The fourth step in overcoming depression is to make responsible behavioral changes. We are not instantly delivered from lifestyle depression, we have to grow out of it. It takes time to renew our minds, but it doesn’t take time to change our behavior, which a facilitates the process of renewing our minds as well as positively affecting how we feel. When Cain and Abel brought their offerings, the Lord was not pleased with Cain’s. “So Cain became very angry, and his countenance fell. Then the Lord said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? Why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and it’s desire is for you, but you must master it” (Genesis 4:5-7 NASB). In other words, you don’t feel your way into good behavior, you behave your way into good feelings. If you wait until you feel like doing what is right, you will likely never do it. Jesus said, “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them” (John 13:17).

That is why some interventions for depression focus on behavior. Depressed people are helped to schedule appointments and activities that pull them out of their negative mood. Go to work even though you may not feel like getting out of bed. Plan an activity and stick to it. Get more physical exercise and commit yourself to follow through on your plans. You may feel tired, but your body needs exercise. Start with a low impact aerobic program or take walks with friends and family members. Continue routine duties even though you feel like you don’t have the energy. These behavioral interventions or activities are only a start in developing a healthy lifestyle. If these are too difficult or physically impossible, then seek the kind of medical help that will physically get you back on your feet.

Stop living to eat and start eating properly to live. Balance your diet with 60 percent good carbohydrates, 30 percent proteins, and 10 percent healthy fats. Try to avoid processed sugars, and high fructose corn syrup. Take a multivitamin and be sure that it includes D and B complex vitamins, especially B-12. B complex vitamins help the adrenal glands deal with stress.

There are certain negative behaviors that will only contribute to depression. Drowning out your sorrows with drugs and alcohol is at the top of this destructive list. Although this may bring temporary relief, it will only further contribute to the depression.

Dr. Neil

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