Managing Symptoms of Depression
Feeling sad, down, “blue,” empty, is a hallmark symptom of depression. Irritability, tearfulness, or a depressed facial expression can also reflect a depressed mood.
What does NOT help depressed mood:
- Staying in bed longer than 8-10 hours day (if you experience hypersomnia).
- Isolating yourself from family and friends who might be supportive to you.
- Being inactive. Avoiding regular mild-to-moderate exercise.
- Avoiding activities that have been enjoyable to you previously.
- Ruminating on negative thoughts.
- Eating in unhealthy ways.
- Not seeking appropriate professional treatment.
What can help improve depressed mood:
- Recognizing that depression causes you to have problems with your mood. It is not some character flaw or “failure” on your part. When you are not depressed, you may not have such problems with negative mood.
- Setting small goals based on your situation. For instance, if you have trouble getting out of bed, or you aren’t taking care of yourself, your goal might be to set an alarm and get out of bed at a reasonable time, or take a nice shower in the morning. If you are able to do more, then your goal might be something like meeting with a good friend at a scheduled time, or going to an uplifting movie. You can increase the number of types of goals you set based on your readiness to handle them.
- Finding a way to be more active. This may simply be walking around the house, taking a brief walk down the street, or even joining a yoga or aerobics class.
- Seeking support and connection with people who understand your situation. These can be family, friends, self-help groups, online discussion groups, etc.
- If you stopped participating in an activity that you once enjoyed, consider starting it up again.
- Eating healthier foods. Staying away from processed junk foods or fast foods. Looking for organic foods and introducing more fruits and vegetables in your diet. Drinking plenty of water each day, and staying away from sodas and too many caffeinated beverages.
- Looking for ways to change negative thought patterns that maintain depression. Working with a therapist who uses cognitive-behavioral techniques (CBT). Taking a look at the CBT Workshop on this website that walks you through simple strategies you can learn and use to help modify negative thinking.
- If you notice that your mood isn’t improving, or that it is getting worse, be sure to seek professional help from your doctor, or a psychiatrist or psychologist. Untreated depression can become worse, last longer, and make for a worse prognosis than if it is treated in its earlier stages.