Depression: Tips to Help Yourself
As your healthcare providers help
treat your depression, you can also help yourself. Keep in mind that your illness
you emotionally, physically, mentally, and socially. So full recovery will take time.
care of your body and your soul, and be patient with yourself as you get better.
Educate yourself. Read about treatment and medicine options. If you have
the energy, attend local conferences or support groups. Keep a list of useful
websites and helpful books and use them as needed. This illness is not your fault.
Don’t blame yourself for your depression.
Manage early symptoms. If you notice symptoms returning, have triggers, or
identify other factors that may lead to a depressive episode, get help as soon as
possible. Ask trusted friends and family to monitor your behavior and let you know
if they see anything of concern.
Work with your provider. Find a provider you can trust. Communicate
honestly with that person. Share information on your treatment for depression and
your reaction to medicines. You may need to try different medicines before
finding the right one.
Be prepared for a crisis. Know what to do if you have a crisis. Keep the
phone number of a crisis hotline handy. Know where your community's urgent care
centers and the closest emergency department are.
Hold off on big decisions. Depression can cloud your judgment. So wait
until you feel better before making major life decisions. These include changing
jobs, moving, making an expensive purchase, or getting married or divorced.
Be patient. Recovering from depression is a process. Don’t be discouraged
if it takes some time to feel better.
Keep it simple. Depression saps your energy and concentration. So you
won’t be able to do all the things you used to do. Set small goals and do what you
Be with others. Don’t isolate yourself—you’ll only feel worse. Try to be
with other people. And take part in fun activities when you can. Go to a movie,
ballgame, religious service, or social event. Talk openly with people you can
trust. And accept help when it’s offered.
Take care of your body
People with depression often lose
the desire to take care of themselves. That only makes their problems worse. During
treatment and afterward, make a point to:
Exercise. It’s a great way to take care of your body. And studies have
shown that exercise helps fight depression. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate
activity a day. Walking in small blocks of time (5-10 minutes) is a good way to
start, but anything that gets you moving (gardening, house cleaning) counts.
Not use drugs or alcohol. These may ease the pain in the short term. But
they’ll only make your problems worse in the long run.
Get relief from stress. Ask your healthcare provider for relaxation
exercises and techniques to help ease stress. Consider activities like meditation,
yoga, progressive muscle relaxation, or tai chi.
Eat right. A balanced and healthy diet helps keep your body healthy.
Get adequate sleep. Aim for 8
hours per night. Too much or too little sleep can cause other physical and emotional