Keenan Blog

How to Combat Depression

March 05, 2019

Getting the blues from time to time is normal. We all feel that way sometimes. The shorter daylight hours during the winter months can contribute to such feelings. However, if the feelings persist or deepen, it may be time to consider whether you’re suffering from some level of depression. A recent study by the National Institutes of Health indicated that almost 7% of the American adult population had experienced a major depressive episode during the prior year.

Common symptoms of depression include:

  • Low self-esteem and feelings of self-doubt
  • Persistent anxiety or sadness
  • Reduced satisfaction and enjoyment from usual activities
  • Tiredness and loss of energy
  • Unusual pessimism, hopelessness, guilt, unworthiness
  • Lower appetite and weight loss
  • Sleep issues such as waking up too early, oversleeping or insomnia

If you are experiencing depression, don’t give up hope. You have more power over your mood than you may think. The good news is that you are not alone and depression is a highly treatable condition. Depression involves real feelings, so resist expectations from yourself or others to “snap out of it.” Start taking action in manageable steps and celebrate as you start to feel better.

Negative Self-Image and Anger

Watch out for slipping into a highly self-critical state of mind. We’ve all suffered disappointments and even outright failures at some point in our lives. But we usually bounce back and, hopefully, learn something positive from the experience. If a negative self-image begins to take over, it’s time to take action. Be conscious of the “self talk” or “inner voice” that’s reinforcing these feelings. Awareness of your self-defeating thoughts can bring them into the open so you can confront them and limit their power.

Depression is often based in anger. Intense, deep-seated anger and frustration can actually result in a kind of numbness, including the inability to feel happy. Expressing these feelings in a rational and honest way to others you trust can go a long way toward bringing them back in line, and alleviate that numb, disconnected feeling.

Diet, Exercise and Sunlight

One technique that often helps mental outlook is using physical activity to support a positive mood. Exercise releases brain chemicals, including endorphins, that help relieve stress and boost happiness. Exercise can also help relieve the fatigue that often accompanies depression.

The companion to exercise is a healthy diet. There are many foods that you should avoid if you’re feeling depressed. They include alcohol, caffeine, trans fats, sugar, refined carbohydrates and preservatives. Foods that help alleviate depression are rich in B vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids. And don’t skip meals; that will only increase irritability and fatigue.

Sunlight is also a necessary ingredient in maintaining a positive mood. Get outside on your lunch break, take a walk in the park or a hike in the woods, let natural light into the house.

Isolation and Involvement

Remaining isolated is an invitation for depression. You’re left to stew on your own thoughts without the distraction of having others around and the ability to share your feelings with others who would love to support you. So, get out and mingle. Stay connected.

Unfortunately, depression can make things we used to enjoy seem unexciting or not worthwhile. It’s essential to gather your willpower and do things that can make you feel positive. Even simple things like listening to music or cooking your favorite meal can make a difference.

It’s an amazing fact that laughing and smiling can actually improve your mood. So, take time to sit back and watch a comical film or read a funny book. As with some of these other techniques, you can influence your mind by what you feed it.

At the same time, feeling overwhelmed can often trigger depression. Take a look at your commitments and expectations for yourself. Are you taking on too much, in general or at this particular period of time? We all want to make the most of our lives, but it’s easy to take on too much, leading to feelings of inadequacy.

Time for Help?

If you’ve tried some of these methods and are not succeeding in coping with a depressed mood, it may be time to seek professional assistance. Again, do not be embarrassed or self-conscious about your situation. Today, mental health is recognized as being as important to a healthy and fulfilling lifestyle as your physical wellbeing.

About Matthew Szenderski
Matthew holds an MBA in Health Management and is certified by the ACSM as a Health and Fitness Specialist. He has over 8 years of experience in the corporate wellness arena with areas of expertise in coaching, biometric screenings, program development, and controlling health care costs.