How You Can Stop Your Sadness From Becoming Depression

two women sitting on a bench, smiling and talkingThe number of people afflicted with mental health problems appears to be rising. According to a study conducted in the United States, 25 percent of Americans experienced moderate to severe depression this summer. Twenty-five percent of Americans described themselves as being mildly depressed. Similar results have been found in surveys by the Census Bureau and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. An estimated third of Americans are now experiencing clinical anxiety or depression.

When she disclosed that she was suffering from “low-grade depression” Michelle Obama raised the issue for many people.

 It is almost daily in my job as a psychologist working in the Washington, D.C. area that I hear how racial tensions, economic uncertainty, and political turbulence are making people feel worse than usual.

 Although some depressive symptoms, such as sadness, fatigue, and a lack of motivation, exist, there is a difference between them and a more serious episode of major depression, which can interfere with your functioning at work and home for weeks or months at a time. When diagnosing clinical depression, the severity, duration, and degree of interference with daily activities should be considered. Some behaviors can cause depression, while others can prevent it, according to extensive research.

We head into winter, a time of year that can stress many people’s coping skills, so here are some strategies you can use to combat the depressive downward spiral.

 Reducing your overthinking will help

When we’re feeling down, it is natural for us to continuously think about bad things, trying to figure out why and how they happened. Certain people are more likely than others to engage in ruminating symptoms associated with depression. Worrying about the consequences of their actions, as well as overanalyzing everything in an attempt to find a solution to their sadness, makes them feel worse.

Rumination can also be triggered by certain factors – such as fatigue or stress – and then redirected with proactive alternatives, such as reading a gripping book or scheduling a video conference with a friend.

 Get active and socialize regardless of how you are feeling

 Feeling blue often makes people unwilling to get active. It is common for my patients to find it difficult to get out of bed, and they tend to stay in bed as long as they can. Depressive moods are worsened when less movement and interaction is taken part in. You can overcome depression by taking action, especially on something you value. In the event that you are spiritually inclined, planting some flower bulbs or taking a hike will make a significant difference.

 Is there a way to wake ourselves up from inactivity? As you dress up for an outing, take one step at a time. One of my patients thought this was pathetic. As a psychotherapist and professor at the University of Massachusetts, Christopher Martell proposes, many people do find that taking a first step is the right approach, since taking one small step at a time should be congratulated.

 Self-compassion: cultivate it

 Self-judgment is often associated with depression. The reality is that perfectionism and self-criticism are leading causes of depression. Instead, practice self-compassion.

 Consider talking with a close friend or relative if you find yourself sliding into self-criticism.

If you feel low, you can also write yourself a letter of self-compassion – as you might for a friend. Holding your face, stroking your arms, or placing your hand on your heart can be comforting.

 Curb your Thoughts of hopelessness and helplessness

 Frustration and sadness are common feelings when we cannot control bad things. Particularly in the event of an economically and medically devastating pandemic. A client recently told me that he feels helpless against the massive destruction happening to our country. It is common for people to feel helpless when they have lost hope for the future. The research of Lauren Alloy at Temple University shows that hopelessness worsens depression over time.

 Small achievements, like calling on behalf of a political candidate, can significantly decrease a sense of helplessness.

As a way to counter hopeless thoughts, picture positive outcomes or actions that you could take. Visualize that all of your senses are involved. This will improve your mood.

You can also disarm these thoughts by imagining them passing by in your mind like leaves on a stream or clouds above you. By taking a step back, you can refocus on what is more relevant at present.

Take advantage of your positive feelings

Even during times of adversity, some individuals experience positive moods. There is something awe-inspiring about tasting a crisp apple or taking in a valley adorned in golden foliage, for instance.

Researchers have found that taking mental photos, chatting with others, or slowing down can activate brain areas that reduce depression.

 Many people have been emotionally strained this year. People can prevent major depressions from arising when they utilize these strategies. In any case, if your depression worsens and negatively affects your life, you should seek professional treatment, including psychotherapy or medication.