Wednesday, July 18, 2012

How to Cope with Sadness and Depression

When you experience a traumatic event, such as a loss of a job or relationship, it’s natural to experience sadness and disappointment. You may feel hopeless, indecisive, less confident, and lonely.

In other cases, sadness might not be caused by an event but by biological changes or from the use of medications and substances.

Left untreated, sadness over a period of time may develop into clinical depression. While it can be tempting to let yourself go, remember that not taking care of yourself and keeping feelings inside can actually prolong your sadness beyond the typical course of grief.

Signs of Clinical Depression

Clinical depression is diagnosed when you have experienced at least five of the following consistently for two weeks or longer:
  • Depressed mood for most of the day, several days on end
  • Marked decrease in interest of pleasurable activities
  • Significant weight loss or weight gain (any 5% shift of weight in a 30 day period)
  • Sleeping too much or too little on a consistent basis
  • Restlessness, or lack of movement in general
  • Fatigue or loss of energy for several days
  • Feeling worthless daily
  • Difficulty concentrating, making decisions, and following through with actions
  • Recurrent thoughts of wanting to die, or not continue living

How to Cope with Depression

Exercise: Exercising 4-5 times per week for 30 minutes is highly effective at managing stress.

Be Mindful / Meditate: Yoga and meditation can help to relieve depression and anxiety by bringing awareness to your breath and creating peace and silence.

Get Enough Sleep: If you are unable to get a full night’s sleep, work with your primary care doctor to address proper sleep hygiene and to assist with fatigue and lack of concentration.

Maintain a Balanced Diet: Nutrition is important to sustain your physical health while experiencing depression.

Reach Out to Support Systems: Support systems can include:
  • Volunteering (
  • Spending time with friends and family
  • Increasing your outdoor activities
  • Joining a club (
  • Getting more involved in your church community

When to Seek Help

If you suspect that you have clinical depression or if your old ways of helping yourself out of a bad mood aren’t working, it’s important to seek help.

Horizon Health Services provides counseling at the Piver Center on the campus of Sisters of Charity Hospital in Buffalo and at locations throughout Western New York. Most insurances, including Medicaid, are accepted.

If you have recurring thoughts of wanting to die, please seek immediate help by contacting Crisis Services at 831-3434, as this could be a sign of severe depression.

Treatment for Clinical Depression

Medication, in combination with psychotherapy, is most effective at treating depression.

Antidepressant medication can take up to 4-6 weeks to build in your system, but you should start experiencing some relief of symptoms within 3-4 weeks of taking medication consistently. Medication is shown to be highly effective at managing symptoms to reduce depression’s effect on your day-to-day functioning.

Psychotherapy, in which you speak with a mental health provider, introduces coping skills that you can use to overcome depression and face life’s challenges in a healthy way.

If you believe that you are experiencing depression, begin to implement the coping skills listed above and contact Horizon Health Services to speak to a professional.

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