Contributed post by Samantha Garbett
People get depressed for a variety of reasons and there’s no one solution for fighting this mental illness.
Doctors will often prescribe antidepressants – whilst these can work for some people, they may not be effective for others. If you’re suffering from depression and are looking for an alternative escape other than prescribed medication, here are just a few ways in which you may be able to dig your way out and feel whole again.
Exercise can provide a rush of endorphins – the body’s feel-good hormone – helping to serve as a temporary pick-me-up.
By exercising regularly, you could start to feel more positive each day – these endorphins could be enough to swallow up your negative feelings entirely. In fact, many people find that taking up exercise goals can help lift them out of depression. There are lots of forms of exercise from going to the gym to walking to swimming to cycling.
Find a form of physical activity that motivates you and see what difference it makes.
Listen to music
Listening to music is another activity that releases feelgood hormones.
When we hear a melody that we like, our sense of hearing is stimulated and our brain sends out a rush of endorphins. Tracks with lyrics may provide an emotional connection to make us feel less alone that could further help to beat depression. You can also encourage the release of endorphins by singing along – it’s the reason many people are addicted to karaoke.
Listening to music may even be something you can do whilst exercising for a double combo of endorphins.
Get enough sleep
There’s a positive link between depression of lack of sleep. In fact, they can often form a vicious circle – depression makes it hard to get to sleep due to the negative thoughts circling around the brain, whilst lack of sleep can make depression worse by making us feel less energised and therefore less motivated to take on the challenges of each day.
Find a way of giving yourself more sleep, whether it’s taking naps or going to bed earlier. If work or responsibilities such as parenthood are contributing to lack of sleep, don’t be afraid to take a break for the sake of your health.
Try to also find ways of improving sleep quality and encouraging production of melatonin (the sleep hormone) – this could include improving your bedding, using sleep-inducing scents in your bedroom, limiting screen time before bed and taking a relaxing bath before you go to bed.
Consider getting a pet
Depression can often be the result of loneliness.
Many people find that the companionship and responsibility of a pet can help pull them through depression – ESAs (emotional support animals) are sometimes given to people with severe depression as a way of helping these people to get better. You should be careful when using ESA sites as there are a few scammers out there. Those eager for an emotional support animal should use this legit ESA site.
Dogs and cats are some of the most common pets for this purpose.
Get more sunlight
Many people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) which is thought to be due to a lack of sunlight exposure in the winter months.
Sunlight provides our bodies with vitamin D – a nutrient that has been found to have an important effect on our mood. Low levels of vitamin D are often positively associated with depression.
If you spend most of your hours indoors, try to make a conscious effort to get out more. If you work indoors during the day and it is dark when you go to work and come home from work, try to get outside on your lunch break. As for your days off work, try to force yourself to go outside.
Simple measures such as walking more instead of taking the car can help you to get more sunlight exposure.
Keep up a routine
It’s common for people with depression to not feel that there’s a purpose to life – this could result in abandoning all sense of routine and giving up basic daily tasks such as getting washed or having breakfast.
This is why it’s important for people with depression to have structure. A fixed routine forces people to do these important daily tasks and can stop you putting them off. Many sufferers of depression find that by simply structuring their life out they feel a lot better – our brains react well to a sense of structure and purpose.