7 Warning Signs of Depression

7 Warning Signs of DepressionThe world was saddened this week by the death of Mr. Robin Williams, an iconic comedian, beloved American legend and accomplished actor. Mr. Williams reportedly suffered from severe depression. He appears to have taken his own life.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Williams family. Depression is an insidious mental health disease affecting millions of people every year. Severely depressed individuals are at high risk of suicide.

Symptoms of depression can be tough to detect in someone close to you and even harder to detect in yourself. On occasion, most people feel a little sad, anxious or gloomy. These feelings are quite common when they are the result of a significant life change (e.g., loss of job, divorce, illness, work stress, etc.) and usually last a short time. But, when you or someone you know feels sad and hopeless most of the day, these and other symptoms persist for extended periods of time and effect daily functioning, serious depression may exist and the help of an experienced mental health professional may be needed.

Here are some key areas where depression may lead to diminished functioning and suicide:

  • Extreme changes in sleep habits. On occasion, most people may have a day or two when they either wake up too early, have difficulty getting to sleep or wake up sometime during the night. People experiencing depression will sleep excessively or sleep very little
  • Overeating or appetite loss. Often people who are extremely depressed find themselves eating much more than normal or snacking excessively or having little or no appetite for foods they previously enjoyed.
  • Difficulty staying focused. The inability to think clearly and/or make simple decisions is a frightening part of severe depression. Making major decisions is often intolerable for a depressed person. This lack of concentration leads to increased anxiety, and feelings worthlessness, and/or helplessness.
  • Diminished energy. You may notice that you or a depressed individual moves and speaks at a reduced rate and often complains of being tired without any evidence of physical exertion.
  • Lack of interest.  Depressed individuals have diminished energy and/or no desire to engage in routine activities or hobbies they once found pleasurable.
  • Low self-esteem. During periods of depression, people may dwell on failures and losses and experience feelings of excessive guilt and helplessness. Thoughts of suicide may occur when these feelings persist.
  • Thoughts of suicide/suicide attempt. People who are depressed may say such things as “I wish I wasn’t here”, “what good am I”.

This post is by no means an attempt to diagnose or treat depression.  If you are concerned about depression and/or suicide for yourself or someone else, please use the following resources to get immediate help:

The National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) You’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area, anytime 24/7.

If you are hearing impaired, there are several ways to contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

  • To chat with a Lifeline counselor from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. Monday-Friday (Eastern Standard Time), click here.
  • Contact the Lifeline via TTY by dialing 800-799-4889

If you are hearing impaired, and a veteran, service member, or any person concerned about one, there are several ways to contact the Veterans Crisis Line.

  • To text with a Veterans Crisis Line responder, send a text message to 838255.
  • To chat with a Veterans Crisis Line responder, click here.
  • Contact the Lifeline via TTY by dialing 800-799-4889

Call 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)  or  http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

If you or someone you know experience any of the warning signs of depression and/or suicidal thoughts or intentions, please take it as very, very serious and seek immediate help.

Show Kindness to Yourself

Show kindness to yourselfShow kindness to yourself even when you make a mistake, decision you regret or choices and experiences have you stuck, unmotivated and angry.

We all make mistakes.

If a friend made a mistake or choice that landed her in a shaky situation, how would you respond to her?

More than likely you would be there to support, encourage and uplift her.

So, why not extend the same courtesies and show kindness to yourself when you’ve made a choice that didn’t turn out the way you expected?

When you are beating yourself up with negative self talk, stop and use the following tips to show kindness to yourself:

1. Show kindness to yourself in the same way you would a friend who might be going through a rough patch
. Speak encouraging, empowering words, or perk yourself with a beautiful bouquet of flowers. Don’t fall into the “woe is me” trap of negative self talk like “I can’t…” “I’m too…” or “I’m not…”

2. Leave your mental comfort zone. When you’re feeling in a rut or unmotivated, focus on something different. If you think long enough about what isn’t possible, your thoughts will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

3. Value your time. Time is a precious commodity and ought to be valued as such. Filling you time with negative self talk will add undue that stress to your life and is not a good way to spend your time. Instead, turn your attention to things that delight and inspire  you.

4. Forgive yourself. Blaming yourself for things that happened in the past will cause you to stay stuck in anger and unforgiveness. You are human and will make mistakes in judgment and engage in behaviors that you wish you hadn’t. Just as you would show kindness and forgive a friend for a minor transgression, forgive yourself.

5. Practice good self-care. When you practice good self-care, you are in a better position to ward off negativity, stress and anger. Set aside a portion of your day for “me time”.  Me time is uninterrupted time you spend meditating, relaxing to soothing music or just sitting with your feet up. Whatever you decide, make sure it’s a part of your daily routine to unwind and rejuvenate.

Keep the above tips in mind whenever you start to be too hard on yourself. Remember, you are your best friend! So show kindness to yourself by displaying the same nurturing, uplifting and positive support you would offer to a friend.

And, to learn even more about how you can show kindness to yourself, I invite you to get my latest book, Master the Genie Within: Uncover, Embrace and Celebrate the Real You.

Check Your Judgment Meter

Check Your Judgment Gage

Check your judgment meter before it’s on empty.

Good judgment is based on our ability to form an opinion objectively and with some knowledge and insight.

However, often our judgments are based on everything except objectivity, knowledge or fact.

This was certainly the case with me on a recent trip to the supermarket when I noticed a young woman on her cellphone.

That day, my judgment meter was running on empty.

One of the things that will drain my judgment meter is seeing someone talking on a cellphone in public places. It seems everywhere I look someone is on a cell phone. And I often judge them to be rude, inconsiderate and uncaring individuals. I have no interest in hearing the details of last night’s argument with a spouse, or idle gossip about neighbors or friends. So when I see someone on a cellphone in public, I decide right then that these individuals as “inconsiderate” and rude.

And, just when my judgment meter approached a dangerously low level, I overheard the woman on her cellphone say loudly, “Oh, no!… what hospital? I’ll be right there”.

Now here was something more plausible than the judgment story I had created in my head.  It appeared there was some crisis in this woman’s life.

How quick I had been to judge her – make assumptions about her phone call, her life, and her motives – without any knowledge of her whatsoever.

I wanted my deflated judgment to slink off to the nearest corner to hide my face in shame.

I wondered how many other times had I made a quick judgment about someone or a situation only to discover later that I was way off base?

Here was an “Aha” moment that I hadn’t expected:

I recognized that situations are not always what they appear to be at first glance.

I realized that my thoughts determine my reactions to others.

I learned to take time to assess my own assumptions and level of acceptance.

“If we learn to open our hearts, anyone, including the people who drive us crazy, can be our teacher.” ~Pema Chodron

So if you find your judgment meter slipping to a low level, consider these options first:

  1. Be willing to acknowledge that you don’t know all the details. I may think it’s rude to talk on a cell phone in public but that doesn’t mean others share my reality.
  2. Accept that others have a different reality from yours. Just because something doesn’t sit well with you does not mean it’s not working for the other person.
  3. Give others the benefit of the doubt before you judge and create a “story” about them and their motives. Consider that you may lack knowledge that could make a difference in what you think.
  4. Check your own thoughts and behaviors before you judge someone else. Are you guilty of the thing that you find most annoying? Have you ever used your phone at a checkout line, at a concert or in another public place?
  5. Make sure you have some facts to back up your judgment. Your judgments aren’t always (hardly ever) right. A judgment is an opinion you form without any concrete evidence to support it.
  6. Explore your own beliefs and assumptions to gain greater awareness and acceptance of yourself and others. Use moments of judgment to reflect on your level of discomfort so that you are not giving others permission to push your buttons.

For more tips and insights like this, check out my book, Master the Genie Within: Uncover, Embrace and Celebrate the Real You

Let Ego Go to Reveal the Real You

“Ego is simply an idea of who you are that you carry around with you” – Wayne Dyer

Let ego go to reveal the real you.

The Latin word for “I” is Ego and often used in English to mean “self”, “the self”, “self-concept”, “false self”, “conceptual identity”, or identification with individual existence or your soul.

Ego is also defined as the part of you that is your “innermost self”, “self-esteem” or “the opinion one has of him/her self.  These opinions can create a disparity between the real you and what you have been taught to believe about yourself.

Your ego feeds your desire to be accepted, acknowledged, loved, and valued born out of your connections with others – society, family and culture. While connections with others is important, it is equally important to connect with the real you rather than a distorted picture that may have been formed by outside influences.

Sometimes, your ego presents itself as a nagging, relentless voice that cast doubt, criticism and devalues your ideas, choices and dreams. I’ve given my ego a name. Her name is Negative Nelly and whenever she perches on my shoulder to whisper doubt, fear or limitation, I swiftly knock her off my shoulder and send her on her way.

When your “Negative Nelly” shows up trying to make you doubtful, fearful or unsure about the choices you make, these ego friendly principles will clear the cobwebs, empower you and reveal your true self:

  • Show courage – Courage is not the absence of fear. It is taking action despite fear. When faced with doubt and insecurities, resolve to be courageous and take the risk to do the thing that has you stuck in fear.
  • Know your values and priorities – Make choices based on what’s most important to you. Make sure you know your values and priorities and make your choices based on the principles that guide your life.
  • Have a Vision – Create a vision to pursue your dreams. Without a vision for your dreams, it will be difficult to achieve them. You must have a clear vision of what success is to you in order to work towards it.
  • Allow your intuition to lead you – Your intuition is that quiet gut feeling of certainty “rightness” that arises from deep inside you. When you listen to your intuition with greater alertness and awareness, you will be able to follow it more often and feel confident that it is guiding you in the right direction.
  • Fill Your wisdom cup – Wisdom and good judgment is not a measurable, quality. It is acquired over time from the accumulation of a variety of your life experiences. It is the cup you fill with life-long experiences. Learn to drink from it often and be open to filling your wisdom cup from a variety of sources.
  • Follow your dreams – No matter what challenges have come your way or what obstacles you’ve faced, you can still pursue your dreams. While your dreams may be dormant, they haven’t expired! Dreams don’t have an expiration date!.

The perception you have of yourself may be rooted in a false beliefs formed early in your life.  Your ego may be a blurry snapshot of the real you. However, you need not accept this distorted picture as your reality today.

If you are ready to get rid of your “Negative Nelly” and that “blurry” snapshot of who you really are, I encourage you to get my book, Master the Genie Within: Uncover, Embrace and Celebrate the Real You so you can get started right away to discover the real you.