How do I look after my mental health?

Sometimes people with spina bifida and hydrocephalus are affected by anxiety and depression more than people without the conditions. Taking care of yourself generally by eating a good varied diet without too much sugar or fat, exercising every day, and keeping to a routine of getting up in the morning and sleeping at night will all help.

Feeling drowsy and tired all the time can be a symptom of depression, but can also be a sign of sleep apnoea, so see your GP. Choose a relaxing activity for the evening - it can reduce anxiety, and should help you sleep.

Plan your day: make sure you get out of the house every day if you can, and arrange to meet up with or talk to friends and family, to do things you enjoy.

It might also help to set yourself ‘goals’ from time-to-time. Try to choose something ‘achievable but challenging’, with a deadline. Maybe ask someone for help if you need to, to keep you on track.

Some people find that helping other people, perhaps through voluntary work, raises their self-esteem and can help them to be less preoccupied with their own difficulties.

Activities like reading can help focus your mind, and listening to music can be helpful - bouncy pop music can help lift your mood, and gentler music might help you to relax. Watching a funny DVD or comedy programme on TV might also help lift your mood.

Others around you may suggest you have a low mood or seem anxious even though you don’t feel any different; some mental health problems are hard for you yourself to detect, so it is worth taking others’ comments on board. The same is true for alcohol use; you may not think you are drinking too much or too often, but your family may express their concerns. Alcohol can increase depression and affect the memory.

Sometimes, it can be helpful to talk with someone you trust about your worries as they may be able to help you to ‘put things into perspective’. Also, if you can put your finger on something that is upsetting you, maybe you could get advice on resolving the problem.


Donate Become a member