Project HELP has been providing free and confidential services to victims of rape, violence, crime and sudden traumatic loss of a loved one for over 34 years. We serve all crime victims of Collier County with crisis counseling, therapy, civil and criminal advocacy, support groups and a 24/7 Crisis and Sexual Assault HELPline (239) 262-7227/(800)329-7227.

During these trying times with COVID-19 on everyone’s mind, along with social distancing,  working remotely, and not having much interaction with other people, we know that depression is a tough battle to conquer. Nearly 17 million people are diagnosed with depression in the United States each year. Symptoms of depression may include being in a depressed mood for most of the day, a decreased interest in activities that were once pleasurable to the individual, significant unintentional weight loss or gain, too much sleep or too little sleep, agitation, fatigue or a decrease in energy, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, a decrease in ability to concentrate, and reoccurring thoughts of death and/or suicide.

If these feelings persist longer than two weeks and they are disrupting your work, your social life, and/or your school, then please seek help, talk to your therapist or doctor. If you are feeling suicidal, please reach out to 1-800-273-TALK.

Also know that if you just need to talk or brainstorm how to cope during depression Project Help has a 24/7 crisis HELPline, (239) 262-7227, staffed with people who will listen and who will provide coping skills, brainstorm ways to help yourself and help you to find the resources you need if you are seeking help for depression.

If you are already receiving help for depression or you feel like you may be depressed but want to see if you can do anything on your own to lessen your feelings of depression, then continue reading. However, please, do not hesitate to seek help or talk to someone about the way you are feeling. Call a best friend, a trusted co-worker, a parent or sibling, or if you cannot think of anyone in your social support circle, then give Project Help’s crisis HELPline a call, and we will be there for you.

Four ways to decrease feelings of depression:

1. Exercise! Exercising and physical activities cause neurons in your brain to increase the amount of serotonin that is released. Scientists have found that a decrease, lacking, or absence of serotonin in the brain is correlated to an increase in feelings of depression. You are probably thinking to yourself, “that sounds great, but I am not going to spend money on a gym membership, I do not have the time, etc”. Well there are some free resources that you can do from home that will help you to incorporate more exercise into your life.

YouTube! YouTube is full of hundreds of thousands (maybe even millions) of videos that are posted by people like you and I every single day. There are thousands of videos with work out routines that you can do from home. Just search for “exercise videos” in the search bar on the YouTube homepage. Try it, you’ll be happy you did.

You can find a free running program easily on the internet. It’s called “Couch to 5K”. It is a program designed to gradually introduce you to running by starting with walking and running intervals. You can find the written description of the program There are also iPhone and Android phone apps that will allow you to play your own music and will prompt you when to run and when to walk.

If none of these suggestions or examples work for you, then just get out and walk. Take your dog for a walk, find a nice park with some good scenery and walk around, take a walk around your work place during your lunch break. Do what
you can and what you feel comfortable with, that is all that matters. If you try to incorporate some exercise into your every day routine, that is the important part. The first step is usually the hardest, but if you can do just that, then you should be proud of yourself.

2. Eat healthy. If you put junk into your body, then you will feel like junk. The same goes for the opposite end of that spectrum, if you put good, healthy things into your body, then you will feel good and healthy. Use the resources you have available to you. Use the internet to find healthy recipes. Invite a friend over to be your taste tester.

3. Get some sun! There is a subset of depression called SAD, which stands for Seasonal Affect Disorder. This disorder usually affects those who live in climates that are typically cold during the fall and winter, not at all like Florida, and when it stays darker longer.

People who lives in states like Alaska are usually at risk for SAD and they must take  precautions, like using artificial lighting, to avoid feeling sad (see what I did there?).

However, the absence of getting regular sunlight can also affect your mood. Try to spend 15 minutes outdoors (like while you are outside walking or running your new Couch to 5K program) in the sunlight (with adequate amounts of sunscreen of course), which should be no problem considering we live in Southwest Florida.

4. Laugh. Scientists have done studies that have found that the simple act of smiling can increase feelings of happiness. Find at least one reason to smile a day. If you cannot do that, then again, use your resources. Go onto YouTube and search for cat videos. Do a google search for your favorite types of jokes. Have a friend text you once a day with a funny story.

Do something to incorporate some humor into your life. Try as hard as you can to look on the positive side of things. Do not look at the glass as half-full or half empty. Just look at the glass and be grateful that there is something in there. So, try this, right now, try smiling for the next three minutes. I am sure you will feel something change in your day.

Depression is hard. However, you do not have to fight it alone. Seek help if you are unsure of the path you are taking. Talk to someone. It does not have to be a professional. It can be a friend, co-worker, or a parent. Also keep in mind that Project Help is here for you 24/7, (239) 262-7227, we have hotline staff that is ready and able to help you figure out the next step.

Project Help is your local rape crisis center offering FREE & CONFIDENTIAL services. Services may include evidence collection, exam, immediate crisis intervention, working with law enforcement if reporting, counseling groups, court assistance, information and referrals, and our 24-hour hotline.

If you need HELP…call our hotline: 239-262-7227

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