It's normal to go through periods of sadness, and even intense melancholy. But if your feelings are more overwhelming than usual and are not subsiding with time, you need to take action.
- Step 1: Simplify your life so you can better cope. Reduce your obligations -- especially any that cause undue stress -- and set a reasonable daily schedule.
- TIP: Fight the urge to isolate yourself from loved ones.
- Step 2: Call 911 or your local emergency services number immediately if you are thinking of taking your life. You can and will feel good again; you just need a little help getting there.
- FACT: The highest rate of suicide in the U.S. occurs among white men age 85 and older.
- Step 3: Get some exercise. It may be the last thing you feel like doing, but it's a proven mood booster.
- Step 4: Find a cognitive behavioral therapist. This form of counseling, which helps people replace their negative beliefs and behaviors with positive ones, can be effective in treating depression, especially in conjunction with antidepressant medication.
- Step 5: Recognize the symptoms of depression: feelings of hopelessness, crying jags, sleep problems, trouble focusing and making decisions, fatigue, loss of interest in activities you previously enjoyed, and suicidal thoughts.
- Step 6: See a doctor. Start with your primary care physician, or go straight to a mental health professional for an evaluation. Don't delay: if an antidepressant is prescribed, it can take several weeks before it has an effect.
- TIP: Antidepressants have proven effective for people who are severely depressed and for those whose depression is chronic.
- : Always consult a doctor for medical advice.