10 practical ways you can start to overcome depression
"THE vast majority of people get better from their depression."
That's the message of hope from former GP Stephen Carbone who says depression and anxiety are common conditions, but treatable.
"There are effective treatments," he says.
"There are so many options nowadays."
The causes of depression are complex and can come from family history, personality, serious illness, drug and alcohol abuse or life events such as work stress or negative relationships.
Not going out, withdrawing from close family and friends, feeling overwhelmed and miserable are often signs of depression.
Anxiety can show as panic attacks, tightening in the chest, excessive fear and worry and the avoidance of situations which trigger those feelings.
"Depression and anxiety are quite common and they sort of vary in severity," Dr Carbone said, adding that the affliction can be on-going or a once off experience.
That's why there's no one size fits all approach to treatment.
The upside, is there are a lot of options for navigating through depression and anxiety.
Dr Carbone shares 10 tips that could help combat depression.
1. Eat well
Food has an impact on mental health, says Dr Carbone.
"Processed foods can have an impact on mood," he said.
Dr Carbone recommended steering away from highly processed, low fibre foods.
As for popular claims that pro-biotics can help with depression, Dr Carbone said there was no evidence of them being helpful but also no harm in taking them.
"The nature of our gut bacteria can influence our health, including mental health, but there's no proof it can help depression," he said.
2. Sleep well
Getting adequate sleep can be a challenge because sometimes depression can make it hard to sleep.
However, working to establish a good sleep routine will provide the body with the energy it needs to start feeling better.
"Research shows regular physical activity is also helpful for your mood," Dr Carbone said.
He said the same kinds of activities you'd carry out for general and heart health could help boost good feelings.
4. Do activities
When depressed, it's easy to shut down.
"It takes away your motivation," Dr Carbone explains.
"If people find they're home and not doing much it can contribute to isolation and boredom."
Aim to take on some kind of activity to break the cycle.
5. Make a schedule
Dr Carbone says a diary of things to do can be helpful in scheduling not just the boring things in life, but the nice things too.
"Schedule fun things," he says.
He said something as simple as going to see a movie, going fishing or taking up a sport were examples of activities people could pencil in.
"It's about doing fun, relaxing things even though you might not feel like it," Dr Carbone says.
6. Read up
Don't shy away from a good self-help book.
Dr Carbone says there are many to choose from and they can be helpful.
Some guides for depression and anxiety can also be downloaded or ordered from Beyondblue's website at http://bit.ly/2uf8Spz.
7. Find help online
"There are some organisations that provide telephone and online counselling," Dr Carbone said.
"There's so many options nowadays."
8. See a GP or psychologist
There's no need to battle depression alone, and seeing a qualified doctor or counsellor can have massive benefits.
For more info on finding a counsellor or psychologist in person or online head to: http://bit.ly/2hBpztm.
9. Find the right person to help
Sometimes finding the right therapist can be a process of trial and error.
Dr Carbone says, particularly if people are struggling with trust, it's important to find a suitable person they can connect with.
"The thing about depression is it's a very personal experience and you need to find someone you can trust," he said.
"Sometimes you don't find the right person straight away.
"Eventually you'll find someone you click with."
10. Talk to others
Peer-to-peer support forums are a popular popular feature on the Beyondblue website, says Dr Carbone.
The forums allow those who are suffering with depression and those who are recovering, to share their experiences with each other in a safe, moderated environment.
The forums can be found at: http://bit.ly/2oZecif.