“One way people talk about depression is that it is like retreating into a cave.
Hibernating animals do show similar biochemistry to people with depression. It reminds us that depression is a physical condition as much as mental.”
What is this toolkit?
We aim to provide you with reliable information for your self care that has been independently and expertly assessed. Mainly we choose options that have the evidence, and provide links so you can see that evidence for yourself. We also mention some of the most plausible and widely-used self care options around the world, where these are likely to be safe and so worth a try.
Find out more about how this resource was put together in the About Us link above.
You can choose your self care treatment options from the list below.
How do you use this?
|Good evidence suggests this is well worth trying.
|Some research suggests that this is worth trying.
|A little research suggests this might be worth trying.
|Not much research or uncertain results - however safe enough and might still be worth a try.
|Costs will be from nothing to £15 per month. This category also includes options that might be available on the NHS even though getting them privately may be expensive.
|Costs could be up to £50 one off or per month although may be less.
|Expect to pay more than £50 per month.
|No safety concerns.
|Caution if you have certain health problems.
What to watch out for
This site gives you information NOT medical advice. You should consult your medical practitioner if you have any unexplained symptoms of illness or concerns about treatment. Do not stop a prescribed conventional treatment without consulting a doctor. Tell all the practitioners you’re working with, conventional or complementary, about any medicines, remedies, herbs or supplements you are taking or considering using.
What do we mean by depression and low mood?
Everyone feels down in the dumps occasionally. It’s a natural response to difficult events, and it usually passes in a few weeks. People often think that’s what depression is. But when depression becomes an illness it involves more extreme feelings, such as worthlessness, loneliness and despair, and these feelings don’t go away so easily.
People with depression may lose interest in things that would usually appeal to them (including food and sex). Physical symptoms are also common. Tiredness and loss of energy, a dry mouth, indigestion, loss of weight, sleep problems (particularly early morning waking) and mood swings may all be part of the picture. Severe depression is dangerous because people may start to feel like ending it all. But because these thoughts of suicide are symptoms of depression, they go away when the cause is treated properly. So it’s vital to get medical advice if you suspect you are ‘clinically depressed’. Depression is curable!
Depression is not all in the mind either – it is more than a mental problem. It comes with real physical changes and may be a relic of older ways to escape difficult circumstances. For example hibernating animals go through similar changes in their their body’s biochemistry (See a research abstract here). Some of the most useful things for depression also involve helping the body, like getting better quality sleep, doing exercise and eating good food.
Things that people have found helpful
If you are depressed it won’t help if people just say ‘pull yourself together’. You will almost certainly need support from healthcare professionals. But there are also many things you can try yourself that may help.
- Exercising helps your body produce natural anti-depressant chemicals. Start getting out for a half hour walk or a jog every day.
- Aim to get enough sleep but don’t spend more than 8 hours in bed.
- Spruce yourself up! Feeling clean and fresh goes more than skin deep.
- Tackle some housework or potter around in the garden or the allotment.
- Phone someone you like, who you’ve lost touch with.
- Arrange to meet up with people to do something you used to enjoy.
- Think about volunteering. Being helpful can make you feel better about yourself. To find something in your area go to Volunteering or call 0845 305 6979.
- Eat a balanced diet and try not to eat too much or too little.
- Don’t let the big picture overwhelm you. Break things down into small tasks and aim to achieve one or two that seem manageable. Success will boost your morale.
- When daylight and sunlight are in short supply many people suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). A special light can help – they are widely available. See the NHS Website on SAD for more information.
- Discuss potentially useful complementary therapies with your doctor or practice nurse.
- Don’t be fooled that alcohol or recreational drugs will help. They can definitely make depression worse.
What other information might be helpful
- If you think that you might be suffering from anxiety (feeling nervous or having worrying thoughts that are making you feel very tense), you might find our pages on STRESS AND ANXIETY helpful.
- If you have general feelings of pain in several places in your body and this is making your low mood worse, you might find our pages on MUSCLE ACHE helpful.
- If you think your low mood might be caused by lack of sleep, you might find our pages on SLEEP PROBLEMS helpful.
- If you are feeling exhausted, you might find our pages on TIREDNESS AND FATIGUE helpful.
- NHS Website
- Royal College of Psychiatrists
- BluePages is produced by the Centre for Mental Health Research at the Australian National University. This website provides information on treatments for depression based on the latest scientific evidence. It also offers screening tests for depression and anxiety, a depression search engine, and links to other helpful resources.
- Healthtalkonline is a website where people share their experiences of being unwell. They have a very helpful section where people who have been through depression talk about their experiences.