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MSU experts create tool to help with depression

Posted: 9:47 AM, Dec 02, 2015
Updated: 2015-12-02 09:47:13-05

It could be the seasonal grey skies and rainy, colder weather or it could be something you deal with year-round.

"I struggle with fighting off the negativity and everyday it's a challenge to see the positives," said Barb Doyal.

She's been living with general anxiety disorder and depression and most days are good, but not all.

"Sometimes I get teary eyed or frustrated and a lot of that has to do with expectations or feeling overwhelmed, feeling stressed," Doyal explained. "And again, that's why it's recommended and very helpful to just be calm and carry on."

And, Doyal told FOX 47, focus on being positive and taking care of herself.

"Just being kind and courteous and patient and willing to let go of me and be there for others," she explained. "It has improved my mood significantly."

Doyal's found giving back at places like City Rescue Mission helps her cope, as she's reminded to be grateful for what she has.

But, as MSU's Dr. Andrea Wittenborn learned from her research, that solution might not work for everyone.

"Depression is a complex disorder and it's really driven by a number of factors. And so, that would be very unique based on the person, based on the specific patient," explained Dr. Wittenborn of MSU's Department of Human Development and Family Studies.

So, the treatment also has to be unique.

That's why she and her colleagues created a model to help providers target the best intervention.

"Common treatments include psychotherapy, antidepressants, but also things like good exercise regimens and sleep habits and those kinds of things can help people as well," Dr. Wittenborn explained.

As Doyal said, it's a journey to creating a new way of living.

"You take on new behaviors, instead of retreating back to your old destructive behavior," she said. "And, it takes some time, practice, diligence, commitment, training .... You just keep working on it all the time."

As she looks for the blue skies.

Doyal told FOX 47 she also got involved with the Stephen Ministry program at her Church.

It's a non-denominational group that pairs you with a person that can listen and support you through any struggle.

Many local churches including the Martin Luther Chapel in East Lansing and First United Methodist Church in Eaton Rapids offer the service.