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Set your own agenda for living


tears We all get depressed at certain times in our lives. I donít mean feeling fed up or a bit blue for a few days but feeling down for a long period of time, perhaps even suicidal. Depression can depend on many factors from illness, bereavement, divorce, work or lack of it, environment or perhaps just where you are on lifeís journey i.e. mid life crisis or just getting old. Of course sometimes it can be a chemical or hormonal imbalance but you still need to deal with it as best you can on a psychological level.

The fact that we all go through it would suggest that it is a necessary part of our psyches. It helps us to reflect on and come to terms with life, without it, we would remain static not develop in our understanding, not grow as individuals. Can you imagine a life where you are always happy, always content, always having a good time? I know your saying that would be great but would it? No time for reflection, for evaluation, nothing to measure the good times against or to measure you as a person against. It would get so dull after a while you wouldnít even know you were having fun.

Recognising and handling your depression, or in most cases learning to live with it for a while, is the key to a getting back to a normal healthy life before you do lasting damage to yourself and your relationships. Like everything else in your conscious life this aspect of your psyche is controllable. You just donít let it dictate to or dominate you. I know everyone thinks that there depression is different, that once it gets a hold there is nothing they can do. A black pit of despair descends from which there is no escape. Winston Churchill used to have regular bouts of depression and he named it his Ďblack dogí. This is a good starting point to beating your depression, giving it a name. A friendly name like Ďblack dogí which makes it sound like a familiar companion not a dreadful state of mind. If you give your depression a name it becomes finite, separate and therefore manageable. You can learn to live with it and play the long game.

When you are locked in depression you become fixated on one thing or on one theme. It becomes like a record stuck on the same track playing over and over. You need to break through the cycle, to change the track and the tune, not wallow in it. Get out; go for a walk, run, a bike ride, gym, anything to change your mood and your chemical balance. Exercise releases chemicals in the brain that give a sense of well being. Gradually as you make the effort to focus outside of yourself, your depression will subside but you have to take action. You have to make the effort. Like all moods it passes eventually. If you still canít snap out of it, take a holiday. Not just time off but get away from your usual surroundings. A holiday where you have to be reasonably active is preferable. If you canít afford to get away then take up a new hobby. Have you ever wanted to paint/play music/swim/ride a bike/learn a language? There are numerous past times which will take your mind off that broken record. Churchill used to lay bricks amongst other things.

Being overweight, smoking, drinking excessively, watching too much TV all these can be contributory factors in depression. Concentrating on getting these under control and giving purpose to your life would be a step forward if your depression persists.

brain As a last resort and only as a very last resort get medical help. The reason I say that is that doctors donít have time to treat depression nor is it understood in the medical profession. Is it a chemical imbalance; is it your environment; your life circumstances or is it your thought patterns? Doctors have 10 minutes, if youíre lucky, to see you and work it out. They have to make a decision and move on to the next patient. Doctors therefore tend to dish out drugs which are the modern equivalent of electric current treatment in that they zap the brain so it stops functioning at full capacity and hopefully alters course. People get addicted to the drugs, they canít function without them and on the whole they stay depressed, less depressed perhaps but now with an addiction. This is not a solution and therefore I say be very wary. It could be a slippery road if all you really need to do is take control of and responsibility for your depression.