Depression affects 5 percent of today’s workforce. This means that one out of every 20 people suffers from depression from our mothers and daughters to coworkers and spouses. Have you ever felt some of the symptoms of depression or maybe you recognize someone at home or work who is showing signs? With various treatment options and a progressive corporate culture that looks after the well being of its employees, there is a plethora of choices to manage depression.
Bernard Davidson, PhD., associate professor of psychiatry and licensed psychologist at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University reminds us that depression shouldn’t be anything to be ashamed about. “It shouldn’t be any different than being treated for an upper respiratory or cardiac problem,” says Davidson.
Though he’s quick to point this out, unfortunately someone in the office next door may be struggling in silence due to the unfair stigma that’s attached to so many mental illnesses including depression. Davidson says symptoms of depression can range from fatigue, lack of motivation, and trouble concentrating to experiencing negative thoughts and isolating behavior. He encourages anyone to seek professional help if they are experiencing any of these symptoms or feel they may be clinically depressed. Don’t be ashamed. The earlier the individual seeks help, the less drastic the treatment measures may need to be and the less the problems seem to feel insurmountable.
Following are some of Dr. Davidson’s recommendations for managing depression:
• Take a mental health break to avoid a breakdown. Think of this as if you were diagnosed with the flu and felt terrible. Would you be coming into work?
• Check into the assistance options your employer offers from wellness initiatives and EAP’s to support groups or insurance covered therapy.
• Exercise is proven to be beneficial to your body and mind by reducing irritability and helping with mood. Find an exercise class or hit the great outdoors for some cardio and an instant mood booster!
• Practice deep breathing. Slow, mindful breathing can help you recenter yourself. Take four to five deep breaths every two to three hours.
• Reduce negative thinking. Get out of the vicious cycle of negative thinking by willfully choosing not to jump to conclusions, not to have unrealistic expectations or make overgeneralizations. Avoid self-condemning behavior, irrational conclusions and distorted interpretations of events.
• Join a support group.
• Recognize your trigger points at work and prepare for them in advance.
• Lighten up on your own expectations. Many people suffering from depression have a feeling of “it must be perfect or else”. To avoid feeling like you failed, don’t set unrealistic goals. Break goals into manageable bits and give yourself a reward when achieved.
• Make sure to get eight hours of sleep and avoid alcohol before bed. It can act as an initial sedative, but will come in between you and your pillow later for a restless night.
• Eat healthy and regularly.
• Don’t isolate yourself. Though you may not be in the mood for company, its best if you can have some face-to-face interaction. Don’t rely on your computer for all communication throughout the day even though modern technology enables us to accomplish most tasks without ever having a face-to-face interaction.
• Do unto others. Offering to help others may just be the best medicine for a new frame of mind. Often by spreading joy to someone else, we can lift our own mood too.
• Practice positive self talk.
• Express your feelings in a journal. Start by writing down your thoughts in the privacy of your own journal. Take a few days and reflect on your writings. You may find that things don’t seem as bad as they did a few days ago.
Each individual’s situation is unique. Different tips will work better for some patients than for others. By taking things slowly and seeking medical care, over time patients will adopt their own personal tool kit to best manage depression.