OLIVER: Investments in mental health pay off

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Driving home from Johnston Hall last week, I heard two DJs talking about depression on the radio. It reminded me of a few years ago when I first started college, and I found myself becoming slightly depressed as the semester progressed.

The DJs said that the only way to beat depression is to get out of your house, be with friends and do things to try and be successful before they erupted in inappropriate laughter. They were right, kind of. Fighting depression takes a lot more than just hanging out with your friends. 

Depression is a serious problem that most of us deal with in small bouts. It is even natural to feel depressed. Chances are most cases of depression will go away with time, but for the cases that stick around, you have to know that fighting them is not impossible, nor is it a losing battle.

When you are depressed it may seem as if there is no cure, but helpguide.org, a medical website that focuses on mental health, offers a number of tips to help individuals suffering from depression.

The first thing you need to do is build a good support network. Throughout my life I never talked about my feelings. It took the advice of a few very intelligent people to get me to open up, and today I feel so much better.

One of the important parts of building a support network is finding friends who will just listen to you. If someone comes to you with his or her problems, remember that listening doesn’t always mean offering advice, sometimes it just means listening – nothing more.

Second, you need to challenge negative thinking. When it seems you may be drowning in negativity, try thinking positively. By realizing that you can think positively and that everything will be okay, you will begin to see the negative thoughts fade away.

A few tips relate to taking care of yourself. Personally, I used to be a hulking 220 pounds in my underclassmen years, and I found that I just was not as happy as I was in high school. So, I started running. It took over my life, I dropped 60 pounds and am now training for my second marathon. While I am not advocating for you to drop everything and start running 20 miles every Saturday, I would argue that when you take care of your body you are naturally happier.

I now run and go to the gym five times a week. I started making a conscious effort to watch what I am eating, and I have never felt better. 

The final and perhaps the hardest tip is that you have to realize when you need professional help.

Depression can be incredibly draining and if you do not take care of it you will find yourself spiraling downward. Feeling depressed is easy and getting out of depression is hard, but once you are happy, everything seems just a little bit brighter.

I think we’ve all experienced that moment where we realize that we just cannot do it on our own. It is not a sign of weakness to turn to other people. Getting help from a trained professional is sometimes the best and only thing you can do.

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