Help for Depression

According to the Mayo Clinic, depression is very common in the United States, affecting people of all ages at a rate of more than 3 million cases per year. According to the DSM-5, the diagnostic manual used by mental health providers, the symptoms of depression vary widely, with the primary identifying symptoms being depressed mood and/or lack of interest in activities. There may also be weight or appetite changes, sleep problems, muscle movement issues, fatigue or loss of energy, feelings of worthlessness or low self-esteem, problems concentrating or making decisions, recurrent thoughts of death or suicide and longstanding thoughts of rejection or having a suicide plan or attempt.

There are many treatments for depression, and it’s important to talk to a professional if you are experiencing the above symptoms. In my practice, I talk with people about what I call “Depression Antidotes.” Over the years, I’ve seen several categories emerge in depression recovery. Let’s take a look…

  • Consider a medical evaluation to explore various rule-outs. Even the best mental health treatment may not help if you’re unknowingly fighting medical problems that are masking as psychological disorders. Your provider can discuss possible contributors, such as low Vitamin D (I say, “D stands for depression”), poor thyroid functioning, low testosterone (in both women and men), iron, female hormones, B vitamins, zinc, magnesium and calcium.
  • Exercise for endorphin release. Endorphins are the body’s natural antidepressants, and just 20-30 minutes of exercise releases these free and legal happy chemicals.
  • Drink water. Low mood and fatigue can occur well before someone is actually dehydrated. Divide your weight in 1/2 to get the number of ounces you should be drinking each day. If you sweat a lot during the day or drink caffeine, which is a diuretic, you should drink even more water. If the air is dry, be sure to drink more water also.
  • Get enough sleep. Download a sleep app to see how many hours you’re getting and what your sleep quality is. Just because you get 8-9 hours of sleep doesn’t mean that it’s restful.
  • Socialize. Social support guards against psychological distress in a very big way. You don’t have to be a social butterfly, but get out there. Or, stay in, and have someone over to visit. Even talking on the phone is better than no interaction at all.
  • Create things to look forward to. This can be as simple as dinner out with family during the week, date night with your significant other, church with a friend on Sunday, a BBQ or pool party at a friend’s house over the weekend or a staycation or vacation with friends or family.
  • Eat. Low calorie intake can cause low energy and fatigue, which can, in turn, cause low mood. It’s a pretty simple concept, but you’d be amazed at how many people don’t realize the impact of nutrition on their psychological functioning. Also, be mindful of your consumption of caffeine and carbohydrates. These can give you a boost or even a mood lift, but what goes up must come down. Beware the crash. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t eat carbs; rather, be mindful of their effect. You can also offset their impact with protein.
  • Stay away from downers, such as alcohol, some strains of marijuana and other drugs that depress the central nervous system.
  • If overwhelm is making you feel depressed, break down your tasks into smaller chunks. Make a list of goals and add smaller objectives under each of them that will add up to completing the task. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your disastrous office or pigsty of a house will not be cleaned in one either.
  • Talk with a professional. A therapist can help you work on additional coping skills for depression.
  • You may also wish to consult with a naturopath, acupuncturist and/or psychiatrist regarding additional treatment options. Remember, just because you see a prescriber doesn’t mean you have to start a supplement or medication. It’s about information gathering first—knowledge is power. Choices are good, so see what your options are.

If you or someone you know is struggling with this or another psychological issue, help is available. Talk to your insurer about available options under your plan. For more information on teletherapy sessions with me, visit www.doctorbellingrodt.com.

DISCLAIMER: Material on this site is for informational purposes only. The content of this site is not intended to be a substitute for evaluation or treatment by a licensed professional. Information contained on this site should not be used to diagnose or treat a mental health issue without consulting a qualified provider. The use of this website does not convey any doctor-patient relationship. All material is the intellectual property of Jennifer Bellingrodt, Psy.D. The material is copyrighted and may only be reproduced with the express written permission of Dr. Bellingrodt.