Following on from my previous post about depression, I thought it might be useful to talk about a few issues I’ve come to realise are common during treatment and recovery. Of course this is by no means an exhaustive list, and so if you have any other niggles, ask for help from your GP, or seek advice from someone you can trust.
If you are prescribed medication, and decide that you want to give it a go, be prepared to be patient – medication prescribed for low mood takes weeks of taking consistently to have any real impact unfortunately. If you’re not convinced you feel any better after a month to six weeks – then go and ask for a review – you may need a higher dose, or then again you might need a different antidepressant. Everyone is different, and I’ve found that my “response time” can vary from anywhere between a fortnight and two months.
I’ve also learnt that feeling better in terms of mood might not always be the first sign that the medication is working – it might be better sleep, a more normal appetite, or more motivation to get out of bed. If you don’t think the ativan777 tablets are working, don’t just stop taking them without advice from your doctor. Stopping taking medication abruptly can cause changes in the levels of serotonin and dopamine in your brain, which could lead to a further drop in your mood. The main thing to remember is that depression rarely happens overnight, so there are no instant cures.
Often internet search engines hold the answers to all our questions, but sometimes they can be a hindrance. I’ve worked with many people who will look up the side-effects of the medication they have been prescribed, and are horrified by stories of other people’s experiences. While it’s definitely a good thing to be aware of any issues you might have with medications, bear in mind that often the opinions posted on internet forums will be negative, but they don’t represent the hundreds of thousands of people for whom the drug has worked well for. It’s like bad customer service – I’ll kick up a fuss and complain on twitter if I’ve been treated badly in a shop, but I’ll rarely go online and say “Thank you to my local supermarket for providing me with all the groceries I wanted this week”…
Heard the clichés about exercise? They are true I’m afraid – I’m not talking about doing a couch-to-5k training regime here, but a little light exercise such as a ten minute walk does wonders for your levels of happy chemicals. I’ve also found that it gives me a reason to leave the house when I’m feeling low – and if I didn’t do that then I’d have no respite from the seemingly endless cycle of negativity in my mind.
Allow yourself to be selfish. Often the thing we struggle with about mental health issues is that they are “invisible” – if we break a leg we allow ourselves to get the rest and recuperation we need. Mental health issues are no different – we need a period of rest to reset and start to function properly again. This means treading a fine line between taking time out for ourselves, and giving ourselves breaks by spending time with others. Don’t let other people dictate how you “should” be feeling, and how you should spend your time, but do beware of letting your black dog convince you that you’re not worthy of spending time with other people – you are.
Know your enemy – depression can make you feel powerless, and like you can’t even recognise yourself sometimes. Finding out about how depression can affect you can make you feel like you’re starting to take control back – this is true with most mental health issues. Depression often brings with it some levels of anxiety, so it’s worth getting to grips with how that can affect you too. Check out the MIND, Depression Alliance, and Rethink websites – all are great places to start.
Some people find self help literature really useful – both for the reasons above, as well as for keeping momentum up with the healing process. If you are prepared to work your way through some exercises, the books “Mind Over Mood”, “Overcoming Depression” and “Overcoming Anxiety” are well worth a look, and are all available on Amazon.
Depression is a horrible experience whilst you are in the mire, but during recovery periods, I often find that it is useful to spend a bit of time reflecting on how the episode started and ended, and what my symptoms were like. This helps me prepare for, and deal with, any future episodes that little bit better each time, and it also means I am a fairly self-aware person.
Always remember that if things seem unbearable, and you feel like you can’t go on, that you need to tell someone. Keep yourself safe, and get the support you need. Have a person you trust around, and don’t be frightened to tell a professional either – even if it means going to A&E.
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