14 Strategies for Coping With Depression

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  • Although depression is a serious illness that warrants expert medical treatment, you have plenty of options for contributing to your care and helping yourself climb out of your emotional rut. Click through for information about proven ways to feel more positive and begin to enjoy life again. But remember that even if your symptoms start to ease, you should never stop treatment without consulting your doctor. Also, if you ever think about suicide, get professional help immediately.
  • Resist the Urge to Self-Medicate Many people, wittingly or unwittingly, try to mask depression by drinking or using recreational drugs. However, alcohol is a central nervous system depressant. One drink a day for women and two for men can be heart healthy yet more than that not only puts you at risk for serious health problems but you'll also be making yourself more depressed in the long run rather than less. Drugs can have the same effect. Worse yet, alcohol and drugs can interact with your prescription medication for depression. Don't let substance abuse derail your efforts to get better. Seek help and support if you need it.
  • Cut Back on the Caffeine A good jolt of java in the morning may help you get going, but too many cups of coffee can make you jittery and anxious. That in turn can contribute to your overall malaise. Tea and colas will have the same effect and rob you of sleep as well.
  • Eat Fruits, Veggies, and Whole Grains The mind-body connection is very real. Treat yourself well by eating a healthy diet that includes fruits, vegetables, and whole grains for the nutrition and fiber you need to feel your best physically, emotionally, and mentally.
  • Nothing Fishy About This! Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B12 may help mitigate the mood fluctuations that are typical of depression. Fatty fish are a prime source of these valuable nutrients. Choose salmon, tuna, or mackerel for the biggest benefits. You can also take over-the-counter supplements but fish itself is loaded with good-for-you nutrients beyond omega3s and B12.
  • Choose Carbs That Boost Serotonin The level of the feel-good brain chemical called serotonin is higher when you eat low-fat carbohydrates. Treat yourself to popcorn, a baked potato, or pasta for a delicious way to help beat depression.
  • Get Moving! Exercise is so valuable that you may not even need medication for depression if you're faithful about doing your workouts. The standard advice to make walking a part of your routine holds true, but why not look for a form of exercise that is so much fun you can't wait to do it? Biking, gardening, golf, tennis, and swimming are all good options. Also, "social exercise" is great because you're getting the benefit of being active right along with the benefit of connecting with others. Dance classes are a perfect example. The Zumba craze is popular for a reason!
  • Don't Allow Pain to Drag You Down Depression actually makes pain worse. If you have arthritis or any other chronic condition, ask your doctor for help in managing the pain so you can break the cycle and get on track to wellness in every way.
  • Let the Sun Shine In! Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a debilitating version of depression that hits when you are not exposed to enough sunlight. Especially if you live in an area such as the Pacific Northwest where months of gray skies are the norm, consider getting special indoor lighting designed to combat SAD. And wherever you live, take advantage of the sunshine every time you can rather than holing up and nursing your mood in the dark.
  • Get Creative Unleash your inner artist! Creative activities have long been known to be mood boosters. Sign up for a watercolor class or take up knitting or crocheting. Look at the course catalog at your local community college and decide to take a novel writing class or throw some pots or get into woodworking. Don't worry if you're not all that talented. This is for you and for fun. Just let yourself go and have a great time. You'll feel better for it!
  • Take a Stress Break Meditation really works. Try joining a yoga class and learning how to be mindful. Other options are listening to calming music, relaxing in a hot bath with a trashy novel, or just closing you eyes and going on a mental vacation. You'll feel calmer and more in control when you get back to the real world.
  • Reach Out to Others A phenomenon called "helper's high" has been shown to activate your happy hormones, the endorphins. When you volunteer or do something for someone less fortunate, your whole sense of well-being is enhanced. Check out the nearest church soup kitchen or go all out and sign up for a volunteer vacation. Tip: Giving money doesn't do the trick. You need to be actively involved
  • Get Enough Shut-Eye Disturbed sleep patterns are commonly associated with depression. You may sleep too much and not want to get out of bed in the morning or you may sleep fitfully and find yourself dragging the next day. Get yourself into a routine so that your body adjusts to the regular pattern of bedtime and wake up time. Also, don't watch stimulating TV shows or movies in the evening. Slow down and read or listen to music instead.
  • Be in Good Company Don't become a deliberate shut-in. The temptation not to get out and about may be strong when you're depressed but cutting yourself off from the people who love you and want to support you is a big mistake. Study after study has shown that those with a large circle of friends are the happiest. If you don't have many people in your life, seek out reading clubs or dining clubs that can get you in touch again.
  • Pet Your Pets Fido and Fluffy really are your best friends! They adore you no matter what mood you're in and they think you're wonderful even when you're down on yourself. Stroking a furry head or better yet, having a good romp in the yard or the park can do wonders to lift your mood and your self-esteem. Also, taking care of your pets can help you feel worthwhile therefore less depressed

    How do you deal with depression?