So, for psychotherapy to be a successful, you have to crave change, possess a curiosity of your inner world and an interest in understanding what motivates you, and tolerate a moderate degree of frustration. This is where the myth that only crazy people--or weak-minded individuals--go to therapy gets the boot. Talk therapy is a valiant undertaking. And anyone who says otherwise is foolishly misinformed. Psychotherapy will not work if you have unrealistic expectations. Setting realistic goals can make psychotherapy a winning experience. Change does not happen overnight. Nor does the development of insight. Hardest of all is replacing old behaviors with new ones. It takes time. I remember feeling frustrated that I couldn't resume my college studies faster when I first entered treatment. My suicidal thinking was reduced and my despair lifted in just a few sessions. Why did I have to wait until next semester to get back to classes? I didn't want to graduate a semester late, and I seemed more concerned about the passage of time than the healing that needed to be done. Talking with my therapist helped me realize that I was being unrealistic--and that I needed time to recover from my depressive episode. Once I realized that I had other hurdles to cross, talk therapy took on a deeper meaning to me. When it comes to your depression, make sure you and your therapist center therapy with sensible and realistic objectives, specific to your needs. As time progresses, you can review these targeted goals and redefine them if necessary. Remember, yard by yard is hard, inch by inch a cinch. Psychotherapy is not like talking to a friend.

Therapy is the forming of an alliance to bring about change in your life. This is done with a therapist who is caring, empathic, and skilled in the symptoms and-or illness you experience. Psychotherapists train many years in the art of listening and, unlike a friend or family member, listen not only with the intent to just understand but also with the goal to identify and analyze. Being an active listener enables a therapist to use theory and techniques to stir your observations as treatment proceeds. Nutritional supplements provide helpful "tools" in your toolbox for overcoming depression. As you seek to fortify your body with micronutrients, start with these strategies: Evaluate your diet for possible nutrient deficiencies. Typically, a consistent diet that includes ample fruits, vegetables, and whole grains (while avoiding processed foods) delivers an adequate supply of fortifying nutrients. But you might be deficient in some areas without even knowing it, which could contribute to your depression. It would be worth an appointment with a nutritionist or naturopathic doctor to discuss your diet and determine if supplemental support is called for. Load up on magnesium-rich foods. These include legumes, avocados, almonds, cashews, bananas, and fatty fish like salmon. Avoid processed foods, and learn to identify and manage your stress triggers to help preserve your magnesium status. It's also important to supplement your body's stores of magnesium. For maximum absorption and bioavailability, look for a chelated magnesium supplement. Be aware of your vitamin D intake. How much you might need depends on the geographic region you live in, as well as the time of year, your skin type, and your level of sun exposure. To ensure that you're getting enough vitamin D, take a supplement daily. Take a good vitamin B complex to help prevent nutrient imbalances. Because B vitamins work best in concert, don't try to pick and choose among them. Likewise, take folic acid and vitamin B12 together to reduce anxiety and depression.

Check with your doctor before adding supplements to your diet if you are taking prescription medications. For example, if you are on a blood thinner such as Coumadin, the additions of some vitamins and herbs to your diet can make your blood too thin. The beginning of a conversation is not important. It really isn't, believe it or not. People won't judge you for asking about the weather (unless you fail to think of anything more interesting soon thereafter), nor will they think you are a poet if you have something especially deep and meaningful to say. The best opener for a conversation is something simple and cliched like "how are you doing" or "my name is X, it's nice to meet you." Yes, it's simple and no it doesn't give you anything to build off of, but it does create an initial impression, opens the possibility of conversation and gives you an in. With all that in mind, there are some things you should never say when you start a conversation: Insults or Complaints - Opening with a negative statement about someone or something sets you up as a malcontent and can generally ruin the mood for conversation. It also messes up the other person's initial perception of a smiling, interesting looking person that they saw across the room - just plain not good. Assumptions - Don't walk up to someone and start making assumptions about who they are or what they believe. It's rude and can make someone very defensive - not a good mood for a conversation with a new person. Be open-minded and if you think you know something, ask a question to confirm - don't make assumptions. Sexual Overtones - Some highly social people can pull this off if they are subsequently funny and interesting, but for the most part, never open a conversation with a sexually charged statement. This is someone you just met who doesn't know anything about you and your sense of humor. Unless you are very clearly joking and you have reason to believe that they will find it humorous, keep it chaste until a rapport has developed. Sharing too Much - Opening up so people can get to know you a bit better is an important first step, but it can also go too far and weird people out if they don't know you. Imagine if someone walked up to you in a bar and said "I just had an endoscopy today and my throat is a little raw". No one needs to hear about your personal health issues, dating problems, or family issues. Keep things like this under wraps unless it fits the conversation and helps you develop rapport. The beginning of a conversation needs to be as simple and straightforward as possible. Trying too hard or being openly rude can severely hurt your chances of effectively opening and carrying on a conversation.

Activities: Opening the blinds is a small but major step you can take. The bright light exposure, weather and season dependent, strengthens your circadian clock. I also highly recommend making your bed so that you're less likely to nap later or crawl right back in. You'll also feel accomplished by seeing how nice the room looks with this little bit of order you created--a special note of thanks to the Veterans who taught this lesson to me. Taking a shower is an easy lure when you say to yourself, "All I have to do is go and stand under hot water, which feels wonderful. That's all I need to do." We are so fortunate that most of us have access to hot water. Don't destroy our planet by showering for hours, but do luxuriate in the soothing power of warm water as you transition into your day. Coffee or Tea Rituals: Create a morning ritual of coffee or tea in its special, reserved mug. The few moments when you breathe in the smell of the coffee or tea might cue an opportunity to tell yourself what you're looking forward to, or to recall a goal you want to focus on achieving that day. The small acts of taking out your special mug, using your senses to increase your alertness, and triggering enthusiasm for the coming day are excellent ways to communicate to your body that it is time to get going, increase your cognitive activity, and prepare to show up for what matters. Have you noticed one theme in all these suggestions? They help you make your morning routine enjoyable, or as enjoyable as is possible within your circadian style. The question to ask yourself is: What can you do to soothe your way into the day? Because rewarding life experiences are just waiting for you to show up for them. As these suggestions show, larks and owls alike can establish cues that communicate to their bodies when it is time to get sleepy, time to fall asleep, and time to wake up. The biggest challenge for larks is staying awake before it's time to sleep. And owls may struggle most with falling asleep at a prescribed bedtime and getting up at a prescribed wake-up time. Stabilizing the sleeping and waking pattern through repetition will help your body operate in a balanced manner, which contributes so much to your overall feelings of well-being. Intellectually, you may know how good exercising is for you. Exercise helps with weight management, cardiovascular health, diabetes, bone density, cancer risk, fall risk, and longevity--to name a few.

Exercise is widely recommended as an add-on to standard depression treatment and, for a patient who isn't ready to seek treatment, as a first step to initiate on his or her own. Why? Exercise increases your self-efficacy, which is the belief that you are an effective human being. It improves mood and leads to neural changes that increase feelings of well-being, such as more endorphins and blood circulation, as well as reduced levels of the stress hormone cortisol. In short, exercise is an essential part of optimal daily life. What can you notice when you do versus don't exercise? Do you carry certain tension or aches in parts of your body when you don't? Do you feel more confident or relaxed when you do? Does exercise fit into any of your top values related to physical health, emotional well-being, or self-care? I often hear people say, "Therapy is a big rip off," or, "You're paying for someone to listen to you." Well, it is true that you're paying for someone to listen, but a psychotherapist's skills go beyond that of ordinary listening. When you're in therapy, you're working with an Olympic medal listener. That, combined with your therapist's clinical objectivity, enables you to get a balanced, unbiased frame of reference in treatment. Something friendship often blurs. Psychotherapy requires you to be comfortable with your therapist. There's a lot of chemistry in talk therapy. The kind in which you and your therapist click, and you find a sense of ease. Without this connection, it may be difficult to feel comfortable talking about difficult issues and to feel safe letting go of fears or trying out new behaviors. The importance of your therapist's training should be equally matched with the level of comfort you feel in sessions. Once you've done your research on finding a therapist, let your phone call be the first litmus test for this chemistry connection. Many times, you can get a sense of how a therapist conducts him- or herself with this initial phone contact.