How to jump start yourself out of depression.

Shortening depression purgatory-the first 3 things you should do if you think you are depressed.


By the time, many people make it into my office, they usually can tell me they are depressed and want to start doing what they can to get better. Although this may seem like a good thing, the problem is that often they have suffered for a very long time before they find their way to treatment. Not only is this awful for the person who goes through it, but sometimes it can make getting better even harder. Wouldn’t it be great if we could shorten the "depression purgatory"-that place where people suffer sometimes indefinitely, and sometimes getting worse, before they get to treatment and start getting better.  So with that in mind, here are 3 things that you can do if you think you might be depressed.


1.      Take a test. Sometimes it can help to see on paper that what you are feeling has a name and has treatment. We often think we can fight depression with pure inner strength and that is certainly part of it.  But people often report that seeing their depression in a measurable way helped them define how they were feeling. If you want, you can even take a test weekly and compare how you are feeling from week to week.


There are several depression tests and screens on line. I like this depression screening test developed by the late Ivan Goldberg MD. It can be printed or taken on line.


2.      Tell someone you trust. If you are depressed, chances are, one or more of your own symptoms will stop you from being able to help yourself.  Let someone know how you are feeling. Let them help you figure out what to do.  They can help you make decisions or make doctor appointments for you, or help you get up and out. It will depend on your situation and your relationship with who you tell, but tell someone.  Not telling anyone can also promote isolation in depression so just by virtue of sharing the information you are already doing something good for you.


3.      Try to move or get light. In general it is against my approach to tell someone to move or do something when they are depressed. If you could, you would, right?  Clearly it is more complicated than sheer will power. However, if your depression is mild or moderate, you may be able to find a way to get yourself from where you are, to another place.  Put simply, this means that if you have not left the apartment, try to leave. If you only go to work and home, try a detour through another route. And if you stay in on the weekend, try getting out.  Not only will this increase your chances of something changing, but if you also catch some sunlight, that can help how you feel.


These suggestions are meant to shorten "depression purgatory," the time between how bad you feel and getting help.  Treatment can take many forms (psychotherapy, support group, medication, etc) and take time, but these steps are things you can do yourself that turn you toward whatever will eventually alleviate your depression.

By Li Faustino