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Strategies for Coping With Depression

Coping with depression is a skill that can be learned.  Living with a diagnosis of depression doesn’t mean it has to control your life. Treatment options such as psychotherapy, cognitive behavior therapy and medications may be some of the first steps in coping with depression.  Treatment for depression can help to alleviate symptoms of sadness, restlessness, anger, aggression, and low self-esteem and will enable you to live your life more fully. These changes can improve your quality of life and can stop depression from interfering with your ability to eat, study, have fun, work, and sleep.  It is often difficult to know how to begin taking these steps to cope with your depression but the following 10 lifestyle changes are a good step in the right direction.

Talk to a Therapist

A therapist can help you find ways to change your thinking patterns by identifying irrational thoughts and replacing them with more realistic thoughts and improve your skills to cope with depression.  This will help you to improve issues regarding self-esteem and learn strategies to manage both the stresses of day-to-day life as well as those road blocks life seems to throw in our direction from time-to-time.  A therapist can also provide you with a safe place to talk through your problems while providing emotional support.

Antidepressant Medication

Antidepressants can also be helpful in providing relief from depression.  Antidepressants work by helping to maintain certain levels of neurotransmitters, chemicals called serotonin and nor-epinephrine in the brain. These chemicals help to regulate mood. By elevating mood, antidepressants alleviate the feelings of hopelessness, sadness and the general lack of interest in living associated with their condition. 

Express Yourself

A great way to relieve stress and work through issues is to write in a journal. In your journal you will be able to express your fears, feelings, concerns, and thoughts in any way you wish without having to be concerned with sharing them with anyone else. These will be your private thoughts and you can be free to say whatever is on your mind and will provide you with a place where you can safely release pent up stress, frustration, or other emotions as a way of coping with depression. Looking back on your journal can help you to pick up patterns in your life you may wish to change or can highlight all the great things you have going on. Writing in a journal freely will have amazing effects and can be done on a daily basis.  Be sure to keep your journal in a safe place, away from prying eyes.

Improve Your Self-Image

Low self-esteem is common in those who suffer from depression. Feeling better about yourself and self-acceptance is an important aspect of coping with depression and lets you focus on all those great things that make you a fantastic and unique individual. Focus on your best qualities and choose something every day that you love about yourself. If you have a negative thought about yourself throughout the day, repeat to yourself what you chose to appreciate and love about you today and replace these negative thoughts with a positive ones. This process will stop negative self-talk in its tracks and boost self-esteem.  Make healthy lifestyle changes that will improve your self-esteem such as eliminating junk food, eating healthier, or exercising more. Spend time with friends who love you as you are and make you feel good about yourself and who you are as a person.

Stick to a Routine

A schedule that is regular, balanced, and healthy can help to create a sense of balance and increase motivation and make you feel more productive. Be sure to incorporate a fun activity that you enjoy into your day to give you something positive to look forward to and help prevent life from becoming work and errands day after day. 

Remain Engaged

Even when you are having a rough day, feel blue, or don’t really feel up to socializing, it is important to stay involved in your relationships with friends, family, and coworkers. Isolation from those you love can increase feelings of depression so it is important to socialize even when you aren’t in the mood. Make these times positive whenever possible and try to keep this a positive activity separate from discussions with loved ones regarding your depression. It is important to talk to your friends and family about how you are coping with depression, but this is not the same as going to a movie together, a walk, having lunch, or attending a social event. Staying connected with friends can help prevent depression from downward spirals and gives you something positive to focus on. 

Allow Others to Help

Your family and friends want to be there for you and are great emotional support during times of depression. Providing emotional support and being there to lean on is a part of family and friend relationships. It is perfectly okay to lean on them when you need a little help. Let loved ones know how you are feeling and let them be there to help you cope with depression. Having someone there to help encourage you to stick to your treatment plan, healthy lifestyle choices, self-care, and exercise can make all the difference. 

Sleep Hygiene

Depression can alter sleep patterns and leave you with insomnia or make it so you want to sleep all the time. Keeping a regular sleep routine and schedule is important in coping with depression as irregular sleep patterns can worsen your mood. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day and allow yourself 6-8 hours of sleep per day. Keep your room dark and cool and free of distractions. Your bedroom should be reserved for sleep or intimacy only and should not be a place where you watch tv, play games or use social media on your cellphone or computer. Keep these and other activities out of the bedroom to help your sleep cycle regulation. Stimulation caused by devices or television can disrupt your sleep pattern and leave you with insomnia. Exercise daily, eat well, and keep the same routine for 2-3 hours before bedtime every day.

The Benefits of Exercise

Exercise boosts self-esteem, helps you to release stress and anxiety, and causes the release of endorphins which increase positive mood. Create and follow a regular exercise routine to help you feel better both physically and emotionally.

Make the Mood and Food Connection

Do you find yourself eating when you feel depressed?  This is an unhealthy was of coping with depression.  Over eating can increase symptoms of depression and poor self-esteem. Follow a diet low in processed or fast food, choose healthier options whenever possible, and make sure you are getting enough omega-3. Omega-3 has positive effects on your mood and can be found in fish like salmon and is available in supplement form at pretty well any grocery, pharmacy, or health food store.

Say No to Alcohol

Alcohol is a depressant all on its own. Refrain from consuming alcohol if you are experiencing depression as its depressant effects can leave you feeling worse than when you started. Many medications for depression when mixed with alcohol can have serious interactions and liquor should be avoided if you are taking anti-depressant medications.

Intensive Outpatient Treatment for Depression

If these methods of coping with depression have been helpful, you may need a higher level of care to treat your depression. Levels of care refers to the idea that there is a progressive dose of treatment to address the least to most severe forms of depression.  Finding the right dose or level of care, that matches the severity of your depression, is as important as making sure you get the right dose of medication to treat any other illness.  If the level of care is not sufficient, progress will not only be slow and difficult, but may be ineffective.  If the level of care is excessive, it may create additional financial burdens and discomfort.  If you have tried psychotherapy and antidepressants without significant improvement, the next level of care would be to try an intensive outpatient program.

Because our treatment for depression relies on evidence based practices, our Intensive Outpatient Program shares many common methods with other successful treatment methods.  The foundation of our treatment program for relies on the principles of the stages of change, cognitive behavioral therapy, solution focused treatment, skills training and identifying repetitive dysfunctional behavioral relationship patterns to promote recovery from depression and other mental health disorders.  In fact, our Intensive Outpatient Program in Memphis, TN that has been proven to be effective in the treatment of these disorders in six peer reviewed treatment outcome studies.   Our treatment center provides services to those who need more treatment than one hour a week, but less than 24 hour care, by providing three hours of treatment per day, three to five days per week, in an intensive outpatient setting.  If you or a loved one is showing signs of depression or anxiety, they should be assessed by a trained mental health professional who can help design a treatment plan for depression that can result in recovery.  Treatment for depression and anxiety can be highly successful.  Call us at 901-682-6136 to schedule an appointment.