varied and healthy foods that are rich in nutrients. Think vitamins and proteins. For example, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. And when you eat bread, choose whole grain bread. Fish and dairy are also part of a healthy diet. Choose healthy fats and less processed foods.
But be careful not to be too strict with yourself. It is really not a bad thing if you occasionally have something sweet that does not fit within your healthy diet.
Why does exercise help against depression?
Working out allows you to be in the moment for a while, so your thoughts don’t have a chance to run away with you. Worrying about things is therefore very difficult while running, dancing or playing soccer. Exercise also makes the endorphin system work better: endorphins make you feel happy. And it contributes to the release of more of the so-called BDNF hormone. This hormone has an antidepressant effect.
But not only at the time you exercise, exercise helps against depressive feelings. It also has a longer-lasting effect. Exercise improves your physical condition and thus your resilience to depressive symptoms.
Moreover, exercising during the day, ensures better sleep at night. And better sleep, in turn, is good for your recovery.
publish-icon Published - 18 Nov 2020
Nine has extensive experience in treating depression. Therapy forms she uses for this include CBT and ACT. Nine works with you to see how you can regain more energy to do fun things.
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GZ-Psychologist Nine Gramberg

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