Proven Methods That Help You Fight And Manage Your Depression
By Sarah Fader
Updated January 02, 2019
Reviewer Dr. Angel Faith
Knowing is half the battle.
The very fact that you are reading this indicates that you are likely aware of your depression. You are actively seeking ways to fight and manage it or are wanting to help a loved one who is suffering from this mental condition. This effort to learn more about managing your condition is proof enough that half your battle has already been won.
Conquer the remaining battle by going through and practicing these proven and effective strategies that will help you effectively manage your condition.
- Meditate/Pray:Spending some time each day to collect your thoughts and focus on the present moment helps you mentally prepare for the day and be ready to face the day's challenges.
According to this review and 47 studies analyzed by JAMA Internal Medicine, meditation effectively helps manage stressful conditions like anxiety and depression.
Meditation can be done at your home. Find a place that you are comfortable in. It can be your room, study or patio. Minimize external sounds to lessen distractions. Try not to think about anything and focus on taking deep breaths. It may be hard in the beginning - to not think about anything - but, eventually, you will get the hang of it. Your mind may wander initially. It's OK if that happens. You can get back to meditating immediately. Practicing meditation early in the morning may be more helpful and can help you kick out depressing thoughts and have a great start to the day.
If you are religious, praying can be another effective and natural way of dealing with depression. It doesn't matter which religion or belief system you believe in, the very act of surrendering your thoughts to a higher entity can help you stay positive and not succumb to depression. According to this study, prayer has a positive role in reducing depression and anxiety.
Another study, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, stated: "Our work suggests that people with a moderate to high level of belief in a higher power do significantly better in short-term psychiatric treatment than those without, regardless of their religious affiliation." The belief that you can be helped and that you are not alone in your struggle can be a powerful force to help you remain hopeful and live a purposeful life.
2) Diet: Studies and research indicate that the quality of food intake and depression are interrelated. According to this study, lack of certain dietary nutrients is a major factor in the incidence of mental conditions like depression, schizophrenia, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. This study suggest that three factors may precede depression: poor appetite; skipping meals; and dominant desire for sweets. According to this research, depression can be effectively managed with the help of proper nutrition. Food rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, selenium, and tryptophan contains essential nutrients that help ward off depression. Some foods that are good for brain health are:
- Algae Oil
- Green Leafy Vegetables
- Whole Grains
- Dairy Products
Making the above-mentioned foods a part of your diet and eliminating food containing high sugar content like cakes, donuts, pastries, artificial juices, soda, and alcohol, are ways to help improve depression.
3) Sunlight: Exposing yourself to sunlight every day for a minimum of 20 minutes is proven to be extremely beneficial for the body and mind. Sunlight triggers the production of mood-lifting chemicals, called serotonin, in the brain. According to an article published in BioMed Central, decreased exposure to sunlight increases the probability of cognitive impairment.
Studies have also found that people living in sunnier environments tend to be happier (on average) than people living in darker and cloudier environments. Spending some time outdoors on sunnier days can be a big mood booster. On dark, cloudy days, exposing yourself to a light box or bright white light can help minimize mood swings.
4) Spend Time with Positive People: Spending time with people who accept you for who you are and who make you laugh has been found to be very therapeutic and effective in dealing with depression. We all have people in our lives with whom we feel loved and accepted. According to a new study by UCD researchers (funded by the Health Research Board), making an effort to spend time with the important people in your life can significantly reduce the symptoms of depression. Invite a friend out for coffee or consider talking with them on Skype if they are far away.
5) Exercise: Exercise is a great mood booster. Research indicates that the neurotransmitter norepinephrine is stimulated in the brain when the body engages in any form of physical exercise. This neurotransmitter is known to be an influential aspect of mood.
According to a study published in 2005, walking for 60 minutes five times a week greatly reduced symptoms of mild to moderate depression. According to a co-authored review of 25 different research articles by George Mammen-a University of Toronto Ph.D. candidate, moderate exercise helped prevent episodes of long-term depression.
6) Spend Time Volunteering: Volunteering your time and talent to a nonprofit organization helps shift the focus from yourself to others, breaking the cycle of negative thoughts. Helping others and performing acts of kindness feels good and enhances life meaning. It can also be a stimulator of connection and gratitude.
A four-year study conducted by the Carnegie Mellon University stated that adults above 50 years of age who volunteered 200 hours of their time found that volunteering had a significant impact on their mental health. This made them less prone to increased blood pressure and enhanced well-being.
There are so many organizations that need helping hands out there. It may be organizing a bake sale, volunteering with kids or at a church or raising funds for a charitable cause.
7) Gratitude: One of the major causes of depression can be linked to nurturing feelings of discontentment and being dissatisfied with life. Discontentment can make you overlook the small joys of life. Feeling like the glass is half empty often magnifies feelings of depression. Maintaining a gratitude journal, being thankful for small comforts, and thanking people for their help are meaningful ways you can overcome your depression and get in touch with gratitude.
The effects of discontentment can be counteracted by performing a small act of gratitude every day. This may sound trivial, but there are several researches and studies conducted by positive psychologists who state that performing acts of gratitude is an extremely beneficial act for the brain. According to a Brain-Scanning study in the journal Neuroimage the more you practice acts of gratitude, the more you enjoy its psychological benefits.
8) Do something you love: While depressed, it may feel like nothing is appealing or enjoyable; however, forcing yourself to do something that you once loved can help you overcome your feelings of depression. It could be spending time with family, dancing, singing, cooking or playing a musical instrument.
Every human being is different, and preferencesin relaxing activities differs significantly. What works for one may not work for another. So, take some time to think about an activity that brings you joy (or did in the past). Once you have narrowed down your list, work on acting them out. If you love dancing, enroll yourself in some dance classes. If you like baking, bake cookies for family and friends. If you love singing, try out a choir group.
Engaging in hobbies and taking action on your interests is key. David Richards, a health services researcher at the University of Exeter in England, employs this reasoning in developing the popular Behavioral Application Technique in treating depression.
9) Learn something new: Learning something new causes you to shift your focus outside your world of negative emotion and dissatisfaction. Not only do you gain knowledge about a new skill, but you also might experience a boost in self-esteem. Learning new things greatly increases optimism and leads to a greater positive outlook of life.
10) Sleep:Sleep plays a major role in our mental well-being. Have you ever noticed that when you sleep poorly the previous night, you tend to be cranky and irritated throughout the next day?
Getting eight hours of proper sleep is very important and significantly reduces depressive emotions and negative thoughts.Dr. Joyce Walseben, a psychiatrist and the former director of Bellevue Hospital's Sleep Disorders Center states that "sleep loss causes great psychological damage." While we sleep, our body regulates chemicals closely associated with mood and behavior, and lack of sleep inhibits the flow of these chemicals.
11) Get into a routine: Depression causes an individual to suffer from a negative pattern of thinking. This thinking can spill into every aspect of the person's life, causing him or her to believe that life is a wasted cause. People suffering from this condition may not feel motivated to take part in an activity or take care of themselves. Targeting these thought patterns and trying to change your focus from these thoughts help you get out of depression. You can do this by getting into a daily routine. It may be challenging initially, but once you notice the improvement in mood, you will feel motivated to continue with it. Also, by following a routine, you can get many things accomplished and experience a sense of achievement, which is very important in combating depression.
12) Overscheduling - A Big "No": Do you have too many things to do in a short amount of time? Do you feel overwhelmed and depressed because of it? If you are feeling this way, take a close look at your schedule. Overburdening yourself with too many things to do may cause lack of sleep, feelings of stress, binge eating and a depressive outlook on life.
If you are going through something similar to the situation described above, you might want to consider decreasing your task list through "delegation." Delegating and prioritizing your work can help you focus on the things you need the most, causing you to be less overwhelmed and less stressed out, thus, enabling you to manage your depression. A leading stress researcher and chief of neuroendocrine immunology and behavior at the National Institute of Mental Health states, "Like email and email spam, a little stress is good, but too much is bad. You'll need to shut down and reboot."
13) Music: Music, by default, is a natural mood booster. Listening to upbeat and positive music can wipe out the bluest of the blue moods. Finnish researchers conducted a study to observe the effect of music on mental health One of their researchers, Professor Gold, stated the following, "Our trial has shown that music therapy, when added to standard care, including medication, psychotherapy and counseling, helps people improve their levels of depression and anxiety. Music therapy has specific qualities that allow people to express themselves and interact in a nonverbal way - even in situations when they cannot find the words to describe their inner experiences."
14) Nature: Spending time outdoors and breathing in fresh air can do wonders for both your physical as well as mental well-being.Taking a walk outside, gardening or just sipping a cup of tea outdoors can be very refreshing. Being outside causes you to shift your focus from your internal struggle to the scenery, people and natural elements. You are exposed to sunlight, which is a major plus. If you are exercising, you get a great workout and a definite mood boost.
15) Aromatherapy: Research states that our olfactory response is directly related to the emotional center of our brain. Certain smells and scents tend to have a calming effect on our brain. Lighting some scented candles around the house can soothe and uplift your mood. Studies have found smelling the pine scent can greatly uplift your mood and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.
16) Hydrate: Water is a basic human need. Without it, humans cannot survive. Studies suggest that not drinking enough water may also lead to depression. Water is therapeutic for the human body. The simple act of taking a bath can be refreshing and clear your mind when you feel down in the dumps.
17) Wake Up Early: Does the morning rush get to you? Do you dread waking up in the mornings? Are morning times the most stressful? Do you feel a trigger of negativity in the morning rush hour? If you answered "yes," try waking up earlier than your usual time. You must think this suggestion makes no sense. After all, who would want to miss some extra minutes of sleep?
Well, waking up early has some great mental benefits. Have you heard the quote, 'Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise'? That is a true saying indeed. Researchers state that waking earlier than the usual time allows you to mentally prepare for the day and enjoy some moments of peace and quiet. Most importantly, it is associated with a sense of optimism and happiness.
18) Practicing Yoga: Practicing yoga has the potential to greatly improve your mood, self-esteem and also increase your tolerance to pain. People suffering from depression have been found to have lower levels of serotonin. According to the Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, the presence of serotonin in our brains plays a major role in mood enhancement and treatment of depression. According to Harvard Health, yoga lowers stress levels and improves well-being.
19) Journaling Your thoughts: Penning your thoughts out is a great way of expressing negativity and channeling your emotions in a positive way. Writing down your thoughts helps you understand why you may feel a certain way and what triggered you into thinking such thoughts. Also, releasing negativity helps you get a better understanding of yourself and the obstacles you face.
According to studies in the Journal Behavioral Therapy, writing helps reduce symptoms of depression and improves mood.
20) Therapy: Seeking professional help and lightening your burden, according to studies, is a very effective way to deal with depression. A therapist will help you make informed choices and will give you fair and non-judgmental insights. Some individuals find it easier to talk to a therapist and share their burdens than talking to a relative or friend (since friends and relatives may have opinions, while therapists are trained to be supportive and neutral). Visiting a therapist can help you get a new perspective on your situation and help you deal with your depressive feelings and thoughts. That's where betterhelp.com can help you.
Therapy and/or medications are not the only solutions. Hopefully, using some of the above-mentioned strategies can help you overcome your symptoms of depression and lead a happier and healthier life.