Depression: Facts, Myths, and Tips for Feeling Better

  • Published
  • By ?Lieutenant Commander Sara Pulliam
  • Mental Health Clinic
Depression is a very common mental health disorder. In fact, nearly 20 percent of the U.S. population experiences a significant depression during their lifetime. The good news is depression is treatable. 

Because it is so common, there has been an enormous amount of research conducted on how to reduce symptoms and improve functioning. As a result, we now know there are behaviors you can engage in to make yourself feel better. 

People suffer from depression for a variety of reasons, biological, environmental and behavioral. Research indicates that "mental weakness" is not one of the reasons people become depressed. Depression is not something you are powerless against. Evidence suggests you can directly impact the intensity and duration of depression by what you do and by altering the way you think about certain things.

These tips can help improve your mood and make you start feeling better. 

-The first and best way to reverse the depression cycle is to get active! Your body produces its own anti-depressants every time you exercise or do something pleasurable.      

Regular exercise is one of the very best ways to improve your mood. In fact some studies show that a solid exercise program is as effective as psychotherapy or anti-depressant medication for some people. 

-Secondly, force yourself to do something you found pleasurable before depression. This may be different for everyone and it doesn't matter if its gardening, playing bridge, walking, reading a novel, or simply talking to a close friend. What matters is that you find the activity fun. Even if you don't feel like doing something pleasurable for yourself, do it anyway. We call this the "fake it until you make it" principle. 

-The third recommendation is to notice unhealthy and unhelpful thoughts. In addition to how we behave, how we think influences our mood directly. Notice recurrent or alarming thoughts that have an impact on your mood.      

Remember, you know you better than anyone else. You likely know what kinds of activities, thoughts and reinforcement you respond to. Doing what's easiest and most "doable" is the key. Pick one or two easy things and get started feeling better today. 

Helping agencies are available to implement these techniques. Active duty members may call the Mental Health Clinic at 478-327-8398. Active duty, dependents and retirees who have a primary care manager in the 78th Medical Group, can make an appointment with the Behavioral Health Consultant via the central appointment line at 478-327-7850. They may also call the Military and Family Life Consultant 478-538-1732 or Military One Source 1-800-342-9647. Civilian employees can call EAP at 1-800-222-0364. 

For a complete list of helping resources, you can access the "You Matter" desktop icon or visit the Robins homepage.