Barbara Bush said she found herself seriously depressed in 1976, but she did not seek medical help and was able to "shake it off" by immersing herself in her volunteer work, according to a cover story in the May 28 issue of U.S. News & World Report.

The First Lady said her low feelings hit after she and George

Bush returned from their two-year assignment in China, where he served as chief U.S. liaison offi- cer.

"I would feel like crying a lot

and I really, painfully hurt," she said. "And I would think bad thoughts, I will tell you. It was not nice."

Mrs. Bush said she had spent a great deal of time with her husband in China, and that when they returned to this country, he began his stint as CIA director.

"I can't keep a secret," the First Lady said. "And both of us agreed he shouldn't tell me one. And it was the first time I'd ever been home without my children. And I did have a depression."

She called her experience "one of the best things that ever happened to me. First of all, I didn't do anything about it except to sweat it out. . . . It makes you much more sympathetic for people who have depression."

She advised that those who feel depressed see a doctor. Her problem lasted about six months, and has not reemerged, she said.