With the holiday season behind us and as we settle into the winter months, feelings and symptoms of depression will often surface or increase. Feeling “down in the dumps” or “blah”, sad, discouraged, hopeless, irritable and cranky, or easily frustrated are typical symptoms of depression. Also feeling withdrawn, a loss of interest or pleasure, changes in appetite, sleep, energy, difficulty concentrating and making decisions are commonly reported. A sense of feeling worthless or excessive guilt may be experienced. Some of these feelings may intensify and actually interfere with our relationships, school, job, social activities or even day to day functioning. If you experience a few or most of these symptoms, it is wise to pay attention to them and take care of yourself.
Make sure there is not a physical or medical explanation for your depression. If your body isn’t feeling “right”, talk to a professional counselor or licensed clinical social worker or your doctor. Treat your body the way it deserves and needs to be treated by eating healthy and getting enough rest and exercise. Taking a few moments to focus on your breathing is an easy and effective way to help your mind and body to relax, and can be done anywhere. Pull yourself into the present and take in the gifts that are around you now. Notice the sunshine, a beautiful bird, a cloud, or other gifts of nature. Listen to music or sounds that you “connect” with. A walk or a change of scenery can bring newness into your surroundings. If possible, do something nice for another person, even if it is only to smile or greet them. Sometimes the simple, small steps we take will make a big difference.
Often people minimize or don’t understand depression and the possible effects of going untreated. Working with a mental health professional can help you understand depression and learn multiple ways to manage its symptoms. Regardless of the season, feeling bettter means living better!