Five Simple Ways to Go from Sad to Glad Changing Perception

Tracy Woolrich's picture
Overcoming depression

Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks for your blessings. If you, or someone you know, are one of the estimated 19 million American adults living with major depression, it may seem that there is nothing to be grateful about. There are however ways to encourage a better awareness of the blessings that lie within this life.

Depression is not just having a bad day. It is not sadness from time to time. Most of us feel this way from time to time in our lives. It is part of growing and learning while living here on this planet. True clinical depression is an illness. It is a mood disorder caused by a chemical imbalance that causes feelings of sadness, anger, frustration and loss. It can interfere with activities of daily living and cause friction in relationships and employment.

Just like it is not appropriate to ask a diabetic to get over it and reduce their blood sugar levels, it is just as ridiculous to ask someone with depression to just stop being sad. Clinical depression is caused by a hormonal imbalance just like diabetes and thyroid disease.

Maybe there is a recent loss. Grief over a loss is a normal human emotion and occurs in all age groups. It is only if the feelings of sadness last for a long time that it should be evaluated. What starts as situational depression can convert to clinical depression.


There are many things that are helpful both for the person suffering from depression and the loved ones witnessing it. All it takes is a little effort on both your parts.

Get out of here
I don’t mean kicking anyone out of the house. What I am talking about is getting out of the house though. Staying indoors and away from the world is often exactly what the person wants to do. It is however not healthy. A few moments in the sunshine can lift a person’s mood by stimulating the production of serotonin. That is the same neurotransmitter that's increased by the antidepressant medications called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). While you are at it take a 15 minute walk. That can be healthy for the mind, body and spirit.

Get engaged

There is no ring and commitment involved here. What I mean is get the person engaged in interests. It does not matter whether it is something old and familiar or something new and interesting. No need to push them to learn Lithuanian or scuba diving. Keep it light and easy. Share some uplifting literature. Let them read it or read it to them. Check out Net Flix and watch some old sit coms or humorous movies. Laughter can balance the pituitary and adrenal systems and cause a reduction in depressive behavior. As it turns out, laughter really is the best medicine.

Write on
One of the most therapeutic things a person can do is journal. A golden bound journal is lovely however a simple spiral notebook from the local discount store is just as nice. Expressing your joys, burdens, successes and failures can be therapeutic. Try not to encourage this activity just before going to bed if it is too intense. You don’t want counting sheep to turn into the running of the bulls. Perhaps expressing through doodling, drawing or painting may be helpful. Experiment and see what is most helpful.

Pet therapy
Dogs, cats, rabbits and other furry friends may be just the ticket. There is something to be said about the softness of fur under your hand and nuzzle, purr or kiss that melts the heart. I have a Rex Rabbit at home that is a therapy bunny for me. No matter how bad my day is, he somehow finds a way to relax my anxious ways and lift my mood.

Let there be music
Break out the vinyl, CDs or I-Pod. Researchers at the National University of Singapore found that playing your favorite tunes as little as once a week may reduce depression. Not only is it a distraction, it can turn on your feel good Dopamine chemical. This is the one that kicks you in the butt and makes you motivated. Just because you’re feeling sad doesn’t mean you should avoid the blues either. Sometimes listening to a sad song allows you to feel that you are not alone in your feelings. It can help you feel less isolated. So whether it is “Celebration” or “Happy in My Heartache” it does not seem to matter just as long as it brings about a positive outcome.

Take home message

Remember that you can only do so much. You are responsible only for your own thoughts and emotions. Nothing you do or don’t do can truly change another person’s mood or behavior without a willing participant. In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson - "Nothing can bring you happiness but yourself."

Mayo Clinic