My 3 tried and tested tools for depression
I’m Emma and when I was 20 I was diagnosed with severe depression and anxiety. Now, I’m healthy, happy and finally ready to talk about my experiences in the hope they will be useful to you.
These three tools helped me during my recovery from depression.
MoodGym is a free, online training programme with five different interactive modules based on the principles of CBT. The course regularly assesses depression symptoms and there’s a workbook to log your progress.
I was very sceptical about this, but over time I actually found it really useful and have since been recommending it to others. At first I really didn’t think the online thing would offer me anything, but the ‘warpy thoughts’ test they use to identify your vulnerabilities is pretty creepy. For a start, I thought most of those things, I had for a while, but I’d never considered them ‘warpy’.
As depression creeps up on you, slowly over time, people don’t realise that the way they feel isn't healthy. I found during recovery that the best way to accept treatment was to understand what was actually wrong with me in the first place. That’s why MoodGym is so useful - it takes you through easily digestible chunks, and none of the exercises are too overwhelming. It's an easy way to supplement therapy, or provide it to those who don't have access to a CBT therapist or psychiatrist.
Depression Quest is a fictional role play programme designed to emulate the feelings caused by depression. You are given a variety of scenarios and you have to choose the right options, taking into consideration medication, therapy and other factors.
Although it wasn't a recovery aid, Depression Quest helped me understand that others felt the same way as I did. It’s actually uncanny how well they described my behaviour. It made me realise that other people have the same thought processes as I do, which is kind of good to know when you’re surrounded by people without mental health issues.
People without depression can also use it too, for empathy. It’s a very frustrating ‘game’ to play - sometimes, the correct options are crossed out because people with depression cannot always make rational decisions. I used it as a way of explaining to other people what was going on with me.
The Mental Health Foundation have a selection of podcasts that are by far the most useful thing on this list.
These were recommended to me by my mental health practitioner after diagnosis, and they have been a life saver ever since. The collection is free, easy to download to your phone or iPod, and can be used anywhere.
I would recommend these specific podcasts: Stress and Relaxation: Quick Fix Breathing Exercise, Wellbeing and Sleep: Quick Fix Relaxation Exercise, Stress and the Mind: Quick Fix Relaxation Exercise.
The podcasts were invaluable to my recovery – I still remember when I had a black-out moment on the train, but used a podcast to help me through the situation and thank god, or I’d of ended up on the floor of a Northern Rail carriage.
The podcasts listed come in 'Full Works' versions, but I really like the 'quick fix' exercises because they are short and can be done anywhere - ideal for if you're getting worked up in public or are struggling to sleep at night. I occasionally still use them now, just to control day to day stresses, and I highly recommend giving them a go. It's a little bizarre, doing a breathing exercise with a doctor in your ear, but they are really useful, practical pieces of information.
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