Best Ways to Prevent Depression

Ways to Prevent Depression

Ways to Prevent Depression

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Ways to Prevent Depression

Prevent Depression: Try and be mindful of when and where you feel depression creeping up on you, catch yourself before you are fully in it. When depression is starting to take hold or has taken hold we usually want to get into bed and dive under the covers; or laze around and not leave the house. This is good to do when you have the flu or a physical health problem. With depression and other mental health issues this can be the worst thing to do. You actually need to do the opposite of what you might do when you are physically sick. This may mean, forcing yourself by fighting every fibre of your being that wants to dive you under the covers and walk out your front door instead. You will need to force yourself because depression will not allow you to really want to do it. It isn’t easy and you will need to give yourself a push. Get some fresh air and give your body some light movement. Go somewhere, do something because staying in on your own will FEED the depression. If the depression feels so strong that you may harm yourself, contact a doctor and let them know this, they will begin you on a path that will help. If the above feels impossible, contact a doctor and get some help. Depression rarely goes away by itself, usually you have to do something.

Below is a list of what I call ‘natural anti-depressants’ (in that pharmacotherapy* isn’t included) that may help to keep depression at bay. Take something from this list every day, whatever you feel you can cope with, the more you can do – the better. If depression has already taken a hold it will be hard at first but hopefully will become easier. Keeping depression out of your life needs a holistic approach across every domain of your life. I sometimes give this list to people who consult with me in my counselling practice.

*I’m not against medication and this is something you can discuss with your doctor.

Ways to Prevent Depression

  • Exercise/movement | Prevent Depression

There is a large body of research that shows exercise helps to reduce the symptoms of depression. This doesn’t have to be a full on hard workout, just a walk is good enough to begin with. Making an appointment with a friend to exercise together, perhaps find a walking buddy or find a nice personal trainer.

  • Don’t isolate yourself | Prevent Depression

Being around supportive people and talking can also be a natural anti-depressant. Don’t be afraid to ring old friends and chat on the phone. Call Lifeline – the people are volunteers and want to speak with you. Make a date to have a coffee with someone or visit family (ensure they are supportive people).

  • Self compassion | Prevent Depression

Be loving and self-respectful. Self-care is not selfish. Be your own best friend – this is really important. If you feel unable to do this please talk about what is going on with me or your counsellor. Beating yourself up will feed depression, we need to get to the bottom of this and grow self-compassion. It can take time.

  • Being in nature | Prevent Depression

Sit under the tree, hang out in the garden, walk to the park, the beach – let nature help you. Put some flowers in the house, grow a plant or hang out with some animals. A loving dog can be wonderful.

  • Meditation | Prevent Depression

Learn to meditate – just simple meditation. You can download apps to guide you through. ‘Simply Being’ is an app you can get on your phone. I can help you learn to meditate. There is formal mindfulness meditation and informal mindfulness meditation.

  • Yoga/Tai Chi | Prevent Depression

Practices such as yoga and tai chi have been researched and shown to reduce depression and anxiety.

  • Water – swimming or even a nice bath or shower | Prevent Depression

If you feel depression creeping up, a bath, a shower or a swim/surf in the ocean can help you. Heading down the beach is great, because you are moving, you are with nature, in water and if you go with friend then you are also not isolating.

  • Vitamin D – Sunshine | Prevent Depression

More and more is being discovered about the importance of this vitamin for physical and mental health. Try and get out into some sunshine or sit at a window with the sun coming in on you. In the Northern Hemisphere, where it is dark for a good part of the year, doctors use bright light therapy to treat depression.

  • Routine – creating structure – make a plan | Prevent Depression

Having a routine and a structure to your day usually helps. If you are not working make your own routine and plan what you will be doing for each part of the day. Incorporate big doses of self-care into the routine.

  • Good sleep | Prevent Depression

Sleep is an important part of our life routine. It is harder to keep depression at bay when you feel tired and exhausted. Ensure you are receiving good quality refreshing sleep where possible. For some people who struggle with depression, shift work and an erratic body clock schedule is really unhelpful.

  • Music | Prevent Depression

Listen to music, make music, play music – most people will say music can change their mood and help them to feel better.

  • Having a creative project | Prevent Depression

It is good to have a project you are involved in. Make something for the house, volunteer for a good cause. Take some time to think of something new or dig out one of your old projects and get going with it again. Some examples of project could be, photography, art, keeping an aquarium, creating a vegetable garden etc. Take time to find something that makes your heart sing.

  • Finding a purpose | Prevent Depression

This one relates a bit to the one above. Depression is often fed when we feel we have no purpose in our lives. It is important to find something to give your life meaning. Discuss this with friends or your counsellor, bounce ideas around until you have something you feel will add value to your life and to the lives others.

  • Help another person. | Prevent Depression

Helping other people can assist in keeping depression at bay. You may feel you have nothing to give, yet you do, we all do! Again, get some help if you have been tricked by depression into believing you have nothing to give to others.

  • Notice unhelpful thinking patterns and unhelpful core beliefs that don’t serve you well.

A counsellor can help you with what to do with unhelpful thoughts and unhelpful feelings. Basically, there is no point in dwelling on thoughts that are unhelpful and get you nowhere. Accept the thoughts, notice the thoughts, notice noticing the thoughts, feel the feelings, ground yourself and then bring your mind to the things in your life that you value and are important to you. Take action, do something in accordance with your values (even if it is difficult). Do something on this list. When the intrusive unhelpful thoughts of feelings come back, feel them and notice them, notice your surroundings, and then focus again on your values and keep taking committed action.

  • Control the controlables | Prevent Depression

There are many things outside of our control, however there are also many things in our control. Take action on the things you can control and leave behind the things you can’t control. Even if the thing you can control is as simple as making the bed, having a shower etc. Do these things, start simple and take those baby steps.

  • Be mindful of substance use / alcohol – drugs (prescription /non-prescription)

Alcohol is a depressant and can leave you feeling down, sometimes the next day. Focus on healthy coping strategies. Get help if drugs or alcohol are a problem. Ask yourself ‘am I in control of it, or is it in control of me’?

  • HOPE – plan something nice for the future | Prevent Depression

Remind yourself of the good things you have to look forward too, and if you feel you have nothing nice to look forward too, then you may need to create something for yourself. Perhaps book a holiday. Talk to a counsellor if you cannot summon up any hope for anything.

  • Animals / pets | Prevent Depression

Caring for animals, stroking cats or dogs can be a natural anti-depressant.

  • Physical touch, intimacy, hugs | Prevent Depression

The touch of other humans is nice – give hugs and ask for them if you feel the need. We are animals that live in relationship with others and touching each other seems to be important.

  • Binary thinking, steer away from this – continuum thinking is better.

Getting stuck in black and white thinking, right and wrong thinking about life and problems can lead to an inflexible thinking pattern. Flexibility of mind can help to keep depression at bay. Discuss these sorts of thinking patterns with a counsellor if you find they are problematic. It is good to deconstruct unhelpful thoughts patterns that might have you stuck.

  • Financial security – make a plan – re-finance if necessary.

Financial insecurity and lack of income can definitely feed depression. A plan on how to manage this is important. Getting finances in control can help to ward off depression and a sense of powerlessness.

  • Gain a sense of power over your life. | Prevent Depression

Powerlessness can sometimes be at the centre of depression. Finding a way to have power in your life is something that may need to be addressed.

  • Loving one’s self – self–love, self-respect and integrity.

Holding onto a loving sense of self, similar to self-compassion is also a natural anti-depressant. Develop an observing mind, watch your thoughts – be mindful of identity conclusions being drawn, for example are you saying to yourself ‘I’m a loser, I’m not good enough, I’m bad’ etc. Such negative identity conclusions are often tricks of depression and will feed depression. Gain a wider perspective and be gentle and loving with yourself. Remember, we need something like 10 positive comments to make up for every one negative comment, yet our minds are often stating 10 negative comments to only one positive comment. Remember, thoughts are not truth or facts. Again, counselling can help with this.

  • Humour | Prevent Depression

A good laugh, jokes and comedians can sometimes act as a natural anti-depressant.

  • Healthy relationships – consider your interpersonal relationships.

It can be helpful to consider your relationships and leave those that are not caring of you. Perhaps you need to modify expectations held about relationships, assertiveness is sometimes required. A discussion with a counsellor about this is likely to be helpful.

  • Good physical health & nutrition

Eat well. Some people know that if they eat too much processed food, it impacts on their mental health in a negative way.

  • Sugar levels / caffeine

Be aware of substances you are consuming. Sometimes our mood can be elevated quickly with a sugar hit and then plummet into low mood very quickly. Choosing low GI foods can help to keep your mood stable.

  • Mindfulness and being grounded in your body and the present moment

Some of us spend a lot of our time worrying about the future, or thinking about the past. Observe when your mind is doing this and accept that this is something minds do, and then bring yourself into the present moment. Notice, the sensations you can feel in your body, the sounds around you, things you can see etc. Mindfulness is about all the senses.

  • A gratitude log/diary write down each day three ‘different’ things you are thankful for

Consciously noticing the good around you can be strengthened by listing these things on a daily basis, i.e. a log of gratitude. People notice their minds changing from only seeing the deficits to seeing the strengths. Try keeping a journal like this and see what happens.

Ways to Prevent Depression

Beyond Blue is a wonderful organisation to give you more information on depression as is The Black Dog Institute. So much more thorough information can be found on their websites.

Please seek help if you are depressed, depression can be treated.


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