When depression holds you back

Here's the deal with depression: It's awful. And it can hurt the people closest to you and those who count on you. When depressed, most people have a harder time relating to others, even the ones they love with all their hearts.

It's as though a wall had sprung up, separating the depressed individual from his or her own dreams and desires. It also makes it difficult to take in positivity from almost any source. In addition, depression distorts your thinking about healthy options for help, like therapy.

When in this undesirable state, many people may self-medicate with alcohol or drugs, which can create additional problems. Depression is not to be taken lightly, and if you find yourself drinking too much or taking those pills you got from your last root canal, so you can numb your emotional pain, you are heading down a dangerous road. If this is going on for you, please consult with a medical professional. It could save your life.

Depressed people also can have a hard time with sleep; some can't fall or stay asleep and others sleep as often and as much as possible as an escape from their pain. Because depression hurts this much, it makes sense that you would try to avoid it, and perhaps one of the least toxic ways is through sleeping. Unfortunately, this isolates you from the world and from those who care about you, and you need them right now.

When you're down, it can be a great help to have someone around to keep you company and to help you avoid falling into negative thinking patterns. Letting yourself be distracted by another human being is a positive way to help lift yourself out of this pit of despair.

The cold weather and shorter days of winter can also affect you negatively and even cause depression for some. Many doctors recommend full spectrum lighting as a natural way to combat this condition. And getting exercise is always a good way to lighten your emotional burden, along with taking vitamins and other supplements. If the winter brings you down, this might be something you want to look into.

In addition to natural remedies, there are a number of new antidepressants available. It's been over 20 years since Prozac came out, and the new generation of medications is proving to be effective for those who didn't respond to the earlier ones.

There is no shame in taking medication for this medical condition. If you had a physical problem and your doctor prescribed a pill, you'd take it. Taking medication for depression makes equal sense, but there can be a stigma about these drugs for some folks. While this is understandable, also remember that you may not be thinking in the correct way about taking an antidepressant medication or seeking help.

When you are depressed, doing something about it will benefit everyone in your life. Most of all, it will benefit you.

Note: Dr. Barton Goldsmith, a psychotherapist in Westlake Village, Calif., is the author, most recently, of "100 Ways to Boost Your Self-Confidence -- Believe in Yourself and Others Will Too." Email him at Barton@BartonGoldsmith.com.
 

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