If you are so depressed that you find yourself unable to get out of bed and take a shower, much less go to work, it may be time to try thinking outside the box.

Living day after day with hopelessness and a seemingly endless pit of pain would suck the life out of anyone. When left unchecked, depression becomes debilitating. Severe depression that interferes with a person’s ability to function in their daily life is known medically as a major depressive episode. A national survey found that 8.4 percent of adult women and 5.2 percent of adult men experienced this type of severe depression in 2012.

Depression is highly treatable with therapy, medication or a combination of the two. Be patient. It can take time to muddle through the muck and get back to a place where you recognize yourself again.

In the meantime, how can you push through the days when you don’t want to do anything at all? Try doing something that is completely different from what you would expect yourself to do in a normal day. It may help get your mind off the bigger problem, effectively giving you a breather that may start to energize you again. Here are some suggestions.

1. Make a list of things you would like to do if you had no responsibilities.

Maybe you’ve always wanted to take a cruise or visit the country of your family’s heritage, learn to play an instrument or throw pottery, document your family tree, start a business or pursue a new career. Write them down. They may seem completely out of reach and perhaps they are right now. But when you feel better, you might find a way to make them happen.

2. Look through old photos or yearbooks.

This isn’t a project to organize and catalog them all. Just browse through them. Set aside some favorites to keep handy for when you need a smile, or that you might want to frame. This will help you remember that there are people who care about you and help you start to feel grounded and connected to others.

3. Play your favorite music.

Turn on your favorite radio station or put in your favorite CD. Don’t listen to your MP3 player with ear buds; instead, let the music fill the room. Listen to the lyrics and sing along. Create your own music therapy.

4. Put together a jigsaw puzzle or do a paint-by-numbers.

Yeah, they may seem meaningless, but who cares! You’re not doing anything else, right? Studies have shown that focusing on a task can shut down self-related activity in your brain a needed rest from your troubles.

5. Paint your nails, play with a new hairdo or trim your beard a new way.

It doesn’t matter if you haven’t taken a shower for three days. You don’t have to do things in the ‘proper’ order at this point. Doing something, anything, with your physical body can slowly reignite a desire to take care of it.

These types of activities are not a treatment for depression. Rather, they are like small Band-Aids that you can put off the depth of despair to help promote healing and hope.

Meanwhile, from your friends here at Healthagy, keep your chin up!  Blue skies are clearing ahead . . .

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