While therapy and antidepressant medication are the most effective treatments for depression, home treatment is also important. There are many steps you can take to help yourself during a depressive episode and to prevent future episodes:
Set realistic goals for yourself, and take on a reasonable amount of responsibility.
Break large tasks into small ones, and set priorities. Do what you can when you are able.
Postpone major life decisions (such as changing jobs, moving, or getting married or divorced) when you are depressed.
Try to share your feelings with someone. It is usually better than being alone and secretive.
Let your family and friends help you.
Even if you don’t feel motivated, try to participate in religious, social, or other activities.
Get regular exercise.
Eat a balanced diet. If you lack an appetite, eat small snacks rather than large meals.
Avoid drinking alcohol or using illegal drugs or medications that have not been prescribed to you. They may interfere with your medications or worsen your depression.
Get adequate sleep. If you have problems sleeping:
Go to bed at the same time every night and, more importantly, get up at the same time every morning.
Keep your bedroom dark and free of noise.
Don’t exercise after 5:00 p.m.
Avoid caffeinated beverages after 5:00 p.m.
Avoid the use of nonprescription sleeping pills or alcohol, because they can make your sleep restless and may interact with your depression medications.
Be patient and kind to yourself. Remember that depression is not your fault and is not something you can overcome with willpower alone. Treatment is necessary for depression, just like for any other illness.
Try to maintain a positive attitude—remember that feeling better takes time, and your mood will improve little by little.
Helping someone who is depressed
If you know someone who is depressed, it is important to be supportive and encouraging. If you have never experienced it, it is difficult to understand just how hopeless and discouraged depression can make you feel. Remember that depression can be as disabling as other major illnesses and can make it difficult to fulfill social, family, and work obligations. Like other illnesses, depression requires treatment, time, and patience.
Avoid offering advice, but encourage the person to seek and continue treatment. You do not need to take responsibility for the person’s depression. However, if you notice any warning signs of suicide, such as talking about suicide or harming someone else, signs of detachment from reality (psychosis), or excessive use of alcohol or drugs, you should seek professional help immediately by calling the person’s health professional. If you feel the person is in immediate danger, call or other emergency services immediately.
Depression can lead to suicide. The warning signs of suicide change with age.
Warning signs of suicide in children and teens may include preoccupation with death or suicide or a recent breakup of a relationship.
Warning signs of suicide in adults may include alcohol or substance abuse, recent job loss, or divorce.
Warning signs of suicide in older adults may include the recent death of a partner or diagnosis of a life-limiting illness.
Author: Stuart J. Bryson
Medical Review: Patrice Burgess, MD – Family Medicine
Malin K. Clark, MD, FRCPC – Psychiatry
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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