There are lots of reasons people feel depressed. Sometimes depression follows a change or changes in a person’s life. Depression can follow a loss, a change or series of changes, or seem to come “out of the blue”. On average three million Australians are living with depression or anxiety, and around one in six women and one in eight men will at some time feel depressed.
If you think you might be depressed, list the changes you are noticing and commit to doing something different. Here are some suggestions to get you started:
Helping your physical self:
You might have noticed changes in appetite (feeling hungry), the quality or quantity of your sleep (sleeping but waking through the night, not being able to fall asleep, not feeling rested even though you’ve slept) or your interest in exercising or getting out and about. While these things might seem not connected to each other, we do need to eat balanced meals at regular times to give our body fuel for the day. Sugar, caffeine and alcohol can affect the ways our body works and the way we feel. When we sleep well, our emotions tend to be manageable, poor sleep or too much sleep affects us emotionally. Moving our body regularly (exercising) tires us out enough to sleep. Experiment with making small changes to your routine in these three areas, and notice if you feel better or worse after a walk, change in diet, or adjustment to your sleep routine (more information on our Sleep resource). If you feel concerned about your ability to eat, sleep or exercise in helpful ways, please see your GP.
Helping your emotional self: There are a wide range of emotions that go with feeling depressed – here are some of them:
- Feeling down, low, ‘blue’, discouraged, helpless, unmotivated, tired or lethargic
- Feeling irritable, touchy, argumentative, critical, frustrated or annoyed
- Not feeling anything much at all –and definitely NOT feeling happy.
- Feeling numb, disconnected, alone or remote or lonely
The important thing to remember is that these feeling are NORMAL and WILL PASS. Doing more of what helped you once to feel joy or pleasure or happiness, anything that helped you feel positive, will support you to feel that way once again. Think about the things you did as a child that brought you pleasure. People who are feeling depressed are generally not having much fun. Putting a little fun or play into your day will pay off.
Helping your relationships:
When you’re feeling depressed, it’s common to also feel misunderstood, judged, criticized or put down (and yes, sometimes this happens for real). Go towards people who understand. Reaching out to others can be scary but rewarding. Sometimes doing something for another person (giving them a smile, making a positive comment) can lift your day as much as it lifts theirs.
IN A NUTSHELL: Build a regular routine of healthy meals, restful sleep and enough exercise. Do something different for yourself, even if it only helps one percent, it’s a start, and a lot of ones add up to a whole heap of difference. Don’t forget to notice the effects of the changes you make – you are the expert on you.
Asking for help is NOT a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength. It takes strength to reach out. Help is available through: a Mental Health Plan (see your GP); a mental-health trained counsellor or psychotherapist (listed on websites such as Find a Counsellor). If the feelings of depression are affecting you physically, emotionally or impacting your relationships, consider getting help. If you feel suicidal, please tell someone NOW. Help is available and you deserve it.