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Working on Depression 101

Updated on May 25, 2012

10 Things You Can Do to Help Your Depression

Depression can affect all ages from children to the elderly. There are many kinds of depression: Situational depressions like the break up of a relationship or the loss of a loved one or even a pet, depressions that come and go with the seasons (Seasonal Affective Disorder), depressions after giving birth (Post Partum Depression), depressions following major surgery, depressions that run in the family, and sometimes depressions that seem to come out of no where at all.

Symptoms of depression include: sadness, crying, negative thinking, anger, low frustration tolerance, inability to concentrate, sleeping too much or too little, inability to enjoy things that you used to enjoy, changes in appetite, low sex drive, thoughts of death or dying, just to name a few.

Clients have described their depression to me as "living in a fog", "feeling like they fight just to get up in the morning", "not being able to concentrate". They have reported persistent negative thoughts that they find difficult to change or get rid of.

Dealing with depression can be difficult. Here are somethings that you can do yourself to help:

1. Go see your doctor, and talk to him/her about your symptoms. Sometimes depressions can be the results of another medical condition. It's good to rule this out. Additionally, your doctor can talk to you about medication options if that's something you want to try.

2. Develop a baseline for yourself. A baseline includes the activities that you must do every day. I recommend getting out of bed, getting a shower, getting dressed and going to the main living floor (you know where the kitchen and the family room is).

3. Exercise helps. Even if its talking a short walk. It will actually give you a little extra energy to fight off that depression.

4. Eat healthy and eat 3 times a day. Some people with depression just don't feel like eating, while others might over eat. Pay a little more attention to your diet and make sure its balanced.

5. Keep track of regular negative thoughts. Write them down. Work on stopping those thoughts and replacing them with something a little more positive. For example, when you wake up and think, "I'm so tired, this is going to be an awful day". Tell yourself to stop thinking this way. Remind yourself that today could be better than yesterday. Notice positive things about the day as you go along.

6. Think about going to a counselor to get some training in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or reading a self help book on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. There are several books that actually have randomized controlled studies about their ability to help with depression. One such book is, "Feeling Good" by David D. Burns (you can find it on Amazon.com). Many of my clients have found it helpful in dealing with depression.

7. Make it a point to see family and friends. Depression sometimes makes people want to isolate. Being with family and friends, getting hugs, and getting support can lift your spirits and help your depression.

8. Laugh. Although you might not feel like laughing. Turn on a comedy that you know you have enjoyed in the past. I have many clients that report feeling better after having a good laugh. Studies on laughter have shown its positive effects on depression and physiology.

9. Take fish oil (check it out with your doctor if you need to). The countries with the lowest rates of depression eat the most fish. More and more studies are showing that taking fish oil supplements or eating more fish (suggested dose in studies in 1 gram per day of omega 3 fatty acids) help with depression for most people.

10. Know when your in over your head. If you've been dealing with thoughts of suicide or death. Go see your doctor or a mental health professional. If its a weekend or at night and you need someone to talk to call 1-800-784-2433 or 1-800-SUICIDE. They have professionals standing by to take your calls anytime.

Remember, most depressions are episodic, which means that they don't last forever. An episode of depression can last 3 to 6 months. Even if you have a lasting form of depression there are more and more treatments being developed and studied. Google TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation) an up and coming treatment for depression.

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