Depression is often experienced as an intense heaviness of mood, inertia (not wanting or feeling able to move and act), and a loss of enjoyment in all or many aspects of life. It is more than just feeling 'down', which most people experience at one time or another. Depression can and often does include feelings of anxiety, hopelessness and being overwhelmed. It doesn’t seem to lift no matter what you do, and has possibly gone on for some time.

You may find that you no longer enjoy activities you used to and even the simplest tasks are too much effort and leave you exhausted. This sense of overwhelm and exhaustion has been described as the feeling of trying to keep many balls submerged in the water at once. These balls are the feelings and thoughts that are causing you pain, and it is the effort of keeping them down that is draining all your energy.

Depression can be a response to the present, and to living a life of little or no rewards.

Depression can be reactive, a response to a recent loss or a sudden and very negative experience.

Depression can also be one of the ways you learnt to look after yourself when very young in response to the circumstances of your childhood. Due to the very limited choice of responses you had as a child, it was a way to take care of yourself the best you knew how. But it has now outlived its usefulness.

Whichever type of depression you are experiencing, it can be understood and treated.

1. Go for a walk.
When you are depressed the chemicals in your brain and body don't work properly. Endorphins, which give you that wonderful content, satisfied feeling are not being released. Doing something simple like going for a walk helps get these chemicals working again. Even if going for a walk is the last thing you feel like doing.

2. Practice Mindfulness.
At its most basic, mindfulness is sitting and focusing your attention on your breathing, for even five or ten minutes a day. When your mind turns to your concerns or your depressive symptoms, as it surely will, all you have to do is bring your attention back to your breathing. For five or ten minutes, this is the only thing you have to concern yourself with. You are learning to give your mind a rest. Over time doing this should help you feel calmer. There are many resources, books, CDs etc on mindfulness.

3. Engage your senses.
>Find things you used to enjoy, even if you don't enjoy them right now, and do them. From something as simple and easy as enjoying sitting on the back step eating a juicy orange, to soaking in a bath, or reading a book on the beach, find simple ways to soothe and take care of yourself that engage at least one of your senses and try to do two of them every day. This will help you re-connect with your body even if it is hard to kindle a sense of pleasure in these activities at the moment.

A mindful way through Depression: Freeing Youself from Chronic Unhappiness. 
[link] (Including Mindfulness CD).  By Mark Williams, John Teasdale, Zindel Segal, and Jon Kabat-Zinn.  Jon Kabat Zin is one the foremost experts in his field, and this is a useful, accessible discussion of depression and how to address it through mindfulness and increased awareness to interrupt the spiral of self doubt and negative thinking, rather than trying to think yourself out of it.  This is also available on Audio CD.
Depression: The way out of your prison. By Dorothy Rowe. Another expert in her field, and a classic and helpful book for understanding depression through a psychodynamic approach.
The Happiness Trap: How to stop struggling and start living. By Russ Harris. The book covers in detail how to use mindfulness skills, values, and effective action to enhance health, vitality, and life satisfaction.
Get better – The Journal. [link] The Journal online help service coached by ex All-Black John Kirwan. The Journal teaches people techniques they can easily use in everyday life to help manage their own depression.

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