Depression is an epidemic sweeping across our country. According to researchers, an estimated 19 million Americans suffer daily from major depression and that number is growing each year. Many Americans who suffer from depression may not even know it because their busy schedules don’t allow the time for regular visits to their doctor. Others simply do not trust the medical profession and so they never see a physician unless they are injured. Luckily, there are some easy tricks that people can learn to help themselves out when they feel depressed.

1. Figure Out the Problem
This may sound a little silly, as most people would generally think that if a person was depressed, then he or she would certainly know it, but this is not always the case. Depression can sneak up on a person. It can build over time until it is like a towering wall, threatening to collapse upon and bury its victim. Learn the symptoms of depression. They include, but are not limited to

Lack of Appetite
Changes in Sleep Patterns
Pessimistic Outlook
Irritable / Angry Feelings
Self-defeatist Talk (“I don’t care.” / “It doesn’t matter”)
Chronic Headaches or Backaches
Constant Stomach Problems
Feelings of Guilt, Lack of Worth, and /or Uselessness
Lack of Personal Hygiene
Lack of Interest or Pleasure in all Activities
Crying for Little or No Reason
Suicidal Thoughts

Once a person realizes that they are suffering from depression, then they can begin to treat the problem.

2. Give That Depression a Run for its Money
One of the best treatments for depression is physical activity. Run, swim, bicycle, lift weights or just go for a walk around the block. Whatever you can do to get up, get out of your home, and get active will help you to fight off the depression. The exercise doesn’t have to continue for a long time (5 – 10 minutes is enough), nor does it have to be overly difficult. The truly important thing is to get your whole body moving; you could even just play air guitar to a few of your favorite songs. No matter what you choose to do, throw yourself into it. The change in your activity level will cause small changes in your brain chemistry which will help to fight the feelings of depression. Once you are a little hot and winded from your exercise, move on to the next step.
3. Take a Shower and Put on Fresh Clothes
Few experiences compare to taking a comfortable shower after a workout. The soothing feeling of the warm water cascading over your body and the fresh smell of the soap as it lathers up both send messages of comfort and security to the brain. In response, the brain produces complex chemicals, such as dopamine and serotonin, which flood into the bloodstream to provide that overall feeling of peace we experience after climbing out of the tub and drying off. The same sort of thing happens when we put on fresh clothes; our senses become aroused. These types of events can help to fight off depression by changing the chemistry inside the brain. Keep aggressively pursuing these steps in order to maximize their benefits.

4. Make a List of Goals
There is nothing that chases the blues away faster than achievement. The human body is wired to replicate success; it is how we grow. To continue shaking your depression, make a short list of goals that you can accomplish. Be careful when making the goals not to plan too big or expect too much, because this will lead to feelings of defeat which may only strengthen the depression. An excellent key to follow when making a list of goals comes from the University of Michigan’s Depression Center. Choose goals that are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. Ideally create detailed goals that you can accomplish reasonably quickly, measure the results of, and experience a real benefit from. Accomplishing such goals fills a person with confidence and eliminates feelings of worthlessness. Once the problem has been identified and steps taken to battle it, what is the best way to build on this success?

5. Get Some Help
Once a problem has been identified, it is best to make use of all of your resources to solve it. Depression is a human condition that many people all around the world have suffered from at one time or another. There are numerous therapy groups to help with depression, but that is certainly not the only option available. There are numerous free resources online as well, including goal tracking applications and self-help websites. Change your environment; it is best to be around positive and supporting people rather than alone or with those that judge you. Finally, seek out the company of someone you trust to talk about your feelings.

It is tough to beat a monster that you don’t even know you are fighting. Unfortunately, that is often the case with depression. It sneaks up on us a little each day until one day it just seems unmanageable. After you apply these five quick tricks however, you will have your depression on the run.