If you are feeling depressed, you aren’t alone. Millions of Americans suffer depression each year. Depression isn’t about experiencing occasional bouts of sadness. Everybody feels that way sometimes. Depression is characterized by an overwhelming feeling of sadness that just won’t go away. Individuals who are clinically depressed lack energy and feel run down physically and emotionally. Many suffer sleep problems. Although some people eat too little when they are depressed, others eat too much. Whatever the symptoms, conquering depression isn’t easy. While overcoming depression often requires getting help from a medical professional, there are self-help steps you can take to get you on your way to a healthier emotional state.
Training yourself to think positively is a practical first step. How you think affects how you act. Only you can’t change your behaviors until you identify the thoughts that cause you to act the way you do. Although you can’t instantly turn off negative thoughts, you can find your way to clearer, more practical thinking. Rather than accepting negative thoughts, challenge them and recognize them for the irrational and unrealistic thoughts they are. Turn your mind in a more positive direction by thinking about all the things for which you have to be grateful.
There is much to be said for eating comfort foods. The trick is in eating foods that will help lift your mood. Junk foods high in unhealthy fats, overly processed carbohydrates and sugar aren’t the answer. The problem is that’s what a lot of people reach for when they are feeling down. Too much sugar in your diet causes your blood glucose level to rise and fall, which can cause mood swings throughout the day. If you are looking to feel better, eating lots of nutrient rich fruits and vegetables, foods containing healthy omega-3 fatty acids, whole grains and lean proteins and dairy foods help your body and brain function better. In addition, foods that contain nutrients like folate and vitamin B12 may help fight depression.
When it comes to fighting depression, exercise can help. Not only is physical activity good for your body, it’s good for your mind. Besides releasing stress, exercise releases endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good hormones. Simply getting your heart rate up for a few minutes each day can improve how you feel emotionally. While depression can leave you feeling unmotivated to get up and move, forcing yourself to take action can actually have the effect of boosting your motivation. Just a few minutes of exercise can help motivate you to be more physically active in general. But along with physical activity, you need to stay socially active.
Social interaction keeps you connected to other people who can provide you with a valuable resource for support. Don’t be afraid to talk to family members and friends about how you feel. They care about you and want to help. It will help you to know that you are loved and appreciated. Optimism is catching, so surround yourself with happy people. Even if you feel like you don’t have a lot of energy, force yourself to get out and do some of the things you once enjoyed doing. You may be surprised to find some of your former interest and joy returning once you make the effort. Change won’t happen overnight but eventually you will begin to feel better.