Fighting sadness without medication
It affects one in six people in England each week, according to UK charity Mind. That's the ratio of people who report experiencing a common mental health problem, such as depression. Whether temporarily down in the dumps, or chronically depressed, many rely on anti-depressants to lift their dejected mood. But, they have a cost - one ex-user told the BBC that they felt they were in a "chemical fog" and were desperate to stop. If medication is a last resort, what alternatives are there when you're feeling truly blue?
What about cold-water swimming to combat melancholy? One participant, known as Sarah, took part in the 2016 BBC One series The Doctor Who Gave Up Drugs. She had been taking anti-depressants since the age of 17. Two years after the show, she is off all medication and still swimming - something a recent British Medical Journal report believes may be an effective treatment for depression. Apart from the exercise and companionship of swimmers, the cold water puts the body under stress. With repeated immersions, the body better adapts not just to this physical stress, but mental stress, including the psychological problems of life that lead to low spirits.
Susan Calman relies on kindness to brighten her mood. The 43-year-old comedian and author encourages others to use altruism to improve the lives of those around them. "It can be as simple as holding open a door for someone, or giving someone a compliment, or buying someone a packet of crisps while they're feeling down," she tells the BBC. In fact, anything that uplifts. "If we all started to be a bit kinder then maybe we could start seeing the world as a better place. It's really about kindness and then from that, just finding that happiness," she says.
Or you could talk about it. Woebot is a chatbot designed to support people dealing with problems by teaching coping strategies. "There's a reason why good therapeutic approaches are conversational. It just asks the right questions so you can figure it out," Alison Darcy, founder of Woebot, tells the BBC. One user, Nick Impson, explained that Woebot relieves the potential trust issues that can occur when talking to a stranger, even a qualified one.
Feeling despondent happens to everyone. When it does, you might want to try one of these methods and see if it works for you. We hope you'll be feeling as right as rain again in no time.
down in the dumps
lift your mood
brighten your mood
as right as rain