How To Get Out Of A Depression Slump Without Medication
The things that can help you break free from a depression slump are often the very things that feel most difficult to do. Sometimes just thinking about putting a plan into action can seem daunting. Yet, theres a huge difference between something hard and something impossible. You may not have much energy, but you should have enough to implement a few of these ideas each day even if it feels hard:
- Reach out to friends or family.
- Make plans.
- Find something you can look forward to.
- List what you like about yourself.
- Visualize a happy memory.
- Spend some time in nature.
- Take care of a few small tasks.
- Read a good book.
- Watch a funny movie or TV show.
- Listen to music.
- Take a long, hot bath.
- Play with a pet.
- Do something spontaneous.
That first step is always the hardest, but taking action can substantially boost your mood and energy long enough for you to seek professional help if you need it. Each small but positive step you take for your overall mental well-being can help you feel happier, healthier and more hopeful.
What Is A Depressive Episode
This is a duration in which a person suffers from a depressed mood or a deep unwavering sadness. It is most often characterized by feelings of hopelessness, anxiety, worthlessness, guilt, and irritability. It may also affect your decision making power and cause problems concentrating.
A depressive episode could span a few hours or could be the cause of consistent misery for up to two weeks. A recent study shows that 16.2 million people in the United States alone have experienced a major depressive episode in the past year.
Causes And Risk Factors
While some illnesses have a specific medical cause, making treatment straightforward, depression is far more complicated. Certain medications, such as barbiturates, corticosteroids, benzodiazepines, opioid painkillers, and specific blood pressure medicine can trigger symptoms in some peopleas can hypothyroidism . But most commonly, depression is caused by a combination of biological, psychological, and social factors that can vary wildly from one person to another.
Despite what you may have seen in TV ads, read in newspaper articles, or maybe even heard from a doctor, depression is not just the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain, having too much or too little of any brain chemical that can be simply cured with medication. Biological factors can certainly play a role in depression, including inflammation, hormonal changes, immune system suppression, abnormal activity in certain parts of the brain, nutritional deficiencies, and shrinking brain cells. But psychological and social factorssuch as past trauma, substance abuse, loneliness, low self-esteem, and lifestyle choicescan also play an enormous part.
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What Are The Different Types Of Depression
Major depression is the classic type of depression and whats diagnosed, or labeled, as MDD . People with major depression have symptoms of depression most of the day, nearly every day, for episodes of at least two weeks and can experience recurrent episodes throughout their lives. Under MDD, you can further break down depression into several specific subtypes:
What Risks And Complications Can Depression Cause
Having depression can cause other problems. It can affect your mental health as well as your physical health, and it may affect other areas of your life too. For example, depression may cause:
- disturbed sleep,
- difficulties with work and your hobbies,
- difficulties keeping contact with friends and families, or
- suicidal thoughts or thoughts of self-harming.
Some people might also drink more alcohol to try and relieve depression. However, as we said in the previous section above, this can actually make depression worse.
If you have any of these problems, speak to your GP.
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Alcohol Abuse And Drug Intoxication And The Aftereffects
Abusing drugs and alcohol doesnt cause bipolar disorder, but it can cause an episode to suddenly occur, or it can worsen the underlying illness. Whats more, about one in five people with bipolar disorder have a substance abuse disorder, according to an analysis of data on young adults with mental illness from an article published in February 2015 in the journal Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology.
Intoxication with drugs such as cocaine and amphetamines can cause or worsen manic symptoms, while the aftereffects of cocaine or use of alcohol are associated with worsening of depressive symptoms.
What Treatment Should I Be Offered
The National Institute of Health and Care Excellence writes guidance on what treatment doctors should offer you. But your doctor does not have to give you these treatments. And the treatments may not be available in your area.
Different treatments may be available in your area. Your doctor might think these suit your symptoms more than the recommended treatments.
NICE recommend that depression is treated in different steps depending on how severe the condition is for you. The steps are as follows.
Step 1: Everyone who may have depression
Your doctor should offer you:
- an assessment of your symptoms,
- support, such as regular appointments in person or by telephone,
- information on how to deal with your symptoms,
- monitoring of your symptoms and follow-up, and
- referral for further assessment and treatment if needed.
Step 2: Mild to moderate depression
Your doctor may offer you:
- low-intensity interventions, such as self-help guided by the doctor or computerised cognitive behavioural therapy ,
- physical activity programmes,
- group cognitive behavioural therapy ,
- medication if you have a history of moderate or severe depression, or you have had symptoms for a long time, and
- referral for further assessment and treatment if needed.
Step 3: Moderate to severe depression, or mild to moderate depression when other treatments havent worked
Your doctor may suggest:
Step 4: Severe and complex depression or if your life is at risk Your doctor may suggest:
Can Depression Be Prevented
You can help prevent depression by getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet and practicing regular self-care activities such as exercise, meditation and yoga.
If youve had depression before, you may be more likely to experience it again. If you have depression symptoms, get help. Care can help you feel better sooner.
What You Can Do To Feel Better
When youre depressed, it can feel like theres no light at the end of the tunnel. But there are many things you can do to lift and stabilize your mood. The key is to start with a few small goals and slowly build from there, trying to do a little more each day. Feeling better takes time, but you can get there by making positive choices for yourself.
Reach out to other people. Isolation fuels depression, so reach out to friends and loved ones, even if you feel like being alone or dont want to be a burden to others. The simple act of talking to someone face-to-face about how you feel can be an enormous help. The person you talk to doesnt have to be able to fix you. They just need to be a good listenersomeone wholl listen attentively without being distracted or judging you.
Get moving. When youre depressed, just getting out of bed can seem daunting, let alone exercising. But regular exercise can be as effective as antidepressant medication in countering the symptoms of depression. Take a short walk or put some music on and dance around. Start with small activities and build up from there.
Eat a mood boosting diet. Reduce your intake of foods that can adversely affect your mood, such as caffeine, alcohol, trans fats, sugar and refined carbs. And increase mood-enhancing nutrients such as Omega-3 fatty acids.
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Understand And Accept Depression
Learning more about depression can help people deal with the condition. Depression is a widespread and genuine mental health disorder. It is not a sign of weakness or a personal shortcoming.
Accepting that a depressive episode may occur from time to time might help people deal with it when it does. Remember, it is possible to manage symptoms with treatments, such as lifestyle changes, medication, and therapy.
Start Monitoring Your Sleep And Wakefulness
Sleep disturbance is one of the classic signs of a severe depressive episode. Now is the time to start checking your sleep patterns and habits. Don’t let a disordered sleep cycle get on top of you. Try to stick to a strict bedtime, use no devices before lights-out, drink lots of calming tea, and set a guaranteed wakeup time in the morning. Make notes of how your sleep patterns are shifting, too â your therapist and physician will find those helpful in monitoring how your condition’s changing.
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Breathe Deeply And Relax The Muscles
Deep breathing techniques are an effective way to calm anxiety and soothe the bodys stress response. Slowly inhaling and exhaling has physical and psychological benefits, especially when done on a daily basis.
Anyone can practice deep breathing, whether in the car, at work, or in the grocery store. Plenty of smartphone apps offer guided deep breathing activities, and many are free to download.
Progressive muscle relaxation is another helpful tool for those experiencing depression and anxiety. It involves tensing and relaxing the muscles in the body to reduce stress. Again, many smartphone apps offer guided progressive muscle relaxation exercises.
We have reviewed some meditation apps that can help with depression and anxiety.
What If I Am Not Happy With My Treatment
If you are not happy with your treatment you can:
- talk to your doctor to see if they can suggest changes,
- get an advocate to help you speak your doctor,
- ask for a second opinion if you feel it would help,
- contact Patient Advice and Liaison Service and see whether they can help, or
- make a complaint.
There is more information about these options below.
An advocate is independent from the NHS. They are free to use. They can be useful if you find it difficult to get your views heard.
There are different types of advocates available. Community advocates can support you to get a health professional to listen to your concerns. And help you to get the treatment that you would like. They arent available in all areas.
You can ask an advocate to help you make a complaint. Advocates that do this are called NHS complaints advocates. They are free to use and don t work for the NHS. They re available in all areas.
You can search online to search for a local advocacy service. If you cant find a service you can call our advice service 0808 801 0525 . You can email us too at . We will look for you.
Talk to your doctor about your treatment to see if you can resolve the problem with them first. If you dont agree with their decisions about diagnosis or treatment, you could ask for a second opinion. You are not legally entitled to a second opinion, but your doctor might agree to it if it would help with treatment options.
- Advocacy by clicking here.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Depression And How Is It Diagnosed
The NHS recommends that you should see your GP if you experience symptoms of depression for most of the day, every day, for more than 2 weeks.
Doctors make decisions about diagnosis based on manuals. The manual used by NHS doctors is the International Classification of Diseases .
When you see a doctor they will look for the symptoms that are set out in the ICD-10 guidance. You do not have to have all of these to be diagnosed with depression. You might have just experience some of them.
Some symptoms of depression are:
- low mood, feeling sad, irritable or angry,
- having less energy to do certain things,
- losing interest or enjoyment in activities you used to enjoy,
- reduced concentration,
You may also find that with low mood you:
- feel less pleasure from things,
- feel more agitated,
- find your thoughts and movements slow down, and
- have thoughts of self-harm or suicide.
Your doctor should also ask about any possible causes of depression. For example, they may want to find out if youve experienced anything traumatic recently which could be making you feel this way.
There are no physical tests for depression. But the doctors may do some tests to check if you have any physical problems. For example, an underactive thyroid can cause depression.
On the NHS website, they have a self-assessment test which can help you to assess whether you are living with depression: www.nhs.uk/mental-health/conditions/clinical-depression/overview/
How To Cope With A Depressive Episode
At the onset of a major depressive episode, it can feel hopeless, as if there is nothing that can be done. An individual facing this may feel like there is no point in trying to do anything to lessen the severity of the episode or turn it around. There are things that can be done, though. It is important to take these steps to cope with a depressive episode, because they can limit the symptoms and even reduce the duration of the episode:
Major depressive episodes are most often part of a recurring, chronic mental illness. Some people may only ever experience one episode in their lives, but most people have multiple episodes. Understanding what it feels like to go through one of these episodes, as well as what may trigger one, is important. Being more aware allows an individual to take steps to check back in with a therapist, seek out support from family, and to engage in proper self-care to mitigate the severity of an episode.
Recommended Reading: How To Beat Your Depression
Who Is At Risk For Depression
Depression can affect anyone, no matter their age, gender or circumstances. About 16 million Americans experience depression each year.
Women may experience depression more often than men. And your genetics or other health conditions can increase the likelihood that youll have at least one depressive episode in your lifetime.
Blowout Arguments With Partners Coworkers Or Friends
Broken relationships are too often the result of untreated bipolar disorder.
But getting into a spat with a loved one could also be a red flag: Your argument could be due to the irritability that often occurs during a manic or depressive episode, or could itself cause stress that becomes a contributing factor for a recurrent episode.
Any type of relationship conflict whether its with your partner, coworker, family member, or friend can trigger stress and send you over the edge. In a study published in May 2015 in the Journal of Affective Disorders, people with bipolar disorder said negative social experiences were among the events that triggered suicidal thinking for them.
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Dangers Of A Depressive Episode
During a depressive episode, most people are very vulnerable. They feel worthless and defeated. You may see yourself not caring about school or work. That can impact your future if it happens often. The more profound effects of depressive episodes affect peoples ability to take care of themselves. You may be at a higher risk of hurting yourself through self-cutting. Others have suicidal thoughts or make attempts to harm themselves. Because of this, major depressive episodes are considered life-threatening events.
Stock Up On Products That Support Your Well
If you’re on medication, get that sh*t refilled now. I cannot tell you how many times I or other depressive friends have been caught short by an unexpected episode that completely derails our planning capacity and leaves us without enough meds for the weekend. Plan your meds, guys. Also stock up on helpful herbs like lavender, which have a proven mood-lifting effect .
Recommended Reading: Always Feeling Sad And Depressed
Am I Going Through Depression Quiz
The risk of developing depression is high. Depression is the most common mental disorder in the world.
For general practitioners, it is often not easy to recognize or test for depression. The diagnosis is often made very late. Many patients find it difficult to talk to their doctor not only about physical complaints but also about fears and worries.
Questions like Am I depressed? or Do I have depression? are often not easy to answer. After all, recognizing depression is not always easy.
Some sufferers find it easier to first come to terms with their illness anonymously, for example with the help of a depression test on the Internet.
Take advantage of this opportunity! Within a few minutes, a psychological self-test will give you a clear vision of whether you are at increased risk for depression.
Tips To Help You Through A Depressive Episode
So youre doing okay, cruising right along. Suddenly you realize that youre slipping into a depressive episode. Once that depressive state starts to hover over you like a dark cloud, remind yourself that its only temporary. You will get out of it.
Its so much like a rollercoaster ride that it can make you physically ill as well.
Here are six helpful tips to get you through on not just a daily basis, but an hourly basis. Dont look too far ahead too often that can be overwhelming.
1. Art therapy.
Put on your favorite upbeat, happy music and dance the day away if you need to. Draw or paint. Sculpt with clay. These can help to give you a physical release of tensions built up inside you.
2. Pet your pet.
Give love to a pet that you already have. Just petting your dog or cat or bunny or whatever you have also gives that release feeling and takes away feelings of depression and sadness.
If you dont have a pet, try to pick yourself up and get yourself to a pet store or an animal shelter. And while youre petting your animal, talk to him or her. The loyalty of a good pet is irreplaceable.
3. Light therapy.
Do you seem to become depressed in the winter? When we have less light, we are cut short of vitamin D, according to MayoClinic.com and WebMD.com. Besides our feel-good brain receptors, vitamin D also aids in bone health, kidney function and osteoporosis.
4. Physical activity.
5. Have a sanity buddy.
6. Make a happy list.
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