10 Ways to Take Control of Depression

Around 17.3 million adults in the United States have had at least one major encounter with depression. This is a massive portion of the US population and a reminder that depression is as common as it is serious. With so many cases, we need to find ways to treat and manage this condition. 

What Treats Depression?

Depression has a wide range of treatments. Most of these treatments respond to specific causes and risk factors for depression while others attempt to tackle the issue on a symptom-by-symptom basis.

Here are 10 ways you can start managing your depression…

10. Prioritize Your Sleep

Pomeranian dog in a sleep funny mask is laying on spine on pillows under the blankets with the clutch protruding out of it

Depression can severely upset your sleep patterns, which can negatively impact your physical health and further worsen your depression. So, even though it’s hard, prioritizing sleep is a crucial step in managing this condition.

Why Improving Your Sleep Helps

Depression and sleep problems are a negative feedback loop: as one gets worse, so does the other. Conversely improving sleep can improve depression. In fact, research suggests that improving your sleep is one of, if not the, most effective ways to manage your mental health. 

Specifically, some research shows that people with depression who also experience insomnia are at greater risks of future depressive episodes or even suicide than other groups. Further, other research found that people who alleviated depression symptoms except for sleeping problems were at greater risk of relapsing than those who improved their sleep.

One way to promote sleep is to do the following… 

9. Getting Outside and Getting Active

Active senior woman with dog on a walk in a beautiful autumn nature.

One of the worst side effects of depression? Feeling stuck. Between the sleep troubles, feelings of isolation, and loss of motivation, it is easy to remain indoors more often than not. Getting out therefore can help to lessen the impact of depression. 

Why Getting Outside and Getting Active Helps

There is no doubt that getting out is hard when depression hits, which means it’s all the more important to do just that. After all, when we get outside, we are combining socializing with exercise if, say, you take a walk with others. Sometimes even a casual walk through your favorite park or neighborhood can help. Try to explore different physical activities and outdoor settings and find what inspires you to get out more often.   

While you’re exploring the benefits of exercising, you should also boost your nutrition… 

8. Boost Your Nutrition

Home chefs prepare a happy healthy nutrition based low calorie meal
El Nariz/Shutterstock.com

Eating right is one of the best things you can do for your overall health. There really isn’t a medical concern that can’t be improved by improving your diet, and that includes depression. 

Why Boosting Your Nutrition Helps

What we eat can impact our mental health. Namely, foods that make you feel sluggish and tired can make depression harder to manage. Also, not getting the right nutrients can lead to other medical problems, which can complicate depression. Eating right may not cure your depression, but it will make it easier to face life’s challenges. 

One small thing that you can start today is as simple as cleaning… 

7. Clean

doing dishes in a modern kitchen with dishwasher
Gabi Moisa/Shuttestock.com

Part of the negative spiral of depression is that we start to neglect not just ourselves, but the world around us as well. It’s well established that sometimes people who are perceived as messy are really just struggling with depression. Cleaning is one small step towards a healthier mental outlook. 

Why Cleaning Helps

It can be hard to enjoy where we live if it is a mess. Cleaning can reshape your relationship with your living situation. Remember that depression is a serious medical condition and not just “being messy.”

Stay Small and Simple

Start your cleaning project off with small, simple tasks. For example, put dishes away today. Load the dishwasher tomorrow. Can’t stand dishes at all? Switch to paper plates, and you won’t even have to worry about dishes piling up. No energy to wash your hair? Try dry shampoo. Small, simple steps are much easier to accomplish yet over time lead to noticeable improvements.

You can even build cleaning into a regular routine… 

6. Build a Routine

Woman checking the calendar

A regular schedule can help you stay stable while managing your depression. 

Why Building a Routine Helps

Stability helps you stay in control of your life while you are managing depression. Remember to keep your routine flexible and to not get down on yourself for not holding to it at first. Think about it more like a tool that is designed to help you stay organized. This mentality can help you rediscover aspects of your life that have been lost to depression. 

Your routine can even be made of both large and small goals… 

5. Set Some Goals

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Depression can knock you off track. You can help yourself get back on track by setting manageable goals. 

Why Setting Some Goals Helps

Setting goals can help you stay stable and actively remind you of the things you need to get done. This can be both responsibilities like writing a term paper or fun goals like working on a hobby. Set yourself up to win by creating manageable goals that are designed to be easier than you might otherwise go for. 

You can even make it a goal to start seeing your friends more often…  

4. Connect With Loved Ones

Side shoulder view older senior man looking at laptop monitor, talking speaking chatting with middle aged happy mature woman, communicating with wife online via video call, staying alone at home.

Depression has an isolating element to it. It can be hard to connect with the people you care about, but connecting with them is more important than ever when you are struggling with this condition. 

Why Connecting With Friends Helps

Hanging out with loved ones can go a long way to helping you manage depression. There are plenty of ways to do this, too. You can go for walks together, Skype, watch movies together virtually, or play online games together.

Reaching out to your friends is all about the following, which is key to recovery… 

3. Try Some Tender Loving Care (TLC)

Close up of woman listening to music on head phones while meditating on bed in bedroom

When we become depressed, we tend to stop caring or ourselves as much as we should. It’s important to take little steps to help reduce this lack of care. Whether you get your favorite snack or have friends over for movies, it’s important to care for yourself. 

Why Trying Some TLC Helps

Depression harms our self-perception. In order to change how we see ourselves, we need to care for ourselves. While we are struggling through depression, it can help to do small favors for yourself. This can help to restore a sense of value that gets minimized by depression. Whether it’s seeing friends, watching a movie, or getting yourself your favorite food, being kind to yourself is important—even if it’s hard.

Sometimes, depression is severe enough that medications are required… 

2. Ask Your Doctor About Medication

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Asking your doctor about medical treatments is a great step to feeling better.

Why Asking Your Doctor About Medication Helps

Depression involves chemical imbalances in the body; medications can help restore balance, much the same way that insulin can help diabetics. While medication might not cure depression, it can make life much more enjoyable and help you work through other potential causes of depression, such as trauma.

What Medications Treat Depression?

Popular medications include selective reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like fluoxetine (Prozac), serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) like venlafaxine (Effexor XR), and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) like selegiline (Emsam).

Medications tend to work best when combined with the following… 

1. Talk With a Licensed Therapist 

psychotherapist consulting man, asking questions, interviewing man sitting on sofa. psychologist with client

A therapist can help you resolve the core internal conflicts that cause your depression. 

Why Talking With a Therapist Helps

A therapist can help you work through the hard task of facing the parts of your life that trigger depression. Whether those are internal conflicts, problems at home, or difficulties in the world, these psychological professionals are here to help you recover. Therapy comes in many forms and it might take a while to find a therapist and a treatment style that works best for you. 

Depression can feel like a massive weight, but there is hope. 

What To Do Next 

If you have been struggling with depression, your therapist can help you create a treatment plan that gives you back your life. While you’re working with a medical professional, you can try any number of these tips for managing depression to help yourself along. You can overcome depression with the help of a therapist, the people closest to you, and a few useful tips. 


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