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a guide to overcoming depression

DEPRESSION SPECIAL REPORT A GUIDE TO OVERCOMING DEPRESSION 12 TIPS FOR TREATMENT THAT WON'T COST A FORTUNE Although therapy and anti-depressants are considered the most effective treatments for depression, Cassey Chambers of the South African Depression and Anxiety Group says these free at-home treatments can also help: 0 FOLLOW A ROUTINE Get out of bed and get dressed everyday—even if you have nothing to do. You're likely to be more irritable than usual, so schedule in some time for relaxation. Try to do the things you remember enjoying before the onset of your depression, such as reading, listening to music, sewing, woodwork, painting or watching television. SET GOALS Keep them simple, non-stressful and realistic, as you may not yet be well enough to complete all your normal activities. Break large tasks into small ones and set priorities. Do what you can when you can, but don't beat yourself up if you fail. EXERCISE Any form of physical exercise, however small, is beneficial — even a short walk can boost your energy and motivation and give you some muchneeded 'feel good brain chemicals. toEAT WELL & AVOID UNHEALTHY HABITS Diet is important for preventing tiredness or feeling run down. If you lack an appetite, eat small snacks rather than large meals. Drink lots of water and avoid alcohol, smoking and drugs — alcohol in particular is a depressant (it can make you feel better in the beginning but worse after its effects wear off). GET A GOOD NIGHT'S SLEEP Go to bed at the same time every night and, more importantly, get up at the same time every morning. If you are having trouble sleeping, avoid exercise and caffeine after 17h00 and steer clear of non-prescription sleeping pills and alcohol — these substances can make your sleep restless or interfere with antidepression medications. EDUCATE YOURSELF Learn about and understand your mental illness, along with its possible causes. It will help to remove much of the fear, guilt and misconceptions. Give books to relatives and friends to read so they understand what you're experiencing and can help. KEEP A JOURNAL Write your feelings down; it will help you to put things into perspective. *DON'T DO ANYTHING RASH Avoid making big decisions (such as changing jobs, moving, getting married or ending a relationship) until you are feeling better. HONOUR ACHIEVEMENTS Acknowledge the small goals that you accomplish each day. Rather than isolating yourself, surround yourself with positive people and let them support you through this difficult time. ANIII JOIN A SUPPORT GROUP leirp It can be liberating to go somewhere where everyone understands and no one judges — it may be the first time people truly understand what you're experiencing, as well as a great place to get helpful advice. DO VOLUNTEER WORK Help others — go to an old-age home, a hospital, a church or a school and find out what help they need, even if it's just once or twice a week. Remember that you are an important part of your community. REMEMBER: HEALING TAKES TIME Depression is not your fault and isn't something you can overcome with willpower alone. Treatment is necessary for depression, just like for any other illness. Don't give up on treatment if you don't feel it working straightaway: doctors say it can take two to four weeks for anti-depressants to have an effect on symptoms, and up to eight to 12 weeks to achieve their full effect. The same goes for talk-based therapy.