Practical tips on helping yourself or someone you love suffering with depression

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OK, if you or someone close to you is feeling down, then the last thing you want is to have to read a thesis on what you can do which might give you a sense of immediate help.

 

So the first thing to do is to establish how down you or your loved is : use this list of questions:

 

Score the questions for yourself or your loved one in the table below.

 

Answer: Not at all – score 0

 

Answer: Several Days – score 1

 

Answer: More than half the days – score 2

 

Answer: Nearly every day – score 3

 

1) Do you or the person concerned have little interest or pleasure in everyday activities?

 

2) Do you/they feel down, depressed, or hopeless?

 

3) Do you/they have trouble falling or staying asleep, or sleeping too much?

 

4) Do you/they feel tired or have little energy?

 

5) Do you/they have a poor appetite or overeat?

 

6) Do you/they feel bad about your/theirself – or that you/they are a failure or have let your/theirself or family down?

 

7) Do you/they have trouble concentrating on things, such as reading the newspaper or watching television?

 

8) Do you/they move or speak so slowly that other people could have noticed?

 

9) Do you/they fidget or appear restless or that you/they have been moving around a lot more than usual?

 

10) Do you/they have thoughts that you/they would be better off dead, or of hurting your/theirself in some way?

 

Add your scores on each answer and this may give you some greater awareness of your/their state of mind.

 

If you have scored 5 or more, please speak to someone, even if it’s just a friend, THERE’S NO SHAME in asking for help, despite the stigma and judgement that society has imposed on us, IN FACT it takes great courage to to ask for help.

 

Let’s say, you have established the diagnosis indicates you are suffering from depression, what can you do about it ?

 

Here is a practical list of dietary modifications you can try, which may help.

 

 

Food for “thought”

 

 

Foods thought to help someone suffering from depression (please BE VERY CAREFUL IF YOU HAVE FOOD ALLERGIES or ARE DIABETIC – SPEAK TO YOUR DOCTOR).

Although I have read many, many books on depression, quite simply you might just want a list of things you can try :

 

  • Fish, particularly oily fish. High concentrations of Omega 3 taken three times a day have helped many people.
  • Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, legumes, skinless chicken and turkey, (high in selenium).
  • Black tea, but no caffeinated tea/coffee/cola after midday.
  • Dark chocolate in moderation two or three small squares a day.
  • Tomatoes.
  • Mushrooms.
  • Onions.
  • Avocado.
  • Dark leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower (known as cruciferous vegetables).
  • Beans and pulses (lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans and others).

Selenium is essential for brain function. Increases in dietary selenium, especially in people who are deficient may improve mood and depressive symptoms. Research hints that selenium may be used in the future as a preventive measure or in the treatment of depression or other psychiatric conditions. If you are experiencing depression, selenium deficiency might be the culprit. Selenium is essential in the diet. Proteins, called selenoproteins are complexes of selenium and protein that carry out important cognitive and mood functions in the brain.

To add to this try and stay away from booze, alcohol is a depressant.

 

Keep yourself well hydrated, but be careful. You can drink too much water. Let your body tell you when it needs a drink. What we experience as hunger, can actually sometimes be dehydration, so have a glass of water before eating.

 

Another choice that may be available to you, (and let us be straight here, this is not me on an altar saying “do this and do that and you’ll be saved !!”). It’s simply saying there are things that you can try if you want to; If you feel like it, try to minimise the amount of processed food.

 

You’re better off eating a raw carrot, an apple and a handful of almonds than going to one of the very well-known hamburger or pizza franchises.

 

Other “Avenues”

 

It may help you to visualise building a toolkit for dealing with your depression.

 

So other items that might be in your “armoury” are :

 

  • Going to the Gym, going for a run, or walk.
  • Writing or painting, Art can be an exceptionally cathartic and a safe way of expression.
  • Offer help to someone else, perhaps an elderly neighbour, you might be amazed how this can affect your own self image.
  • If you are finding that you have confusion in your mind, and cannot focus on any one thing, take a piece of paper or even dedicate a journal, to your “thoughts”. If you can actually use a journal, you will find in time, as your entries and writing develop, that you can look back and see how your mood changes.
  • If you have a particularly favourite activity that you really enjoy, for example, fishing or golf, try to make time for regular engagement in these activities. It helps to have something to look forward to.
  • Sleep is vitally important, there are many things that you can do to prepare for sleep. I call this sleep hygiene.

 

Sleep Hygiene

 

  • Drink chamomile Tea say 1 hour before bedtime.
  • Put a drop or two of lavender essential oil on your pillow….NO MORE THAN two.
  • If you’re going to exercise in the day, do it early.
  • If you are going to shower before going to bed, do it at least a couple of hours before.
  • Get a blackout blind for your bedroom.
  • Keep well hydrated during the day, so that as you move towards the end of the day you need to hydrate less. This means less chance of needing the bathroom in the night.
  • Wear earplugs if noise is an issue.
  • Wear eye patches if light is an issue.
  • If possible have a window open or slightly ajar as this will promote circulation of air.
  • The bedroom is meant for sleep, remove books, TV, radio or any connected electrical appliance.
  • No caffeine after midday.
  • It’s thought the TYPE of light emitted by iphones and some android devices, trick the brain into thinking it’s daytime, so turn off your phone or computer and read or watch TV say three hours before sleep.
  • Write down the issues that are causing you irritation, worry, angst…..and if you are inclined to deal with them, do so early in the day.
  • Buy yourself a new pillow. If your pillows are old, they may be comfortable, but they may hold a lot of allergens. If you can’t afford to buy a new one then wash you old one at a minimum of 60 degrees celsius.

 

I wish you all well in your journey

 

With Love, peace and hope

 

Jacob

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