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What should I do if I feel down or depressed?

depression image - marbles

We all feel depressed from time to time for different reasons. Sometimes it can be just a mild feeling of sadness, what people commonly call “the blues.”  Some people feel depressed at different times of year, such as is the case during the winter when there are lots of grey days without direct sunlight, as in seasonal affective disorder.  Sometimes depression can set in for longer periods – weeks, months, years or sporadically. For others, depression can swing as far as suicidal thoughts or plans.

One of the difficulties of depression is that unlike anxiety, it can come on slowly and the depressed individual won’t likely notice the earliest warning signs and therefore the depression gets worse, and harder to treat, before it is recognized.  Ask yourself not whether you are happy or not, but how you feel when you wake up, generally.  How do you feel when you go to bed, or at work or when you see a couple in love or friends smiling and laughing with one another across the street?  Depression tends to isolate the depressed individual from friends, family and anyone who can potentially be supportive in such a time of need.  It is critical, especially at the early stages, not to let your depression pull you into this isolative trap because isolation tends to worsen depression.

The treatment of depression

Treatment of depression can be highly effective, but the first and most important step is to notice there is a problem and admit it to yourself and talk about it with someone who cares, preferably a professional therapist. A depressed person has a very bleak outlook, a very dark perspective and simply talking to another can open the depressed person’s mind to the fact that his/her perspective is skewed and that there are many healthier ways of looking at the world.

Talking for the first time about depression can be a very relieving experience.  It can feel like a huge weight has been lifted off the shoulders from all the time spent keeping the secret of sadness and misery bottled up and thinking there was nothing to be done about it, as if it were terminal cancer.  However, the honeymoon of this initial admittance soon fades and then it becomes time to take serious and committed action to remedy the illness at its roots.

Some depressions are like a cold and don’t cause a lot of complaints, but can still wear a depressed person down, exposing them to the likelihood of the depression getting worse, say, turning into bronchitis or the flu, or actually inducing physical symptoms such as insomnia, hypersomnia, decreased stamina and will-power.  Some forms of depression are more serious or quick to spiral downward than others and no two depressed persons experience depression identically. The bottom line is that everyone deserves to be depression-free.

It is not uncommon to get negative reactions, especially from men who are taught not to show emotion, when a depressed person expresses their illness to another for the first time, so if you’re going to share the existence of your burden with someone, choose your confidant wisely and/or seek a second opinion.  Negative reactions include common phrases like, “it’s just in your head,” “stop whining,” or “it’s like that for everybody, your life hasn’t been that bad.”

Parents naturally want to deny the existence of depression because it makes them feel insecure about the quality of the job they did in raising the depressed person. Friends can sometimes become jealous or self-serving and want to go on about their own woes whether or not they are actually depressed. A therapist on the other hand is ethically bound not to act in these manners and is charged with keeping an open mind and focusing on work which will not only help you understand your depression, but assist you in doing what you need to do to no longer be depressed.

Like anxiety, depression of all forms can be reduced by the adoption of a healthy routine including getting plenty of sleep, a healthy diet, enough exercise and through techniques such as meditation that help reduce stress and increase peace of mind and calmness, or centeredness.

The hardest step is always the first one, but if you keep placing one foot in front of the other and have your eyes focused in a positive direction, with a therapist as your assistant and your guide you will get somewhere better.  Sometimes it takes time.  Treatment of depression takes persistence, perseverance and the will to beat depression and live a happier life, the understanding that everyone deserves a happier life no matter what has happened in their past.

Treatments for depression, in severe cases, may include anti-depressants and/or mood stabilizers but natural remedies should be considered first for better overall health. Natural treatment of depression can include simple changes in everyday routines which it may take some time to develop and adhere.  For example, rearranging your living space to decrease clutter or moving somewhere where there are parks and other exterior locations to enjoy may have a positive impact on the depressed person.

Exercise, sleep, diet and meditation are all simply examples of self-care which can come in many different forms.  Treating yourself as a worthy being is critical and taking care of your body/mind as your greatest possession and asset are in order.  This includes breaking negative patterns of thought and letting go of negative emotions after acknowledging them.  You cannot predict the future except to say it will not be the same as today or the past.  Change is always a guarantee in life and truly realizing this is obtaining a reason for hope, which is also critical for the depressed person to ponder and to be able to develop.

Our therapists at the Ardent Community Wellness Center can help you understand your own depression better, work on establishing a good routine to fight it, come up with ways to start shedding the numbness often felt with depression and help you to feel alive and in color once again, relieved of the grayness the depressed person often describes as his/her experience. In this light, a vigorous and regular exercise routine becomes an obvious way to shed numbness, to once again feel your own body and become reconnected to yourself and the world in which you live.

Never, ever pass on an opportunity to try something healthy you haven’t seriously tried before –  keep an open mind and your recovery will become more assured and expedited.  Examples include taking up a new sport, hobby or art such as martial arts, painting, writing, journaling, photography, going for walks, saying hello and practicing empathy toward everyone you encounter in your daily life.

We at theArdent Community Wellness Center can help you deal with depression. Sometimes there can be an underlying reason or reasons for our depression of which we are not aware or which we are unsure of how to deal with, and so talking to a therapist can greatly speed up the recovery process and increase our chances of ultimate success so long as the depressed person is dedicated fully to positive self-change and recovery.