1. Six Tips for Depression Self Help

    May 21, 2013

    depression self-help

    We all get depressed at some point in our lives. We also know how difficult it is to do our tasks when we’re feeling down. Even simple things like cleaning the house, taking a shower, eating, or getting out of bed can be mentally and physically taxing even for strong-willed individuals. Most people deal with depression in a negative way, some will find ways to escape, some will blame other people for their woes, while others wouldn’t even acknowledge their woes. The easy way out of depression is to run to psychiatrist and ask for medication. Healthier option is to go to psychologist or therapist and sign up for psychotherapy e.g.  Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.  But what about depression self help? Can you pull yourself out of depression without medication?

    Motivation is the key to get back to living your life and feeling better when you are feeling helpless. I know that this can be the last thing on your mind when you’re down, but there are some tricks you can do to get your groove back. Here are six ways to stay motivated during the bad times:

    Don’t be too hard on yourself

    It will take time before you feel like your old self again. You need to be patient before you can get things back under control. Changes don’t happen overnight, don’t feel bad if you commit mistakes or fall short of your goals. In many cases, you are your number one critic, so be more forgiving. Give yourself a pat on the back even for simple accomplishments.

    Write your plans on paper

    In order to get out of your funk, you need to remind yourself that everything will be alright. Get back on track by writing your plan down. When you put everything down on a piece of paper, you are indirectly reassuring your subconscious mind that you’ll do something about your situation, helping you overcome your depression. Be detailed about your plans and include a time table so you can track your progress easily.

    Be realistic

    Don’t go overboard when writing down your goals. Setting lofty goals is one way to set yourself up for failure, leading to more frustration and depression. Start with simple changes you know you can achieve and work your way up from there. Achieving your goals gives you a sense of accomplishment which you can build on. Being realistic is like taking baby steps towards achieving your goals.

    Get up and start moving

    When you’re feeling bad, it seems like staying in bed all day is all you can do. Being sedentary will only sink you further down into depression. Don’t make any excuses and just start an exercise routine. If you have been inactive for too long, you can start by walking around your neighborhood for thirty minutes each day. You’ll find that exercise builds on itself, so you can increase intensity over time. Staying active will not only help get you in shape, but is also an excellent way to make you feel good. It promotes the release of endorphins, a neurotransmitter that elevates mood and reduces anxiety.

    Find someone to talk to

    We naturally withdraw from the outside world when we’re depressed. Being alone isn’t the best or the easiest way to deal with your dilemma. Go out of your way and seek help from family and friends. There are lots of people who are always willing to lend a helping hand during your time of need. Finding inspiration in others can help get you back on your feet. If you are having problems with seeing other people face to face, you can always start with e-mails and phone calls; the important thing is you are talking to someone. You can also try calling help lines if you don’t know anyone to talk to about your problem.

    Start working on a project

    Working on something unrelated to your problems is a great way to get your mind of things that bother you the most. This could be your best therapy. Work on something that interests you to help keep your mind off of depression and give yourself a treat when you’re done. You can learn how to play an instrument, a new language, or anything that gets your creative juice flowing.  Try different things and practice whatever works as your personal depression self help.

    Getting out of depression may be challenging, but with a little planning and progress you can find that silver lining once again. Just hang in there and know that you are bigger than your problems; you’ll be back to your old self sooner than you think. The sun will be shining again.

    This article was prepared by Simon Bukai who owns and operates Vista Health Solutions, a health insurance marketplace. Vista Health Solutions provides helpful advice and valuable insight to consumers looking for the best health insurance solution.

     Image Credit: Julien

  2. 5 Most Common Mental Illnesses Seen In High School Kids

    April 25, 2013


    by Cindy Peters, School Psychologist

    Struggling with a mental illness at any age can be emotionally devastating and overwhelming for some. High school students have difficult enough time fitting in, maintaining their grades and planning for their futures let alone struggling with a mental illness during the process. Understanding the five most common mental illnesses seen in high school kids can help to better relate and empathize with individuals who may be facing a challenge during some of the toughest years of their lives.


    Depression is a common mental disorder and illness that not only affects high school students, but children, adults and the elderly alike. Depression causes overwhelming feelings of hopelessness, sadness and in severe instances, thoughts or actions related to suicide. Depression can be brought on by stress, interference with home life and other relationships in a high school teen’s life. Avoiding family and friends, withdrawing from everyday activities, an increase in sleep and the inability to focus are also signs of depression. Overcoming depression is possible with psychotherapy, becoming self-aware and in some cases, even medication.


    Anxiety is another common mental illness that can become overbearing depending on the severity of the disorder and the patient’s surroundings. Anxiety causes individuals to avoid situations and people, especially when being around them triggers sweating, nausea and full-blown panic attacks. Teens struggling with anxiety may ultimately begin slacking in class, avoiding friends and even skipping school altogether. Anxiety can make it increasingly challenge to feel safe and without worry, even in a classroom environment. Recognizing triggers and causes of anxiety in an individual is a key factor in recovering and determining the right methods of treatment. According to psychologists, anxiety and depression are two most common mental health issues causing people seek psychotherapy.

    Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

    Obsessive compulsive disorder, also known as OCD, is a mental illness that can feel suffocating to teens and any individual suffering with it. OCD can cause mental blocks that trigger patients to feel the need to count obsessively, move objects without reason and worry and fear unnecessarily. Repeated cleaning and washing while handling intrusive thoughts are all part of OCD, which can wreak havoc on anyone’s life. Various forms of psychotherapy, medication and self-reflection treatments are available when overcoming OCD depending on the symptoms the patient is dealing with and the severity of the compulsions.

    Substance Abuse

    Substance abuse is another disorder that can ultimately lead to an out of control lifestyle, especially for teens who are still in high school. Abusing substances is often a behavior that is picked up and learned from a parents or guardian. Becoming addicted to alcohol, drugs and even prescription pills can cause teens to depend on them to function with everyday activities and social situations. Substance abuse can be treated by enrolling in a rehabilitation center or by becoming self-aware that there is a problem that needs to be fixed to live healthier and happier.

    Bipolar Disorder

    Bipolar disorder is another mental illness that can wreak havoc on anyone’s life, especially teens who are trying to get through their years in high school. Bipolar disorder is an illness that causing an imbalance of chemicals in the brain of the patient. The individual suffering from bipolar disorder often experiences extreme mood swings referred to as “mania” and the “depressed” phases. Feeling extremely high and optimistic one day and devastatingly sad or hopeless the next may be signs of bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder is very serious mental illness and requires treatment and monitoring by a psychiatrist or a clinical psychologist.

    Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/sluys/6267948293

  3. 5 Ways To Fight Off Winter Depression

    April 23, 2013

    winter depression

    Image Credit: Marina

    by Nancy Woo


    With winter in full swing, and for approximately 5% of the U.S. population, so too is winter depression, also known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). The acronym is ironically appropriate, as seasonal affective disorder can drastically shift a person’s mood, appetite and energy levels during certain times of the year, usually winter. Symptoms may include becoming uncharacteristically lethargic, fatigued, depressed, anxious, withdrawn, irritable or hopeless. You may sleep more, care less about work, relationships or health, experience decreased sex drive, isolate yourself from friends and family, and crave carbohydrates and gain weight. Though seasonal mood changes can occur during the summer, SAD is generally used to describe the period beginning in late autumn and ending in early spring; during this time, sufferers experience an extreme form of “winter blues.” SAD is a subtype of major depressive disorder.

    So, you’ve noticed yourself getting more depressed during the winter. Some theories attribute SAD to the lack of light available during winter months, especially in northern regions. Women tend to be more prone to SAD, and some hypothesize it is to curb reproductive urges during the hibernation period. Whatever the cause of major winter blues, it can really drain the color from life for a significant portion of the year. The good news is that after becoming aware of the condition, you can definitely take steps to alleviate symptoms.

    Here are 5 ways to fight off those ugly winter blues:

    1. Light therapy

    Because the winter has shorter days and less sunlight, most theories pinpoint this lack of light as a major cause of SAD. Investing in some sort of light therapy can be very helpful in keeping mood levels stable. Light boxes that intentionally mimic the sun’s UV rays are available in some specialty stores and online. Using this light for 30 minutes a day, preferably in the morning to mimic sunrise, has been shown to stabilize mood in 3-4 weeks when started in early autumn. Talk to a health professional before beginning light therapy.

    2. Take Vitamin D Supplements

    With a lack of sunlight also goes a lack of vitamin D, a very important mineral used to produce seratonin, the “happy” hormone. Sunlight naturally carries vitamin D, which we absorb through the skin, so losing that regular amount may account for depressed mood. Drinking a lot of milk rich in vitamin D and taking vitamin D supplements during the winter can help offset the environmental change.

    3. Exercise

    For all types of depressive disorders, exercise has been proven over and over again to be one of the most important factors to recovery. Exercising regularly releases important neurotransmitters such as seratonin and dopamine, those hormones responsible for feelings of happiness and joy. Exercise is a wonderful stress reducer; keeping the body healthy directly translates to keeping the mind healthy, too. The only obstacle to overcome during the winter is finding the motivation to go out and actually do it, but keep in mind how much better you will feel with regular exercise, and have the strength of willpower to brave the elements and get your body moving. Moderate to strenuous exercise 3-4 times per week is recommended.

    4. Counseling and/or Support Groups

    Coming down with a case of the winter blues, which may include losing interest in normal activities and feeling suddenly hopeless and tired all the time, can be extremely confusing and disorienting. SAD can compound other depressive factors, too, so seeking therapy from a psychologist can do wonders to help sift through the reasons behind the mood changes, and help provide concrete behavioral changes that can improve quality of life. For any type of depression, simply talking about the feelings can start to relieve the misery, and a psychologist can provide valuable insight on your mind. If you can’t afford psychotherapy, find a support group near you, or confide in a close friend who will understand. Isolating yourself is one of the worst things to do when suffering from depression, seasonal or not, so get yourself out there and don’t be afraid that other people will judge you; you may be surprised to find how many sympathizers there are, as long as you are actively seeking solutions.

    5.  Consider Antidepressants

    If seasonal affective disorder has taken over your life and you’ve tried all over methods of relief, it may be time to consider taking prescribed medication to manage symptoms. Of course, you will need to discuss this option with your healthcare professional before making any decisions, but it may be worth trying if you feel suicidal or seriously impacted in your day to day life and nothing else has worked. A pharmacy technician can fill your doctor’s prescription for you. Sometimes chemicals in the brain are simply out of order, and medicine can help rebalance them.


    Other general ways of combating the symptoms of SAD include maintaining (even if you don’t feel like it) a healthy lifestyle, including a nutritious diet and good sleep habits. Stay social! Oftentimes, hanging out with friends and family can serve to lift your mood, even if at first you feel like you’d rather curl up in bed and go to sleep. Staying active and doing your normal activities even when depressed can help you feel better; going through the motions often leads to eventually feeling normal again. Do the things that you know make you happy, and appreciate the little positive moments in life rather than dwelling on the bad ones. The key to beating the winter blues is to first acknowledge your seasonal shift in mood, and then commit yourself to taking action to stay healthy and mentally stable even during the dark times!

    Nancy Woo is a writer from southern California who is fascinated by how the brain works. You can follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/fancifulnance.