In today’s blog post, we take a review of the ‘Quick Fixes for Depression’. We begin by understanding depression along with the causes and some facts about depression. We then move to understanding the need for a Quick-Fix, which we can perceive from the perspective of a psychological first-aid or a supplement to therapy and professional help. Lastly, we take an account of all the quick fixes for depression.
Quick Fixes for Depression:
Depression is a major mental illness, affecting the lives of more than 264 million people globally, across all age groups. Although there has been a steady rise in the awareness of mental health and the need to address depression, many people affected by it may not have access to the services. Quick fixes or psychological first aids can be beneficial to these people. Additionally, even for those who have access to mental health professionals, the quick fixes can serve to be a source of first aid at the time of emergency when help may not be around.
Depression is a mood disorder, wherein the person experiences feelings of sadness, anger and loss which significantly interferes in the day-to-day functioning of the individual.
Depression is more than just a constant state of sadness and has several other symptoms. Apart from affecting the mood, depression also affects several other aspects of the individual’s life, such as physical health and social and occupational functioning.
Certain common symptoms of depression include:
- Disturbed mood which is characterised by anger, aggressiveness, crying spells, irritability, anxiousness and restlessness.
- Lower emotional wellbeing marked by feelings of emptiness, sadness, hopelessness.
- Lack of sexual interest (in adults)
- Effects on cognition, such as talking slowly, inability to concentrate, forgetfulness, difficulty in completing tasks
- Effects on behaviour such as withdrawal from social engagements,decline in school performance, suicidal behaviour,no longer finding pleasure in favourite activities, smoking, substance and alcohol abuse.
- Sleep disturbance in terms of inability to initiate sleep or maintain sleep as well as excessive sleeping.
- Deterioration of physical health such as fatigue, appetite loss, eating too much,pains, headaches, weight gain or loss, digestive and bowel movement issues.
- Family History
Family history of depression due to the genetic vulnerability can increase the person’s chances of developing depression.
- Early childhood trauma:
Early trauma, especially unresolved trauma can affect the way the mind and body react to stress thereby increasing the risk of depression.
- Brain structure:
Studies show that less activity in the frontal lobe of the brain increases the individual’s susceptibility to developing depression.
- Other medical/mental health conditions:
Depression may often occur as a comorbid condition to other medical conditions such as cancer, accidents, heart diseases as well as mental health conditions such as ADHD, Anxiety,Insomnia.
- Drug use:
Depression can occur as a withdrawal symptoms in the context of drug use.
Facts about depression:
- Depression is one of the most common mental disorders.
- Depression is a major cause of disability and is a primary contributor of the overall global burden of diseases.
- Women are more likely to be affected by depression than men.
- Depression increases the susceptibility to suicidal ideations as well as a suicide attempt.
- Psychological as well as pharmacological treatments have been successful in the treatment of depression.
- Although treatment is available, about 65%-85% people from the middle to low income group do not have access to the treatment modalities.
Why do we need quick fixes?
Quick fixes or first aid is an essential step towards promoting mental health. It is important to understand that these quick fixes or first aids cannot replace the long term professional help, but they may play a vital role in providing relief from overwhelming symptoms of depression, until professional help becomes available.
Quick Fixes or first aid for depression:
The following underlined methods can help in providing transient relief at the time of distress. However, it should be noted that these techniques must not be used as a replacement for professional assistance.
- Engaging in physical activity:
A good walk or a run can indeed do miracles.Other forms of physical activities may include dancing, working out, cycling, swimming and gardening. One of the major reasons why physical activity may be beneficial for depression is that it helps improve the mood of the person, and helps in reducing anxiety. It helps release the feel good endorphins in the brain such as endogenous cannabinoids and other brain chemicals which help in enhancing the mood.
It also helps in taking one’s mind off the rumination which is a common feature of depression, additionally it helps boost confidence and is one of the most adaptive ways of dealing with the situation.
- Set small goals:
Day-to-day function can get severely hampered due to depression. One way of gaining control over the situation and one’s functioning is to set small goals on an everyday basis. These goals can be as basic or as complex in nature. The individual can set small goals such as ‘making breakfast’, ‘taking a shower’, ‘cleaning the room’ or ‘bathing the pet’. These small but significant goals help the individual feel accomplished and in control of the situation rather than getting the feeling of being controlled by the situation.
- Challenging/Disputing negative thoughts:
Cognition also takes a severe hit during depression. A way of countering negative thoughts and rumination is to dispute one’s own thoughts in order to replace them with more rational and empowering thoughts.
This can be done in the following way- the individual can be asked to stand in front of the mirror and say the negative thought out loud. This can then be followed by a counterargument to that thought. In this way, the person himself/herself will be able to dispute their negative thoughts.
- Assisted sleeping:
Sleep can be affected in depression. However, efforts to restore a sound sleep schedule can be carried out. This can be done by playing soothing music while sleeping, listening to motivational talks or reading favourite quotes can be helpful. Additionally, having a warm glass of milk or taking a shower before bed can also help induce sleep.
- Identifying triggers:
Negative emotions, thoughts or maladaptive behaviours can be triggered by specific stimulus. The first step towards healing is to identify and gain insight about the tiggers within the self and environment. After this, if possible try to move away or take away the triggers from the surroundings to minimise the risk of the symptoms getting aggravated.
These triggers can be of several types including certain people, certain books, music, movies, ideologies or even elements on social media.
- Spend time with loved ones:
Socialization may get difficult in depression, but having social support can go a long way in helping the person function to the best of their capacity in the difficult times. A person with depression may feel the need to isolate themself due to the assumption that others may not want to be bothered by the issues of the person, however, socialisation and spending time with significant people can serve as a reminder that the person is cared for and also helps provide a different point of view on things.
Friends and family members also serve to motivate the person and studies show that strong friendships lead to better health and emotional regulation as compared to being isolated.
- Follow the EGS:
In the EGS, E stands for Enjoyment, G stands for gratitude and S stands for satisfaction. This method involves the person to try and enjoy each activity they do, no matter how small or simple it may be.
This can then be followed by expressing gratitude about those activities by making a note of these in the gratitude journal. These notes can then be read whenever the person experiences a low mood or negative and intrusive thoughts. Positive instances and memories serve to be a reminder of the good things that happened in the past and helps reinstalling hope.
- Reduce alcohol intake:
An individual may often turn to alcohol and even drugs to get rid of the negative and intrusive thoughts that often damage self-esteem. However, it is important to understand that alcohol intake can provide a short term distraction from the symptoms and cannot serve to be a permanent solution.
Prolonged alcohol intake increases the probability of additions and can have dangerous side-effects.
- Role models can be helpful:
In many situations, a book, a person, a movie or even a song can help motivate the person. Listening to music, podcasts, accounts of people who overcame depression or a situation similar to what the person is currently experiencing can serve as a motivation to recovery.
Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness.
What we recommend for Depression
If you are suffering from depression then ongoing professional counselling could be your ideal first point of call. Counselling will utilize theories such as Cognitive behavioural therapy which will help you live a more fulfilling life.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What vitamins help lift your mood?
Studies suggest that there is an association between the food and the brain functioning and hence researchers have identified ten nutrients that can help combat depression such as calcium, chromium, folate. Iron, magnesium, omega-3, fatty acids, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D and zinc.
What are general methods used to treat depression?
The most commonly used approaches to treat depression include the cognitive behavioural therapy, interpersonal therapy, rational emotive behavioural therapy and psychodynamic therapy. Usually an integrated and eclectic approach is implemented.
Does depression count as a disability?
Depression is accounted as a psychiatric disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Depression can interfere with daily activities and can affect the general social and cognitive functioning. Severe depression can lead to a deep rooted impact on the individual’s capacity to carry out even the day-to-day activities.
What is the primary cause of depression?
Life events can be termed as the most common cause of depression. These events can include long term unemployment, living in an abusive or uncaring relationship, isolation or loneliness, long term work stress can cause depression in the current situations.
What depression does to your brain?
Depression increases the levels of cortisol in the brain which leads to enlargement on the amygdala. This part of the brain is associated with the emotional responses. When the amygdala becomes larger and more active, it may cause sleep disturbances, changes in the levels of activity and changes in the hormonal levels.
Can depression change your personality?
Mental illnesses can lead to personality changes in adults. Issues such as anxiety, depression, PTSD can lead to changes in the personality. Mental illnesses can also be induced by traumatic life experiences, genetic makeup and also from accidents, injury or illness.
In today’s blog post, we took a review of the ‘Quick Fixes for Depression’. We began by understanding depression along with the causes and some facts about depression. We then moved to understanding the need for a Quick-Fix, which could be perceived from the perspective of a psychological first-aid or a supplement to therapy and professional help. Lastly, we took an account of all the quick fixes for depression.
I hope this blog post serves to help people address their mental health issues and find the tools useful. Please let us know of any queries or comments that you may have.