Anti-depression habits to support your wellbeing

Are you dragging yourself round and saying to yourself, What is wrong with me? Pull it together!”.

As Christmas comes around we can think we have to feel the ’joy of the season’ if the advertising is to be believed. However, some of us do not feel joyful or even neutral. In fact we can feel blue and down in our mood and for no apparent reason.

Since beyondblue made depression better known in our community more people have a better understanding that feeling down or blue or low in your mood for extended periods is not the normal way we should.

Depression is much more common today than it was in the community 50 years ago. Even though we are more likely to talk about it today than we did 50 years ago, more people are experiencing signs of depression.

Depression is often misunderstood so let’s be clear about what it is and what it is not. A diagnosis of depression will be made if mood is low for at least two weeks, if your self-esteem is low, you are extra critical of yourself, you feel unreasonably guilty, you have feelings of being worthless, you have no energy and feel lethargic, your appetite has increased or decreased, you can’t concentrate, your sleep is poor, you have trouble getting to sleep, you wake repeatedly, and/or you wake early, you have lost weight without intending to, or you find yourself thinking about suicide.

If you more than one of these signs you should contact your GP to speak about it. Perhaps a friend may have spoken to you about changes they have noticed in you. Depression is often not recognized by ourselves but can be noticed by others around us.

Depression is not sadness. Feeling sad is a normal part of life. Depression is not normal.

Feeling like this can be very unpleasant and sometimes painful to feel so low in your mood. It is best to go to your GP and have them ask you a series of questions to establish what the possible causes may be and how life is for you right now.

It is important to remember that sometimes depression happens for no particular reason. There may be an interaction between the events in our life and the personal history or our biology that causes a change in the chemical levels that shape how we feel about ourselves, our life, future and others.

Treatment is often a combination of medication and psychotherapy. For mild depression psychotherapy alone may be sufficient to relieve the low mood and other signs.

However, when depression becomes more severe it is important to use the tools at hand that have proven effective. The evidence suggests that medication plus psychotherapy is the most effective way to treat symptoms of low mood and other signs of depression and to ensure that you do not have further problems in the future. This is called relapse prevention.

There are some strategies that can be useful for all of us in preventing depression. First, pay attention to yourself – do not neglect yourself. Be aware of your mood. How do you feel right now? Most of us do not have a clue and so become alarmed when we notice we are feeling low.

Second, exercise regularly. Exercise has been shown to have a beneficial effect on mood. Several times a week go out of your house and walk at a pace that makes your heart go a little faster. Some say “walk like you’re late”. For 20 minutes three times a week. Check it with your doctor before you walk if you have medical conditions that concern you.

Third, socialize. Have at least one conversation, however brief, each day. This keeps you connected to others. If you don’t feel like doing it, make yourself do it. Form the habit. Do it every day for six weeks and it will become a habit.

These are anti-depressive habits to support your wellbeing.