Cheat Sheet

Depression For Dummies

From Depression For Dummies by Laura L. Smith, Charles H. Elliott

You can overcome depression. First, you should figure out whether you're just down in the dumps or truly suffering from depression — which can have a lot more symptoms than just feeling blue. If you're depressed, know where you can find help and know what you should, and should not, do to start helping yourself feel better.

14 Signs that You Might Be Depressed

People experience depression in different ways. This symptom checklist can provide you with a rough idea as to whether you are experiencing depression. Note any and all that apply to you.

  • Feeling worthless

  • Change in appetite

  • Avoiding contact with other people

  • Less energy than usual

  • Not looking forward to anything

  • More aches and pains than usual

  • Unable to concentrate like usual

  • Feelings of guilt

  • Loss of interest in hobbies and things

  • Feeling hopeless

  • Feeling sad and empty

  • Sleeping less

  • Dwelling on thoughts of death

  • Unable to make decisions

Any of these symptoms can indicate that you're not feeling up to par. Merely checking one or two doesn't necessarily mean you're depressed, but the more items you check, the greater the concern of possible depression.

Anyone can have these feelings for a little while. You should only be concerned if these symptoms last for more than a week or two. However, if you're having thoughts of suicide or death, get help, now.

5 Places to Get Help for Your Depression

If you think that you may be depressed, don't despair. Lots of help is available. Here are some sources you can consult to treat depression:

  • Your family doctor.

    Ask for a complete physical. Sometimes depression is the result of another medical problem.

  • Mental health professionals.

    See a counselor, psychologist, or therapist after you rule out other physical causes for your low mood. They can competently diagnose and treat your depression.

  • Psychiatrists.

    These physicians have specialized training in the treatment of depression and other mental disorders. They typically focus on the use of medication and other biologically based treatments.

  • The Internet.

    WebMD and the American Psychological Association are especially informative sites with useful, user-friendly information about depression. Just remember that the Internet can't replace professional help.

  • Books.

    Visit your library. You can't read too much about the problem.

Depression Do's and Don'ts

If you are depressed, you want to avoid doing nothing or having the wrong thoughts about it. Here are a few things you should do — or absolutely should not do.

  • Do get help. You can start with self-help resources like books and the Internet, but you need to see a professional if your mood doesn't lift soon. There is nothing wrong with asking for help.

  • Don't ignore feelings of hopelessness or suicidal thoughts. These symptoms are serious! Seek help immediately.

  • Don't think that there's nothing you can do. Depression is highly treatable.

  • Do keep trying. If your first attempt to treat depression doesn't work, try something new. A variety of ways exist to help you.

  • Don't blame yourself. Depression has many causes, and you certainly didn't ask for it.

4 Ways to Deal with Bad Moods

Everyone experiences bad moods from time to time. A bad mood isn't the same thing as depression. Bad moods are transient, and they lift after a while. However, here are a few things you can do for a simple bad mood.

  • Get moving. Almost any aerobic activity can alleviate a bad mood. Dance, run, or play. Get that heart pounding.

  • Be grateful. Make a list of what you feel grateful for. Bad moods may make you forget the good things in your life. Spend a few minutes considering life's gifts, from small to large.

  • Don't catastrophize. Realize that everyone feels a little low once in a while.

  • Help someone. Focusing on helping another person is one of the best ways to overcome a lousy mood. It's a great antidote for dwelling on your own misfortune.

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