Many people experience ups and downs throughout their lives. This is common, and a person’s mood or frame of mind can vary depending on life, work and family situations. However, sometimes an individual can experience feelings that are more serious than just a bout of sadness or the blues. When an individual experiences consistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, numbness or anxiety, he or she could be experiencing a depressive episode or be diagnosed as having depression.

Depression is a real condition that affects the entire body, not just the mind, and gets in the way of a person’s ability to function in everyday life. It can change your appetite, drain your energy, make you sleep all the time or give you insomnia. It can even cause physical pain, such as headaches or stomachaches. Depression is a complex condition with all types of symptoms. If you believe you are experiencing depression, please call (619) 515-2338 to schedule an appointment with a member of Family Health Centers of San Diego’s mental health staff.

In addition to therapy or other treatment options, these tips may help alleviate symptoms:

Be with others. Often, people with depression want to isolate themselves. Maybe you’ve stopped answering phone calls from your friends and family, canceled your movie plans for the third time in a row or stopped making plans altogether. Sometimes you need time to yourself and have to do what your heart wants. However, it’s important not to let depression take over your life. Talk openly and share your feelings with someone you trust, such as a friend, religious leader or mentor. Accept help when it is offered.

Keep your perspective. Depression can cloud your judgment and make it harder to concentrate, remember and make decisions. It is recommended you wait until intense emotions subside before making major life decisions, such as changing jobs, moving or getting married. You’ll likely view your situation differently when your bout of depression passes. It will.

Be patient. Remember that depression is not your fault. Depression does not make you selfish and it does not occur because you are too busy or not busy enough. Recovering from depression is a process, not an event, so set small goals for yourself.

Take care of your body. There is a link between stress and depression and both affect a person’s body. When stressed, some people may experience unhealthy weight changes, such as overeating or loss of appetite. Working out, practicing relaxation exercises and eating a balanced diet can help lower stress, improve your mood and keep your body healthy.

Contact a professional. Affecting both the mind and body, depression can lead to other health problems if left untreated. A mental health counselor can help you identify negative thought patterns, analyze what is bothering you and provide specific, individualized solutions to fight your depression. The mental health services at FHCSD include individual, couples and group counseling for children, adolescents and adults. To schedule an appointment, please call (619) 515-2338.

Above all, remember you are not alone and depression does not define you. From Abraham Lincoln to Ellen DeGeneres, people all over the world have dealt with depression and still managed to live successful, fulfilled lives.