The Black Dog of Depression

A person in black hoodie and blue jeans squats in from of a grey shaded all, holding a hand-drawn sad face in front of their own. Depressed.

Seven Ways To Prevent Or Deal With Depression

This is the time of year in the northern hemisphere when depression is on the rise.

For two reasons:

  • The diminishing light brings on the symptoms of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), and
  • Holiday times are coming and many people find themselves sad, down, lonely and hurting at these times.

SAD can be temporary, or it can be a precursor to deeper depression.

So what can you do about it? Can you prevent depression? Can you get rid of it?


Sad Lights

I use a SAD light every morning, while I eat my breakfast and write in my journal. Both the increased light and the journaling help me keep the “black dog of depression” at bay.

Most pharmacies sell SAD lights. So if you feel low at this time of year, you might want to invest in one. Pick up a notebook, or journal, and a nice pen while you’re there. Writing out your thoughts by hand is more powerful than doing so on a screen.


Increase your uptake of Vitamin D. That seems to help as well. In Europe, doctors treat depression with Vitamin D and St. John’s Wort. Just don’t take the latter if you’re going south to get some sun, as it can make you more susceptible to sunburn. And, if you’re on meds, check with your Doc about using St. John’s Wort


Journaling, too, has been proven to be effective in keeping depression at bay, or at least, under control.

In an article on, Jessie Gruman, PhD, executive director of the Center for the Advancement of Health ( in Washington, writes, “Keeping a journal is a good way to start coping with depression.

“It’s not aggressive, it’s something you can do by yourself, and it gives you the chance to see your feelings in black and white and then make plans to do something about them.”

When you can see your feelings in black and white, it is easier to dig down and find the dysfunctional thoughts that give rise to them, then change those self-defeating thoughts to self-supporting ones.

For more on how thoughts influence emotions, actions and results check out my earlier post about how three nutty beliefs can sabotage your success and well being.

Physical Exercise

As the video below points out, one of the best depression prevention and management techniques is simple exercise.

Get outside. Go for a walk or a run or a bike ride. Go skiing. Go skating. Go to the gym. Physical exercise is a great way to keep depression from affecting you.

Video: I Had A Black Dog, His Name Was Depression

The following short video can help you better understand depression — in yourself and in others. Understanding depression is the first step toward coping with it and getting beyond it.

Via World Health Organization (WHO)

The ABCs of Emotional Mastery

Another resource I recommend is my short, free, ebook, The ABCs of Emotional Mastery.

In it, I describe my own struggle with SAD and serious depression. And how, by using basic Cognitive Behavioural Thinking exercises I dug myself out of the pit of despair and taught myself new ways of looking at myself, my world and the situations I encounter.

The ABCs exercises help you surface the negative thoughts that give rise to negative emotions, challenge those thoughts, and change them to realistically positive thoughts that support you and your emotional mastery.

Finally, as the video says, never be afraid to reach out for help.

And if you ever feel any suicidal thoughts, contact a physician, psychologist, priest, rabbi, Iman or other professional.

Most phone books have a crisis line number in the Emergency Numbers section at the front. Or you can Google “crisis line” plus your location.

Depression isn’t inevitable. If you feel down, sad or depressed, try some or all of the above and you should feel better.

Bruce Elkin

Life Design Coach. Personal Life Coach. 25 years experience. Clients on 6 continents. Author of 5 books and ebooks. Cares about the Earth and living in harmony with its natural systems.