Mental illness is finally being talked about. Long-standing prejudice and lack of general understanding have assigned the topic of mental health something of a taboo status for far too long. Yet it is something that, in all probability, either ourselves or our loved ones will struggle with at some point.
The stigma surrounding depression is even more pronounced when it comes to men. Social pressure to simply ‘man up’ and maintain a ‘stiff upper lip’ has done more than its fair share of damage, and men are statistically far less likely than women to seek help for their psychological sufferings.
Whilst we are still a long way from reversing such attitudes, we are at least beginning to discuss such issues more openly. It goes without saying that no simple list is going to do the job of professional support, however, many things can be done on an individual scale to help ease the road to recovery.
Feeling out of sync with the rhythm of the day is just one symptom associated with depression. A structured routine can guide you purposefully from morning to evening, rather than allowing the days to simply melt from one to the next.
You’ve heard it time and time again, but exercise really does boost positivity, releasing endorphins, relieving stress, and increasing self-esteem.
SAD (Seasonal Affected Disorder) doesn’t just mean feeling a little gloomy about the semi-dark commute to work; depression can fluctuate with winter’s shorter daylight hours. Getting as much natural light as possible, just by taking a short walk at lunchtime and making your indoor environments as light and airy as possible, can improve symptoms.
Depression and deteriorating diet often go hand in hand. Some might struggle to eat enough, whilst others are unable to control their cravings. Whilst no specific diet has been proven to treat depression, eating the right things, such as foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids, folic acid, and B vitamins, can be a step in the right direction.
Far too often it is a vicious cycle of depression impairing sleep, and a lack of sleep contributing to depression. It’s a difficult one, but assessing your evening routine and making a few changes can help to break the chain.
Medicinal pills aren’t the only ones worth considering. Extra supplements should be carefully discussed with a doctor, but there is mounting evidence that the use of certain supplements can help alleviate depressive symptoms.
The goals you set for yourself don’t have to be huge; in fact, it’s better to start small. Achieving even minor tasks that you have set yourself increases feelings of productivity, making it far easier to believe in your powers of accomplishment.
Confront negative thoughts
It might seem logical to try and banish depressive thoughts from your mind, but the likeliness is that, despite your best efforts, they’ll remain to lurk in the background. Instead, try to consciously challenge the logic behind them; more often than not this will be flawed.
Take up something new
It might be as simple as starting a weekend class, going somewhere different, or reading something you have never read before. Engaging in a different activity can actually create positive chemical changes in the brain, and have a concrete effect on how you feel.
Surround yourself with the right people
The importance of the people around you should not be underestimated. Capable, reliable and supportive friends and family can be some of the most powerful anti-depressants there are.