3 Tools To Help Deal With Depression
Depression is a significant mental disorder. In 2018, it affected over 300 million people globally and the World Health Organisation states that it is the leading cause of disability worldwide.
Depression is defined by low mood and a loss of interest in activities, with many patients also describing reductions in:
Dr Aaron T. Beck, the author of Depression, identifies mild and moderate degrees of the condition as:
“Mild: Patients state that they feel disappointed in themselves. This feeling is accompanied by ideas such as ‘I’ve let everybody down… if I had tried harder, I could have made that grade.
Moderate: The feeling of dislike is much stronger and may progress to a feeling of disgust with oneself. This is generally accompanied by ideas such as ‘I’m a weakling… I don’t do anything right… I’m no good’ and ‘I am a failure.’ ”
Depression can make completing everyday tasks difficult and tiresome due to a lack of energy. Often, it can be tough to find the motivation to do things you once enjoyed. However, some tools and techniques can be incorporated into daily routines to potentially improve symptoms of depression and quality of life. We have found studies that support three tools that are proven to have positive effects for people with mild-to-moderate depression.
1. Find Nature
A study titled The Benefits Of Nature Experience: Improved Affect And Cognition, conducted by researchers at Stanford University investigated affective and cognitive benefits of nature experience by assigning 60 participants to a 50-minute walk. The study found that those who took part in the nature walk vs the urban walk experienced the following:
- An increase in working memory performance
- A decrease in anxiety, rumination and negative affect.
Co-author of the study Professor Bing in Environmental Science, Gretchen Daily concluded that the results suggest, “accessible natural areas may be vital for mental health in our rapidly urbanising world.”
What is rumination?
Healthline defines rumination as “the process of continuously thinking about the same thoughts, which tend to be sad or dark.”
What is negative affectivity?
Positive psychology describes negative affectivity as “negative emotions and expression, which includes sadness, disgust, lethargy, fear, and distress.”
2. Computerised Cognitive Training
Jeffrey N. Motter and Alice Grinberg from the City University of New York conducted the study, Computerised Cognitive Training In Young Adults With Depressive Symptoms: Effects On Mood, Cognition And Everyday Functioning to understand the effects of brain training on young adults with depressive symptoms. The study comprised 46 young adults with at least mild depressive symptoms and tested whether processing speed and executive functioning-focused computerised cognitive training (CCT) could improve participants’ depressive symptoms more so than CCT based only on verbal ability. Participants used the brain training app Peak, five days a week for eight weeks. Pre and post-training, the participants’ depressive severity, everyday functioning and cognition were evaluated. The results revealed that both groups saw significant improvements in:
- Self and clinician-rated depressive severity
- Everyday functioning
Research shows that exercise has shown great promise in alleviating symptoms of depression. Dr Craft and Perna note in The Benefits of Exercise for the Clinically Depressed, that the overwhelming majority of studies conducted have reported a positive benefit of exercise on depressive symptoms and quality of sleep. One example of this can be found in running. Results of one study suggest that running can be just as effective as psychotherapy treatment of depression. Furthermore, research recommends that emphasis should be placed on the duration of exercise rather than the intensity or physical gains, the NHS recommends adults do 150 minutes of moderate-intense exercise a week to stay healthy. There are various forms of exercise and finding the right one could make a real difference to you and your mental wellbeing.
Depression can make you feel like a “failure” and can affect your everyday life, routine and relationships. It is important to acknowledge when feelings of sadness and hopelessness occur and try and take small steps in tackling and addressing these feelings.
The tools we have provided above are based on scientific research and studies conducted by third-parties. They are not treatments for depression but rather tools to help deal with mild-moderate depressive symptoms. If you are experiencing symptoms of severe depression it is important to seek the appropriate medical advice and talk to someone you trust.
Here are a few contact details if you or someone you know needs help, advice or support:
If you feel you are in crisis, please contact emergency services: 999 (UK) 911 (US)
Contact: 116 123
Contact: 0300 304 7000
NAMI (US) National Alliance on Mental Illness
Contact: 800 950 6264
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (US)
Contact: 1 800 273 8255
Beck, A. (1967). Depression. London: Staples.