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5 Goals For Women with Depression This New Year

By HERWriter
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Depression related image Photo: Getty Images

Many women are getting into the New Year’s resolution mode, but mental health is generally not on the top of the list. Mental health is just as important as physical health, and for women with depression, every day can be a struggle.

Here are five goals to work on for the new year if you are a woman with depression. Remember, this is a gradual process. Pick one goal at a time, or it could be overwhelming and stressful, which is the last thing you need when you're depressed.

1) Monitor your weight and work toward a healthy weight for you – consult a doctor and use a BMI scale for a rough estimate. Remember, skinny is not always healthy. A recent study from the University of Alabama at Birmingham showed a link between depression and abdominal obesity. A researcher stated in a press release that “those who started out reporting high levels of depression gained weight at a faster rate than others in the study.” This might be caused by higher levels of cortisol, a stress hormone. Treating depression can also help some people lose weight, according to another study.

2) Work on your negative body image. Even women without depression can have this problem. This is related to the above goal of maintaining a healthy weight, but it can extend to more than your weight. For example, if you think you’re ugly and try to cover yourself with makeup every day, that is something to work on. Admitting that these insecurities are dragging you down is a first step, then talk to yourself about why you’re actually feeling this way and do something about it – this might take the help of a psychologist. A study found that negative body image can be related to depression, so this goal is important in feeling better.

3) Work on social skills and building relationships with others. This can be difficult, especially when having a depressive episode or just increased depression, but when you’re at least in a more functional state, this is necessary to work on for improved mental health. A strong social support system can do wonders for women with depression. A study found that social skills deficits can lead to depression.

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EmpowHER Guest

This is sexist and not remotely empowering. Why the heavy emphasis on our bodies and what we eat? Sure, eating healthily and maintaining a healthy weight are good for physical and mental health, but you have to remember that depressed people are very fragile, and losing weight can be very difficult for some people. Some overweight, depressed women will read this article and think "it's all my fault because I'm fat!"

Restricting calories as much as most dieters do can have a severe effect on the mood, even in healthy people: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minnesota_Starvation_Experiment

By contrast, exercise has a beneficial effect on mood, and has been shown to make a difference to mild to moderate depression: http://www.depression-guide.com/depression-and-exercise.htm

Taking action to remove stressors is sometimes appropriate, but not always. Very often, stressors simply can't be avoided, but changing one's attitude to them, while not easy to do, can be very effective in improving mood.

"Improve social skills and build and maintain relationships" is good advice, as is "see a professional, and rule out physical causes."

Crystal, depression survivor

January 3, 2011 - 12:40pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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