Depression is a serious and recognised mental health condition, relatively common on university campuses, as well as society in general. As well as speaking you your mental health counsellor or GP, there are strategies you can use to tackle your depression, finding a positive way forward. The steps towards managing your depression can seem extremely difficult, but they're the quickest and easiest ways to complement your medication or counselling.
Everyone is affected by depression differently, so if you'll need to figure out your own self help strategy to work alongside any medication or counselling you're receiving. The best way to start is to ask yourself “what is the smallest change I can make that will make the most difference?”
Another strategy is to imagine your life depression-free. Using the following exercises will help you:
When you're battling depression, it may not be possible to get rid of every aspect making you feel this way, as genetic tendencies to low serotonin levels and other biological factors often play a part in depression.
Breaking your cycle of isolation
Your depression thrives when you're lonely and socially isolated. Reaching out to your loved ones and forming a solid support network is a powerful way to fight depression.
Try and be with others
Depressed thinking and the spiral of depressed behaviour can easily lead you to becoming increasingly socially withdrawn and isolated.
It can be extremely difficult, but try your best not to fall into this spiral, by making sure you spend time with other people. As much as possible, keep this social contact as relaxed and low key as possible.
Make as much out of opportunities for social contact as you can. Try hanging out in the kitchen with your flatmates, go to the SU bar or go to study groups after your lectures. You may not feel like doing this, but you should try making yourself go.
Tell people how you're feeling
Having someone around to keep you company and just listen to you is a lot easier than being isolated. If there are people who know how you're feeling, you won't have to keep up a false image of everything being okay. This in itself can help a lot. Good people to talk to include:
If you have thought of self-harm or suicide, it's essential that you seek professional, medical advice from your doctor or a counsellor immediately.
Taking care of yourself throughout depression
When you're depressed, it's common to experience lethargy and neglect your basic self-caring tasks. An important step in managing your depression is to consciously make the effort to take care of yourself.
Find a new focus
Any time you spend focusing on something or someone else, you have an amount of time where you can seek refuge from your depression.
Purposeful distraction is a good way to resist negative introspection that often accompanies depression, and you can use anything from the simplest of distraction techniques to more meaningful ways to spend your time and energy.
The key to purposeful distraction is to do a task without feeling motivated to do it and without the expectation to actively enjoy it. It should be something to simply fill your mind. Purposeful distractions can be anything, such as:
You may want to channel your depression and feelings into an art project, such as music, writing or painting. Don't ask yourself whether or not it's ‘good'. just focus on the freedom or creation as a form of therapy.