You may be depressed! What do you do now?

By: Mary Ellen Copeland, M.S., M.A.

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7. Relax! Sit down in a comfortable chair, loosen any tight clothing and take several deep breaths. Starting with your toes, focus your attention on each part of your body and let it relax. When you have relaxed your whole body, notice how it feels. Then focus your attention on a favorite scene, like a warm day in spring or a walk at the ocean, for at least 10 minutes.


8. If you are having trouble sleeping, try some of the following suggestions: drink a glass of warm milk, eat some turkey and/or drink a cup of chamomile tea before going to bed before going to bed:

A. read a calming book
B. take a warm bath
C. avoid strenuous activity
D. avoid caffeine and nicotine-both are stimulants
E. listen to soothing music after you lie down
F. eat foods high in calcium like dairy products and leafy green vegetables
G. avoid sleeping late in the morning, get up at your usual time

9. Ask a family member, friend or co-worker to take over some or all of your responsibilities for several days--like child care, household chores, work-related tasks so you have time to do the things you need to to take care of yourself.

10. Keep your life as simple as possible. If it doesn't really need to be done, don't do it.

11. Avoid negative people who make you feel bad or irritated. Do not allow yourself to be abused in any way. Physical or emotional abuse can cause or worsen depression. If you are being physically or emotionally abused, ask your health care provider or a good friend to help you figure out what to do.

12. Avoid making any major decisions like career, relationship and housing changes until you feel better.

Things to Do After You Begin Feeling Better

1. Educate yourself about depression so that if you ever get depressed again, you and your supporters will know exactly what to do.

2. Become an effective advocate for yourself--figure out what you need and want for yourself, and then work toward it until you get it.

3. Develop and keep a strong support system of at least five supporters, people you feel comfortable with, trust and enjoy. If you don't have five supporters, make some new friends by joining a support group, attending community events, or taking an interesting course.

4. Write a plan to keep yourself well. Include lists of:

- things you need to do every day to keep yourself well, like get a half hour of exercise and eat three healthy meals
- things that may not need to be done every day, but if you miss them they will cause stress in your life, like buying groceries, paying bills or cleaning your home
- events or situations that, if they come up, may make you feel worse, like a disagreement with a family member or loss of your job, and an action plan to follow if these events occur
- early warning signs that you are starting to get depressed again, like feeling tired, sleeping too much, overeating, and dropping things, and an action plan to follow if they come up
- signs that things are getting much worse, you really are depressed, like you can't get out of bed in the morning and you feel negative about everything, and an action plan to follow if this happens

Ask your health care providers, family members and friends for help in developing these plans.