Talking about it
Sharing a problem with someone else or with a group can give you support and an insight into your own depression. Research shows that talking can help people recover from depression and cope better with stress.
You may not feel comfortable about discussing your mental health and sharing your distress with others. If so, writing about how you feel or expressing your emotions through poetry or art are other ways to help your mood.
Here is a list of depression self-help groups and information on how to access them.
Read more about how talking to other people can help you to cope with depression.
Smoking, drugs and alcohol
It may be tempting to smoke or drink to make you feel better. Cigarettes and booze may seem to help at first, but they make things worse in the long run.
Be extra cautious with cannabis. You might see it as harmless, but research has revealed a strong link between cannabis use and mental illness, including depression.
The evidence shows that if you smoke cannabis you:
- make your depression symptoms worse
- feel more tired and uninterested in things
- are more likely to have depression that relapses earlier and more frequently
- will not have as good a response to antidepressant medicines
- are more likely to stop using antidepressant medicines
- are less likely to recover fully
Work and finances
If your depression is caused by working too much or is affecting your ability to do your job, you may need time off to recover. However, there is evidence that taking prolonged time off work can make depression worse. There’s also quite a lot of evidence that going back to work can help you recover from depression.
Read more about returning to work after having mental health issues.
It’s important to avoid too much stress, and this includes work-related stress. If you’re employed, you may be able to work shorter hours or work in a more flexible way, particularly if job pressures seem to trigger your symptoms. Under the Equality Act (2010) all employers must make reasonable adjustments to make the employment of people with disabilities possible. This can include people with a diagnosis of mental illness.
Read more about how to beat stress at work.
If you can’t work as a result of your depression, you may be eligible for a range of benefits, depending on your circumstances. These include:
Looking after someone with depression
It’s not just the person with depression who is affected by their illness. The people close to them are too.
If you’re caring for someone with depression, your relationship with them and family life in general can become strained. You may feel at a loss as to what to do. Finding a support group and talking to others in a similar situation might help.
If you’re having relationship or marriage difficulties, it might help to contact a relationship counsellor who can talk things through with you and your partner.
In this video, a relationship counsellor explains what couples therapy involves and who it can help.
Men are less likely to ask for help than women and are also more likely to turn to alcohol or drugs when depressed.
Read more about caring for someone with depression.
Coping with bereavement
Losing someone close to you can be a trigger for your depression.
When someone you love dies, the emotional blow can be so powerful that you feel it’s impossible to ever recover. However, with time and the right help and support, it is possible to start living your life again.
Find out more with these videos and articles all about how to cope with bereavement.
Depression and suicide
The majority of suicide cases are linked with mental disorders, and most of them are triggered by severe depression.
Warning signs that someone with depression may be considering suicide are:
- making final arrangements, such as giving away possessions, making a will or saying goodbye to friends
- talking about death or suicide – this may be a direct statement, such as "I wish I was dead", but often depressed people will talk about the subject indirectly, using phrases like "I think dead people must be happier than us" or "Wouldn’t it be nice to go to sleep and never wake up"
- self-harm, such as cutting their arms or legs, or burning themselves with cigarettes
- a sudden lifting of mood, which could mean that a person has decided to commit suicide and feels better because of this decision
If you are feeling suicidal or are in the crisis of depression, contact your GP as soon as possible. They will be able to help you.
Helping a suicidal friend or relative
If you see any of the above warning signs:
- get professional help for the person
- let them know they are not alone and that you care about them
- offer your support in finding other solutions to their problems
If you feel there is an immediate danger, stay with the person or have someone else stay with them, and remove all available means of committing suicide, such as medication. Over-the-counter drugs such as painkillers can be just as dangerous as prescription medication. Also, remove sharp objects and poisonous household chemicals such as bleach.
Read more about how you can stop someone with depression committing suicide.