Many situations can trigger an onset of feeling down, commonly called “the blues.”
Winter weather, the impending holidays with all the inherent stress and forced family interactions, the struggling economy, and challenges at work and at home are a few of the common triggers.
Some people may be more prone to feeling down, but everyone should pay attention to these kinds of feelings, especially if they persist.
Feeling down is a form of depression and should be addressed, according to Dr. Diane Tucker, a University of Alabama at Birmingham mental health expert and psychology professor.
“Depression has a spectrum, and full-on depression is when you experience things like impaired appetite, disrupted sleep, lack of concentration and ruminative thoughts,” said Tucker. “Feelings of discouragement or the blues are on that continuum, and it is important to be attentive to those feelings.”
She suggests that people who feel down look at their “life equation,” that is, how their time is being spent and what is being done to help nourish self-worth.
“When people feel down, they’re less likely to be doing things that help them feel centered and personally efficacious,” Tucker said. “One of the first steps to feel better is to reach out to your network of good friends or social contacts. They can help provide a validation of the strongest parts of oneself.”
In addition, Tucker said close friends can provide helpful feedback. Good friends let us know that we are not alone and remind us of the best parts of ourselves.
Other ways to battle the blues:
• Exercise and cook a healthy meal
• Do activities that provide internal satisfaction — like arts, reading or gardening
• Write down thoughts in a journal regularly
With feeling down, people can lose perspective or it becomes distorted—people ruminate over the things that make them unhappy or dissatisfied, and get psychologically stuck.
When you feel down, the challenge is to move beyond where you feel stuck. Ignoring the blues can be detrimental and lead to worsening symptoms. Depression can, for example, erode confidence that can lead to job performance problems and cause issues in personal relationships.
Most of all people must understand that there is no shame in having down or depressed feelings.
People are different in terms of their biological makeup, including how the brain works. There is no more shame in having depression than being a certain height. It’s who you are and how you are made up. No judgement. The shame would be ignoring or dismissing the symptoms and not getting treatment, which is so readily available and proven to work.
Most cases of depression can be relieve by psychotherapy, behavior changes, and if needed, medication. If you or someone you know is suffering from depression, seek help.