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Depression: How To Overcome It

How To Prevent A Relapse

Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - 15:34

Contributing Author: Guy Slowik FRCS

While recovering from depression:

  • Take it one day at a time.
  • Don't expect too much too soon.
  • Set realistic, doable daily goals.
  • Take part in activities that make you feel better.
  • Do not underestimate the power of laughter. It's hard to feel depressed when you're laughing.
  • Seek out people who are supportive and helpful.
  • Stick to your treatment plan; for example, take your medication as prescribed and keep your psychotherapy appointments.

Sometimes the early phase of counseling can be difficult as the person recalls sad or frustrating experiences. The person must give the therapeutic process a chance to help one deal with such situations. This is one key to taking charge of one's emotional health.

How To Information:

People at risk for depression, and those who are depressed, should avoid :

  • Alcohol and drugs. These may temporarily numb one's emotional pain, but they will depress the nervous system well into the next day. Alcohol and drugs can also interact badly with some antidepressant medications.
  • Negative situations and judgmental or demanding people who bring one down. Avoid "friends" who are mainly interested in negative gossip and in hearing about one's problems. Such people usually become disinterested in hearing about one's successes.
  • Isolation. Don't withdraw from others, no matter how tempting. Get out among people, even if it means going for a walk in the park or attending a museum exhibit.
  • Brooding. If one gets on a negative train of thought, practice distraction techniques to derail the train. One simple technique is to inwardly (or, if possible, vocally) shout "STOP!" to oneself, or to physically bang one's fist on a solid object, such as a table, while shouting "STOP!" Replace the thoughts with positive or more productive ones. Learn the art of meditation, which can clear the mind of useless thoughts and foster inner calm. There are many self-help tapes and books on meditation and other relaxation and distraction techniques, such as creative visualization or guided imagery.

Who Is At Risk For Recurring Depression?

Any individuals who have experienced clinical depression are at risk of relapses throughout life. At higher risk for recurring depression are:

  • Individuals who have suffered at least two episodes of depression (they are at higher risk for another bout within five years)
  • People with dysthymia
  • People with bipolar disorder

How Can Friends And Family Help?

  • If a loved one is depressed, don't tell the person to just "snap out of it." It's not that simple.
  • Be supportive and listen to complaints without being judgmental.
  • Depression is a biological illness. Learn about the facts and the myths.
  • If someone is so depressed that he or she is not functioning normally, assist that person in getting to a doctor and in keeping appointments. Remind them to take their medication on schedule.
  • Encourage the depressed person to participate in enjoyable activities, but don't "push" or pressure the person.
  • Consider family therapy or a family support group if the person's depression is associated with factors affecting the whole family.
  • Pay attention to remarks about suicide. Encourage the person to report these feelings to his or her therapist or doctor.

Depression: How To Overcome It