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Moving Forward: Dealing with Depression

Depression can strongly affect your life. It can drag you down, keeping you from experiencing your full potential. Most people occasionally feel "blue," while clinically depressed people can appear to be functioning normally while just beneath the surface they struggle with feelings of sadness, discouragement, and worthlessness over a prolonged period.

Moving Forward

One of the biggest problems with depression is that it robs you of the energy and motivation necessary to deal effectively with the disorder and move forward.

The first step is realizing that you are depressed. The next step is to take action—and seek help, if you need it—so that you can successfully overcome depression and move on. The most common symptoms of depression include regularly and consistently feeling:

  • Sad—"down" or "blue"
  • Numb or detached—feeling "empty"
  • Hopeless
  • Fatigued
  • Worthless—low self esteem
  • Helpless
  • Overwhelmed
  • Pessimistic
  • Nervous or anxious
  • Irritable
  • Restless

You, or someone you know, may have one or more of these symptoms. If depression becomes overwhelming, or if it gets in the way of living your life as fully as you would like, talk to your Employee Assistance Program (EAP), a mental health professional, or a physician to start the first steps of moving ahead—and away from depression.

Tips for Avoiding Depression

If your depression is not too serious, you may try some simple things to help avoid biochemical, emotional, and psychological factors that can contribute to the disorder.

  • Get plenty of physical activity, especially aerobic activity—brisk walking, running, biking, etc.
  • Get quality sleep
  • Add more social activity to your week
  • Find activities that get you out and make you feel good about yourself—sports teams, adult education classes, etc.
  • Avoid alcohol and other recreational drug use—drugs taken to escape or to elevate your mood rather than those used for medicinal purposes
  • Volunteer—this can get you "out of yourself"—not as worried about your own problems—and it can get you into a more social environment
  • Reprogram negative thought patterns with positive affirmations. For example, rather than allowing a thought like "I'm never happy" or "I wish I were happier" to dominate, you can replace this thought pattern with "I deserve to be happy" and "Everything's going my way now." The affirmation will likely not seem true at first, but as you become more comfortable with the new thought pattern, you'll begin to feel less anxious about these issues.

When to Seek Professional Help

If you continue to suffer from the effects of emotional distress and feel overwhelmed by it, you should contact a professional. Here are some red flags to look out for:

  • Inability to sleep
  • Feeling down, hopeless, or helpless most of the time
  • Concentration problems that are interfering with your work or home life
  • Using tobacco, food, drugs, or alcohol to cope with difficult emotions
  • Negative or self-destructive thoughts or fears that you can't control*
  • Thoughts of death or suicide*

* Having self-destructive behavior or thoughts, especially suicidal ones, is a symptom that needs immediate attention. If you experience such feelings and feel that you need help, call your EAP (see information to the right) or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline's toll-free number, which is available 24 hours every day of the year: 1-800-273-TALK (8255). This service is available to everyone. You may call for yourself or for someone you care about. All calls are confidential.

See our depression handout for even more information on recognizing depression.

Employee Assistance Program

If you need support, you can always contact your EAP (Employee Assistance Program). Offering short-term counseling, the EAP can help you and your family members deal with many of life's challenges, including help with work, family, personal matters, and sometimes legal and financial issues, too. Check your agency's intranet or speak to someone in your HR department for contact information for your EAP.

EAP logoIf your agency is an FOH EAP customer, you have 24/7/365 access to your EAP at absolutely no cost to you. To contact your FOH EAP, call toll free, anytime day or night, 1-800-222-0364 (TTY: 1-888-262-7848) or access the EAP on the Web at www.FOH4You.com