10 Ways to Stop Depression

Everyone feels down from time to time.  But when you start to feel down more days than not, it might be time to start trying out some new strategies to help you feel better.  In this article you can find 10 ways to stop depression.

1. Get Active

Depression can make you feel like not doing anything at all.  While it is okay to give in to this desire from time to time if you find yourself often avoiding your typical activities, getting active again can help improve your mood.  If you are in a spot where you are seriously lacking motivation, start with something small.  For some people this could involve the initial goal of getting out of bed in the morning or going for a walk around the block.  As you can, add more and more activities until you are back to your norm.

2. Get enough sleep

Lack of sleep can both increase chances of developing depression and make it harder to get better for those who already have it.  Try to get 7-9 hours of sleep a night.  For more information on how to get a good night’s rest visit https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/sleep-hygiene

 

3. Spend more time on hobbies

It can be hard to find the time to do the things we enjoy.  Still, people can only go for so long without giving themselves some time for fun.  If you haven’t been allowing yourself much time for hobbies, doing so could be a key part of your efforts towards feeling better. 

 

4. Pay attention to your thoughts

Depression very often gives people negative thoughts that aren’t completely true.  When you notice yourself having a negative thought really consider whether it is true or not.  If not, what would be a more accurate statement? For example, “Amy” - who is experiencing depression - had the thought “nobody likes me” after noticing a group of colleagues at her new workplace went out to lunch without inviting her.  Amy’s thought that “nobody likes me” made her feel very sad and lonely. 

But when thinking on whether that thought was completely accurate, Amy remembered she does have several close friends outside of work who have shown a good deal of care towards her.  Amy decided a more accurate thought is “While I am upset I wasn’t invited to lunch, I don’t know yet whether my colleagues like me or not.  My friends outside of work certainly do like me though.”  This new - more accurate - thought left her feeling less sad and lonely. 

5. Exercise

Exercise releases feel-good hormones in the brain.  For some people regular exercise is as or more effective than antidepressant medication.  While 30 minutes of exercise 3-5 times a week can lead to high improvement in mood, any amount of physical activity can be beneficial.  Consider experimenting with different types of exercise and see what works for you.

6. Spend quality time with loved ones

When you are depressed you may not feel like socializing with others.  Spending time socializing with those whose company you enjoy can not only reduce feelings of depression, however, but increase your overall sense of well-being.  Every little bit helps; if socializing feels difficult start small and add on as you can. 

7. Eat healthy

Those who eat a healthy diet have reduced risk for depression and other mental health concerns.  Pay attention to how you feel when you eat healthy meals.  You may notice a positive impact.

8. Give yourself credit

Many people who are depressed tend to focus quite a bit on areas they think they aren’t measuring up and don’t give themselves credit where deserved.  For example, say “John” typically completes around an hour and a half of housework a day.  Since becoming depressed John only has the motivation for about a half hour of housework.  If John focuses only on what he didn’t accomplish and doesn’t give himself credit for the tasks he did complete, his motivation is likely to plummet. 

Start giving yourself credit for everything you accomplish.  Get to work on time, you get credit.  Make it out to hang out with friends, you get credit.  Tidy up around the house for 5 minutes, you get credit.  While these tasks may seem trivial to some, when people are in the depths of depression even small tasks can take great effort.  In time the renewed sense of accomplishment from getting credit can create motivation to do more and more. 

9. Consider causes

Is there something in your life that is causing your depression?  A certain situation or person?  If you know what might be causing your depression you may better be able to develop a plan for fighting it.

10. Talk to a mental health counselor and/or doctor

For many talking with a mental health counselor can help them identify the unique causes of their depression and ways to get out of it.  The act of opening up and talking about your difficulties in itself can help you get better.   Some may want to consider talking with their primary care physician to see if an underlying medical condition could be a contributing factor.  Antidepressants or other medication can be helpful to some as well.

These are just a few of the available strategies for combating depression.  Try the ones that seem like they might help and drop any that prove ineffective for you.  Every person’s path out of depression is unique. The important thing is to keep trying until you find the one that is right for you.

By: Bill McCadden, MSW, LCSW

Bill McCadden