How to get back up when you’re feeling down
We all have days where we feel a little down in the dumps or have experienced a loss of some sort. This might be the death of a close friend or family member, divorce, relocation, being layed off or the loss of a beloved pet. These are considered to be normal life circumstances and many people successfully navigate the waves of sadness that emerge as a result of these losses.
However, at other times, these events can be overwhelming, tossing us to and fro in a tumultuous storm of emotion. How do you determine whether your loss or grief in one of life’s circumstances is “normal” or whether your sadness is slipping into a deep canyon of depression?
Often you can maintain your day to day functioning in normal periods of grieving. Of course, you may experience several days or even weeks of some disturbance in your sleeping, appetite, energy level, mood, and motivation. Generally, humans “bounce back” after a period of time without any significant deterioration in their functioning.
Sometimes, losses can result in the development of a major depressive episode that requires the intervention of a medical professional. If this is happening to you, you might want to talk with your doctor or a professional counselor or therapist. Usually, they can work with you to determine an appropriate course of treatment. This could include talk therapy, medication, a support group, or other treatment alternatives.
Sadness that seems to last for months or becomes more severe requires medical intervention. While roller coaster emotions are often common and to be expected in normal periods of grieving, more severe, dark thoughts of self-harm or suicide are not considered normal and should be shared with your doctor and close family members. Do this immediately.
Although these thoughts may seem like an answer to the pain you are experiencing, it is vital to remember that feelings of depression are, usually, temporary and will subside. Medication can often be helpful in alleviating these feelings. It stabilizes the levels of serotonin in the brain that are often responsible for your clinical depression.
If you think you may be experiencing clinical depression rather than normal life sadness, please talk with your doctor. He or she can recommend a course of treatment for you that may include:
Cognitive behavioral therapy can be helpful in understanding that negative thoughts can exacerbate feelings of sadness, insecurity, and hopelessness. Sessions can help you to recognize irrational or negative thought patterns, focus on positive thoughts or strengths, and learn to communicate with and develop a support group.
Anti-depressant medication can be helpful in alleviating severe episodes of depression. Your doctor or psychiatrist may recommend you remain on the medication for at least six months to one year.
There are many support groups available for many different issues and concerns. These groups include those for divorce support, grief, anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder. These are often self-run though some are facilitated by professional therapists.
Exercise, yoga, meditation or vitamin therapy
Alternative therapies can be very useful and are often popular when touted as “natural remedies”. On-line research can provide answers to questions about some of these therapies and they should not be ruled out. Holistic remedies are sometimes highly beneficial.
Again, one of the most important issues to remember about depression is that these feelings are, usually, temporary. Keeping a positive attitude, surrounding yourself with caring friends and family members, and staying active are often key to bringing your down-in-the-dumps mood back to normal, happy functioning.
This post is not intended as a substitute for professional counseling. If you or someone you love is depressed, please speak with a medical professional or your doctor today. They can help to lead you in the right direction to get the help you need.