Depression Help can seem like the relief of a lifetime. Nearly 15 million Americans each year are affected by a serious illness called depression. It’s a proven illness. It’s not a reflection on the personal attributes of the patient despite it being a mental illness. Depression can affect anyone. There’s no logic to its onset. It can strike the rich or the poor. It takes no race into consideration. The fact that you are suffering from this disease does not mean that you are less a human being. Mental illness comes with stereotypes, ignore them. The suffering associated with this disease will only get worse without treatment. Pretending nothing is wrong won’t chase away this problem. If a person doesn’t seek medical attention, the disease becomes worse until it dominates their entire life.

Depression can result from a number of sources. It’s not a matter of a day or two of confusion or sadness, this disease is much more. Depression can be a matter of months and even years. The worst effects of depression can be physical illness and even suicide. Remorse is often a feeling associated with the early stages. It can take from you the enjoyment that you once used to receive from your favorite activities. Loneliness and despair are common. You may feel like a failure at life and cannot see where the future is going to get any better. Your entire personality can change as time passes. You will feel the affects at work, at school and at home. Expect insomnia and increased anxiety.

There are many causes of depression. Stress is one of them. Stress caused by the loss of a loved one or from a serious illness that you have been diagnosed with. Genetics are important. Suffering abuse can bring on stress. Even something as simple as reading the financial news can create it. There is so much stress in the world today to compete and satisfy those in our society. Don’t forget that it’s a serious condition. But for people who look for it there is help. Only about 4.5 million of the 15 million Americans who suffer from depression each year will admit the problem and seek help. A loved one or you have to look for the help.

Getting the help you need plays a big role in relieving the stress of depression and keeping it away. On your own, it can be difficult to maintain perspective and sustain the effort required to beat the disorder. But the very nature of this debilitating situation makes it difficult to reach out for help. However, isolation and loneliness make depression even worse, so maintaining your close relationships and social activities are important.

The thought of reaching out to even close family members and friends can seem overwhelming. You may feel ashamed, too exhausted to talk, or guilty for neglecting the relationship. Remind yourself that this is the depression talking. Those who love you are there for you.

* Turn to trusted friends and family members. Share what you’re going through with the people you love and trust. Ask for the help and support you need. You may have retreated from your most treasured relationships, but they can get you through this tough time.

* Try to keep up with social activities even if you don’t feel like it. When you’re depressed, it feels more comfortable to retreat into your shell. But being around other people will make you feel less depressed.

* Join a support group for depression. Being with others who are dealing with depression can go a long way in reducing your sense of isolation. You can also encourage each other, give and receive advice on how to cope, and share your experiences. To locate a depression support group in your area, use the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance’s

Another self-help tip: Take care of yourself, Dogonit!

For you to overcome, you have to nurture yourself. This includes making time for things you enjoy, asking for help from others, setting limits on what you’re able to do, adopting healthy habits, and scheduling fun activities into your day.

Do things you enjoy (or used to)

While you can’t force yourself to have fun or experience pleasure, you can choose to do things that you used to enjoy. Pick up a former hobby or a sport you used to like. Express yourself creatively through music, art, or writing. Go out with friends. Take a day trip to a museum, the mountains, or the ballpark.

Develop a wellness toolbox

Draw up some ideas of things that you can do for a quick mood boost. Include any strategies, activities, or skills that you know you have. The more “tools” for coping with depression, the better. Try and implement a few of these ideas each day, even if you’re feeling good.

* Set realistic goals and assume a reasonable amount of responsibility.

* Break large tasks into small ones, set some priorities, and do what you can as you can.

* Try to be with other people and to confide in someone; it is usually better than being alone and secretive.

* Participate in activities that may make you feel better.

* Mild exercise, going to a movie, a ballgame, or participating in religious, social, or other activities may help.

* Expect your mood to improve gradually, not immediately. Feeling better takes time.

* It is advisable to postpone important decisions until the depression has lifted. Before deciding to make a significant transition–change jobs, get married or divorced–discuss it with others who know you well and have a more objective view of your situation.

* People rarely “snap out of” a depression. But they can feel a little better day by day.

* Remember, positive thinking will replace the negative thinking that is part of the depression and will disappear as your depression responds to treatment.

* Let your family and friends help you.

The most productive way to assist a depressed person, is to help him or her get appropriate treatment. This may involve encouraging the individual to stay with treatment until the symptoms begin to get better (several weeks), or to seek different treatment if no improvement occurs. On occasion, it may require making an appointment and accompanying the depressed person to appointments with the psychologist. It may also mean monitoring whether the depressed person is taking medication, if prescribed.

The second most important way to help is to offer emotional support. This involves understanding, patience, affection, and encouragement. Engage the depressed person in conversation and listen carefully. Do not disparage feelings expressed, but point out realities and offer hope. Do not ignore remarks about suicide. Always report them to the depressed person’s psychologist. One of the main problems to overcome with depression is admitting to others that one has it. Many people will not seek help until they find they cannot go on without it. There is a fear that they will be regarded as mentally weak, that it will jeopardize employment prospects, career advancement, life insurance, etc.

Medication can be a tremendous help in beginning the healing if you’re so much in the pits that you don’t have the energy for anything else. It can make a huge difference and really get you rolling. But it’s important to see a psychiatrist or physician who’s familiar enough with the latest anti-depressants – there is quite an array, and chances are something will help that won’t cause too many side effects for your system. But you need somebody who knows this stuff, and most internists or GP’s don’t. Often people are under- or over-medicated, or don’t wait long enough to let the stuff work. Once you’re rolling and begin doing some of the other things on this list, you can probably start reducing your dosage. Get yourself up in the morning and avoid sleeping in, even though, it’s true, if you’re depressed, you won’t feel much like it. Getting up and moving around helps fight depression; sleeping late feeds it.

You need to reduce your intake of carbs, and especially sugar, while consuming more protein. If you’re depressed you’re going to want that quick charge of energy that sugar and simple carbs provide; but that very same jolt of sugar floods the bloodstream, spikes, and then causes a crash, leaving you more depressed than ever. The same is true for caffeine and alcohol. If you can get yourself moving, then exercise! Don’t forget, depression is blocked or dead-ended energy, and you can get it moving again by literally moving more. (And, yes, if you’re depressed, you won’t feel like it, but it will make you feel palpably better afterward.)

The most common form of treatment for depression is ‘talk therapy’ and ‘anti-depressants’ such as Prozac. But medications often have side effects, including causing more depression, as well as they can be expensive as can a psychiatrist or psychologist. Natural alternatives exist that contain hyperforin, known to work as well as anti-depressant medicines. Another effective treatment for this terrible disease is the support of others who suffer it. Whether you want it or someone pushes you to it, there is help around for depression.

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