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5 Tips for Managing Depression

May 17, 2023
Use these tips to help relieve the debilitating symptoms of depression.

Managing depression is one of the most common reasons people seek mental health treatment. Life presents each of us with unique challenges that can affect our mental state negatively. Therefore, we all feel sad now and then. But when that sadness persists for long periods of time, depression may be to blame. 

Here are a few tips for managing depression and feeling like yourself again. 

Set Realistic Expectations 

Although there are numerous treatments for treating depression effectively, it’s important to set realistic expectations about your treatment. There is no “one size fits all” approach to treating depression, and effective treatments require time and patience. People with depression often need to try several types of treatments or medications to find the ones that help the most.  

A patient with depression probably won’t see results right away. Recovering from depression is an ongoing process, not something that happens overnight. Progress may seem slow at first, but we encourage our patients not to give up. 

People suffering from depression may find it helpful to seek the support of family and friends during the treatment process. Words of encouragement from a trusted friend or family member can help a patient with depression realize there is hope.  

With some persistence and dedication throughout this process, a person with depression can begin to enjoy a happier lifestyle. 

Regular, restful sleep helps minimize depression symptoms.

Managing Depression with Good Sleep Hygiene 

Keeping good mental and physical health depends, in part, on the duration and quality of one’s sleep. If you feel exhausted after a night of poor sleep, chances are your mood is subpar too. 

Sleep disturbances are common in people with depression, and the two conditions are linked closely.  Poor sleep quality can lead to depression and vice versa. 

“Poor sleep may create difficulties regulating emotions that, in turn, may leave you more vulnerable to depression in the future—months or even years from now. And depression itself is associated with sleep difficulties such as shortening the amount of restorative slow-wave sleep a person gets each night,’ wrote Dr. Patrick Finan, a sleep expert at Johns Hopkins Medicine. 

Here are some tips for practicing better sleep hygiene: 

  • Establish and adhere to a regular sleep schedule. Going to bed at the same time each night helps to maintain the body’s internal clock.  
  • Maintain a relaxing sleep environment. Try to keep your bedroom quiet, dark, and free of distractions. Consider treating yourself to a nice, comfortable bedding set too.  
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol in the hours before bed. Both substances can interfere with one’s ability to fall and stay asleep. 
  • Talk with your doctor if you’re struggling with ongoing sleep disturbances. There may be another underlying problem, such as sleep apnea.  

Once you’re getting enough sleep, you’ll probably notice an improvement in your mood and overall well-being. 

Stay Organized 

People with depression often feel overwhelmed with managing day-to-day responsibilities. The stress that comes with feeling overwhelmed can lead to depression and make any existing depression feel worse. 

One way to relieve this type of stress is by creating a daily routine. The structure and predictability of a regular daily schedule can help a person feel in control of his or her life. 

Organizational skills also help us take on challenging tasks by breaking them into smaller, more manageable ones. For example, cleaning your entire house might seem daunting. Instead of considering the big picture all at once, try focusing on the most heavily trafficked rooms first. Then, think about the most important tasks to complete in each of those rooms.  

This “cleaning house” example is a prescient one for people suffering from depression. Research has shown cluttered living spaces can contribute to depression by worsening stress and anxiety. On the other hand, a clean, organized environment promotes serenity and a better mood. 

There are many resources for developing better organizational skills. Your local library probably has multiple books dedicated to the subject, and a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist (see the next section) can offer suggestions too.  

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can teach you several techniques and strategies to manage your depression.

Managing Depression with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a type of evidence-based psychotherapy that has been shown to be effective in treating depression and other mental health conditions. CBT focuses on identifying and changing negative thoughts and behaviors, including those that contribute to depression. The goal with CBT is to help people learn new coping skills and develop more positive ways of thinking, which can improve their mood and reduce depression symptoms. 

CBT helps people with depression to recognize any negative thoughts and beliefs that are contributing to depression. Some examples of these types of thoughts include pessimism, self-criticism, and negative self-talk. By participating in CBT, a person can learn not to trust those negative thoughts and beliefs, and replace them with positive and realistic ones. 

Through CBT, a patient with depression can learn to manage stress and negative emotions by practicing relaxation techniques, problem-solving skills, and other strategies. CBT is often used in conjunction with medication to treat people with depression. 

Practice Self-Care 

People battling depression sometimes neglect their own needs and struggle to take care of themselves. However, by engaging in self-care, a person with depression can improve emotional well-being and alleviate depression symptoms. 

To practice self-care, you must first identify what self-care means to you. Some common self-care activities include meditation, exercise, taking a relaxing bath, getting a massage, reading, and journaling. The idea here is to think about the activities you can do to help you feel relaxed and stress-free. Once you’ve identified a few, make them part of your regular routine.  

Committing to regular self-care can go a long way toward alleviating the severity of depression symptoms. 

By David Wells
Content Producer & Analyst at KindlyMD
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