Self help

Self help is a key component in sustained recovery from depression.  Engaging in self help starts with accepting responsibility for your own life and well being. For many people this will come from the realisation that they have much to gain through actively working towards recovery.

Self help is any activity that you can do either by yourself or for yourself that allows you to manage your depression, and promote and sustain recovery. Self help activities and techniques generally involve the development or reinforcement of life skills that help you to live your life in a more positive way.

Self help is not a quick fix and it can be difficult. It involves learning about yourself and your condition, and you will need to invest time and energy. But engaging in self help enables you to develop both your understanding and coping strategies, providing useful tools to help you to bring about your recovery and possibly prevent future relapses into depression.

There are many things that you can do to help yourself, including:

  • Complementary therapies
  • Finding out more about depression
  • Looking after your health
  • Managing your symptoms
  • Seeking appropriate help and support
  • Staying active
  • Tackling existing problems

It is also useful to learn from some of the common pitfalls that others with depression have fallen into, including:

  • Self-diagnosis and self-treatment
  • Quick-fix behaviours

Although self help is widely seen as complementary to formal medical treatment for depression, there is a sense in which this is the wrong way round.  It would be more accurate to say that self help includes medical treatment, insofar as self help addresses the whole person rather than just allieviating symptoms (antidepressants) and bolstering personal resilience (talking therapies).  However, in practice, self help is about recognising that there are many things that you can do to overcome your depression, and that these are seldom mutually exclusive – so why would you not do them all.