"The biggest self-help tool for people who occasionally get depressed," says NIMH's Dr. Frederick Goodwin, "is just recognizing that everyone feels down now and then. Don't feel different or ashamed. Just relax and realize that it normally goes away."

Adopting a regular schedule for eating, exercising and sleeping, he says, "may also have a helpful effect in evening out a general moodiness."

Professionals at the Woodburn Center for Community Mental Health added these hints for beating the blahs:

Keep yourself going. Force yourself to get through the day and stay on schedule. Don't give in to your wish to stay in bed or mope aimlessly.

Be nice to yourself. Take yourself out to lunch. Buy something you want. Take time to listen to a favorite record, read a book or enjoy a bubble bath.

Talk to a friend. Share your feelings. Let the right people know you need some support and feedback.

Check your standards when you feel you've failed. Are they unrealistic, perfectionistic, overly demanding? Probably. Remember that everyone errs now and then, and to forgive (even yourself) is divine.

Choose priorities. Abandon trivial tasks and stick with what is truly important. Don't overload your circuits and don't overworry about what is down the road. Take one thing at a time.

Examine your relationship and/or your work situation. See if you're currently giving more than you are getting, or tolerating something difficult. Express grievances. think of what you can change and take action. d

Don't count on drugs to do magic. Except when prescribed for certain major depressions, drugs are no solution.

Seek professional help. If none of these coping strategies works and the depression is adversely affecting your ability to work and/or to love, consult your physician or community mental-health association.