One in ten Americans suffers from depression. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates depression will be the second most debilitating disease worldwide by the year 2020. “Top risk factors include being unable to work or being unemployed, not having health insurance and/or suffering from obesity,” said psychologist Gregory L. Jantz, e-book author of Overcoming Anxiety, Worry and Fear: Practical Ways to Find Peace.
This helpful book provides positive steps to take, which offers readers renewed hope and strength. It reminds me of my New York City days, planted in front of a light box at my therapist’s office to combat Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Dr. Jantz said, “Negative emotions experienced with sustained excessive stress can lead to depression [in addition to SAD].”
When do you go for help? When many of the following symptoms occur together and last for more than a week or two at a time, it’s likely depression and it’s time to seek support, according to the CDC and other experts.
Here are common signs you may be depressed:
- Pervasive sadness
- Loss of interest in regular activities
- Changes in eating, sleep and energy levels
- Problems concentrating and making decisions
- Feelings of worthlessness, shame or guilt
As we come off those darker winter months, it’s natural to feel a sense of anticlimax or restlessness, experts note. People at risk of depression can work on maintaining their emotional equilibrium by counterbalancing negative feelings with optimism, hope, and joy. It is most effective if people approach this process holistically.
“By purposefully feeding the intellectual, relational, physical and spiritual aspects of your life, you can achieve balance,” Jantz said. A holistic approach may include medication and meditation, in addition to other natural ways of managing stress.
Janz, who practices near dreary Seattle, offers these mood-lifting suggestions:
• Intellectual: Try reading a positive, uplifting book and set aside time to feed your mind with constructive, encouraging messages. Be aware of what you are reading and listening to, and counter the negative input.
• Relational: Think of a person you really enjoy talking to, someone who makes you feel good about yourself or someone who’s fun to be around. Plan to spend time with that person this week, even if it’s just for a moment or two.
• Physical: Physical activity is a healthy, weight-sustaining way of promoting emotional balance. Engage in mild exercise 30 minutes a day. Get outdoors if it’s sunny and take a walk around the neighborhood. Greet your neighbors, stop at the park and watch someone playing with his dog, or cheer at a Little League game. Intentionally open up your focus to include the broader world around you, Janz said.
Depression is as debilitating as any other disease. Take steps to de-stress and hone your emotional balance before it gets worse.
What do you do to elicit a happier mood? Tweet us @OrganicSpaMag #boostyourmood
Gregory L. Jantz is founder of The Center for Counseling and Health Resources, near Seattle, Wash. He is the best-selling author of more than twenty books. Visit www.aplaceofhope.com