Three Ways to Fight Depression

“Depression,” explains Dr. Timothy Rogge, medical director of the Family Medical Psychiatry Center of Kirkland, Washington, “is a mood disorder that can incite feelings of sadness, hopelessness and despair.” Thankfully, according to Dr. Rogge, depression is a treatable illness – one that can be fought in myriad ways. Here are a few books and articles that can serve as a starting point to building a resource guide to fighting depression.

A Key Tool to Fight Depression: Keeping a Journal and “Writing Trauma Away”

Dr. Rogge suggests depression can be fought with medications and with different types of what he calls “talk therapy,” including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Psychodynamic Therapy and Interpersonal Therapy. All of these involve work and exercises, some with a doctor in an office setting, others by the patient at home. Many of the exercises done at home, adds Dr. Rogge, involve keeping a journal of feelings about and reactions to daily events. By talking over these feelings and reactions, patients and their doctors, says Dr. Rogge, can “examine, challenge and begin to understand that the beliefs and assumptions that cause depression are incorrect.” Later, patients can “begin substituting new, positive ways of coping.”

Other doctors and researchers have found that just writing down or writing about things that get people down can help them fight depression. James Pennebaker found that approach so helpful to his own battle with depression that he shared what he learned in his book, Opening Up.

Mindful Awareness:” Mental Exercises to Fend Off and Fight Depression

Dr. Ruth Baer, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the University of Kentucky, believes that through what she calls “mindful awareness” or “mindfulness” can greatly help people fend off or battle depression. As she explains in The Practicing Happiness Workbook: How Mindfulness Can Free You From the Four Psychological Traps That Keep You Stressed, Anxious, and Depressed, “mindful awareness takes practice. It’s not a quick fix.” Mindfull awareness, explains Dr. Baer, is all about observing, noticing and feeling what one sees, hears, tastes, touches and smells. Another key starting point, she adds, is to “be present with others. Notice their facial expresions and really hear what they say. As best you can, let go of criticisms and judgments and adopt and attitude of friendly interest and acceptance.”

Using Physical Exercise to Battle Depression

Of the many types of exercises used by doctors to treat patients with depression, physical exercise is one of the most popular – and effective. As Dr. Madhukar Trivedi of the Comprehensive Center for Depression at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas said, physical exercise “improves your mental health and lowers your chances of getting depressed.” Studies conducted in Great Britain, adds Dr. Trivedi, show that not only do “people who exercises have less depression,” but also “once someone’s depressed, exercise leads to improvements in depression.” Dr. Trivedi adds that just 45 minutes of moderate exercise four to five times a week can make a big difference.