Depression is a battle that wages in the mind. Negativity takes over, causing us to feel hopeless and powerless.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy, the world’s leading approach to treating depression, is based on applying methods that transform our negative thoughts, words, and actions as the best way to transform our feelings.

We can’t change our feelings at the flip of a switch. However, we can change our thoughts, words, and actions quite easily. As we commit to thinking positive thoughts, saying positive words, and treating others in a positive way, our feelings follow. It’s remarkable how well this works.

First, however, you need to stop blaming others for your suffering, even if they are being mean to you. Blaming others may make you feel good, but it won’t solve your problems. And why should you give someone who’s being mean to you more power to make you miserable? Once you take responsibility for finding solutions, you’ll start feeling better.

You can begin to do positive things that put you in charge of your life. Even simple things like healthy eating can make a difference. Scientific research has found that people who eat healthy are more likely to be happy. You may believe that eating junk food makes you feel good when you’re bummed. But it’s only an illusion. Addiction to junk food is like being addicted to a drug. We get hooked on it, and when we haven’t had some for a while, we start feeling lousy, like something is missing. So, we serve ourselves chips and soda and feel better for a little while. We think the junk food made us feel better, but it’s actually what made us feel bad in the first place. It also hurts our body, both on the inside and the outside. So, if junk food and soft drinks are part of your daily diet, replace them with healthy snacks and water. You’re practically guaranteed to become happier, healthier, and better looking.

Exercise has also been proven to reduce depression and can sometimes even work in place of medication. Give it a try when you feel in the dumps. Consider finding an exercise partner to keep you company.

Perhaps the most powerful way to feel better is to do things for other people. A story went viral in January 2015 about a young man named Josh who was depressed because he’d been bullied for years and had lost his father. He decided one day to act like a doorman at his school and held the door open for everyone going in and out. Students initially thought he was weird, but they smiled and thanked him. His simple decision totally transformed his life. He became much happier and incredibly popular.

Josh discovered what wise people have always known: the absolutely best way to make ourselves happier is by doing good things for others. Our brains are actually hardwired to feel good when we make other people feel good.

But don’t think you need to rely only on yourself. Depression can be a complex, multi-layered problem. The negative feelings will actually affect our thinking and cause us to lie to ourselves. We may say things to ourselves like, “My life will never get better,” or “People are always mean to me.” Thoughts that contain words like “never” and “always” are usually wrong. When we’re depressed, our perception is unreliable, so it takes someone else looking at our situation objectively to help us think logically. So, if we can’t get out of our funk no matter how hard and long we try, it’s essential to go for professional help. We can see a psychiatrist for help with medication and a psychologist for help with therapy.

Many young people are ashamed to go for professional psychological help. But this is a mistake. Think about it: if you had a friend in your situation, would you look down at them for getting professional help? Of course not. You’d be happy and relieved to see them get the help they need. Well, guess what—your friends are just like you. So, make them happy. After all, the brain is just another organ in the body that sometimes needs an adjustment or a professional opinion or medicine.

Get help! The sooner you do, the quicker your life will start improving.

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