No one really likes to talk about being sad, but the reality is that in an ever-changing world with an uncertain future, it becomes hard to avoid a sense of collective stress and despair. It’s difficult to get through even one day without being bombarded by news of economic turmoil, political upheaval, war and other complete “bummers”.
I believe the key to warding off those blues is to maintain a healthy perspective. Remembering and taking comfort in believing that each one of us can deliberately reach for joyous thoughts can be very helpful in maintaining a healthy outlook. A book entitled Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy By David Burns, MD teaches us just this and how to achieve mental health. In fact 70% of depressed individuals who read Feeling Good reported improvement in depressive like symptoms with no therapy. Also these patients maintained their improvement for up to three years. David Burns book, a novel antidepressant, some would say, and a must read for those suffering form depression!
Practice Happy Habits
Other blues fighting suggestions include: fasting from the news watching the news has been shown to intensify feelings of sadness and anxiety in some people. Making sure to get 8-9 hours of sleep per night. Participating in a regular balanced exercise program is essential for hormonal balancing and stress reduction. Avoiding all refined sugars and artificial sweeteners helps fight depression. Practicing affirmations, yoga, and meditation can also help maintain a sense of balance and inner calm.
Feeling Blue Occasionally is Normal
Feelings of sadness should come and go and not be accepted as a part of everyday life. If we accept feeling down as being normal, we may be downplaying a very serious medical condition known as major depressive disorder. Major depressive disorder should not be confused with a transiently depressed mood, a normal reaction to specific life experiences. A sad or depressed mood is only one of its many signs and symptoms. Major depressive disorder, as defined by the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder (DSM-IV), manifests with at least five of the following nine symptoms, one being a depressed mood or anhedonia, present most of the day nearly every day for a minimum of two consecutive weeks:
- Depressed mood
- Anhedonia (lack of ability to experience joy)
- Sleep disturbance
- Change in appetite or weight
- Psychomotor problems
- Lack of energy
- Poor concentration
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- Suicidal ideation
If depressive thoughts or continuous worrying persist for more than two weeks, a medical health professional should be consulted immediately. If a person’s depression is severe enough to include suicidal thoughts or contemplation, immediate medical attention should be obtained.
Are you considered “clinically depressed”? Find out by completing the Burns Depression Checklist.