Self-Help Strategies for Depression

Inzmam Khan/ Dealing with depression can be very challenging. It is important to seek professional help.

Dealing with depression can be very challenging. It is important to seek professional help. A doctor or psychiatrist can prescribe medication and a registered psychologist can provide therapy. We know that medication and therapy can work better than either one alone.

Some do not want to take medication. Others have been on many different ones, with no substantial improvement. Yes, we have the doctor and the therapist. There is a third person who can make a tremendous difference. That is the depressed individual.

There are things they can do to manage the depressive symptoms. Engaging in physical activity can have a positive impact on mood. Even a brief walk or light stretching can help. Getting outside in the fresh air and sunshine is better than crawling into bed or focusing on how bad you feel.

It is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep, and avoiding alcohol or drug use can support your overall wellbeing.  Practice mindfulness and relaxation techniques. Meditation, deep breathing, and progressive muscle relaxation can help reduce stress and improve your mood.

Build a support system. Connecting with friends, family or support groups can be a source of encouragement and understanding. Challenge negative thoughts. Often it is one’s own pattern of negative thinking that contributes to depression.

Educate yourself. Learning about depression and understanding its mechanisms can help you feel more in control and less alone in your struggle. There is a wealth of information on the internet.

Set goals for the suggestions above. Follow through, even if you do not feel like it. If your car will not run and you want to use it, if you do not do the maintenance, it will never run. Think of your body/mind this way. If you do nothing, nothing will improve.

Yes, I know it can be hard to make the effort. I think of depression like hypothermia. You walk through the snow and become exhausted. You just want a rest from all the struggle and would like to just lie down in the snow and sleep. You cannot do this, hoping someone will come along and rescue you. You must keep going.

Self-help strategies are beneficial, but it is crucial to seek the guidance of a mental health professional. Therapy and medication, if necessary, can be important components of treatment. Even if you do both, it is still important to utilize the self-help strategies. If the doctor, the therapist, and you do all you can, there is a better chance of success.

Be patient with yourself while navigating this challenging time. You do not have to go through this alone, and seeking help is a sign of strength. If you are feeling very overwhelmed, please do not hesitate to reach out to a mental health professional for support. We genuinely care.

Gwen Randall-Young is an author and award-winning psychologist. For permission to reprint this article, or to obtain books, CDs or MP3s, visit Follow Gwen on Facebook for inspiration.