Depression; Prevention.Self-help strategies play an important role in maintaining mental health. Among the most useful are:
Exercise. Aerobic workouts such as walking or jogging can keep your mood elevated and help prevent bouts of depression. Even non-aerobic exercise, such as weight-lifting, can keep your spirits high, improve sleep and appetite, reduce irritability and anger and produce feelings of mastery and accomplishment. Be sure to check with your health care professional before you start any new exercise program.
Tune into your problems. Analyze recent events to identify possible sources of stress, either alone or with a close friend or loved one, to help you regain a better perspective. However, if you find yourself ruminating, or, focusing too much on a problem, try another technique listed here because ruminating can lead to depression.
Self-talk. If your inner voice is constantly critical, you should try to make note of unrealistically negative or critical remarks and focus more on the things you like about yourself.
Journaling. Write about problems and concerns in a journal to ease your anxiety and help you work through painful feelings. To get started, reflect upon each day or week and identify the most meaningful parts or moments. If you experience an intense emotion, positive or negative, write down the circumstances and the effects of the experience. Analyze any encounter that makes you feel bad.
Self-help or support groups. Talk with people with similar problems through hospital- or community health-sponsored support groups. Such groups, can help prevent depression recurrences.
The Holiday Blues
The holidays are a stressful time of year for many people. The "holiday blues" are a common response to the additional responsibilities the holiday season can impose. Additionally, you may feel loss more acutely during the holidays as you remember loved ones who have died.
Symptoms of the holiday blues can include feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or angry; crying spells; withdrawal; or self-medicating with food or alcohol. While these symptoms can be similar to those experienced by someone who is clinically depressed, they are temporary. Depression is not. If holiday blues become incapacitating and/or persist for two or more weeks, professional help is advised. Some simple interventions can help you prepare for the holiday hustle, minimize stress and keep the holidays healthy:
Talk about the person you're missing
Plan ahead and prioritize activities
Be realistic about what can be accomplished in the upcoming weeks
Alter a tradition that is particularly uncomfortable or overwhelming
Be honest about feelings
Focus on something positive and not a memory of a negative experience
Take time off for yourself
Recognize that alcohol, cigarettes and caffeine increase stress; limit use of these substances
Exercise, eat nutritiously and get enough sleep to prevent exhaustion
If you don't have a support network during the holidays, try to join others in a community center, book club or religious service or activity.
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Keywords: depression, support groups, holiday blues, symptoms, medications, epilepsy treatment, hormone therapy