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MENTAL HEALTH CHECK-IN: Being a good person

Can being a good person improve depression, or at least its symptoms? There is a connection between being “good” and alleviating depressive symptoms. 

Clients seeking out therapeutic services due to depression may express symptoms that leave one feeling loneliness, hopelessness, and worthlessness, at times even suicidal. 

Mood can be described as a conscious state of mind or a predominant emotion. A persistent routine of experiencing these unnerving and challenging emotional states will influence our world view. The way that we identify with ourselves plays a major factor on how we engage with others, in social settings, with friends and family members. 

Observations of mannerisms and behavior can be an instrumental feature in determining deficits in mental health. Depression is a co-concurring health condition linked to stress. Other co-occurring mental and physical health problems include: heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and anxiety. 

According to The American Institute of Stress:

  • Approximately one out of three people report feeling extreme stress.
  • 77 percent of people experience stress that impacts their physical health.
  • 73 percent of people have stress that impacts their mental health.
  • 48 percent of people have trouble sleeping because of stress. 

Top causes of stress include: financial problems, work issues, the economy, family responsibility, relationships, personal health issues, housing costs, job stability, family health problems, and personal safety.

Seeking out the help of a medical professional when struggling with symptoms is imperative and infinitely more productive than self-diagnosing. Many common symptoms of stress overlap with those of depression. Cross symptoms include:

  • Irritability and anger within children.
  • Lack of motivation or interest.
  • Feeling sad or depressed.
  • Muscle tension.
  • Appetite changes. 

One of the best identifiers of depression criteria is isolation. Isolation is very specific and it differs from withdrawing. The difference is all in the intent. In one perspective, withdrawing can be seen as a form of boundary setting — a time to focus on oneself for rejuvenating purposes. Isolation is an extreme and unbalanced form of withdrawal, with the intent to not engage or communicate with others.

Depression can be viewed as an internal distress. This severely impacts the way a person views themselves. Negative self talk includes “My life is not going well,” or “My life sucks.” 

In order to challenge that “stinking thinking,” we like to share an act of engagement that has been proven to lower depressive symptoms: Being a good person. That’s it. Acts of service and volunteering can improve depressive symptoms and mood dysregulation.

By demonstrating an outward extension of self, this form of societal care helps clients to place thoughts on others rather than themselves. Taking care of a life, whether it is a plant, animal, a neighbor, or even volunteering at a soup kitchen, is an outward expression of the love you desire. If you feel depressed, we recommend talking to a professional, but in the meantime, focus on being good to others — you might be surprised of the benefits you gain.

Downey Eye Clinic
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