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Tips for Handling Depression and Sadness

All of us have down days and some have more than others.  Whether you are generally a happy person or whether you battle depression on a regular basis, the game rules are the same to feeling better and avoiding more of what you don’t want.  Depression and sadness have a tendency to whisper in our ears a lot of inaccuracies and deception.  It’s as if an intruder took host in our head and tries to convince us of doing all the things that will further hurt us and make us feel bad about ourselves.  Familiar seducing chants are, “stay in bed”, “stay indoors”, “don’t go out with friends”, “eat unhealthy food”, “believe things about yourself that aren’t true”, “you won’t feel any better in the future” and on and on.  Once sadness or depression gets a little grip on us, it wants to stay.  So, taking an active stance against it is paramount.

Depression or sadness come in many forms and arise for a variety of reasons.  Some of us just wake up “blue” for no reason and it’s short lived.  Others are enduring difficult circumstances and need to keep pushing on to the other side where things are calmer and easier. Some battle more serious depression and have for years.  Regardless of which category you fall in, if you adhere to the following tips, you’re sure to come out of your sadness quicker than if you listen to the quiet but powerful voices of depression and melancholy.

Things to Avoid When Depressed or Sad

  • Sleeping more
  • Eating more
  • Isolating from friends and activities
  • Believing negative thoughts about yourself and your future
  • Watching too much TV
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Staying home from work or school
  • Putting off appointments, responsibilities or obligations

What to Do to Help Alleviate Depression and Sadness

  • Talk with a close friend(s) about what you’re going through – you need support and the opposing perspective to counter what the depression tells you about yourself and your situation
  • Keep a “thought log” – a log where you can track negative thoughts that are inaccurate.
  • Give yourself a break and allow yourself to be less than perfect
  • Go out with friends (despite the fact your depression will tell you to stay indoors alone)
  • Go outside daily and get fresh air and light
  • Turn on uplifting music when home alone to break the morose environment
  • Get consistent sleep – not too much and not too little
  • Eat healthy foods
  • Exercise regularly

Remember that sadness and depression are feelings, and are therefore fluid and temporary.  Regardless of what depression tries to tell convince you of, you will feel differently later.   But, you can take an active stance in getting it to pass more quickly.  Try and avoid being a victim to your feelings and do your best to participate in getting past it.  Also, if a situation is lending to your depression, take a hard look at what you can change so the cycle doesn’t repeat itself.  Sometimes depression is telling us something we need to know.  It’s like when your finger hurts because you an infected splinter in it that needs to come out.  At times there are things in our life that are like splinters and they need to be removed or changed.  So, if depression is a pattern for you, consider making some changes and getting tough with your depression to help prevent its recurrence.  Some people do this on their own, or with the support of their friends.  Others use counseling to help them navigate through the changes they want to make.  As a San Diego therapist, I often see people who are in the midst of altering patterns in their life or making logistical changes to bring about more happiness.   Many people seek out counseling in San Diego when they are going through a difficult period emotionally.  If you are interested in addressing the possibility of therapy, feel free to contact me with any questions.

Sylvia Flanagan, MFT is a San Diego therapist with a private practice in Mission Valley.  For more information, feel free to call or email her.
Office hours are Monday through Thursday 9:00 to 6:00.