Every time I watch television, I see commercials for anti-depressants and I’m taken back to a time in my life when I was severely depressed and ON similar medications.

I was so depressed that I was hospitalized for three weeks. The overwhelming feelings of fear, sadness, and anxiety were paralyzing.

Today I hear that depression is a “disease” — that it’s a result of a chemical imbalance in the brain that causes it. It’s estimated that one in four women are currently taking different types of medications to try to cure this “disease.” This gives me the impression that depression is considered a preexisting condition, there is no control of it, and overcoming it isn’t possible.

What It’s Like Inside The Psychological Purgatory of Depression

For me, depression didn’t prove to be a life sentence. Like me, you just need to learn about the benefits of not thinking negatively. What’s external in your life has NOTHING to do with who you are, or what you will become.

There are many people, like me, who don’t want to be dependent on medication, and want to achieve genuine happiness.

So instead of thinking your depression is just the way you are, here are six options to consider to help you feel content and happy:

1. Get Professional Help

Hire a qualified counselor, therapist, or coach. A professional will be completely objective with you, will not judge you, and will provide you with a SAFE place to discuss your troubles in confidence.

Your conselor MAY also recommend anti-depressants, but at least it will be a means to an end instead of a lifetime of dependency.

2. Commit to the Process

My recovery wasn’t easy, and it took a lot of work. It was tough at first, and sometimes I really wanted to quit. You have to fight through your feelings and commit to the process so you can begin to heal and move on with your life.

3. Really BELIEVE That Your Life Will Get Better

You have to believe life can be better. At my worst, I felt as if I didn’t want to live anymore, but then I realized it wasn’t that I didn’t want to LIVE anymore… it was that I didn’t want to live like THIS anymore.

It took professional help, a lot of work, going into debt, and commitment to make a full recovery.

4. Get Moving

Exercise produces endorphins that stimulate the brain and can act as a natural anti-depressant. The rhythm of working out can help you process things you discussed in therapy or have read in a self-help book.

Find an activity you enjoy and get going. You may not feel like doing it at first, but it’ll become more appealing with time. You have to trust the process.

Why People Who Have Struggled Most In Life Are Always The Kindest

5. Be Thankful for Everything (and Everyone) You DO Have

To help steer away from negative thoughts, start thinking of what you’re thankful for. Start with simple things such as a hot shower or a smile from a stranger.

If you practice this daily, it will become a natural part of your thought process and you will constantly realize all the things you’re grateful for, what you DO have in your life, and the positive things that will keep you going.

6. Do Good for Someone Else

Volunteering helped me to focus on others and away from my own troubles. It felt good to know I was helping others. There are numerous opportunities to volunteer in your community and no shortage of others who need help, so take the time away from yourself to focus on others. It may just be the thing you need to get you out of your funk and back into the world.

My battle with depression was indeed a fight — a long, drawn out fight for my life. It took grit, determination, and perseverance.

For those who think your depression is unchangeable, I invite you to reconsider. Take a stand for yourself and fight for a better life.

For more information, check out this Ted Talk on the mindful way to get through depression.

This guest article originally appeared on YourTango.com: Just Because You’re Depressed Doesn’t Mean You’ll Feel Sad Forever.