Depression has its ways. It can feel as though you’re covered by a heavy blanket, and no matter what you try it just keeps weighing you down. Trying to feeling excited or happy or even normal is just not possible.

You think about it when you wake up and realize you have to get out of bed and start your day. As much as you want to want to, you just don’t want to.

You think about it when you’re at work and someone tells a joke. Everyone else laughs and finds it humorous, but you just can’t muster up the joy to smile and laugh with them.

You tell yourself to snap out of it. You tell yourself that nothing major is actually bad in your life right now and you shouldn’t feel this way. You try to fight it. Yet….it’s still there. The weighted blanket smothers your joy day in and day out.

Many people who come to me for depression counseling in Atlanta, and describe their situation like this. Fortunately, there is hope. There are many ways you can work to alleviate the symptoms of depression and live a more full life.

I’ll be honest with you, this takes some work. There is no quick fix, magic cure for depression. But, there are some research backed actions you can begin doing immediately to help with depression.

  1. Diet – Eat healthy. Period. Junk food does not help. If you aren’t sure where to get started, consult your doctor or a nutritionist. I know some great ones in town.
  2. Exercise – No matter how you feel, get daily exercise. Try for 30 minutes.
  3. Sunlight Exposure – Try to get outside. Even if you can only spend 10 minutes outside during the day. If it’s too cold, you can try keeping windows open or even getting a lamp that’s specifically designed to mimic sunlight in the winter.
  4. Talk to someone – Connecting with others is great for dealing with depression. They can help you normalize what you’re going through, and assist you with combatting those awful self-defeating thoughts that come along with depression. My Atlanta counseling clients come to counseling, but that doesn’t have to be your only connection. Friends, family, clergy…seek out connection.
  5. Give to others – Work to find opportunities to volunteer or engage in random acts of kindness, and try to engage in them consistently.
  6. Mindfulness – Be mindful of your thoughts and how you are approaching feelings of depression. We tend to judge ourselves for feeling low or not getting things right, and the judgment becomes magnified when experiencing depression. Being mindful is about releasing judgment, accepting reality, and working to take steps to make moves with things you can control while releasing the things you can’t.
  7. Promote happiness, fun, and achievement– Find activities that promote these three items because they can help lift low feelings when you engage in them. Even if the small things help you feel achievement (like getting out of bed, or taking a shower), go ahead and do them, and give yourself credit when you do.
  8. Find ways to make the city feel smaller. Find a sense of community. Find a group you can be part of. You can join a sports league, join a small group at your church, make friends in your neighborhood, whatever that looks like. Don’t perpetuate loneliness by isolating yourself in a big city like Atlanta.

We all go through things. Depression is not easy, but it doesn’t have to be something that overcomes you. If you’re dealing with depression, take a step and talk to an Atlanta counselor, or a friend, or a family member, or anyone. Just take the step.

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