Tools for Depression Recovery

depression recovery

There's so much information available to us today about depression and different recovery methods or therapies that it can be simply confusing to both sufferers and their families alike. Sometimes the simplest approach can provide for us the best way of getting the basics of recovery components fully understood. Below is a list of five key tools which together form a sound basis for healthy recovery.

Healthy Eating: Eating a Balanced Diet for Recovery

Much has been written by nutritionists and physicians alike about the importance of getting a healthy, balanced, nutritious diet to promote a stable mood. A simple change could be adding "good mood foods," such as oily fish, broccoli, bananas and nuts to increase energy levels and boost your mood. Eating regularly, for example every couple of hours, reduces the risks of low blood sugar levels which in turn have the undesirable effect of destabilising moods. Another simple cost-effective change is to include frozen fruit and vegetables as well as snacking on cereals where you get the benefit of calcium from the milk and ideally vitamins/minerals from the cereal.

Regular Exercise: Walking your Way Back to Recovery

Secondly, it is important to highlight that a main key to recovery from depression involves getting moving or "activated" again. The benefits of regular exercise, even just a half hour daily walk, include the following: release of natural endorphins "feel-good" chemicals, boost to vitamin D and serotonin levels, reducing isolation through meeting people as you go along. Taking a pet out (friend’s or neighbour’s pet will do if you haven’t got your own!) especially a dog is also a great way to get motivated about exercise. As dogs make a beeline for other "new friends," it’s a great ice-breaker for talking to new people.

If possible, getting yourself to your local leisure centre for a swim or attending a fitness class (or even relaxation to begin with) is another way to prevent feeling isolated and provides another good opportunity to get physically and mentally strong again whilst potentially making new friends at the same time.

Support Groups: Connect for Recovery

Thirdly, support groups provide much needed interaction and knowledge through learning how others have strengthened their own recovery and thus providing hope for your own future. EA (Emotions Anonymous) is a very widely respected 12-step group appropriate for different types of mood disorders. Just getting out of the house and attending a meeting can be a significant step forward. There is much to be said about the old saying of "a problem shared is a problem halved."

Your National Depression Support Association will provide you with a list of local support groups in your area, often specialising in specific approaches or mood disorders. Online chat forums can also be a huge help (providing of course they are "recovery focused and non-triggering") as they will reduce isolation. The best way to find a group or forum is to find out what others have found useful. A lot of mental health websites provide user-friendly message boards and opportunities to share your story as well as read how others have got their health back.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy: Thinking Recovery

Fourthly, the value of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) must be recognised and is something one can work on alone through the use of self-help books or with the aid of a therapist.

Central to CBT is challenging negative thoughts; common errors for sufferers typically include over-generalising, black and white thinking, catastrophising and polarised thinking. Also there is an emphasis on challenging core beliefs; getting underneath the depressive thoughts is vitally important as these beliefs such as "I am not good enough" or "I am a hopeless" simply serve to keep the depressive cycle going round. Writing such thoughts or worries down helps one step back and begin to challenge them as they are viewed from a new, healthier perspective.

Timetabling is another useful strategy; the more time one has structured, filled with work/rest/leisure activity the less time there is to be ruminating on unhelpful thoughts. Filling in a daily timetable the night before also provides a purpose for getting up the next day and ticking off the activities at the end of each day offers a sense of achievement that is very often lacking in the midst of depressive illness.

Also there is great benefit to be found through setting up behavioral experiments; gradually take small steps to change behaviors relating to depression, such as reducing isolation. For example, go out with a close friend for a drink, then perhaps a meal with a colleague the following week. It is also important to begin to stop avoiding things as this only keeps the cycle going.

Diary : Writing your Way to Recovery

Fifthly, a diary can provide powerful insight for both patient and therapist into what is truly going on underneath the collection of depression symptoms. Using a diary to keep track of feelings, moods, changes in thinking patterns and behaviours is a really productive means of maintaining a check on how recovery is progressing. Also, it provides a useful way to see how recovery has changed and which areas have got easier over recent months and years. Through having a record of one’s thoughts and feelings one can then begin to recognise potential triggers and take action to better cope with such situations in the future.

Depression Recovery Conclusion

To conclude, as any sufferer and health professional knows only too well, depression recovery is hard, particularly as it is not something one can see like a broken leg. But nevertheless, with strong support it can be overcome. It is crucial that those affected by mood disorders such as depression accept that getting better cannot be done in isolation (this only keeps the illness going) but in reaching out and sharing the journey with fellow sufferers.

Essential to depression recovery is hope - hope that there is a better, healthier, more productive life out there and hope for full psychological, mental and emotional healing. It is hope that gets us through the darkest of "depression days" and gives us the peace that the sun will shine on us again.

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