Jul 10 2010

What is Depression: Some New Light on the Old Blues?

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Right now, 20 million Americans are in the midst of an episode of depression.

Some have the incapacitating symptoms of what doctors call a major depression. These symptoms of depression usually require professional attention because they are very severe and demoralizing. Feeling hopeless and worthless, a person with major depression may sleep and eat irregularly.

In the throes of severe depression, it is hard to concentrate, make decisions, or find the energy to do much of anything. Thoughts of suicide are common.

Depression primarily refers to a state of mind that is purely negative, with an inclination to insufficiency and a hopeless lack of interest to do things.

If someone has a minor depression, however, the problem is more manageable. Experts say that people who have some minor depression will feel lousy about themselves and lousy about their lives, but they are managing to function at a high level.

In fact, some of the newfound ways of battling the blues are related to what you do as well as what you feel. Here are some ways that you can prepare your body to help prevent minor depression:

1. Put some spring in your step.

Regular exercise may be the most powerful natural antidepressant available. It is advisable that you take a brisk walk. Exercise helps generate the release of brain chemicals called endorphins. When endorphin levels are low, depression occurs. Exercise also oxygenates the brain, keeping it healthy.

How much should you exercise? Thirty minutes, five or six days a week, at moderate intensity, is a nice level to aim for to help prevent the brain imbalances that can make you vulnerable to depression.

2. Nourish your brain.

Virtually any nutrient deficiency can result in impaired mental function, including depression. To help prevent depression, health experts recommend that people should take high-potency multivitamins or mineral supplement. This will supply the brain with enough nutrients in order to keep it properly functioning and, thus, avoid some mental disorders such as depression.

3. Get enough sleep.

Getting less than eight hours of sleep, night after night, may lower levels of the brain chemical known as “serotonin,” which can make you more prone to depression. To sleep well, health practitioners recommend going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, including weekends.

Relax before bedtime, perhaps with a hot bath. And for the soundest sleep, keep your bedroom quiet and dark.

4. Consider some alternate explanations.

Your emotions, positive or negative, are created not by situations themselves, but by the way you interpret those situations. A very common situation can turn into a reason for hand wringing unless you take mental steps to prevent it.

Suppose a friend is going to pick you up so that the two of you can go somewhere and do something fun together. Now, suppose that time passes, and your friend does not arrive to get you. Your feelings change, quite literally, from moment to moment. If at first you think of your friend as being insensitive and irresponsible, you will find yourself feeling angry at him. If you think that perhaps something bad has happened to him, you will naturally become concerned. If you think that this person does not care much about you and that is why he is late, you feel rejected, lonely, even depressed.

Although the situation does not change, and that your friend is still delayed, you can have a whole range of feelings depending on how you interpret that event.

For this reason, experts contend that situations are usually ambiguous, open to any interpretation. Hence, your interpretation helps create your feelings about the situation. Positive interpretations lead to good feelings and enjoyment; negative interpretations lead to bad feelings and depression. To stay on the positive side, try to look for the positive interpretations.

Indeed, depression can be very destructive if neglected. Hence, the best way to stop the development of depression is to always put a bright light on the blues and create a positive outlook in life.

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