HELP FOR DEPRESSION
Print or download
Self Help for
Depression as PDF
can happen to anyone - and does happen to one in four of us over our lifetimes.
Different factors that make it more likely to happen, include biological make-up,
upbringing, or reaction to life events. What keeps it going though, is how we
deal with those
things. The way we think and what we do affects the way we feel. Depression is
often accompanied by other feelings such as guilt, shame, anger and anxiety.
People who are depressed tend to think very negatively about themselves, the
future and the world around them. It can be like seeing life through "gloomy
Everything is hopeless - nothing can change
I'm useless, worthless
It's all my fault
The world is a terrible place - everything goes wrong
We can dwell on these thoughts repeatedly, mulling over things, asking ourselves
why, thinking regretful things about the past, what we should or shouldn't have
Tiredness, fatigue, lethargy
Difficulty concentrating or remembering
Sleep changes (sleep more or less)
Eating changes (eat more or less)
Lose interest in hobbies, activities, sex
Because of the tiredness, difficulty sleeping and eating, and negative style of
thinking, we tend to do less and less. We stop doing the things we used to do
and enjoy. It could get so bad that we can`t even go to work, or do things at
home. We want to stay in bed, or stay at home doing very little. We might
isolate ourselves from friends and family.
Vicious Cycle of Depression
Vicious Cogs of Depression
By looking at the "cogs"
that keep the central problem going, we can target and make positive changes
in each of the cogs, which will at least, slow down, and at best, stop, the
central problem, for example:
Print a blank
PDF and fill in the factors that keep your depression going.
BREAKING THE CYCLE
Activity & Physical Exercise
When we're depressed, we can feel particularly tired and lack any motivation to
do anything. Just increasing our activity and exercise levels can
make an enormous impact on our mood as it stimulates the body to produce natural
anti-depressants. Just increasing our activity and exercise levels can
make an enormous impact on our mood by:
Making us feel better about ourselves
Making us feel less tired
Motivating us to do more
Improving our ability to think more clearly
Helping us think about something other than focussing on our unhelpful thoughts
Using up the adrenaline resources created by anxiety and anger
Giving us a sense of achievement
Being with other people
Stimulating the body to produce natural anti-depressants
Making us generally more healthy
Stimulating our appetite
Schedule ACE activities each day which give you a sense of:
Closeness to others
Use an Activity
Diary, or the ACE
It's important to get a healthy balance of activities which give you a sense of
achievement, enjoyment and being close to others. Choose activities which are
important to you, have positive meanings, or are purposeful, and you might want
to plan rest periods too.
realistic and set achievable limits. Eg aim to walk for 15 minutes rather
than a half-marathon, or wash the dishes rather than spring clean the whole
house. Don`t set yourself up to fail! You can build up your activity over time.
If you struggle with motivation....use the 5 minute rule. Commit to do the
activity for just 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, you can choose to stop or continue
(and you might find that you want to continue)
When you're doing well, or remembering to pace yourself, doing more of what
helps, or doing less of what doesn't - give yourself a treat, a pat on the back.
DOING THINGS DIFFERENTLY
If lack of activity and tiredness is helping to maintain our negative thinking,
and therefore keeping us depressed, then doing more (in spite of feeling tired
and depressed) will help us feel better.
Do something different (to what you normally do)
Mindfulness - learn Mindful
Focus your attention fully on another activity - Mindful
Relaxation techniques - try lots and find one that works
Put on some music - sing and dance along, or just listen
attentively (use music that is likely to help you feel your desired emotion -
avoid sad songs if you`re depressed)
Meditation or Prayer
Be with others - contact a friend, visit family
Talk to someone
Grounding techniques - look around you, what do you see, hear, smell, sense?
Hold a comforting object.
Physical exercise - walk, swim, go to the gym, cycle
Engage in a hobby or other interest - if you don`t have one, find one! What have
you enjoyed in the past? What have you sometimes thought about doing but not got
Write down your thoughts and feelings - get them out of your head.
Just write, or use a
thought record sheet.
Just take one step at a time - don`t plan too far ahead
Pamper yourself - do something you really enjoy, or do something relaxing
Positive self-talk - encourage yourself, tell yourself: I can do this, I am
strong and capable - find an affirmation that works for you (even if you don`t
believe it at first!). Write it down and memorise it for when you need it.
Do something creative - make a box of items that remind you to use the
techniques that help, or put photos on paper, or write and decorate a list
Consider using a
Light Box- particularly with Seasonal Affective Disorder (Depression due to lack of natural light, e.g. every winter,
although some people experience SAD at other times)
Use Safe Place Imagery
Tell yourself: "This will pass, it`s only temporary". "I`ve got through this
before, I can do it now". When we`re going through a tunnel and become fearful
of being trapped, there`s no point in stopping - we just have to carry on in
order to reach the end of the tunnel. That light is there, and waiting!
Notice the positives -
write down or record 3 positive things every day.
Visualise yourself enjoying doing the things you used
to enjoy doing, or would like to enjoy doing, and successfully doing the things
you need to do.
STOPP! Pause, take a breath
What am I reacting to? What have I been thinking about here?
Am I getting things out of proportion?
Is this fact or opinion?
How important is this really? How important will it be in 6 months time?
Am I expecting something from this person or situation that is unrealistic?
What is the worst (and best) that could happen? What
is most likely to happen?
Am I using that negative filter? Those gloomy specs? Is there another way of
looking at it?
What advice would I give to someone else in this situation?
Am I spending time ruminating about the past or worrying about the future? What
could I do right now that would help me feel better?
When I think back to that
time I made such a bad decision, could I be looking at it with a
Am I putting more pressure on myself, setting up expectations of myself that are
almost impossible? What would be more realistic?
Am I jumping to conclusions about what this person meant? Am I (mis)reading
between the lines? Is it possible that they meant something else?
What do I want or need from this person or situation? What do they want or need
from me? Is there a compromise?
Am I just focusing on the worst possible thing that could happen? What would be
Is there another way of looking at this?
The helicopter view
Am I exaggerating the good aspects of others, and putting myself down? Or am I
exaggerating the negative and minimising the positives? How would someone else
see it? What`s the bigger picture?
Notice the positives
Things aren`t either totally white or totally black, there are always shades of
grey. Where is this on the spectrum?
This is just a reminder of the past. That was then, and this is now. Even though
this memory makes me feel upset, it`s not actually happening again right now.
What would be the consequences of doing what I normally do?
Is there another way of dealing with this? What would be the most helpful and
effective action to take? (for me, for the situation, for the other person)
Challenge your automatic thoughts
Visualisation: Breathe in orange (for positive energy)
and breathe out blue/black.
Print or download Self Help for
Depression as PDF
Coping with Suicidal
Depression Quick Reference PDF
Depression Thought Record Sheet
vs Draining Activities
Behavioural Activation Worksheet
Healthy Eating for Depression
Challenge your automatic
Self Help resources
Self Help mp3s to
reinforce or as stand-alone therapy
POSITIVE IMAGERY FOR DEPRESSION
Female voice, with music.
29 mins 15s
BEHAVIOURAL ACTIVATION FOR DEPRESSION mp3
Female voice, with music.
POSITIVE IMAGERY FOR DEPRESSION
Male voice, with music.
More Self Help mp3s
Self Help Books