If you’re just going through the motions of living, finding excuses not to bother going out to meet friends or family and you feel depleted of energy, you may well be almost depressed. Okay, almost depressed isn’t a formal diagnosis, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t important or doesn’t exist.
Shelley Carson of the Department of Psychology at Harvard University has even co-authored a book on it. In an article for CNN she describes the sensations of the person who doesn’t have sufficient symptoms to be classified as clinically depressed, but who exists in a gray area of low mood somewhere between normal and clinically depressed. You may sense there’s something in this? If you do, you join the other 12 million Americans in much the same situation.
Dr. Carson says the almost depressed tend to report lower levels of job satisfaction, lower satisfaction with their marriage and other personal relationships, more anxiety issues, a sense of less control over their lives and a lower overall sense of wellbeing. These aren’t just a bunch of dissatisfied moaners because around 75 percent will move from a state of almost depression to a full-blown major depression. This makes it important to see the signs for what they are and take some kind of preventative measures.
You can almost guarantee that the majority of almost depressed people are physically inactive. They may get to work and back, they may walk the dog and do some shopping, but they rarely if ever break into a sweat because of a focused form of exercise. Activities in the daylight and fresh air are good, but a lot of indoor activities like aerobics are fun and effective in combating the early symptoms of depression. How much is enough? Well, if you’re just focusing on how little you can get away with you may be missing the point, but around 20-30 minutes of exercise three times a week is about the minimum in order to feel benefits.
Creative activities, stress management techniques, a healthy and balanced diet, and regular sleep are all practical issues to address. Your brain will also appreciate social networking, an increase in your level of mindfulness and challenges to negative thoughts you may be brooding about.
Jerry Kennard, Ph.D., is a chartered psychologist and associate fellow of the British Psychological Society. Jerry’s clinical background is in mental health and, most recently, higher education. He is the author of various self-help books and is co-founder of positivityguides.net.