There are times when people feel down or temporarily depressed because of some life-changing event. Some people frequently travel or relocate and just feel lonely. Some people suffer a set back in their health or get frustrated with the normal aging process that can lead to depression.
Others have news about a friend or loved one becoming ill or experiencing a tragic event. There are times when just the nightly news makes you depressed and you want to just curl up in your bedroom and watch a good comedy.
Temporary bouts of depression can happen when your body goes through hormone changes. Menopause, having a baby, surgery, puberty, and taking medications can dramatically affect your hormones, feelings, and emotions. 14% of the population has some depression as a result of decreased sunlight in the winter months.
Seasonal affective-type disorder (SAD), affects children during spring and fall seasons, and coincides with light and dark changes during solstice time. Whatever the case may be, we all have those times when we are just not feeling up to par.
Here are some ideas for feel-good things to do when you feel depressed. It is amazing how doing something for others will lift your spirits.
Write a pen pal letter to a service member stationed overseas. If you can afford it, send a care package to troops overseas.
Adopt a pen pal orphaned child in Africa or your favorite country. Adopt an orphan here in America and write them letters. Join Big Brothers/Big Sisters and take a child to the zoo. Offer to take a disadvantaged family from your child’s school on an outing.
Visit a nursing home to read books, sing, or play a musical concert for patients and residents. Take a nursing home resident for a walk in the courtyard area. Share pictures with them that they can use to decorate their room. Help them write a letter to a loved one.
Arrange to speak about your career at a public school, church, or community college program for career exploration. There are also community outreach programs to help train disadvantaged people how to find jobs. Offer to do mock interviews with people who use these organizations. Offer to give a class in how to write a resume and a letter of application.
Arrange to speak about your business, creative, or technology skills at a Chamber of Commerce luncheon.
Volunteer to tutor in a school or an adult literacy program at the local library.
“Adopt” an elderly or disabled person in your neighborhood and offer to take them to the grocery store, to doctor’s appointments, to a movie, or shopping for clothes.
Gather clothes, books, magazines, games, and other unwanted stuff in your house and donate those things to a local Hospice Center.
Visit a Veterans Hospital and play some games or read to a disabled vet. Donate magazines, books, old computers and games to VA Hospitals.
Volunteer to work in a hospital in the gift shop or at the information desk. Volunteer to do arts and crafts projects with terminally ill patients at children’s hospitals.
Make cookies, candy, muffins or other treats for your trash collectors, mail delivery persons, neighbors, teachers, or others to help brighten their day.
Remember that if you feel life has dealt you lemons and you don’t know the recipe for lemonade, someone else out there has a bigger basket of lemons than you. As my Mom often said to me when I felt a little depressed, “Oh, quit your Pity Party and go do something good for someone else today.” Sure enough, whenever I took her advice – I felt so good, but more importantly, I made someone else feel good that day.
Cautions About Depression
Depression? Or simply depressed?
It is important to understand the differences between depression, and depressive reaction (temporary depression), and dysthymia. Depressive reaction is a state of sadness caused by traumatic life experiences like the death of a loved one, a divorce, the loss of a job, rejection, etc. Temporary depression lasts for a few weeks or months. It is a normal reaction to the difficult experiences of life, and professional treatment is not usually necessary.
When temporary depression lasts more than two years, it is referred to as dysthymia, and professional treatment is required. Elderly individuals can often suffer from dysthymia after experiencing chronic debilitating physical disorders, marital problems, and/or loss of friends and family members. Dysthymia can be described as chronic, minor depression.
Like dysthymia and depressive reaction, depression is an emotional state characterized by feelings of sadness, melancholy, worthlessness and/or hopelessness. Full-blown depression may continue or recur for many years, and can be severely debilitating. It requires a formal program of treatment that may include antidepressant medications, psychotherapy and/or various lifestyle changes.