What to Do When Depressed

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Depression is a serious illness that affects millions of people around the world. It affects each person differently: Some people notice depression symptoms only on dreary days or when the seasons change, while others fight the debilitating effects of depression every day. Luckily, many options are available that can help you overcome depression.

Understand Your Feelings

  • The first thing you should do when you feel depressed is sit back and assess your feelings. Taking the time to do this will help you determine a plan of action to treat your depression. Start by writing down the feelings you have and when they occur. Maybe you feel depressed when it's raining outside or during the winter and you generally feel happy otherwise. These are signs of a milder form of depression, commonly called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD.)

    On the other hand, you may determine that you feel depressed most of the time. You feel unhappy about the current direction of your life and you're not excited about the future. Or, maybe you feel fatigued and tired all the time, unable to do your work or live effectively. These are signs of a more serious form of depression that needs professional assistance to treat.

Determine the Best Treatment

  • After you have a thorough assessment of your feelings, it's time to plan a course of action to treat your depression. If you feel you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder or mild depression, it's a good idea to ramp up the melatonin levels in your body. Melatonin has been shown to improve mood in SAD patients. You can increase your melatonin levels naturally by getting plenty of sunlight (or through light therapy or tanning beds if there's no sunlight). Melatonin is also available in supplement form.

    If your depression is more severe, it's best to meet with a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist. These medical professionals can accurately diagnose your depression and recommend a treatment regimen. This may include therapy sessions to discuss your feelings and symptoms, anti-depressant medications or both. Work with your doctor to develop an effective treatment regimen. Also, be sure to do your part: If you stop your medication or therapy sessions, your symptoms can return, possibly with serious consequences.

Get Healthy

  • Depression is a serious condition and you should work with a medical professional to treat your symptoms. However, there are steps you can take personally to help improve your mood naturally.

    First, be sure you're getting enough sleep each night, at least six to seven hours. Lack of sleep can affect your mind, increase stress levels and cause depression. Next, be sure you're putting the proper nutrition into your body. Eat several small meals per day to keep your metabolism and blood-sugar levels up and prevent the "crash" that can cause a change in mood. Proper nutrition also means you have proper levels of vitamins and minerals in your body. It's a good idea to take a daily multivitamin, along with a calcium supplement. Ask your doctor if any other supplement can help you improve your mood naturally.

    The next step is to get enough exercise. Exercise releases mood-improving endorphins into your body. It also decreases stress and helps improve your body, which in turn improves your self-esteem. The best bet is to get at least 30 minutes of moderate-to-intense exercise three to five times per week. If you feel you can't commit to that, try to at least take a walk a few times per week.

Stimulate Your Mind and Improve Relationships

  • Depression can make even minor daily activities into a hassle. Once you've determined a treatment plan for your depression, it's time to take a look at your personal situation. If you find that your job, certain activities or people in your life cause you stress and depression, it's time to rid your life of those negative influences.

    Jobs can be a major source of dissatisfaction. If this is true for you, think about finding a new job in a company or profession that you really love. If you can't find a new job due to personal circumstances or lack of skills, consider learning a new skill or finding a new hobby to pursue. That new pursuit just might lead to new job opportunities down the road.

    Get rid of the negative people in your life. People who put you down or don't help you improve are only dead weight in your pursuit of happiness. Find those people in your life who do care and work on those relationships instead. Over time, you'll find your depression is just a distant memory and you'll be living the life you deserve.

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