How to Overcome Depression

Note: This is the second of a two-part series.

How do you overcome depression?  Try these:

Activities: Exercise; sports; long walks; yoga; dancing; reading; listening to music; long hot baths; making love; gardening; drawing or painting; journal writing; writing letters; shopping; day trips; playing a musical instrument; spending time with young children; cleaning; watching videos or a movie; buying something I’ve been wanting; helping others; being in nature; taking a vacation.  What other activities have you used in the past that have helped?

Support: Getting emotional support from a person I trust; talking to a therapist or counselor; spending time with good friends; reaching out to someone; being held; spending time with a pet; being listened to by a friend; being reassured; touch; encouragement; extra attention; an invitation to go out or get together.  What other support has been helpful?

Attitude: Staying active; remembering that depression ends; being good to myself; diverting my attention; being gentle with myself; focusing on living one day at a time; endorsing and affirming my efforts; reminding myself of my goals in life; positive self talk.  Anything else?

Management: Medication; full-spectrum light; spending time outside; keeping busy; eating healthy; eliminating foods that make my depression worse; resting; forcing myself to get up in the morning;  forcing myself to go to work; doing whatever I need to do to meet my needs; maintaining a balance of rest and good times.  What else?

Spirituality: What spiritual practices help your depression?

Which of the above strategies have you used successfully?  Which ones do you feel you should use more often?  Which methods have you never used that you would like to try?

These ideas, courtesy of Mary Ellen Copeland’s The Depression Workbook (New Harbinger) are a summary of what has worked for other people who’ve found themselves depressed.  In addition, Copeland recommends you try the following:

  • Get help now.  Medications frequently take four weeks to work
  • Break down difficult tasks into smaller incremental steps
  • Give yourself credit for even the smallest things you get done
  • Get involved in a fun activity with someone you enjoy
  • Get some exercise
  • Get out in the sunlight as much as possible.  If you must be inside, sit or work near a window.  Use full-spectrum lighting indoors.
  • Eliminate sugar, caffeine and junk food.  Eat three healthy meals a day.
  • Buy yourself something you’ve been wanting and would enjoy.
  • Dress up occasionally.  Put on something that makes you feel good.
  • Keep in touch with friends, family and acquaintances
  • Locate a support group by checking the community calendar listing in local newspapers, or call your local mental health line.
  • Create a list of goals and interests you wish to experience, achieve or accomplish.
  • Look at what strategies may help you reduce the pressure, tension and stress in your life.
  • What have you used in the past to increase your confidence and self-esteem?
  • Take a relaxation, meditation or deep breathing class, or listen to audio relaxation tapes.

One comment on “How to Overcome Depression

  1. Dear Neil
    On January 29, 2004, I cut out of The London Free Press (London, Ontario) two articles dealing with depression > “Find out if you suffer from depression” and “Depression can be beaten with a tailored response”
    These articles were set aside gathering dust all these past 10 years!
    I have just read them and found them to be extremely helpful. And then I found them in your website. Amazing!
    Thank you so much for your help. I intend to start using your suggestions NOW!
    Again, many thanks,

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