What can I myself do against depression?
If you have a diagnosis – burnout, exhaustion depression, depression – then try the low-hanging fruits first, maybe something will already help you. It is important that you try it for at least 3 weeks, because it takes a while until the effect becomes apparent. IMPORTANT: This is not a medical expert article and for every individual different therapies, supplements, drugs and actions help. This is just an example of what helped others in the same situation. And be aware that this is a list for inspiration, you do not have to do all of it, just find out what fits for you!
What can I do myself?
- Exercise/going for a walk – It is very important that you get out in the fresh air as often as possible, even if only for a few minutes, as it can improve your mood, releaving anxiety, and even release endorphins. In the beginning, it is perfectly ok to walk around the block only once or to take several breaks.
- 10,000 lux light therapy once a day for 15-20 minutes. Klarstein, for example, has such light devices that you can get cheaply on ebay.
- Take SAM-E food supplements. More information here and for the one´s that love to read a lot I recommend Slate Star Codex, a blog written by a psychotherapist – thanks to him we found out that SAM-E could help (https://slatestarcodex.com/2014/06/16/things-that-sometimes-help-if-youre-depressed/).
At i-herb from the USA the supplements are almost 50% cheaper than in German pharmacies. Here you can also get Doctor’s Best, Double Strength SAM-e (Disulfattosylat), 400 mg, 30 magensaftresistente Tabletten. (Important note: this is not a medical recommendation, please ask your doctor, psychologist, psychatrist for advice.)
- Take vitamin tablets – vitamin D weekly depot 7,000 I.U. It is important that you look at the I.U. value. The higher the value, the more vitamin D is contained in a tablet. This means taking the 7,000 I.U. tablet you only have to take one tablet a week instead of several tablets with lower doses. Take Vitamin B and C. You can buy it cheaply for example in the drugstore.
- Journaling – write down your worries, how you feel – this can help you feel lighter and better
- Good sleep – try to go to bed at the same time each day, develop a bedtime routine such as reading, listening to music, meditating and get up if you cannot sleep after 15 minutes and read, meditate or listen to music, avoid screen time
- Mental health apps – there are mental health apps where you can track your mood, therapy apps, breathing apps, meditation apps and many more
- Experiences – this is easier said than done, do not be too strict with yourself but try to plan at least once a week those experiences. Here are some inspirations:
- Playing an instrument – piano, guitar, viola, drums, etc.
- Doing sports – tennis, volleyball, football, climbing, hockey, golf etc.
- Going for a walk in the forest or a hike
- Painting people, nature, abstract ideas
- Singing alone or in a choir
- Meeting friends
- Dancing – Salsa, Bachata, Zumba, standard – latin dance, african dance, Zouk etc.
- Geocaching – Geocaching is a worldwide treasure hunt where you can discover new places and can find a cache, which you can then note as found in the app.
- Sewing – Amigurumi is currently a trend. These are small, cuddly animals that you crochet yourself.
- Bird watching
- Build something such as a bird´s house
- Set yourself goals in your job and what you still want to see in the world, but also give yourself time to heal and do not expect exhausting trips on other continents if your energy is not yet enough to do so. Small steps are better than no steps.
- Drink enough – women should drink at least 2 liters a day. To make it easier for you to drink more, choose drinks that you like, such as spritzers, tea, or spice up your water with a few orange slices or fresh lemon or mint. I also highly recommend the Water Drink Reminder app, where you can track how much you’ve drunk to remind and motivate yourself.
- Body therapy – “The body psychotherapist combines psychotherapeutic methods with physical exercises. From body awareness exercises to breathing exercises and psychophysiological stress management methods, body psychotherapy offers techniques and exercises for a wide range of problems.” (Source: https://www.netdoktor.de/therapien/psychotherapie/koerpertherapie/)
You should also get help from outside. It would be great if you could start making appointments with doctors because the waiting time for endocrinologists, psychotherapists and psychiatrists is long, noramlly 3-6 months. If you are better by then – great – if not, you have secured an appointment that you can still cancel, which will make another patient happy who gets an appointment promptly.
- family doctor/general practitioner is the first medical doctor you should contact. She/he is there for physical as well as mental illnesses. Every fifth person gets a depression once in their life, so it’s quite normal for doctors to treat this illness. The doctor checks that everything is physically ok – blood test, blood pressure, skin test, organs, so that a physical illness that leads to symptoms similar to those of depression can be ruled out.
- endocrinologist – tests your thyroid more thoroughly than most doctors do, as they also test your T3 and T4 levels, as well as other hormones – hormones can be responsible for your depression. Here it would be good to have a medical direction (Überweisung) to a specialist, in this case the endocrinologist. You can get it at your family doctor or women at their gynecologist.
- Psychotherapist – health insurance companies pay for depth psychology and behavioural therapy
- Psychiatrist – prescribes medication, e.g. for depression – psychotherapists and general practitioners do not usually do this – except possibly natural preparations.
For most people diagnosed with depression, it takes a lot of effort to admit the diagnosis and get help, so it often takes 3 months or more for the patient to admit to themselves that they can’t get out of the situation without help. It is a pity that the 3 months are “lost”. Therefore, if you manage to secure appointments with your family doctor, endocrinologist and psychiatrist, this is a lifeline that you have already secured for yourself. You don’t have to do this yourself, you can also ask your partner or friends to support you. For example, friends could find suggestions for doctors in your area and then you choose