You might be depressed if you experience 5 or more of these symptoms for more than 2 weeks.
- You lose interest for things you usually enjoy
- You feel sad, cry for no reason
- You are always tired, no energy
- You sleep too much
- You have difficulty sleeping
- You have gained weight very quickly
- You lost you appetite
- You feel guilty, worthless
- It’s hard for you to concentrate
- It’s hard for you to take simple decisions
- You can’t stay still or you don’t feel like you can move
- You think about death and suicide (please get help immediately)
1- Get help!
In Canada you can consult your general physician, he will make the diagnosis and refer you to the proper channels. The Canadian healthcare system is well equipped to give you complete team of mental health professionals. One website that helped me was www.depressionhurts.ca/. If you live in Quebec, you should definitely go to a CLSC they were the most helpful.
If you feel like you are loosing control or yourself, you have a suicide plan, please contact a suicide help line or CALL 911
If you work, check with your employer (HR) if they have a help program for employees, it’s becoming very common.
Most school and Universities have Health care professionals on site. They are usually free. Remember that depression is an illness like any other one, it needs to be treated by a health care professional.
2- After the diagnosis
So the doctor gave you the diagnosis, you have clinical depression (or major depression) what do you do next?
Try to find a psychologist, register for a psychiatrist and look for a support group. You can find all these information online. There are many free mental health support groups they help a lot. You might have to wait to get psychologist, finding a psychiatrist will take even longer but in the mean time there is no harm in looking for support elsewhere. Online forums and blogs helped me a lot.
3- They prescribed you meds
Many times, when it’s a general physician who prescribed your medication, he won’t take time to explain what they are and what to expect from them. Do your research, ask questions to your pharmacist.
When are your depression medications gonna start to work ?
They usually take 4 to 6 weeks to kick in, so you need patience. You are not gonna feel high are super happy from them, the change is gonna be slight but it might make a big difference. They also might not work, it generally takes a couple of adjustments before they find the perfect combination of meds.
4-Schedule you days
If you are depressed, your agenda is your best friend. Your memory probably sucks and you don’t feel like doing anything so you will need some extra help.
-Make a list of what you like to do (or what you used to like)
-Make a list of what you have to do
Now schedule your days to do:
1 chore per day (It might be just to do 1 load of laundry)
1 activity you like (taking a nice bath for example)
1 physical activity (In the beginning it might mean 5 minutes walk around the block)
and try to get outside everyday. It will be hard to do all of them at first but be compassionate towards yourself.
5-If you have trouble sleeping
This is a huge reason why you are so tired when you’re depressed. The body can’t work properly when it’s sleep deprived. If you have trouble falling asleep here are some tips that can help you:
-Turn off all electronics when you are ready to sleep
-Don’t go to bed before you’re sleepy
-Avoid naps (very hard I know… I tried spending my days out of the house so I could resist)
-Try meditation (You can find guided meditation to sleep videos on YouTube)
-Drink something hot before bed
-Do some relaxation exercises
My biggest problem with sleep was that I had very bad sleep quality. I kept waking up. I had to take sleeping pills. Most sleeping pills are addictive when they are not taken properly and when you are not followed by a doctor. I was on them for about 3 months then he took me off them. I still don’t sleep but it’s a choice now.
Journaling is proven to help depression. This will help you keep your sanity. Most of the time, you won’t find people who really understand what you’re going through, and journaling is a great way to get out those feelings that are eating you alive. You can burn them when you finish writing, what’s important is that you stop ruminating. You can find online some websites that give you journal topics or you can just Google self help tools for depression and you will find plenty of tools to help you sort out your feelings.
This is it for my how to guide for depression. I will explore the subject further in other mini posts.