Thursday, May 19, 2016


Q.  I have days when I feel sad and depressed. When I get this way I don’t leave home and I accomplish very little. I don’t even answer my telephone. When I’m depressed I worry about myself and why I am the way I am. My self-esteem goes down and I feel like I’m in a deep pit and can’t get out. What’s wrong with me and how can I change?

A.  When we suffer a loss it is natural to be depressed and it is normal to go through a period of grieving. If there has been a major loss or trauma in your life, you will need to grieve over a period of months. See blog on normal grief here

Todays blog is not on the grieving type of depression but on normal every day bad moods. Most of us have bad days. We have days when we feel moody, sad or even out right depressed. The ways we handle our bad moods are often not effective; our solutions often add to our depression or even push us deeper into despair.
Diane Tice, a psychologist at Case Western Reserve University, studied over four hundred men and women, asking them how they overcame the doldrums. She discovered from this study which strategies worked and which ones did not. Try these strategies the next time you feel sad or depressed:
1. Socialize. The most popular method for overcoming depression was to get out with other people. So, going out to eat, to a movie, visiting with friends or family can help.
2. Change your thoughts. When we’re depressed we’re apt to worry more and to view things negatively. Notice and stop negative thoughts. Automatic, repetitive, negative thoughts reinforce depression. These thoughts may operate just beneath awareness. Learning to notice these thoughts is the first step in stopping them. We may think for example, “It’s all my fault,” or “I never do anything right,” or “No one likes me.”
Learn to challenge the thoughts at the core or your worry. Replace negative thoughts with positive ones. Challenge your negative thoughts.  Often we’re very critical of ourselves when we’re depressed. Talk back to these thoughts. Is it true you never do anything right? Look for evidence to disprove this. List the things you’ve done well. 
3. Plan fun activities to distract you from your mood. Be careful to pick an upbeat movie rather than a depressing one; a happy friend to visit rather than someone who is also depressed.  
4. Exercise. Take a walk, go jogging, swim or ride a bike. Again, you may need to force yourself at first. Choose a type of exercise you enjoy and begin slowly. Exercise increases brain chemicals which naturally lift our mood. Aerobic exercise is one of the most effective ways to lift us out of a mild depression. The reason exercise works is that it puts the body into a high arousal state; the opposite state it is in when we’re depressed.
5. Give yourself treats or pleasures that soothe. Make pleasurable moments part of every day. Studies show that small happy moments contribute to our being happy.  Take time for the things that bring you pleasure. Relax with a cup of tea and a good book, go for a walk, watch a funny movie, have lunch with a friend. The most common pleasures people use are hot baths, eating favorite foods, listening to music, shopping and hugging someone.
6. Accomplish something. Do something that needs to be done. Taking action will counteract thoughts of worthlessness. Clean a closet, do the dishes, write a letter. You may need to force yourself to act. Once you do, your mood will improve. When we tackle a chore we’ve avoided or complete a minor task that needs to be done we feel successful, thus lifting our mood. Similarly, getting dressed and putting on make-up can help us feel better.
7. Look at your situation from a different point of view. For example, it’s natural to be upset and even depressed if you’ve lost your job. But what are the advantages of having lost your job? 
8. Who has it worse than you? Comparing our own problems with someone who is has more troubles can quickly help us count our blessings.
9. Help someone else. Helping someone in need distracts us from our own problems. It takes us out of our self-centered focus. It helps us see that others have problems, too. This is a very effective way to lift depression. Throwing yourself into helping others is an almost guaranteed cure for depression.
10. Pray. Praise God and count your blessings. When we’re depressed we’re apt to see everything negatively. Seeking God with a grateful heart helps us notice positive things we take for granted. Thank God for the sunshine, for loved ones, for food and shelter. Tice says that prayer “works for all moods, especially depression.”

Why am I discouraged? Why so sad? I will but my hope in God! I will praise him again – my Savior and my God! Psalm 42:5

Blessings, Dottie


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