If you feel a bit down in the dumps this time of the year, you have lots of company. By March it can feel like spring will never come. For most of us, seeing the sun and the first few buds are enough to perk up our mood. While you’re waiting it helps to engage in activities that can lift you out of the doldrums. You could call a friend who has a “glass half full” attitude toward life, watch a movie that always gets you laughing, or do that ten minutes of exercise you’ve been putting off.
For most people, mild symptoms of depression will improve relatively quickly, but it’s important to recognize more significant mood problems. If you feel consistently depressed for at least two weeks or lose interest in activities that you usually enjoyed, this may indicate a more serious mood problem that is not likely to go away without treatment. Along with feeling sad and/or irritable, you might notice an increase or decrease in your appetite, weight, and sleep. You could experience more fatigue, less energy, and more difficulty making decisions and concentrating. Also, keep an eye out for unhealthy coping such as consuming more alcohol, smoking more cigarettes, spending more money, and spending more time alone. Of particular importance are thoughts of suicide, “I just want relief,” that frequently occur with depression particularly when people are feeling hopeless about their situation. Because of the overlap in symptoms of depression and MS, talking with a professional can be helpful in sorting out what’s going on. Telling someone about how you feel is the first step to feeling better. Depression is very treatable with a combination of counseling and medication or counseling alone. When left untreated, depression tends to stick around and creep into every crack and crevice of your life. Remember, you deserve to feel better.