6 Steps to Overcoming Sadness and Depression

6 Steps to Overcoming Sadness and Depression

Overcoming Sadness and Depression: 6 Step Process

Studies show that 1 in 5 adults experience some kind of mental health issue each year. It impacts around 7% of the US adult population or about 16 million people each year and is the leading cause of disability in the world.

The lifetime prevalence of depression is 1 in 4 for women and 1 in 10 for men. Clearly, either you, or someone you know has or is grappling with depression. The sad part is that many studies point out that only 28% of people are actually helped by medication. This begs the question: what are the other ways one can combat depressive feelings and thoughts?

Overcoming Obstacles

I’m going to share with you 6 steps you can start doing today, to either prevent or overcome those feelings of sadness and depression. What concerns me the most is that 50% of adults will not talk to their doctor about their symptoms. So if you or a loved one is struggling with depression, please read on and get the help that can make such a powerful difference.

Is It Really Depression?

All mental health concerns need to be seen on a spectrum in terms of depressive feelings and thoughts—the question is how pervasive are these thoughts and feelings and how much impairment are they causing. Getting diagnosed by a health professional is very important. I want to make it very clear that I am not offering medical, legal or psychiatric advice here, I am just giving you some powerful starting points. Another important note is that I am not judging what has caused the depression, it is usually a combination of biological and psychological factors. I’m encouraging each person suffering from depression to explore all avenues of treatment.

My Definition of Depression

Of course, depression can be described clinically or by using the dictionary definition, but I am interested in quantifying it as I see it. So here goes:

Depression as Inactivity.

Time and again I see that when life throws a curveball, or the dreaded or unexpected occurs, and the person feels limited or trapped in options, that is where depression kicks in. I am stuck being fired, being dumped, being rejected, mourning a loss and I fall into further and further inactivity which becomes a self-perpetuating cycle.  

The Solution: Activity

To get out of depression, “the inactivity needs to be combatted with activity”. My favorite book on the topic is The Depression Cure by Dr. Stephen Ilardi. His work is posted online as well at tlc.ku.edu where he elaborates on his “Therapeutic Lifestyle Change” program that has amazing results.

Ilardi’s Work:

Disclaimer: This summary was written to introduce clients to the books and no medical, psychological or other advice is to be taken without consulting your doctor and therapist.

  1. The human body was never designed for the modern post-industrial environment. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors followed these six rules and were naturally free of depression (p. 6).
  2.  There is a huge lie in the media and pop-psychology which says that depression is most effectively treated with medication. Of course anyone with symptoms must consult a doctor, however, it must be noted that repeated studies show that only 28% of patients are cured with medication. That means that out of the 150 million antidepressant prescriptions written yearly in the USA, we need to consider other methods for recovery (p. 43-5).

Therapeutic Lifestyle Change (TLC) Program

  1. Eat Brain Food

        Omega-3 1000 mg of EPA and 500 mg of DHA (consult doctor)

  1. Don’t Think, Do

Preventing rumination, give yourself time limit, negative thoughts actually propel further sadness and negativity and never solve the issue.

  1.  Exercise

The body is wired to become reclusive when sick to preserve energy and prevent spreading of disease, however, for depression this is more harmful.

  1. Let There Be Light

Natural light is 100x brighter (10,000 lux) than indoor light (100 lux), using a “Happy Light” at a consistent time and above your head can greatly improve mood.

  1.  Get Connected

        Social interaction is vital

  1.  Healthy Sleep

The brain in anxious state learns to sleep lighter in order to arise quickly to avert danger. This is actually counterproductive for depression.

Favorite Quote

In choosing a quote for this segment I was struck by how many famous people to choose from who had suffered from depression. They include Winston Churchill, John Adams, Buzz Aldrin, Charles Dickens, John D. Rockefeller and Oprah Winfrey. This is only a tiny sampling of those who spoke about their challenges openly. Depression is real and it is treatable. Life can and will be better.   

A recession is when a neighbor loses his job. Depression is when you lose yours. -Ronald Reagan

It’s the personal suffering that makes it all the worse. It’s easy to take things hard, but as we expand our social support, we can get back on our feet and learn powerful coping skills.


In closing, depression is REAL and it can run in the family; seek help, be active, apply a therapeutic lifestyle change or program. Remember that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Resources Mentioned:

  •     The Depression Cure – Book written by Stephen Ilardi that talks about battling depression without drugs
  •     Feeling Good – Book written by David Burns that deals with negative mindsets
  •     Verilux – a company that creates light lamps to help with depressive symptoms
  •     nimh.nih.gov – info about depression and mental health concerns
  •     tlc.ku.edu – Dr. Ilardi’s research

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