Avoiding the black dog

blackdogSometimes life gets you down. If you feel like you’re being stalked by the black dog of depression, you’re not alone – In fact 1:4 people are affected by depression at some time in their lives.

Some of the things you might be feeling that indicate depression include:

  • having difficulty sleeping or sleeping a lot, trouble getting out of bed in the morning
  • grouchy and snappy with loved ones
  • teary or over emotional
  • losing or gaining weight
  • avoiding others
  • loss of interest in things you used to love doing
  • difficulty concentrating
  • thoughts of worthlessness and hopelessness
  • thoughts of self harm

If you are feeling suicidal, or have thought about how your might hurt yourself, call a suicide helpline now. In Australia it’s 13 11 14

Depression can be caused by an event, but this is not always the case. If you are suffering from depression and you have a good idea what is causing it (loss of a loved one, bad relationship, bullying at school or work, losing your job etc) acting on the precipitating event is not always possible, sometimes it just takes times.If you think you might be able to change what it is that is making you suffer, such as escaping an abusive relationship or looking for a new job, make a plan how you will do it. Be aware that if you need to escape a domestic violence situation this is the most risky time and you will need the help of friends, family and DV services.

1. Talking to friend or a mental health counsellor about your problem is the first and best thing you can do. Don’t try to go it alone: left to our own thoughts, we can sometimes magnify them and make things seem worse and before long that black dog has become a bear.  We all need the reality check of an outsiders input. Other options include Lifeline or Beyond Blue helplines – you can call or message online For an empathetic non-judgmental ear you can also try calling Lifeline or Beyond Blue. Details below.

2. Look after yourself Junk food, alcohol or drugs might seem like a quick fix, but in the long term it will delay your recovery and introduce new problems.

3. Get enough sleep Depression can make it hard to sleep, and a tired body has more trouble coping with small everyday stressors.

4. Eat healthy foods Plenty of fruit and veg and water. Highly processed junk foods put more digestive burden on your body increasing lethargy. Avoid caffeine as it heightens feelings of anxiety.

5. Get exercise Even though it might be hard to get out of the house, exercise can help your release tension. Exercise is know to release endorphins in the brain, a feel-good neurotransmitter. Try swimming or a short walk to the shops and back.

6. Experience nature Bushwalking, watching birds, visiting a beach or climbing a mountain are all activities know to increase calmness and reduce tension.

7. Go easy on your loved ones Often we are snappy and moody because we feel bad about ourselves, but take it out inadvertently on our loved ones. Try going for a walk if you feel like you might have an argument with a loved one.

8. Socialise Sounds like the last thing you feel like doing, but contact with others is known to help lift mood. Force yourself to go to one social thing a week, be it a group therapy session or a movie with a friend.

9. Learn relaxation techniques Relaxation techniques including meditation, Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP, voice guided mediation recordings), deep breathing and others can help reduce anxiety. NLP is a good way to help you get to sleep at night by helping block out the automatic thoughts that keep you in a cycle of depressions. Beyond Blue has some relaxation ideas here

For more help:
Beyond Blue http://www.beyondblue.org.au/
Lifeline helpline http://suicidepreventionaust.org/help/

If you know someone who is at risk of hurting themselves, don’t do nothing. http://suicidepreventionaust.org/help/helping-someone-else/

Headspace youth mental health help http://www.headspace.org.au/

For 24 hour online DV counselling service visit the 1800 RESPECT website http://www.1800respect.org.au

Phone numbers in Australia:

  • Lifeline: 13 11 14 crisis support chat
  • Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467
  • Men’s Line: 1300 78 99 78
  • Veterans Line: 1800 011 046
  • Qlife: 1800 184 527
  • Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800
  • If you need to leave an abusive relationship: 24 hour phone: 1800 RESPECT  (1800 737 732).
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