By definition, depression is not a fun emotion to be experiencing.
There are different levels of depression ranging from a baseline level of unhappiness to a temporary reactive depression when something lousy happens to major depression marked by despondency, hopelessness, and possibly suicidal thinking. Depression may involve biochemical and/or environmental factors.
It would be an oversimplification to suggest that there is a “one size fits all” way of dealing with depression. In my line of work, however, I have to utilize strategies for working with a broad range of patients – some of whom are depressed.
Over time, one of the strategies that I’ve come to rely on involves focusing on a person’s activity level. I’ve found that it’s really hard for an individual to be both active and depressed at the same time.
A major advantage of being active even when you feel depressed is that it provides something positive to focus on rather than using your brainpower to wallow in your misery.
An additional benefit is that doing something active – whether it is going to work, cleaning the house, pursuing a hobby, exercising, reading a book, getting together with others, or volunteering to help somebody else who is having a tough time – often leads to measurable accomplishment. If you are active, you have a chance of finishing that chapter or that project or that room that you had been planning to clean or paint.
Accomplishing a measurable gain can go a long way toward overcoming mild to moderate depression.
Psychotherapy and/or medication is likely to be needed in many cases of depression, but getting active is a non-passive way of being a partner in the treatment process – as well as replacing wallowing with a sense of pride in accomplishment.
Getting active is also a great way of keeping depression from escalating when you are simply feeling down – making it a great “first line” preventive medicine.