It would be nice if blue moods came only once in a blue moon. But life happens. The breakup of a relationship, the loss of a job, and other bumps and knocks in the road of life can make a mood shift from rosy to blue.
"We have a range of emotions, and feeling depressed at times, for short periods, is very normal," says Bernard Vittone, M.D.
But for the nearly 19 million Americans who experience depression, the blues just don't go away.
If you and your doctor agree that your depression is mild, there are many ways to boost your mood. And even if you're being treated for chronic or severe depression, the following strategies may help.
See a doctor if you are depressed most of the time for 2 or more weeks, even though you haven't experienced a significant loss, such as the death of a loved one. Also seek help if you have experienced a loss and your depression continues for several months or if you have intermittent bouts of depression for more than 2 years. Be sure to get a physical to rule out other possible illnesses such as hypothyroidism or anemia.
Symptoms of depression include feeling hopeless, helpless, sad or blue; losing interest in previously enjoyable activities; or an inability to be cheered by normally happy events. Other signs include insomnia, changes in appetite, low energy, poor concentration, irritability, a negative attitude, and frequent guilty feelings. Know, too, that symptoms of depression and anxiety often overlap. (See Anxiety)
Edward M. Hallowell, M.D., is a psychiatrist and founder of the Hallowell Center for Cognitive and Emotional Health in Sudbury, Massachusetts. He is the author of Worry: Hope and Help for a Common Condition and Connect: 12 Vital Ties That Open Your Heart, Lengthen Your Life, and Deepen Your Soul.
Bernard Vittone, M.D., is a psychiatrist and founder of the National Center for the Treatment of Phobias, Anxiety, and Depression in Washington, D.C.
Andrew Weil, M.D., is a clinical professor of medicine and director of the program in integrative medicine at the University of Arizona in Tucson. He is the author of several books, including 8 Weeks to Optimum Health; Natural Health, Natural Medicine; and Healthy Aging.
Get out of the house. Buy new clothes. Pray. Talk to people. Be thankful for everything you have.
When you're feeling blue, you may feel as if your mind and body are disconnected. Healing touch—once a week if possible—helps reconnect mind, body, and spirit, says Dr. Hallowell.
Research shows that spirituality can improve mood, whether you pray, attend services, or read uplifting materials. Spirituality restores hope.