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Depression: You Can Win The Battle And You Can Win The War

08/15/2014 05:47 EDT | Updated 10/15/2014 05:59 EDT

Millions of people like Robin Williams suffer from depression. Williams was believed to have lived and suffered from bipolar disorder. This may in part explain his creative genius but also his deep depressions. Mixing alcohol which is a depressant will lower your mood even more. The end result on your thinking, logic, and ability to make rational decisions is severely impaired. Your field of vision becomes narrow and narrower and you begin to think that ending your life is the only option.

Everyone feels sad from time to time. But when the sadness doesn't stop and emotions start to interfere with life, that person may be depressed. Winston Churchill called his depression his "black dog."

Depression is a misunderstood condition. People often say "just snap out of it." They think if you can't get out of bed it's because you're lazy. Depression is like a huge weight on your back that prevents you from enjoying and living life to its fullest. It impacts social skills, hygiene, motivation, and thought.

So how can you possibly move forward? If you can understand that depression, in most cases, is a phase and will lift, you're miles ahead of the game.

A support network is essential. Friends and family provide a reason for people to fight the battle and continue living. A counselor can be very helpful in structuring goals, developing a routine, providing insight, putting things into perspective and helping you cope with daily struggles.

Psychosocial rehabilitation might be needed to help with re-integration into society. This rehabilitation might include learning to cook, learning the local bus routes, or attending a clubhouse. It might also include learning new work skills, such as computer skills, or volunteer work to help prepare for the world of work.

If you think you might be depressed you should see a doctor before starting any treatment program. For severe cases, medicine might be needed. The right drug with the right dose can do wonders. But medicine is only one part of the equation, just like a car needs more than just regular fill-ups at the gas station.

People who are depressed need structure in their environment and surroundings. They need to eat well, get adequate sleep, and exercise. Swimming is great -- it helps you feel refreshed and alive. Even walking and getting in touch with nature will lift your spirits. Any regular exercise will help improve your mood and build stamina.

Start by just going through the motions and putting in the effort. Eventually it will be actual exercise and you'll start to feel the benefits. Positive thinking and reinforcement can also help. Write "be active" or "be happy" on your bedroom wall; when you wake up and read the message it will help get your day started on a positive note.

Depression is a daily struggle. Just getting out and being with people is a good way to escape the alienation and isolation our society sometimes inflicts. Recovering from depression takes time. There is no overnight cure. The good news is that with every recovery you gain new skills and tools, and the experience makes you better prepared to recognize the signs and symptoms next time they come back.

If you are in crisis and experiencing suicidal ideation go to hospital emergency via ambulance if necessary.

With a little bit of effort every day, you can win the battle and the war. The light will shine again. You just need to believe that your future is full of hope and happiness.

Have you or someone close to you suffered from depression? What did you do that helped?

Alex Sangha is a registered social worker in B.C. He is the author of the award winning social discussion book, Catalyst, which is available worldwide through Amazon.