We have all had our moments – those moments of depression and despair, the blahs and the blues. The World Health Organization estimates that 121 million people worldwide have depression. Clearly, you are not alone. Yet, when in the midst of depression it is easy to feel as though you are alone – maybe not alone in your depression, but alone in the world.
Depression is common, which says a lot about the way we as humans react to the pressures we experience in the world today. The pressures and demands are great and it is hard to keep up – physically and emotionally. It is normal to experience frustration and depression when we feel like we can no longer cope with all that is happening in our immediate environment and the world around us.
The larger question is, “What do we do to help ourselves feel better?” The first step is to try to define your depression, or blues. What do you believe may be the underlying cause:
- Job Stress
- Relationship Stress
- Sleep deprivation (this can cause depression and also can be a symptom or effect of depression)
- Biological Basis (chemical imbalance, need for serotonin, premenstrual syndrome, postpartum depression, anxiety disorders, etc.)
- Financial Woes
- Life Cycle Stressors (weddings, funerals, divorce, communions, etc.)
- General Malaise for no apparent reason
It is critical to attempt to understand the underlying cause of your blues, as the cause will help determine the best way for you to beat your blues. For example, if you are worried about inadequacies or need strategies to cope with job or relationship stressors, a life coach or therapist may be able to meet with you for a few sessions to provide some coaching in these areas, along with concrete problem solving strategies. If your depression is sleep deprivation, you may want to consult with a sleep clinic in order to understand the causes of your sleep issues. I know many people who find their quality of life instantly improves when their sleep disorders are resolved.
If you have a biological basis for your blues, you may need to be evaluated for medication in order to correct a biological imbalance you were probably born with. This correction can bring about almost instant relief for individuals who need it.
If your depression is caused by financial concerns, meeting with a financial planner may help you to feel more in control of your financial status and assist you with the process of getting back on your feet and managing to plan for your present and your future.
If planning a major life event (such as a wedding) is getting you down, it is good to take a deep breath and remember that this too shall pass! I always try to tell people that their wedding day is supposed to be for them, fun, and not a stress- inducing event, but so often the weddings seem to be more for the guests than the betrothed, and the stress seems to end the day after the wedding is over.
If you have had a tough life stressor, such as divorce or death of a loved one, it may help you to consult with a grief counselor in order to work through the pain of the loss. I know many people who benefitted greatly from even one or two sessions with someone experienced in explaining the stages of grief we go through and how to work through them in a healthy way.
Finally, if you are feeling depressed for a reason you do not understand, it is really important that you seek help. You are not alone, even if you feel alone, and you do not have to go through your blues in isolation. Make sure you reach out to those who are able to give you support and a helping hand. Talk to a counselor, physician, family member, friend, pastor, or even call a local crisis hotline. And, PLEASE, if you are feeling so blue that you are wondering if life is worthwhile – CALL SOMEONE IMMEDIATELY – you are worth it.
Today, 326 days ’til 40, I will remind myself that everyone has good and bad days. If I am having a really bad day and feeling blue, I will try to keep perspective and remember that life does get better. I have a lot to live for and as I focus on those things, the pain of the dark days slowly turns into hope for the future. We all have bad days, and we all have the ability to get through them and move on to live the lives we were created to live, in happiness and peace.