Seven Things To Do When You're Depressed

Updated March 7, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Going through or experiencing clinical depression can serve as immensely challenging. Depression can have very serious impacts on an individual's physical body, mental and emotional well-being, and so much more. While the seriousness of depression is becoming more understood and well-known, there are still some people who aren't fully aware of how significant depression is and how much it can impede someone's livelihood. Another common problem associated with depression is a sense of confusion and unawareness of what to do while experiencing this particular state of being.

Could Symptoms Of Depression Be Affecting You?

Understanding How Much Depression Impacts Lives

There are varying degrees of depression. Certain people experience depression in lapses, while others are ongoingly depressed. Some people experience depression after certain events, while others have chronic depression that affects their careers, health, activities, and family life. Nevertheless, depression literally has the capability to impact every aspect of an individual's life. In many cases, depression doesn't simply wear off or subside. This is why it's so very problematic when depressed individuals are told to simply shake it off or "get over it." Depression literally does not work this way.

Mental Impacts

It goes without saying that depression has a very real impact on people's mental state. Depression quite literally changes brain chemistry and the manner in which individuals see the world. Someone who is going through depression may feel anxious, habitually empty, and they may also experience thoughts of suicide. It's not uncommon for people with depression to struggle with even getting out of bed in the morning, getting enough sleep, or doing things that are considered basic by most people. One intriguing hypothesis about depression is Depressive Realism, implying that depressed persons tend to manifest more realistic inferences than non-depressed individuals. However, some new studies debunk this theory. Whether this theory is real or not, the fact that depression is a challenging mental illness remains certain. It's important to remember that just because the mental impacts are not able to be seen with the naked eye (at least, not immediately), this does not make them any less real.

Emotional Impacts

Depression truly has a way of adversely altering someone's emotional well-being. Sadness, stress, anger, and general irritability are all common depression symptoms. In many cases, depressed individuals often withdraw from hobbies or activities which they ordinarily enjoy. Concentration issues and feelings of helplessness and hopelessness are also associated with depression. The impacts associated with this mental illness have a way of rippling out, even if people don't realize it. With time, the emotional impacts of depression can worsen, and if the associated symptoms aren't recognized, this also opens the door to additional problems.

Physical Impacts

The mental and emotional impacts of depression are pretty well-established. However, depression also has the power to physically affect someone, despite these effects being less commonly discussed. The potential physical impacts of depression include extreme gains or losses in weight, headaches, nausea, insomnia, chronic pain, and even attacks on the immune system. In many cases, it takes longer for the physical impacts of depression to set in; they can also be especially dangerous when combined with the other impacts of depression. Therefore, when creating a treatment plan for depression, you and a mental health professional should find treatment activities and options that address any physical impacts you are experiencing as well.

Reviewing the impacts of depression can be a lot to take in. This type of mental illness is very scary and nothing to crack jokes about. However, having an awareness of the effects associated with depression allows for a deeper understanding of the first steps to take if and when you're going through this struggle yourself.

What To Do When You Are Depressed

There are millions of people who struggle with depression each year. Imagine how many lives could be saved if depressed individuals knew what to do when working on treating depression and relieving depression symptoms. This type of mood disorder is very serious, but that doesn't mean it can't be overcome. One of the best ways to fight depression and find treatment for it is to know how to handle it. To make that happen, you must know what things to do when feeling sad or depressed.

Set Plans

Sometimes just having a plan and scheduling your life can be a small treatment for some of your symptoms. Setting plans may sound basic and redundant, but planning is an excellent way of giving yourself something to look forward to. One of the best ways to set plans is either using a virtual calendar on your phone or a physical calendar. Taking notes of what needs to be done when is always helpful, and it can also prevent you from feeling overwhelmed or unsure of what to tackle next. Following through with plans has a way of keeping people focused and busy; having something to do can furthermore take your mind off depression or additional triggers.

Interact with Other People

Isolation is one of the greatest and most unhealthy enablers of depression. If you are struggling, you may not feel the urge to be around other people. It can be tempting to close yourself off and keep other individuals at a distance; albeit, when you are feeling this way, this is the time when interacting with other people matters the most. The reality is that being around others can boost your mood and really bring some sunshine into your life. So, have a conversation, exchange words, schedule some fun or helpful activities, and don't be afraid of other people. In both the short term and the long term, you will thank yourself. Socializing is one of the best treatment options for depression as it gives people with this condition the social foundation that keeps them from feeling isolated and alone.


It’s common knowledge that depression makes you feel extremely lethargic and fatigued. When dealing with depression, you may have no interest in exercise as you may be experiencing very low energy levels.

However, the impacts of exercise and physical activity are extremely well-documented, such as in this systematic review, and make it a great treatment option to ease your depressive symptoms. Exercise has been proven to positively affect people's mental, emotional, and physical well-being. Getting moving releases endorphins and can also be used as a source of stress relief. This doesn't mean that you have to train for three hours everyday, but getting your exercise in on a frequent basis certainly makes a difference. If you're not used to exercising, that's fine as well. You can begin at the level which you feel most comfortable with and then gradually work your way up with time. For example, you can just start by spending time a few days each week walking in your local park and then work up to a more intense exercise that you have an interest in. You can also find small ways to create more exercise opportunities in your life, such as dancing to fun music by yourself or with friends and family.

Soak up Some Sunlight and Fresh Air

Sometimes, one of the best treatment options to fight against depression is to literally get some sunlight into your life. Believe it or not, sunlight can improve your general mood and even increase levels of serotonin within your brain. You don't have to be in the sun all day, but soaking up some fresh air and rays for even just 15 minutes can make a positive difference in your life. If you have sensitive skin, then you may want to wear sunscreen; this can prevent you from getting sunburned. Taking a walk, eating outside, or even going for a jog around the block are great, easy ways to get some sunlight into your life.

Take it One Day at a Time

In so many situations, people feel pressure to take on everything at once. In other cases, this simply isn't realistic, and it can make matters even worse. If you're dealing with depression, it can also further certain symptoms. This is why sometimes the best treatment is to slow down and take things one day at a time is so important. Just focus on partaking in simple activities, maintaining your daily routine, and caring for your health and wellness. Eat a healthy and delicious meal (and avoid sugar), get plenty of sleep, spend time with family and friends, listen to good music, utilize mindfulness meditation, and take care of your household chores. Try not to stress too much about the future and focus on caring for your health and self-esteem today.

You can still make plans and have an idea of what you will do, although you don't have to try to take on the world. Pace yourself, take as much time as you need, and know that working through depression is a journey. It won't happen overnight, but with time, dedication and consistency, you will get better.

Could Symptoms Of Depression Be Affecting You?

Embrace Positive Thoughts

Depression can make it really hard for you to embrace positivity and truly love who you are. Nevertheless, embracing positive thoughts about yourself is still a very important treatment option, both for overcoming depression and overall mental health purposes. Whenever you feel yourself spiraling into a sense of negativity, push yourself to think of three positive things about who you are. This could pertain to your qualities as a human being, your accomplishments, or milestones that you've reached in your life. You know yourself better than anyone, and each person has their strong suits. Don't be afraid to pat yourself on the back and consciously acknowledge your strengths. This is a really significant mental exercise to practice when you are feeling depressed.

Seek Professional Help

Taking the first steps to rise above depression in your life is commendable, and you ought to be proud of yourself. With that in mind, you are one person, and there is still so much you can do. Even if you follow all of the above advice, you may still find that seeking professional help can make a significantly positive difference in your life. Working with someone who knows and understands depression (or similar conditions such as anxiety) on a very deep level is often a major turning point. A person like a counselor or therapist also has the ability to provide fresh insight and details which you may not previously have thought of.

If you're open to it, BetterHelp has amazing counselors and therapists who would be more than happy to work with you. Whether you're dealing with depression or another matter entirely, we are here for you. Therapy can help you get an official diagnosis, find self-care habits that can help, and point you to other treatment options (such as medication prescribed by a psychiatrist).

We know that life can be challenging and those challenges are different for various people. It's also important for you to know that you don't have to deal with depression or anything else on your own. Knowing what to do when you are depressed is very impactful, but so is having the right people in your corner. The good news is that a therapist can help you find treatment for your symptoms. A professional can truly make a difference in your life if you allow them to do so.

At the end of the day, the choice is yours. However, if and when you are ready to seek therapy from BetterHelp, we will be here to support and guide you.

You Don’t Have To Face Depression Alone. Our Experienced Counselors Can Help.

The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
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