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Coping with Depression

The most obvious and typical signs of depression is a sad mood, gloomy, lonely and feeling apathetic. We may find ourselves crying where there seems to be nothing to cry about. We may have trouble sleeping or may wake early in the morning or be unable to return to sleep. Feelings of constant tiredness and the desire to sleep more than normal may be present. Appetite may change, eating more or much less than normal, thereby gaining or losing weight. When we are depressed we see our world and ourselves in a very negative way, becoming very self-critical and pessimistic, losing interest in things going on around us and gaining little satisfaction out of activities and events we once enjoyed. Decision making becomes difficult and concentration is almost impossible. Thinking becomes distorted, for example....

Some people are good at putting on an "act" and may not show any outward changes in themselves, but inwardly contain the same familiar dejected feelings. These individuals may complain more of physical discomfort.

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All of us feel tired or gloomy at times, but this is usually transient. DEPRESSION is when these feeling remain and intensify, damaging self-esteem and confidence. This may create a desire to hide away from people and even perhaps the world itself. There may be recurrent thoughts of dying, death or suicide and certainly there is a great sense of LOSS. Apart from changes in thinking, behaviour and perception, it has been recognised that specific biochemical changes take place in depression. Various strategies can influence these chemical changes such as counselling, relaxation methods, self-help and with deeper depression, anti-depressant medication can be very beneficial.

Some of the SELF-HELP methods include: increasing the level of activity, regular mild exercise, gentle increase in social activity, good diet, adequate sleep and structured rewarding activity. All of these can be very effective in correcting the imbalance of chemicals in the body.

These measures must be done slowly and gently at first, taking one small step at a time, with support and reassurance. It is important to attack depression on a psychological angle also, by identifying and challenging distorted negative thoughts and beliefs. Let's look at four examples of such: -


1.  NEGATIVE OPINION OF SELF: blank
2.  SELF-CRITICISM: blank
3.  NEGATIVE INTERPRETATIONS: blank
4.  NEGATIVE EXPECTATIONS OF: THE FUTURE blank


One of the first and most important steps towards coping effectively is for us to admit to ourselves that there is a problem. The second is to admit it to others. This can sometimes take a long time, as it is easier said than done! It is important too for others to take a genuine interest in the person, and to continually support and encourage. Despite being the most commonly used phrases we cannot simply "pull ourselves together" or "snap out of it". These kind of expressions come from those who do not understand or who have not experienced the awful feelings of depression, and only serve to make the sufferer feel even more guilty, isolated and powerless.

It is common for the depressed person to hold things back, perhaps repressing the REAL problem and may rationalise it in ways that cover the real problem up. It is important to uncover this, even if it takes a little time.

Friends and family can be of great help, but sometimes the assistance of an "outsider", like a doctor or counsellor, may be more valuable.

Depression is not something to be put up with. It CAN be treated, but one must accept that it takes time, patience and a great deal of support.

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"I CAN LEARN TO TAKE CONTROL. I CANNOT ALWAYS INFLUENCE WHAT OTHERS SAY OR DO TO ME, BUT I CAN ALTER HOW I REACT TO THEM.

EVEN AS I PROGRESS, I WILL HAVE SETBACKS... I MUST TRY TO ACCEPT THIS.

IT IS OKAY TO NEED HELP SOMETIMES AND I WILL TRY TO EASE UP ON MYSELF MORE.

I ALWAYS HAVE CHOICE, BUT I MAY NEED HELP TO SEE WHAT THEY ARE".






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