Saturday, March 5, 2011

Depression-proof your life

A recent article in the British Journal of Psychiatry warns that the current economic crisis and changes in traditional female and male roles are likely to cause an increase in depression rates among men.

photo by Salvatore Vuono
Men and women often experience depression differently. For many women depression means feeling sad, worthless or guilty, while men are more likely to admit to feeling easily tired, being irritablelosing interest in once–pleasurable activities, and struggling with sleep.

Different life events may also affects both genders differently, and a commentary on Men's Health Forum argues that unemployment has a much bigger impact on men because of male identity being strongly related to professional roles and work, and men's social network are more likely to be work-centred. In this context losing a job not only means losing a source of income and an important role of a breadwinner, but also affect your self-esteem, confidence, sense of belonging and a crucial source of support.

In the current climate of economic uncertainty is there a way of depression-proofing your life?
It is impossible to guarantee that you will never become depressed but here is a list of 7 steps you can take to reduce the risk of becoming depressed:

1. Take care of yourself. Build your self-esteem: list things you like about yourself and learn to accept what you can't change. Make sure you do things you enjoy as often as you can. Surround yourself with people who you like and who like and support you. Don't take too much on. Learn to say no.

2. Manage stress. Changes in the brain triggered by stress are similar to those in depression, and chronic stress can cause physical damage to your brain. So learn to relax, meditate or release bad emotions, whether through exercise, yoga, meditation or talking to someone trusted.

3. Get regular exercise. Even when you not feeling like it, get up and go for a walk, run, to the gym or a game of your favourite sport. Exercise is a fabulous antidepressant as it releases hormones of happiness, boosts our own serotonin levels (low level of serotonin is the mechanism of depression), reduces stress, helps getting rid of body tension and improves sleep. These benefits can be further increased if you exercise outdoors.

4. Be connected. Social isolation and loneliness can cause depression, and depression increases your chances of feeling isolated. Cultivate supportive relationships - family, friends, social groups you belong to. If you currently don't have many supportive people around you, join a group or forum - whether it's a hobby club, your local church, or a group dedicated to supporting people with depression or other mental health problems.

5. Develop healthy lifestyle habits. Get enough night time sleep. Have regular routine. Eat healthy.

6. Get rid of that negative thinking. Whether you're guilty of all-or-nothing, jumping to conclusion, overuse 'should', disqualify the positive or tends to see what fits your mood - try to change it. Here's more information on cognitive distortions that can lead to depression.

7. Ask for help when you need it. Learn how to recognise signs of depression and don't be afraid or embarrassed to ask for support and seek professional help.

What are your favourite ways of keeping depression at bay?


  1. enjoying nature is my favourite way to keep depression at bay, whether its enjoying the swifts flying outside my windows in the summer or going for a long walk

  2. Thanks for popping in, Crafty Green Poet (lovely nick :))
    I think being connected with nature is one of the best ways of keeping healthy in body and mind. It's a fantastic way to manage stress, exercise, improve sleep. I also like going for long walks in great outdoors - not only it keeps depression at bay but also boosts my creativity :)