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Living with depression

Talking about it

Sharing a problem with someone else or with a group can give you support and an insight into your own depression. Research shows that talking can help people recover from depression and cope better with stress.

You may not feel comfortable about discussing your mental health and sharing your distress with others. If so, writing about how you feel or expressing your emotions through poetry or art are other ways to help your mood.

Smoking, drugs and alcohol

It may be tempting to smoke or drink to make you feel better. Cigarettes and alcohol may seem to help at first but they make things worse in the long run.

And be extra cautious with cannabis. You might see it as harmless, but research has revealed a strong link between cannabis use and mental illness, including depression.

The evidence shows that if you smoke cannabis you:

  • make your depression symptoms worse
  • feel more tired and uninterested in things
  • are more likely to have depression that relapses earlier and more frequently
  • will not have as good a response to antidepressant medicines
  • are more likely to stop using antidepressant medicines
  • are less likely to recover fully.

If you drink or smoke too much or use drugs, get advice and support from your doctor.

Work and finances

If your depression is caused by working too much or is affecting your ability to do your job, you may need time off to recover. However, there is evidence that taking prolonged time off work can make depression worse. There's also quite a lot of evidence that going back to work can help you recover from depression.

It's important to avoid too much stress and this includes work-related stress. If you're employed, you may be able to work shorter hours or work in a more flexible way, particularly if job pressures seem to trigger your symptoms.

Employers must make reasonable adjustments to make the employment of people with disabilities possible. This can include people with a diagnosis of mental illness.

If you can't work as a result of your depression, you may be eligible fora range of benefits depending on your circumstances.

Sources: NHS Choices, UK (Living with clinical depression)

Last reviewed: September 2015

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