Dear Dr. Archer,
I am more than a little curious as to how to snap out of a depression. I have had it ever since I was 15 years old. Ever since then, I have put on a fake smile.
I've tried antidepressant medications, and they just don't do the trick. I have prayed, and while this helps, I want to get on with a new life and leave this depression behind.
What is your advice on this?
The first thing I want to tell you is that there's no way to "snap" out of a depression, especially if it's been going on for years. It takes time and a total lifestyle modification.
Since you’ve seen a psychiatrist and taken meds, I’m going to focus on what you can do. Depression is sometimes biological in nature and may require meds and going back to a psychiatrist, but try these things below first for a full three months.
*Exercise. Walk, run, aerobics, jazz or any type of exercise helps your body produce natural antidepressant chemicals. Research shows that you need to do 30 minutes at a time for it to be effective.
*Be aware of what triggers your feelings of sadness and depression. Is it certain people? Work? Family? Figure out who/what brings you down and address that.
*Get enough sleep. Seven or eight hours is what the normal body needs. This is crucial for happiness.
*Avoid too much alcohol, as this can make depression much worse.
*Create a task, and complete it. It will bring a sense of accomplishment. I t can be as simple as cleaning out/rearranging your closet.
*Spend time with friends who are happy; laughter can be contagious and laughter treats depression, yes that is true. By the same token avoid friends who always seem depressed.
*Eat healthy foods; avoid junk foods and fatty meals. Fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains are excellent choices. We are what we eat.
*Get enough sunshine, as the sun can actually affect our moods. At least 20 minutes a day.
*Volunteer, one of my favorites. Doing something good for others always makes us feel better about ourselves.
Remember that happiness is not a destination to be achieved on the road of life, rather it is a means of travel. Take care Heather.