Depression and anxiety are more common than you might realize. In the UK, approximately 1 in 10 adults experience depression and 1 in 5 adults experience anxiety. In fact, the UK is one of the most depressed countries in the world.
The causes of depression and anxiety can vary from person to person. Some common causes are stress, major life changes, physical health issues, trauma, and genetic factors. Stress from work, family, and social pressures can lead to depression and anxiety. Life changes such as a new job, death of a loved one, or breakup can also lead to depression and anxiety. Physical health issues such as an illness or injury can also lead to depression and anxiety. Lastly, trauma such as abuse, war, or natural disasters can trigger depression and anxiety.
Depression and anxiety can also be triggered and maintained by negative thinking patterns, distorted beliefs, and avoidance of difficult emotions. Negative thinking patterns are thoughts that focus on the negatives of life and ignore the positives. Distorted beliefs, such as “I’m not good enough” or “nothing will ever get better”, can further fuel depression and anxiety. Finally, avoidance of difficult emotions, such as pain, sadness, and shame, can cause these feelings to build up and lead to depression and anxiety.
Now that you know some of the causes and maintenance of depression, here are 10 strategies to help manage or prevent depression:
- Connect with others: Reach out to friends, family, and/or professionals. Having social support can help you stay grounded and connected to your feelings.
- Engage in relaxing activities: Take a bath, listen to music, read a book, etc. Anything that helps you relax and feel calm and content.
- Exercise regularly: Exercise releases endorphins, which help regulate moods and improve your overall mental health.
- Create structure: Having a daily routine can help give your life some predictability and consistency which can reduce stress.
- Get plenty of rest: Lack of sleep can increase depression and anxiety. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night.
- Monitor your thoughts: Notice any negative or distorted thinking patterns and actively challenge them.
- Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness helps you focus on the present moment and can help reduce stress.
- Eat healthily: Eating balanced, nutritious meals can help promote mental wellbeing.
- Establish boundaries: Say no to things that you don’t want to do and take time for yourself.
- Ask for help: Don’t feel ashamed to reach out for help if you need it. There are many professionals and support systems available.
Depression and anxiety can be treated and managed effectively, but it’s important to have a plan and make sure that you’re taking care of your physical, mental, and emotional health. Practice self-care and make sure you’re taking time for yourself. Remember, you’re not alone – there is help and support available to you when you need it.