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Having a Purpose Is the Best Way to Ward Off Depression

When I was in private practice, the holidays were always a very busy time for me because of the increase in number of hospitalized patients. The majority of patients were there because of loneliness and depression, which led them to subsequent medical problems like poorly controlled blood pressure. Being depressed can have a negative impact on our brains as well as in our bodies.

The feeling of persistent sadness not only lowers our spirits and decreases our joy, but it also predisposes us to other medical problems like decreased blood flow. Decreased blood flow is associated with an increased risk for strokes, which was the reason why patients usually ended up on my service.

We know that being a caregiver or patient who lives with a chronic illness like Parkinson’s is not an easy feat. It’s one that can wear on us day in and day out.

Because of the nature of the disease, both patients and caregivers are already susceptible to getting depressed. Some might feel that there’s no end in sight, creating a sense of hopelessness if we are not careful.

For those of us who live in the Northern hemisphere, the feeling of gloominess can be compounded by the shorter days which tend to make me and others a bit blue. The decreased in sunlight tends to make us sleepier and more sluggish mentally.

However, I have found that the best way to feel happy, energized, and active is to become engaged in life. In my opinion, finding a purpose, or what I like to call passion, for living and persevering is the best way to ward off depression.

How do we do this?

First, become a ‘force of nature’ by helping others. When you become involved in the life of others you find true joy. You can become an advocate, a mentor, or simply give of your time unselfishly to those you love whether blood relation or not. Simply spending quality time with those who are important to you. I love working young women, which in turn helps me more than I help them in the long run.

Second, become someone else’s reason for being. This does not have to be a person; isntead, it can be any living creature, like a pet. For me, having my sweet cat to care for gives me a great deal of purpose and joy even when I am home alone. Knowing someone else is happy because you live and are around is a powerful motivator to keep going even when you don’t feel like it.

Third, get a hobby. I have discovered I love to do ceramic art works. It not only allows me to do this on my own time but I can share with others and do alone or in a group. It relaxes me and allows me to express myself in a creative manner. You can write, sing, paint, or any activity which drives you to get out of bed or off the couch and become active.

Fourth, find a spiritual balance. Practice meditation and /or prayer. Consider attending church services with a group of people, which would allow you to create a safe haven for healing and growth. I love my women’s bible study group. Make a list of the things you are grateful to have in your life – do this at least once a week.

Bye-bye depression

When you find a purpose in your life, whatever it may be, it gives you the strength to face tomorrow. More importantly, it changes your attitude although the actual circumstances may not change at that much. However, like any adventure and journey in life it must begin with a single thought followed by a step forward.

So today, start with that which makes you happy. For me, especially around the holiday season, it is making sure everything is magical for my daughter who will be returning home from college.

Rethink the big picture. Stop negative thoughts in its track and don’t feed them by dwelling on them. Rather replace these negative attitudes of self defeat with purposeful activities that require your time and devotion to make them flourish. Go ahead smile for we all have so much to be grateful for. Try to enjoy the journey.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

  1. Fotuhi M & Mehr S. 2015. The science behind the powerful benefits of having a purpose. Practical Neurology. 14(7).32-33.
  2. Fernandez et al., Light Affects Mood and Learning through Distinct Retina-Brain Pathways, Cell (2018),


  • helenlinda
    2 months ago

    Helpful article, which I agree with most of the time, but find it incredibly difficult to work with on dull, dark and dreary days – so- when the light is reasonable I like to get out into the greenhouse and find something to do. Its not a heated greenhouse, but the sunshine makes it warmer on a good day, and the light is very uplifting. I take a radio,a drink and my camera – and if you have a lighter room to potter in I would recommend it for you too.

  • Maria De Leon author
    2 months ago

    Happy New year Helenlinda…that is a wonderful idea..your greenhouse must be so nice ..send pictures ..Thank you for sharing your passion is hard to get motivated when weather is yucky…I take advantage to recoup energy by doing low key activities .
    Maria author/ patient advocate/ moderator

  • Dan Glass moderator
    2 months ago

    Great points on a very important topic!

  • Maria De Leon author
    2 months ago

    Happy new year Dan!

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