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Physical issues

This page supports the Physical area from the SHIFT-Depression®Inventory which you can access here if you haven't yet done so.

Your physical health, or ill-health, is very connected to feelings of sadness or depression.

When we're not feeling well or able to function at our full potential due to physical issues, it can be quite debilitating.

Having a chronic health issue such as arthritis or some other issue that limits you; apart from the ongoing pain or inconvenience, prevents you from participating as fully in life as you could.

It can limit your ability to get out of the house and to connect with others thus impacting on your levels of isolation.

Links between lack of exercise and depression

Getting the type of health care necessary may be unaffordable. For example, access to a personal trainer or physiotherapist to help get fit again after an accident or period of illness. It may feel inevitable that sitting, eating for comfort, and becoming inactive is the new normal.

Some people when faced with immobility or an ongoing chronic injury, take up smoking again or increase their smoking and this only compounds their ill-health.

Membership to a gym can be too costly and walking around your local streets may be feel unsafe. A self-directed exercise program takes considerable dedication and self-discipline and can seem nearly impossible to carry out.

For women there is an added disincentive for outdoor exercising, apart from whether or not they can find the time, and that is the issue of safety and the level of violence that woman are regularly recipients of. Maybe the walking tracks nearby are not well lit, don't feel safe, or are shared with racing cyclists with no warning bells or lights.

As already mentioned, it is hard enough to be self-disciplined and carry out an exercise program without having disability, safety issues, or there being no time left once you have completed your routines. Altogether, it can become impossible to exercise and yet exercise has been shown by research to be a key aspect to good health including recovery from sadness or depression.

Check out the link on the Links page for accessing a health plan through your GP for referral to a Physiotherapist which, here in Australia, may be covered by Medicare if you qualify.

Eating well and drinking alcohol only in moderation

This means eating nourishing food that is not overloaded with refined carbohydrates and sugars as well as not overdoing your consumption of alcohol. There is a lot of research now that is concerned with the connection between mood, food and alcohol consumption.

Sometimes it just seems easier and cheaper to fill the shopping trolley up with processed foods (filled with sugar, salt and fat), that initially may appear to be cheaper and simpler than unprocessed food, until you realise you need more of them to feel satisfied.

Drinking alcohol is associated with depression even though whilst having a drink you may feel this is incorrect. Some people even say they drink at night to help them get to sleep! It may assist them get off to sleep but the benefit only lasts an hour or so. Alcohol actually affects your ability to achieve a quality, restful sleep and contributes to you feeling low in mood and energy the following day.

Sleep and depression

There is also a strong connection between depression and good quality sleep. Some people go to bed each night feeling anxious and worried and don't get a good restoring sleep. This may be related to an unsatisfactory housing situation or stress, a relationship problem, illness, or a problem at work which they feel unable to change.

It is important for a good sleep to go to bed relaxed, not in a state of anxiety, and therefore it's important to have safe and stress free housing and relationships to avoid feeling anxious and not sleeping well.

The connection between the mind and the body is absolutely true and not sleeping well, once eliminating a physical cause, is telling you there is an emotional issue.

Is change possible?

You probably know all of this already and yet like many of us, use food, alcohol, smoking or prescribed/non prescribed drugs, to regulate your emotions including any feelings of sadness or depression.

Emotions, such as anger, anxiety, loneliness, fear, powerlessness etc, are often connected to our relationships with others and it may seem safer or easier to have that comforting cake (insert your choice here) than to be assertive with someone, deal openly with the difficulty, or make changes.

To continue to regularly load up your liver with alcohol, sugar, fat and salt, will set you up for a sluggish and fatty liver where you'll be operating at well below your potential, damage your immune system and sets you up for depression also.

Finding a counsellor to help to learn the skills of assertive communication and deal better with difficulties in relationships or the workplace may help.

See the links page for accessing a psychologist through your GP and funded by Medicare.

Just by itself the Physical area is strongly connected to sadness and depression for men as well as women, but it is also very much connected to the other three areas, Relationships, Community, and the Thoughts & Feelings areas.

It's important to realize the connection between the body or physical issues, and becoming sad or depressed.

The items in each of the four areas of the SHIFT-Depression® Inventory interact together to make up the combined map of sadness or depression.

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Women’s Comments after using the SHIFT-Depression® Inventory

‘It stares you in the face, the reasons …why you became depressed!’

‘The questions are very clear. You go ‘Oh wow! …I’d forgotten about that (issue).’

‘Oh, I didn’t realise that was such an issue for me!’

‘That helps me understand some things now.’

‘It covers so many areas and connects things.’

‘It feels positive to think about what things could help me and gives me some direction.’

‘I feel more optimistic after focusing on what things might help to alleviate my depression.’


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