Families Counseling, Simi Valley, CA      (805) 583-3976      www.simi-therapy.com

There is a form of depression, called dysthymic disorder, which tends to be longer lasting but with symptoms that are less severe.  Again, diagnosis should be done by a qualified professional.  The symptoms would include at least two of the following, nearly every day, for at least two years:

  • Poor appetite or overeating
  • trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Fatigue, loss of energy, or tired all the time
  • Low self-esteem
  • Impaired concentration and difficulty making decisions
  • Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness

If you are feeling mildly depressed, are not feeling suicidal, and are able to function on a daily basis (go to work, care for family, attend school, etc.), then you may want to try a few self-help methods that may create significant improvement.  Let me emphasize that this article is not a substitute for medical treatment, and professional evaluation and treatment should not be delayed if your symptoms are severe or life threatening.

Some helpful tips for mild depression:

Begin a routine of regular aerobic exercise (assuming your physical health allows it).  This could be walking, jogging, using gym equipment, or anything else that gets you moving for at least 20 - 30 minutes a day, nearly every day.  Studies have shown that this one change may improve mild depressive symptoms as much as medication or therapy, so it is certainly worth a try.

Check your diet.  If you are eating a poor diet that is high in sugar and too low in protein, you may want to try making a few changes and see if you feel better.  Eating a healthy breakfast is important, just as Grandma used to say, as is trying to eat a balanced diet.  try to have each meal include some healthy protein, and some fruits and / or vegetables.  Cut out as much sugar, white flour, and processed foods as you can.  Alcohol should be avoided.  It is a depressant itself, and at best provides only a temporary lift.

Keep your schedule regular.  try to go to bed and get up at roughly the same time each day.  Our bodies have an internal clock, and some bodies are more sensitive than others to disruption.  If you are having trouble sleeping, be kind to yourself in the evening, and give yourself plenty of time to wind down from day.  Too much computer time, video games, television or other stimulating activities may make it hard to relax if done too close to bedtime.   Make sure that you get up on time, get dressed, and get going.  It's important to carry on our daily routines, even when we don't feel like it.

(cont. on pg. 6)

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