According to the Mayo Clinic, depression is one of the most common health conditions in the world. Depression isn't a weakness, nor is it something that you can simply "snap out of." Depression, formally called major depression, major depressive disorder or clinical depression, is a medical illness that involves the mind and body. It affects how you think and behave and can cause a variety of emotional and physical problems. You may not be able to go about your usual daily activities, and depression may make you feel as if life just isn't worth living anymore. Most health professionals today consider depression a chronic illness that requires long-term treatment, much like diabetes or high blood pressure. Although some people experience only one episode of depression, most have repeated episodes of depression symptoms throughout their life.
What about feeling blue or just feeling 'blah'? Is this a clinical condition or illness? If you have one of those days that your just feeling glum, don't let the blah feeling persist. That blue feeling may turn into a clinical depression. There are ways to defend the blues against depression. Personal-Development.com provides a great process to overcome those glum days.
Overcoming the blues
a) If you're feeling down, you need to get up. Up off your butt and do something. Anything. Clean a room. Vacuum a rug. Write a letter. Watching TV doesn't count as doing something, for it's too passive. You need to be actively involved in something. It'll get your mind off the blues and make you feel better after you do a needed task. Doing something will allow you to regain your control and power.
b) If you can't think of something useful to do around the house or apartment, go outside. Don't hang around and mope. Visit the library, park, or a friend. Take a long walk and get some fresh air.
c) Analyze the situation. When did it start? Why or how did it begin? What can or should you do? Begin now by taking the first small step. Analyze your thoughts. Are they rational? Are they based on reality or on supposition? Confirm where possible. Seek alternative solutions.
d) Be grateful for the good fortune you've gained and the misfortunes you have avoided. Or, as someone else wrote, "Count your gains instead of your losses; count your joys instead of your woes; count your friends instead of your foes; count your courage instead of your fears; count your health instead of your wealth."
e) Realize you're not alone. Everyone has their ups and downs. Help others by heeding the advice of poet, R. Foreman, "Why not help those who need a lift? / If you were busy being kind, / Before you knew it, you would find / You'd soon forget to think 'twas true / That someone was unkind to you. / If you were busy being glad, / And cheering people who are sad, / Although your heart might ache a bit, / You'd soon forget to notice it."
f) Use your sense of humor and make fun of yourself and life. For example, Steven Wright once said, "I was sad because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet. So I said, 'Got any shoes you're not using?'" Even sacred scripture contains humor. For instance, in The Talmud it says, "If one man says to thee, 'Thou art a donkey,' pay no heed. If two speak thus, purchase a saddle." Once, when I was feeling down, a friend said, "Cheer up, things could be worse." You know what? He was right. Things soon got worse! But that's okay, as long as you laugh about it.
g) Probably the best advice you will receive is: regularly exercise. An interesting case is reported in the files of the President's Council on Fitness and Sports (USA). An overweight, middle-aged executive considered suicide and decided to jog strenuously so he would die of a heart attack. Although he experienced chest pain, he didn't die. So, he tried again the next day. And again the following day, and again. By the end of the week, his thoughts of suicide left because he was feeling so good!
h) Study and practice the "new mood therapy" so you control your emotions instead of vice versa. A good book to read is Dr. David D. Burns' Feeling Good. And an excellent companion to the book is Dr. Burns' workbook entitled, Ten Days to Self-Esteem. Both books are available at bookstores everywhere and at most libraries.
i) Also be aware of what to avoid doing when depressed. For example, don't try to comfort yourself by bingeing on food or shopping, for after gaining the extra weight or receiving the bills in the mail, you'll wind up more depressed than before. Second, if you have a failure, don't identify with it. In other words, instead of thinking, "I'm a failure," think, "I'm a person that has experienced a setback." Get up, brush yourself off, and try again. All successful people experience failures. Third, put off important decisions until you are once again sound of mind. Don't impulsively quit your job, get divorced, or get married, for you will only add to your problems. Heal yourself first.
j) Among many other things to consider are have a pet; eat nutritional meals; get enough sleep; read the lives of those who have overcome adversity and depression; and set goals so you can travel on an exciting journey.
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