Recovering from Depression: How Can I Promote My Own Recovery?

Reviewed May 15, 2017

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Summary

  • Deal with stresses.
  • Make time for fun.
  • Stay active.

If you have been through a depression, you might remember that the hardest thing was thinking you would never feel better. It is difficult but very important to remember that most depressed people do get better. You have to hold on to hope, and remember that depression is a treatable illness.

Keep in mind that depression does not improve much without help. Depending on your depression, that help might be counseling, medications, both, or another approach.

If you take medications for depression, take them as prescribed. They will not work as well otherwise. If you do not like their effects, talk with your prescriber. Often there is a way to make things better.

Counseling works best if you keep your appointments, speak openly about your goals and concerns, and think about what you have discussed. Some therapists assign homework. It is important to practice your new skills.

Treatment can help, but it is not the whole story. You can take other steps to help recovery. Here are some suggestions:

Deal with stresses. If your depression partly feeds on real troubles in your life such as a bad job or relationship, no pill will get you well unless you also deal with the stressful situations. With help from therapy or otherwise, one way or another you may need to make some changes in your life.

Do not neglect yourself. Many of us get depressed because of stressful caregiving duties. If you spend all your time tending to a sick relative, for example, you must find a way to give yourself a break occasionally. Even if you cannot find a good reason for feeling depressed, make time to care for yourself. Keep your home clean and neat. Take care of your body, appearance, diet, activity, and sleep. These are important parts of your recovery.

Be sure to eat. Keep in mind that your body and brain need the right fuel, and the right amount of it, in order to run well. Eat enough, but avoid the temptation to use food for comfort. It can be tempting to lift your mood with alcohol or recreational drugs, but this is a bad idea. It may work for a while, but there is no free lunch. The payback is tough.

Stay active. Depression can make you feel like you do not want to leave your bed, but keeping active is a great idea. Even if you need to push yourself, exercise is a good way to lift your spirits. Studies have shown exercise to be a good antidepressant. Some people benefit from doing yoga or meditation.

Do not isolate yourself. Find a way to be around people who make you feel good about yourself and about the future. A connection with others is very healing.

Consider practicing spirituality. A spiritual practice may be very meaningful and life affirming for some. It can sustain hope and help you keep your eye on the light at the end of the tunnel. If you’ve lost touch with your previous religious or spiritual activity, it may be very helpful to reconnect.

If despite your best efforts, your depression is not lifting, seek referral to a specialist. See your physician and request referral to a psychiatrist or other expert mental health practitioner about your condition. The diagnosis of depression can be complex. It sometimes requires physical examinations and tests to investigate possibility of bipolar disorder or physical causes. For example, low thyroid, vitamin deficiency, or more serious conditions. It can also increase risk of development of cardiovascular illness and cancer, so it’s wise to seek medical attention if your depression is worsening. Severe depression can lead to various kinds of self-harm. 

The good news is that depression is treatable.

By James M. Ellison, MD, MPH
Source: www.helpguide.org/mental/depression_tips.htm; www.gmhfonline.org/gmhf/consumer/factsheets/depression_latelife.html
Reviewed by Gary R. Proctor, MD, Associate Chief Medical Officer, Beacon Health Options

Summary

  • Deal with stresses.
  • Make time for fun.
  • Stay active.

If you have been through a depression, you might remember that the hardest thing was thinking you would never feel better. It is difficult but very important to remember that most depressed people do get better. You have to hold on to hope, and remember that depression is a treatable illness.

Keep in mind that depression does not improve much without help. Depending on your depression, that help might be counseling, medications, both, or another approach.

If you take medications for depression, take them as prescribed. They will not work as well otherwise. If you do not like their effects, talk with your prescriber. Often there is a way to make things better.

Counseling works best if you keep your appointments, speak openly about your goals and concerns, and think about what you have discussed. Some therapists assign homework. It is important to practice your new skills.

Treatment can help, but it is not the whole story. You can take other steps to help recovery. Here are some suggestions:

Deal with stresses. If your depression partly feeds on real troubles in your life such as a bad job or relationship, no pill will get you well unless you also deal with the stressful situations. With help from therapy or otherwise, one way or another you may need to make some changes in your life.

Do not neglect yourself. Many of us get depressed because of stressful caregiving duties. If you spend all your time tending to a sick relative, for example, you must find a way to give yourself a break occasionally. Even if you cannot find a good reason for feeling depressed, make time to care for yourself. Keep your home clean and neat. Take care of your body, appearance, diet, activity, and sleep. These are important parts of your recovery.

Be sure to eat. Keep in mind that your body and brain need the right fuel, and the right amount of it, in order to run well. Eat enough, but avoid the temptation to use food for comfort. It can be tempting to lift your mood with alcohol or recreational drugs, but this is a bad idea. It may work for a while, but there is no free lunch. The payback is tough.

Stay active. Depression can make you feel like you do not want to leave your bed, but keeping active is a great idea. Even if you need to push yourself, exercise is a good way to lift your spirits. Studies have shown exercise to be a good antidepressant. Some people benefit from doing yoga or meditation.

Do not isolate yourself. Find a way to be around people who make you feel good about yourself and about the future. A connection with others is very healing.

Consider practicing spirituality. A spiritual practice may be very meaningful and life affirming for some. It can sustain hope and help you keep your eye on the light at the end of the tunnel. If you’ve lost touch with your previous religious or spiritual activity, it may be very helpful to reconnect.

If despite your best efforts, your depression is not lifting, seek referral to a specialist. See your physician and request referral to a psychiatrist or other expert mental health practitioner about your condition. The diagnosis of depression can be complex. It sometimes requires physical examinations and tests to investigate possibility of bipolar disorder or physical causes. For example, low thyroid, vitamin deficiency, or more serious conditions. It can also increase risk of development of cardiovascular illness and cancer, so it’s wise to seek medical attention if your depression is worsening. Severe depression can lead to various kinds of self-harm. 

The good news is that depression is treatable.

By James M. Ellison, MD, MPH
Source: www.helpguide.org/mental/depression_tips.htm; www.gmhfonline.org/gmhf/consumer/factsheets/depression_latelife.html
Reviewed by Gary R. Proctor, MD, Associate Chief Medical Officer, Beacon Health Options

Summary

  • Deal with stresses.
  • Make time for fun.
  • Stay active.

If you have been through a depression, you might remember that the hardest thing was thinking you would never feel better. It is difficult but very important to remember that most depressed people do get better. You have to hold on to hope, and remember that depression is a treatable illness.

Keep in mind that depression does not improve much without help. Depending on your depression, that help might be counseling, medications, both, or another approach.

If you take medications for depression, take them as prescribed. They will not work as well otherwise. If you do not like their effects, talk with your prescriber. Often there is a way to make things better.

Counseling works best if you keep your appointments, speak openly about your goals and concerns, and think about what you have discussed. Some therapists assign homework. It is important to practice your new skills.

Treatment can help, but it is not the whole story. You can take other steps to help recovery. Here are some suggestions:

Deal with stresses. If your depression partly feeds on real troubles in your life such as a bad job or relationship, no pill will get you well unless you also deal with the stressful situations. With help from therapy or otherwise, one way or another you may need to make some changes in your life.

Do not neglect yourself. Many of us get depressed because of stressful caregiving duties. If you spend all your time tending to a sick relative, for example, you must find a way to give yourself a break occasionally. Even if you cannot find a good reason for feeling depressed, make time to care for yourself. Keep your home clean and neat. Take care of your body, appearance, diet, activity, and sleep. These are important parts of your recovery.

Be sure to eat. Keep in mind that your body and brain need the right fuel, and the right amount of it, in order to run well. Eat enough, but avoid the temptation to use food for comfort. It can be tempting to lift your mood with alcohol or recreational drugs, but this is a bad idea. It may work for a while, but there is no free lunch. The payback is tough.

Stay active. Depression can make you feel like you do not want to leave your bed, but keeping active is a great idea. Even if you need to push yourself, exercise is a good way to lift your spirits. Studies have shown exercise to be a good antidepressant. Some people benefit from doing yoga or meditation.

Do not isolate yourself. Find a way to be around people who make you feel good about yourself and about the future. A connection with others is very healing.

Consider practicing spirituality. A spiritual practice may be very meaningful and life affirming for some. It can sustain hope and help you keep your eye on the light at the end of the tunnel. If you’ve lost touch with your previous religious or spiritual activity, it may be very helpful to reconnect.

If despite your best efforts, your depression is not lifting, seek referral to a specialist. See your physician and request referral to a psychiatrist or other expert mental health practitioner about your condition. The diagnosis of depression can be complex. It sometimes requires physical examinations and tests to investigate possibility of bipolar disorder or physical causes. For example, low thyroid, vitamin deficiency, or more serious conditions. It can also increase risk of development of cardiovascular illness and cancer, so it’s wise to seek medical attention if your depression is worsening. Severe depression can lead to various kinds of self-harm. 

The good news is that depression is treatable.

By James M. Ellison, MD, MPH
Source: www.helpguide.org/mental/depression_tips.htm; www.gmhfonline.org/gmhf/consumer/factsheets/depression_latelife.html
Reviewed by Gary R. Proctor, MD, Associate Chief Medical Officer, Beacon Health Options

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, quizzes, and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, health care, psychiatric, psychological or behavioral health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.  ©2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

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