From getting out of bed to driving home from work, depression can make your daily routine feel more difficult. It affects how you feel, think, and act. Learning how to deal with depression will lessen the emotional weight and improve your quality of life.
Developing healthy habits and creating a wellness plan can cope with depression.
While the six tips for dealing with depression below can help you manage your depression, it is important to consult a professional if you have a depressive disorder or are suffering from negative and harmful thoughts. These tips are designed to help but not substitute for professional help.
1. Develop a Support Network
You do not have to cope with depression alone. Your friends and family, as well as mental health professionals, are available when you need support. A support network can:
- Keep you accountable.
- Help you work out problems.
- Increase your sense of belonging.
- Improve your emotional wellness.
Friends, family members, even neighbors and coworkers can make up your support network. Keep a list of individuals and their phone numbers to call when you need someone to listen or immediate help.
Social support is incredibly beneficial when dealing with depression. You can find support groups for depression that have people coping with similar feelings and thoughts. There are also depression hotlines you can call or text.
2. Cultivate Good Sleeping Habits
Sleep influences your physical and mental health. Your mind and body need time to recharge and rest for the next day. Sleep is one of the main things to help with depression and other mood disorders.
Chronic sleep deprivation can exacerbate pre-existing mood disorders, such as depression. Lack of quality sleep can also cause:
- Heart issues.
- Immunity impairments.
However, oversleeping is not one of the healthy ways to deal with depression. Adults should get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night. Too much sleep can cause fatigue.
You will be able to fall asleep faster by sticking to the same bedtime each night. You should also avoid screen time – such as watching television or using your phone – at least 30 minutes before you want to sleep.
Likewise, you should wake up around the same time each morning. Depression can make it a struggle to get out of bed, but consistently starting your day at the same time will transform the act into a habit – making it easier over time.
Try to limit activities in your bedroom to relaxing ones. Avoid doing work or other stressful things in bed. You should associate only peaceful thoughts where you sleep.
3. Maintain a Healthy Diet
You are what you eat. Or, at least, what you eat affects your body and mind. You can use food as one of the ways to cope with depression.
A balanced and healthy diet gives you nutrients and energy and can reduce depression risks. Scientists and researchers have associated lower risks of depression with certain foods and diets.
The Mediterranean diet, for example, is linked to a lower risk of depression. Consisting mostly of fish and dark green vegetables, the diet is rich in B vitamins and omega-3s. Some foods that have antidepressant effects include the following:
- Oysters, mussels, and other seafood
- Lean organ meats
- Cruciferous vegetables
- Leafy greens
In addition to eating healthy, you should avoid drinking alcohol. Alcohol can affect your mental health and induce feelings of depression and anxiety.
Alcohol is not a depression coping mechanism. Although some individuals use alcohol to cope with depression, it has the opposite effect. Alcohol can also worsen your depression symptoms if you mix it with antidepressant medication.
4. Reduce Stress and Negative Thinking
Stress causes your body to produce cortisol, which is a hormone that helps you cope with stressful factors. However, cortisol can cause depression if experienced for a long time. For example, living in a stressful environment can elevate your cortisol levels and lead to feelings of depression.
Negative thinking and depression can go hand in hand. It is a thought process of expecting the worst in people or scenarios. This thought pattern also includes thinking about yourself in a negative way, such as mentally calling yourself a loser or believing no one likes you.
Some coping skills for depression also work for stress and negative thinking. Some of these techniques include:
- Reinforcing positive thinking.
- Focusing on the positive.
- Not dwelling on things.
- Making time for leisure.
- Getting a hug from a loved one.
Exercise is also a long-term stress-relief strategy. Physical activity increases dopamine and endorphin production, which makes you feel happy instead of stressed, anxious, or depressed.
5. Create a Wellness Plan
A wellness plan is a guide you follow to stick to your mental health goals. Your plan can include taking a daily medication, seeing a therapist weekly, or participating in a social group throughout the month.
Your wellness plan may also include what to do when you are particularly depressed. Create a list of things that make you feel better, such as:
- Cuddling with a pet.
- Taking a hot bath.
- Going for a walk.
- Reading a book.
While you can use a wellness plan as self help for depression, it can also include implementing your social network. Keep important contact information, such as your therapist’s after-hours line, with your wellness plan.
6. Continue to Follow Doctors’ Orders
Above all things, do what your doctors tell you. Even if you follow all the depression tips, you should consult with a mental health professional about your depression.
Common depression coping tools mental health professions recommend are talk therapy and medication. Other depression treatments include:
- Group therapy.
- Transcranial magnetic stimulation, which uses magnetic pulses to ease depression symptoms.
- Electroconvulsive therapy, which uses electrical currents to relieve depression.
Some people stop taking their antidepressants or receiving treatment when they no longer feel depressed. Although they may feel better, they should continue to take their medication as prescribed. They may, however, speak to their doctor about reducing medication or frequency of psychotherapy.