There is probably not a human being on this earth who has gone through life without getting a bad case of the blues at some point in their lives. The term means feeling heavy-hearted, low in spirit, sad or melancholy. Feeling blue can be described as a mood but it is often commonly used to describe depression.
Often there is a definite reason that explains why you are feeling so blue. You could be going through a death, divorce, unemployment, trauma, financial woes or some other issue. However, it is also possible to get depressed in an idiomatic way, meaning, you just feel blue for no concrete or discernable reason. You might find some of the causes of depression described here to be a bit obvious, but others to be a bit surprising.
Being Around Negative People.
Negativity is contagious, but sometimes we can’t choose who we end up in a room with. Having to deal with constantly critical, despondent or weepy individuals at home has a big impact on our own mood.
Binge Watching a Television Series.
An activity like binge-watching Netflix has become more commonplace in our society but few people realize the kind of elation that we feel as we become addicted to our favorite series. Some people get the blues after the series ends because they no longer have the pleasure of escaping real life for a while and the lack of stimulation from the program causes their endorphin levels to drop.
If you live in a city then you have almost twice the risk of suffering from depression than your fellow country dweller. That is because the brains of city dwellers tend to produce more cortisol, which in turn causes more stress. This, in turn, leads to depression and increased risk of suicide.
Death of a Pet.
Many people are closer to their pets than they are their family members and the depression from missing our closest companion can linger on and off for years.
For many people, separation from a long-term partner often also means a big loss of self-esteem, a social circle, money, equity and of course the company of someone they once loved. Depression can also result if it causes you to lose contact with pets or children.
If you are a bit obsessive compulsive and always have to have everything perfect then you could most definitely be triggered easily into the state of the blues, just simply because you can’t always get what you want.
Progesterone is the main ingredient in birth control pills and it is also sometimes prescribed to allay the symptoms of menopause. Unfortunately, if you already have a predisposition towards depression, progesterone can trigger symptoms such as melancholy, fatigue, and feelings of despair.
Some people experience depression when the seasons change from winter to spring to summer and then fall, because their brain chemistry works “on delay” and has difficulty adjusting to the different times of day that the sun rises and sunsets. It is the early morning light that helps inform the pituitary gland of and the result is imbalances in the production of the hormone melatonin. This can cause insomnia, anxiety, restlessness and also depression.
Your body needs enough rest at night to recover both physically and mentally so that you can weather life a bit better in general. Irritability results if you are short a few hours sleep at night. However, if you suffer full-blown insomnia, it could be a symptom of depression, or actually causing your depression.
Smoking or Quitting smoking.
Smoking cigarettes has long been associated with depression. Nicotine is known to affect neurotransmitters in the brain resulting in higher levels of dopamine and serotonin. The only problem is that when the intake of nicotine stops, those levels of “feel good” chemicals drop as well which can give you a case of the blues so bad it can even cause crying jags. Avoiding cigarettes and staying smoke-free is the only way to cure this type of chemical brain imbalance.
Stress from Social Media.
Spending too much time on Facebook and other social media can cause depression, especially if looking at other people’s posts causes jealousy, insecurity or other unhealthy emotional states. Being addicted to social media can also cause people to be scrolling on Facebook late at night when they should be sleeping. This can also lead to depression due to sleep deprivation.
When the thyroid, a butterfly gland-shaped gland in the neck produces less thyroid hormone (also known as hypothyroidism), depression can be the result. Thyroid hormone is also responsible for acting as a neurotransmitter and regulating serotonin levels. Luckily low thyroid levels can also be treated with medication.
Too Many Choices, The incredible number of options that we face, even when we try to do something quite simple like choose the right kind of shampoo from a drugstore can actually exhaust us to the point that we experience depression. That is because some people respond in an obsessive way to having too much information to the point that they can walk out of a store feeling dazed and confused from being confronted with so many options.
20 Ways to Cheer Up When You’re Feeling Blue.
- Call a close friend and have a long talk. It can be quite uplifting to simply hear the voice of someone who loves you. It is can also be quite enlightening to get another person’s perspective on what might be triggering you to feel so melancholy and sad. This is an especially good tact in situations where you have been shamed or criticized or have lost a pet or loved one.
- Make a list of everything you are grateful for in life. Just take a piece of paper and a marker and write down all of those things that you are thankful for in life. Don’t stop to analyze what you are writing or judge it in any way. The items on your list can range from being very big to very simple, such as “Thank you for my parents and my three children.” to “Thank you for the refreshing glass of cool water I just drank on such a hot day.”
- Watch a funny movie or go to a comedy club. Laughter really is the best medicine for anything that ails you, but especially for a case of the blues.
- Make a list of your accomplishments. Most of us tend to remember only the most negative things that have ever happened to us and not the most positive ones.
- Go for a swim. Swimming is a great aerobic activity that helps energize both your brain and body. Also, the act of immersing yourself in water, especially sea water, is deeply healing as it stimulates the pleasure centers in the brain.
- Take up meditation. Meditation is basically just a way to relax your mind. It is based on the idea of emptying the brain of all thoughts, so it can reset itself. Overthinking, overanalyzing and reliving bad situations in your mind over and over again exhausts you and can causes melancholy and depression.
- Get a haircut and a complete makeover. This might sound trite, but being groomed by others appeals to the animal side of us and even just someone cutting, braiding or combing our hair can help cheer us up. People who feel depressed do not think that they deserve a bit of pampering but it is fine to get your nails done, your hair colored and your wrinkles removed. This is an especially important move for women who have been in abusive relationships to make.
- Make peace with an enemy. A source of a lot of depression is the carrying around a resentment. Make an effort to forgive someone who has wronged you in the past. If that person is deceased or if it would harm them further for you to approach them.
- If you owe someone an apology, give it to them. Often when we can’t admit we’re wrong we run with a story about ourselves and the other person that is not quite true and carry around falsehoods in our hearts for years. Saying you’re sorry can help lift up the heaviest hearts and restore a joyful sense of well being to your life once again,
- Find yourself a hobby that you really enjoy. Not only will you meet like-minded souls that can become good friends or part of a support system, but you will also enjoy the boost of self-esteem and joy that doing something you really love can bring.
- Spend time with a pet. The love of a pet is one of the best antidotes to any type of depression. It does not have to be your pet. Ask to visit a friend’s cat or a dog to get some of that four-legged furry love that everyone needs in their life sometimes.
- Take a forest bath. Cultures all over the world recommend disappearing into the forest, preferably one with huge old-growth trees, to help restore your sense of well-being, Trees have a grounding effect on the human soul and emit a lot of oxygen, helping your brain to operate more efficiently and improve your mood.
- Get a therapeutic massage. Human beings were made to be touched, cuddled and loved and if that hasn’t happened in a while because of a divorce or death of a loved one, then this is one way you can feel better. Affection between humans can help nurture feelings of trust and also reduce levels of cortisol, (the stress hormone) and make you feel better. When you don’t get touched enough that is called skin hunger and it causes people to be anxious, withdrawn and depressed.
- Walk barefoot on the grass. Contact with the bottom of your feet with natural organisms is believed to have a visceral effect on your brain chemistry that helps to put you in a better mood.
- Clean up your living space. Stripping your environment of dirt and clutter is a parallel activity to cleaning up any chaotic or distressing thoughts that might be in your head. The act of cleaning is also very invigorating, inspires you to new actions and can give you a great sense of accomplishment that can help you cure depression.
- Make your space into your own personal Shangri-La. Surround yourself with things that cheer you up to such as your favorite images, mementos, plants or books. Buy a little babbling water fountain and burn incense to help cheer you up.
- Practice aromatherapy. Buy an aromatherapy diffuser and then fill it with essential oils to give your olfactory nerves a sensory bath. Essential oils that can help cure depression include basil, orange, frankincense, myrrh, rose, jasmine, lavender, bergamot, Roman chamomile, sage, and rosemary
- Eat a spicy yellow curry dish. Turmeric is the feel-good spice in Indian cuisine that can help improve your mood by regulating your serotonin levels.
- Eat some raw oysters. Oysters have many minerals in them that support brain health but also healthy Omega3s and tryptophan, which helps to trigger serotonin production and cheer you up.
- Do a little window shopping. Human beings have an instinct in them that makes them feel happy when they are “grazing”, so doing a little shopping without buying is a fine idea. Buying something you really love and have wanted for a long time can also help boost your mood.
- Take an art class. Practicing pottery, painting or photography can help you forget your troubles, empty your mind and cheer you up because you are learning how to do something with like-minded people.
- Fake It ‘Til You Make It. If you feel yourself slipping into a negative mood, try putting a big smile on your face and being as kind as possible to everyone you meet. Soon you will find that your goodwill is contagious and that the many smiles that are reflected back to you will help naturally boost your mood.
5 Great Ways to Cheer Up A Friend Suffering From the Blues.
Sometimes, you are called upon by a friend to help them cope with the blues, or just simply help them get over a breakup, a job loss, or the death of a pet. Here are some ideas as to how to cheer them up.
1. Suggest the two of you go dancing. Put movement and music together and you have a recipe for curing depression. Dancing gets the body moving and music has a way of dismissing sad thoughts from the brain
2. Invite the person over for dinner. Sometimes all the person needs is a bit of mothering and nurturing and maybe a few giggles over a glass of wine to cheer them right up.
3. Give them a box of chocolate. Chocolate is a substance that helps to reduce cortisol, release endorphins and serotonin and is a good source of antioxidants. For best results, by the chocolate that has over 70% cacao content.
4. Make them a soundtrack of their favorite songs. Put their favorite tunes on an MP3 player and make a gift of them. Another good alternative is a soundtrack of binaural beats music or healing new age music to help boost their mood.
5. Go on a day trip together. Sometimes all it takes is a change of location to help your friend psychologically distance themselves from the grief or depression that they are feeling.
Building Resilience Against Depression and the Blues
Sometimes we need a little more than a hug, a talk or a fun time. Sometimes we need to build resilience to depression by changing our entire outlook on how we view life. Probably one of the most important things you can do to battle the blues is to choose your reactions to life events. This means that you must make an effort to think positively, no matter what challenge is thrown your way.
To build your resilience and learn how to chooses your reactions to what happens to you in life try the following:
1. Try thinking of setbacks as challenges rather than failures and take away what you have learned from the experience with a resolve not to repeat the same mistakes again.
2. Remember that old saying, “And this too shall pass.” This means that all problems are temporary and that they can eventually be solved.
3. Never take anything personally, as most people in life are going through things that you possibly cannot imagine and if they treat you badly, they probably can’t help it.
Look for the helpers in your life. This is a support system of friends and family who can offer you a shoulder to cry on if you need it.
Remember, you can’t necessarily control your brain chemistry or physical reactions to some stressors but you can always beat the blues by developing some control over how we see situations and how we cope. As the old saying by author Anais Nin goes, “We do not see the world as it is, we see it as we are.”