Ten Things You Can Do to Manage Depression
Goals, plans, improvements - those are for other people, people who aren't depressed, right? For you, it's a struggle just to maintain a normal life. But when it comes to depression, you do need to try to do certain things, although paradoxically it's the depression that makes it hard.
1. Get a complete physical. If you haven't had one in a while, especially since before you were diagnosed with depression, you need to have one. Sometimes depression can be caused by underlying medical conditions. Make sure you've ruled them out.
2. Start some kind of exercise program. Trust me, I know it's hard. I'm not underestimating the effort it takes to get out of bed, let alone exercise. But it can make you feel better right away.
3. Eat a balanced diet with the right nutrients. You may be eating less or eating more because of depression, but either way, good nutrition is important. Although poor nutrition is rarely the sole reason for depression, it can contribute to depression. Too much sugar and fat take the place of the nutrients you need.
4. Make sure that you don't neglect your life and let things slip through the cracks. Believe me, I know how that happens. Have I mentioned that I was pulled over and got a ticket because I had neglected to renew the registration on my car? So I know how those types of details can seem both insurmountable and insignificant at the same time.
5. Don't isolate yourself. Socializing may be difficult, but it's essential to your wellbeing. Spend as much time as possible with supportive friends and family members. Even sitting in a cafe by yourself keeps you connected to other people more than being at home alone.
6. Maintain your hygiene and appearance. When I'm sick, even with a high fever, I stagger to the shower every day. I know that not showering and brushing my teeth will make me feel even worse. It's the same thing when you're depressed, but worse. All those negative thoughts spinning around in your head will then have a target. "I'm such a loser that I can't even manage basic hygiene."
7. Don't let your housekeeping and chores go. Are you wearing a lot of black because it reflects your mood, or because it doesn't show the dirt as much? If you live or work in a city, the latter reason is a valid one. Otherwise, I suspect you're running out of clean clothes.
8. Get the right amount of sleep. Depression usually screws up your sleep patterns - you get either too much or too little. Unfortunately, this can exacerbate your depression.
9. Take charge of your treatment. There are a few things that you can do to ensure that your treatment is as effective as possible, including finding a new doctor if necessary, getting into therapy, researching your particular depression and being prepared for doctor visits.
10. If you are not in therapy, give it serious consideration. Even if you're not interested in psychoanalysis (finding the root cause of your depression) Cognitive Behavioral Therapy helps you retrain negative thoughts and behaviors that may be exacerbating your depression.