Seasonal Depression and What to Do About It

Inspiration, Motivational

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It seems like a cruel twist of fate, but this time of year brings feelings of depression for many people. Just when they’re supposed to be feeling full of the Christmas spirit, they feel full of sadness. When, seemingly, everyone else has a song on their lips, they have trouble convincing their lips to even smile.

The thought of anyone being sad at any time breaks my heart. Sadness and depression make one just as miserable as a physical illness – but, usually, they don’t come with the same sympathy, compassion, and understanding that a sickness will bring. So the individual suffering from the sadness suffers in silence, often trying to hide it from others because they don’t want to dampen their mood. This is especially true around the holidays.

If you, or someone you know, is suffering from the blues, rest assured there are steps you can take to feel a lot better.

First of all, be sure there isn’t a medical cause for your depression. An underactive thyroid can make you feel all kinds of sad and miserable. When my thyroid had to be radioctively destroyed (how cool am I?), the doctors nailed the prescription I needed right off the bat. From what I’ve read, most people, after this procedure, have to have their medication regulated often for months before the doctors find just the right combination. My doctors were so brilliant, I never experienced the underactive “set back.”

However, about 10 – 15 years later, my medication dosage decided that it wasn’t quite right and it was a few months before I even suspected it as the cause. During that time, NOTHING my husband or daughters did or said was okay with me, commercials made me cry, if my husband was 10 minutes late coming home from work – I just KNEW he had been in a wreck, etc.

It was around the tragic September 11 PLUS we had a few losses in our own family – so I sort of assumed that my emotions were on overdrive. As it turned out, it was far more than that. When I saw my doctor and tearfully told her I thought I was making the earliest entry into menopause in history, she smiled and told me that she was putting her money on my thyroid. Tests proved her right, of course, and she adjusted my medication. My medication was no longer giving me what I needed and I was suffering from side effects of an underactive thyroid.

Almost immediately, I felt like my old self again. Each day started and ended with a smile again and I didn’t feel like crying at the drop of a hat!

If you feel a little sluggish, get cold easily, seem to be putting on weight, are having problems with your emotions, and/or eat less than normally – please go to the doctor for a thyroid check up. It’s a simple little blood test and it not only can save your sanity, it can save your life.

If you KNOW for a fact that your thyroid isn’t to blame, there’s still hope for you – so put your tissues away and get ready to smile. Heck, you may even be singing carols before you know it!

The following are some tips that should help get you in the spirit. Apply as needed. Rinse and repeat!

  • Do something for someone else.  I’m putting this at the top because it’s the most important.  If your favorite store has an “Angel Tree,” grab the name of a child and buy him/her a great present.  If you can afford it, hook up several children with a Christmas they’ll be proud to tell their friends at school about!
  • Watch It’s a Wonderful Life.  This holiday classic helps to remind us all about what really matters most.
  • Bake cookies!
  • Go to bed.  Seriously, a lack of sleep can make you feel miserable.  When we don’t give our bodies enough of the rest it needs, it can’t fight off illnesses and woes as well as it can when rested.  So, make sure you’re getting all you need.  In fact, with all the activities and festivities that go on around Christmas, you probably need more than ever.
  • In the same vein as the tip above, be sure you’re eating right.  Too many sweets (yes, my spies are watching you and counting your cookies and bites of fudge) will lead to a crash… and not just a diet crash!  They lead to mood swings as well.
  •  Move that body.  Physical activity is known to have antidepressant effects in people with mild to moderate depression.  It’s a mood lifter PLUS it’s one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself.
  • Take up a great hobby that you enjoy. I know that when I’m in the middle of one of my own favorite hobbies (cooking, watching movies, reading, writing) nothing can bring me down!
  • Get in touch with your feelings.  That may sound unbelievably flowery, but it’s pretty helpful. Learn more about yourself and about your emotions by keeping a journal – then explore your feelings through the words you write. 
  • Find someone to talk to.  A lot of people make the mistake of “keeping things in” because they don’t want to burden someone else.  What they don’t realize is that most people are genuinely touched when you confide in them.  They’re even more touched when they’re able to help you, so give them a chance.  What goes around usually comes back around, which means you’ll most likely be the one helping them one day.
  • Fake it until you make it.  This is one of those tips that you have to try for yourself to see that it actually works.  When you’re feeling down, smile.  When you feel like crying, laugh.  When someone cuts out in front of you, pray that they get where they’re going safely. 

Most of all, when you’re feeling out of sorts, be extra kind to yourself.  Don’t get annoyed or angry – just get busy!

Make each moment count double,
~ Joi

* Don’t worry, the gorgeous cat at the top of the post isn’t suffering from depression – he/she appears to lead a very pampered life. The picture is from http://www.bestchristmasdays.com/, and there are many other spectacular pics. If you’re feeling kind of blue, they may be just the thing to lift your spirits. That’s what the kitty at the top of the post had on its mind. Making you smile.

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