Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders. It was estimated that approximately 16 million adults met the criteria for major depressive disorder last year. (see NAMI’s website). Depression has a variety of causes both biological and environmental, and is more than just feeling sad. We all go through periods of sadness in our life; this is normal and expected. When sadness becomes overwhelming, potentially with thoughts of suicide, not taking care of yourself (not eating well – either too much or too little, not sleeping well – either sleeping too much or too little, not showering or caring about your upkeep, isolating from others you love, not enjoying things you once did, it may be time to seek out professional assistance to determine if you have depression. If depression lasts too long, it can seem like a huge black hole, consuming you and seemingly hopeless to get out of. How, then, can you alleviate some of the symptoms of depression? First, hold hope that it can and will improve. Have you ever been successful at doing something that you’ve given up trying to accomplish? Second, take care of yourself. The body and brain are very complex and need a variety of components to work optimally. It is imperative that you eat well to give yourself the energy you need to get through each day. Get plenty of sleep, but not too much. Exercise and find time for relaxation each day. Make sure you get in the shower, brush your teeth and get dressed, even if you don’t feel like it. Do things that make you feel calm – use your senses (scented candles, bubble baths, massages, etc). Even only a few minutes of this daily can make so much of a difference. Third, give yourself a break; don’t beat yourself up. Overcoming depression takes time; it does not happen over night. Do not give up on it. Working on depression recovery is a lot of work, but in the end is so worthwhile and rewarding!