Cosmopolitan Column : I Think I’m Suffering from a Low-Grade Depression. What Can I Do to Make Myself Feel Better?
Question : Hi Athena, I think I’m suffering from a low-grade depression. I’m a student and not on medical aid, so I can’t afford therapy sessions. What can I do to make myself feel better? – Andiswa
I’m so glad that you decided to reach out, because there are so many options available for you.
The first thing to do is to find out exactly what you are suffering from.
I know that you said that you are suffering from a low-grade depression, but a qualified professional (a psychologist, GP or psychiatrist) will need to diagnose this.
You may think you are depressed but it may turn out that you are actually burnt-out or suffering from a physical condition such as a thyroid issue.
Both of these would call for different treatment plans.
So let someone who is qualified and trained assess this for you, so that you can access the most effective treatment for you.
I highly recommend visiting a government hospital or student clinic close to you.
Both of these options offer psychological and medical services at a reduced rate or for free.
Once you know exactly what you are working with it, will become easier to move towards feeling better.
No matter what you may be struggling with, here are some proactive things that you can do to feel better:
1 Get support
Sometimes all we need to do is talk it out.
Lifeline offers face-to-face as well as telephonic counselling on its national toll free line: 0800 12 322.
You can call them any time (24/7) to discuss any problems that you may be facing.
The American Journal of Preventive Medicine published a study by Dr Andrea Dunn that shows that as little as three hours of regular exercise a week can reduce the symptoms of mild to moderate depression.
The participants in the study did an equivalent of 35 minutes walking (six days per week) and it reduced their depressive symptoms by 47%.
This is something highly proactive that you can do that will make you feel better.
I highly recommend teaming up with a friend who can keep you accountable as well as having the added benefit of some ‘talking and walking therapy’.
3 Clean up your diet
Nutritional psychiatry is a relatively new field that researches the link between nutritional factors and our mental and emotional health.
If your diet is bad, it can affect your gastrointestinal system, which in turn can influence your feelings, your sleep patterns and your appetite.
So take note of what your food habits are and change them if need be.
A healthy diet will improve your physical wellbeing and emotional wellbeing too.
4 Mindfulness and meaning
Gaining awareness of what brings meaning and joy in your life is a helpful exercise, because you can then work towards bringing more of that into your life.
You can do this by simply jotting down what has brought you happiness in the past – or working through it with a counsellor.
P.S. If you have a question for you can e-mail or tweet me.
P.S.S. You can receive my FREE AUDIO COURSE right here, designed to get you moving upwards in your life.