Updated: Dec 5, 2022
Depression is a normal emotion that human has since the beginning of time. It serves a protective purpose to us like all of our other emotions. Sometimes, we don't feel like ourselves. Sometimes, we have a bad day that makes us feel low or down, that's depression. Everyone can have a depressed feeling. However, Clinical Depression is a different story. When a person is clinically depressed, it's not easy for people to "just pull themselves out of it" or "just snap out of it". With more understanding and demystifying of clinical depression, we can all be better able to manage depression, learn from it, and make it useful for our lives instead of letting depression drag us down and keep us in a dark place.
Clinical depression is one of the most common mental illnesses. Depression can cause severe consequences; as bad as death if left untreated. Did you know that one in 8 Canadian adults reported that they suffer from depression? Also, studies show that women are more at risk of depression than men (3). This blog aims to demystify depression, raise your awareness of depression and equip you with management skills for depression.
What is depression?
Clinical Depression is a mental illness that negatively affects how you think, feel, and act. It causes a feeling of sadness or loss of interest in activities that you used to enjoy, and it can affect your ability to perform daily tasks such as sleeping, cooking, eating, working, and many more areas of your life. (1).
Screening for depression
How do you know if you are at risk of depression? Screen yourself through the symptoms of depression below (1&3):
Always feeling sad and depressed
Feeling guilty and worthless
Loss of interest in things or activities once enjoyed
Having difficulties in sleeping, concentrating, decision making, and eating
Slowed movement or speech
Unable to sit still and write
A substantial change in body weight
Loss of energy
Thoughts of death and suicide
Differences between depressed feelings vs. clinical depression:
It is normal that people sometimes feel depressed and sad. It is important to distinguish whether you are normally depressed or suffering from clinical depression. When the sad feelings persists for longer than two weeks, we recommend you get professional help. It's not a sign of weakness! You don't have to do this alone!
Here are some tips we want to share with you on how to manage depression. Online screening could help you identify whether your depression is affecting you.
Self-care is one of the most effective ways to take care of depression. Making plans for self-care based on NESTS can help lessen depression efficiently. NESTS stands for five ingredients: nutrition, exercise, sleep and rest, time for yourself, and support(4).
What can I do to help myself from depression?
Here are the things you can do for self-care. Please note that they are based on the NESTS program offered at B.C. Women's and Children's Hospital.
Join support groups for depression
Move more; increase physical activity
Spend time with friends and family
Get a pet
Getting enough sleep and eating a healthy diet
Do what can to make you happy
Set small goals and meet them
See a counsellor
1. Join support groups for depression
There are online peer support groups available for people with mental health illnesses MDABC Support Groups - MDABC. You can share your stories securely and listen to others' stories by sharing your unique experience in the support group. The support group allows you to learn from others and connect with people who share a similar experience with you.
Canadian Mental Health Association also offers services and support groups to people who suffer from depression
Joining support groups meets the fifth letter in NESTS, which is that you receive support from people, volunteers, or professionals.
2. Move more; increase physical activity
Walking and exercising will help you to lower the symptoms of depression. They can be as effective as medications (2). Try to walk around your neighborhood, or go hiking in mountains or forests. Moving around can help you to boost your energy levels. As you move, depression will be removed.
Doing exercises meets the second letter of NESTS while exercising helps boost your mood and create a feeling of relaxation.
For those who are in the deep hole of depression, doing regular exercise can be completely out of the window. Then remember, the key is to MOVE. As long as you are moving, that is all you need. The small move can include: roll from left to right on your bed; put your slippers on even when half of your body still lying down on the bed; move from your kitchen sink to your fridge. Move from your bedroom door to your bathroom door. Don't judge them as too small of a move. You will find all those movements are amazingly useful because it activates your body and gets you to start rolling. When a person tries to battle depression, any small move is like a hill in front of them. So pat yourself on your back for being able to move no matter how small it is.
3. Stay with friends and family
Try to stay with your loved ones, as you will know that you are loved and supported and you are not alone. Accompanies and interactions with others can help remove the sad feelings. You can also express your thoughts and feelings, and they might have ideas to help you overcome those negative thoughts.
Staying with friends and family again meets the fifth letter in NESTS. Social support from friends and family and healthy relationships will protect you from depression. Choose your friends wisely. Feel free to only take on the opinions that support you, not those which reject, misunderstand or downplay your experiences.
4. Get a pet
While friends and family may be the best company, sometimes it can be difficult to find the time. Pets can be the best friend who will always be around you. There are many kinds of animals such as dogs, cats, fish, bunnies, and birds that you can choose as a pet. Playing and talking with them can help you relax and eradicate loneliness. Taking responsibility for a pet can also help with depression as it will provide structure to your day as well as a meaningful task.
Playing with a pet meets the fourth and fifth letters of NESTS. Spending time playing with a pet will increase your happiness, and a pet can also act as a support for you, especially when your friends and family are not around you. Stuffed animals that have eyes and a mouth are not as lively as real animals, but can serve the purpose of you needing someone to listen and company.
Volunteering is a good way to get you to exercise, interact, and make friends with people. It also allows you to try out something new which might trigger your interest in new activities. The process of offering helps and receiving help from others can also help improve your mental help.
Volunteering meets the second, fourth, and fifth letters in NESTS. Volunteering can get you to increase physical activity. It also allows you to discover things that might interest you and do things you like. In addition, you are likely to receive and offer support from other volunteers and to people.
6. Getting enough sleep and eating a healthy diet
Getting enough sleep can help you to concentrate and gain energy to fight against depression. Depression is energy draining. Our body then will naturally look for ways to gain energy, such as eating, which is likely to change your body weight. Choosing a healthy diet gives you nutrients to maintain your health and body weight. And you will monitor the amount of food you take in when following a particular type of diet. Try to choose foods that are rich in vitamins and other nutrients. You can also try meal planning to make sure you consume the right amount of nutrients daily.
This apparently meets the first and third letters in NESTS, nutrition, and sleep and rest.
7. Do what can make you happy
Depression would likely make you become not interested in things you used to enjoy. If you could, keep doing what you used to enjoy and hopefully re-spark your passion. Or try to discover new hobbies and interests such as reading, writing, cooking, listening to music, painting, swimming, singing, etc. Spend some time trying out these new activities and stick with one or two activities that you enjoy. Studies show that listening to soothing music makes you relax, and listening to rock-style music can help you to fight depression effectively. Music therapy could be a fun thing for treating depression that is recommended.
Doing things that make you happy meets the third letter in NESTS. Spending time by yourself includes doing hobbies, sitting alone for a few minutes, and connecting with others allow you to manage your symptoms of depression.
Meditating gives you time to re-center and think calmly. It allows you to relax and enjoy the environment that is around you. Meditation can help reduce stress levels and depression effectively. Setting aside 5-10 minutes is sufficient to get started.
Meditation also meets the third and fourth letters in NESTS. It not only allows you to rest and relax but also allows you to enjoy the time and think.
9. Setting small goals
While fighting against depression can be difficult, setting small realistic goals allows you to achieve them easier so that you will not get upset or give up easily. When making plans for your self-care, you can set goals like spending 30 minutes walking around your house every day, instead of spending 2 hours walking on a mountain located 50km from your house every day. Although spending more time in nature is more helpful than walking in the cities, you should also make sure the goals are attainable when you set them. Try to be patient in helping yourself, it is a time-worthy process.
This section falls under the fourth letter of NESTS. Spending time to make a plan that matches your preferences will make the process easier and enjoyable.
10. See a counsellor
Depression is not an easy challenge to overcome. It needs time, patience, and appropriate care for a cure. If self-care does not work or if you do not know how to help yourself out, our counsellors at Nuway are well-educated to help you fight depression. We walk you through the dark hole, sit with you without judgment for as long as you needed, and provide you with practical skills and tools that help you battle depression. They use various therapeutic approaches that match your unique situation. And they are your personal secure planners.
Seeing a counsellor also falls under the 5th letter of NESTS, which is getting support from a professional. Wait no more! Click the button below to book a session with a counsellor now.