Signs of depression include:
feeling sad or empty
lack of interest in pleasurable activities
significant loss of appetite - or markedly increased appetite
sleeping too much or having insomnia
feeling restless or slowed down
being irritable or less patient than is normal for you
fatigue for no apparent reason
feeling worthlessness or inappropriate guilt
trouble with concentration and memory
recurrent thoughts of death or of suicide
Am I Depressed? What Will Help?
What Can I Do About It?
- ALLOW YOURSELF TO ACCEPT SUPPORT. Do friends and relatives know how you are feeling? Do you have people you can talk to when you need to process feelings? It is sometimes hard to be social when we are depressed. You may have to push beyond your comfort zone to be with the people who care about you and let them be there for you in a supportive way.
- PRACTICE SELF-ACCEPTANCE. Develop an attitude of loving kindness toward yourself. Even the thing you hate the most about yourself can be accepted. You can certainly work to change if that is what calls to you. This work will be most effective if you can start from a place of understanding that where you are right now is just one spot along the path of your life. At this moment you are exactly where you are meant to be. How can you nurture and support yourself right in this moment?
- EXERCISE AND PHYSICAL ACTIVITY - When we are feeling down we often become less physically active. This is unfortunate because physical activity stimulates our brain to produce neurotransmitters which improve brain functioning and thereby improve our mood. Start from where you are and increase your level of physical activity. This could mean starting to take 5 minute walks if you are completely inactive now. If you are having trouble leaving the house find a way to be active indoors. If you choose an activity you enjoy you are more likely to continue doing it. Many of my clients report that even a moderate increase in physical activity seems to improve their mood.
- MAINTAIN A REGULAR, ADEQUATE SLEEP SCHEDULE. Aim for 6 to 8 hours of sleep a night. Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same times daily. "Sleeping in" on weekends does not compensate for sleep deprivation during the week where your mood is concerned.
- SEEK PROFESSIONAL HELP. This may include consultation with your primary care physician or a psychiatrist (an M.D. who specializes in treating mental disorders with medication). It also includes finding a psychotherapist with whom you can work productively. Psychotherapy can be provided by an LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker), an M.D. (probably a psychiatrist), a clinical psychologist ("PhD" or "PsyD") or an MFT. A combination of psychotherapy and medication can be very effective for treating depression.
- ADDRESS CO-OCCURRING PROBLEMS such as eating disorders, substance abuse, anger, relationship issues, grief and loss, anxiety and panic, social phobia, history of trauma or abuse. If you need help with these or other issues, find a psychotherapist with experience working with your particular issues.
- IF YOU FEEL LIKE HARMING YOURSELF - PLEASE TELL SOMEONE WHO CARES ABOUT YOU. CALL A MENTAL HEALTH HOTLINE (in SLO call 549-8989). SEEK PROFESSIONAL HELP FROM A LICENSED MENTAL HEALTHCARE PROVIDER. THAT COULD INCLUDE CALLING ME IF YOU LIVE IN MY AREA.
- My # is 805 542-9024. DEPRESSION IS TREATABLE. REACH OUT