Depression affects roughly one third of individuals at some point in their lives. Extreme despair, feelings of hopelessness, insomnia, fatigue and isolation characterize depression. Although it is highly treatable, individuals experiencing depressive episodes often do not seek the care they need and continue suffering. Getting professional help and learning how to deal with depression can help you overcome episodes and recognize depression in others.
11 Strategies for Dealing with Depression
- Exercise – Exercise triggers the release of the endorphins that make you feel happy. Getting into a regular routine will regulate hormones, improve your overall health and boost your confidence.
- Eat Well – A balanced diet supports your body and your brain with vital nutrients. Avoiding junk foods (processed, preservatives, unhealthy fats, sugar and simple carbohydrates) will prevent inflammation, regulate weight and help you dodge other health issues.
- Nurture Your Microbiome – Current scientific research has shown the interwoven connection between digestive health and cognitive function. In fact, the feel-good neurotransmitter, serotonin, is produced in the intestines. Take probiotics for a healthy gut and mind.
- Sleep Soundly – Good sleep promotes better health and improved mood by regulating your body’s natural systems.
- Practice Smiling – Whether you have a reason or not, smiling actually prompts your body to release feel-good endorphins. Give it a try. Sit quietly, close your eyes and smile. You don’t even have to picture a happy place (although imagining the beach would probably compound positive effects).
- Meditate – Meditation imparts all sorts of scientifically proven health benefits on its practitioners, and improved mood is one. Meditation teaches your brain alternatives to chronic stress, anxiety and negative emotions.
- Socialize – Depression often creates isolation, but you need your friends and family’s support. Spend time with the people about whom you truly care to strengthen bonds and cultivate meaningful relationships.
- Schedule “Me Time” – If you have a life filled with responsibilities and not much free time, make scheduling time for self-care a priority – whether that means a massage, five minutes to meditate in the morning or a week-long fishing trip.
- Listen to the Beach Boys – Music with a fast tempo (more than 72 beats per minute) has the ability to uplift your mood. Choose a groove that brings back happy memories or listen to something new.
- Celebrate Thanksgiving Every Day – Each time you practice feeling grateful, you strengthen the brain’s neural pathways responsible for that positive feeling. Write a list of all the people, places and things for which you are grateful. Read it every day – rain or shine.
- Call a Help Line – Sometimes reaching out and talking with someone anonymously can really help. Several resources are available over the phone and online that will offer further assistance on how to deal with depression.
When Facing Depression, Seek Professional Help
As much as you can do on your own to try to combat depression, it is a true medical disorder. Like other clinical diseases and conditions, depression usually doesn’t have a singular, underlying cause; individuals suffer from depression for reasons related to biology, lifestyle, external stresses, life challenges and difficult events. If you find yourself struggling with depression, schedule an appointment with your doctor or therapist to learn more about additional strategies, like medication and therapy, to help you overcome depression and begin enjoying life again.