Each year, thousands of Finns return to work or studies after recovering from a depression that required treatment. The speed of recovery from depression varies from one person to another and various things affect recovery. The following factors, for example, may promote recovery from depression and other mental disorders or problems.
General optimism towards life
It is difficult for depressed people to feel optimistic about the future; after all, the symptoms of depression include feelings of unhappiness, melancholy and lack of prospects. However, it has been stated that those depressed individuals who deliberately tried to maintain a positive attitude and believe in their own coping also recovered faster.
Learning to lose negative thoughts
When the depression is diagnosed for the first time, the person suffering from the disorder has often experienced one or more traumatic events in his/her life, such as divorce, rejection or loss of employment. However, research shows that the significance of these difficult life experiences is lessened during later depressive episodes. Instead, it would seem that depression is more likely to recur as a result of negative thoughts and images.
This is a sort of a vicious circle. As melancholy sets in, the thoughts of the person become more dark and melancholic: “I’m good for nothing, I wonder what everyone is thinking when I’m like this, I usually fail…” These negative thoughts, in turn, cause the person to see himself/herself and his/her surroundings in an ever more pessimistic light.
Most people get past this kind of worrying and dwelling on things but negative thinking is more common and permanent for people suffering from depression. People suffering from repeated depressive episodes should learn different ways of controlling their thoughts. It is important to realise when your thoughts begin to circle around negative things and to understand that such thoughts do not promote personal well-being.
Similar awareness of personal thoughts is necessary, not only in depression, but in many other mental disorders, as well. Recovering from, for example, bulimia or other eating disorders, becomes easier when the patient is aware of the issues and thoughts that may trigger binge eating or unhealthy dieting. With bipolar affective disorder, it is particularly important to learn how to anticipate the symptoms of mania.
Writing and other helpful activities
Writing helps in analysing difficult experiences, thoughts and feelings, thus increasing self-understanding. Some people who have recovered from depression say that only by writing and reading their own texts they began to understand the reasons behind their illness.
Writing a diary is perhaps the most common way to unload and understand the anxiety the person is feeling, but many people also write poems or stories. TUKINET allows you to write about your experiences to a trained support person or share your feelings in group discussions. The operation of Tukinet is mainly based on counselling, i.e. you will have your own support person, with whom you can reflect on your own situation through writing. In addition to writing, painting, playing and listening to music may promote the understanding of personal feelings and thereby recovery at times.
Exercise increases the secretion of pleasure-producing hormones in the brain, thus alleviating depression and anxiety in particular. Severely depressed people find it hard to find the energy even for a short walk outside. That is why simply eventually getting up and going out can make the patient feel good. When thinking about doing some exercise, it should be remembered that even little exercise is better than no exercise. In addition to depression and anxiety, exercise also helps alleviate nervousness and tension.
Support of family and friends
The support of families and friends has been found to have a major impact on recovery. For example, a person suffering from depression often easily becomes isolated, and the fatigue involved in depression may make it difficult to leave home. Therefore a simple visit to town or cooking together with friends can already cheer up the person. Naturally, rest should not be forgotten. You cannot make depression disappear by telling the depressed person to cheer up.
However, withdrawal from social relationships does not promote recovery. However, not everyone has family or friends and others find it too difficult to talk about the disorder. Therefore mental health patients must think for themselves what would promote their personal recovery.
Finding significant things and life meaningful
Many people suffering from depression have said that they noticed they had started to recover when, after a long time, small things felt good again. Although people usually find the things that they find meaningful and important by chance, they can also consciously look for them. You should do things you think might make you feel good or that used to feel good. Even small moments of joy are sometimes steps towards recovery.