"I think depression is a spectrum, and full-on depression is when you experience things like impaired appetite, disrupted sleep, lack of concentration and ruminative thoughts," Diane Tucker, a professor of psychology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said in a statement. "Feelings of discouragement or the blues are on that continuum, and I think it is important to be attentive to those feelings."
Tucker said when a person is down in the dumps, he or she should look at his or her "life equation," or how they spend their time and what they do to help nourish self-worth.
"When people feel down, they're less likely to be doing things that help them feel centered and personally efficacious," Tucker said. "One of the first steps to feel better is to reach out to your network of good friends or social contacts. They can help provide a validation of the strongest parts of oneself."
Tucker said other ways to beat the blues include exercise and cooking healthy meals; activities that provide internal satisfaction such as the arts, reading or gardening; write down thoughts in a journal regularly.
"With the blues, we lose perspective or it becomes distorted -- people go over and over the things they're unhappy with, and they get psychologically stuck," Tucker said. "The challenge is to move beyond where you're stuck. Things that can help include writing in a journal, doing activities that give you satisfaction, exercising and being with friends."
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