Dealing with Depression – 43 Tips to Help You Stave Off Depression
Depression is an unpleasant and very real medical condition that affects approximately one in 15 adults in any given year, with one in six people experiencing depression at some point in their life. Depression negatively affects how you feel, how you think and how you behave and is characterized by feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in things you once enjoyed. There are different types of depression notably major depression, persistent depression, situational depression – depression related to an event like the death of a loved one, a divorce, loss of a job and so on – as well as postpartum depression (after the birth of a baby), as well as a few other types. The good news is that depression is treatable with 80 to 90 percent of people responding well to treatment. The even better news is that there are a lot of things you can do to stave off depression in your everyday activities.
Common Symptoms of Depression
The symptoms of depression include but are not limited to: feeling sad or down; loss of interest or pleasure in activities you once enjoyed; changes in appetite unrelated to dieting -either weight loss or weight gain; trouble sleeping or sleeping too much; loss of energy or fatigue; feeling worthless or guilty; difficulty thinking, making decisions or concentrating; thoughts of suicide or death. If you are having thoughts of suicide or death please contact your local suicide hotline or the national suicide hotline at 1-800-273-8255, which is open 24 hours a day. While you might not be feeling it right now – your life does make a difference and you would be missed if you were not here.
As per my usual disclaimer, I am not a therapist or medical professional in any capacity and hence, my blog post does not constitute medical advice. See a licensed medical professional if you are depressed. What is interesting to note with respect to depression is the fact that people with low self-esteem, those who are easily overwhelmed by stress, and those who are generally pessimistic appear more likely to experience depression. It’s important to take note of those factors that predispose you to depression because you can learn habits, techniques and practices that will help you increase your self-esteem, and deal with stress – two of the factors.
Depression vs. Being Pessimistic
Being a pessimist is more of a belief system or attitude, which can also be changed. In the past, when I have met people who were pessimists, I would always recommend the book titled “The Power of Positive Thinking” by Norman Vincent Peale – a book that I, myself, have NEVER read. First published in 1952, “The Power of Positive Thinking” was then and continues to be a popular book, which I only recommend to pessimists or “realists” as some pessimists call themselves. For what it is worth, the people to whom I have recommended that book to, who actually got it and read it, found it very worthwhile – and pretty much had a much more positive outlook on life after reading it. Since I have never read it, I can’t say that I endorse the book because I don’t know what it says. However, I do totally support the concept of positive thinking.
Biking with my children back in the day always made me happy!
Pretty much everything I blog about are the practices and habits that will help you avoid feeling depressed. While you might have a situation or circumstances that are depressing – oh, I know about that – your situation or circumstances do not have to dictate your feelings. What will help you to avoid feeling depressed on an on-going basis is to have a plan for your life and be in action in executing that plan. You get to decide how your life will go. Even if you are in a situation that you can’t control or change, you can still do things to have a powerful and happy life. By that I mean that you could be in a reasonably difficult or horrible situation and still find a way to be happy. That I can say with absolute conviction from experience.
Explore Your Depression
I would suggest that you consider all the reasons why you are depressed and write them down. What plan could you formulate to address those reasons? Who could be on your team to help you? Additionally, you should also write down all the things that you have to be grateful for. Gratitude is a very powerful emotion. It’s hard to feel depressed when you are feeling grateful. I’m not saying you can’t be feeling both of those emotions at the same time, but if you are really feeling grateful it’s a very positive and powerful feeling.
I have written about tips and techniques to deal with overwhelm, time management, and how to be happy when you are suffering. This is my thing. How to deal with life when it is very difficult. Much of what I write about deals with actions you can take, new habits or practices to learn, and the process for how to create a life that you LOVE. I write about you taking control of your life instead of letting life just happen to you. This is a process that is foreign to many people. We are not born into this world with a manual on all the habits and practices that you could employ to handle stress, hardship, or very difficult times. There is a great deal to life that we have to learn by doing or through the school of hard knocks. It is one reason why we have so many unhappy people in this world. We don’t even know how to be happy.
If you are a regular reader of my blog, then some of this list is going to sound very familiar because there are standard practices, in my humble opinion of course, that go along with having a powerful and happy life. The more that you do these practices, take on new habits, and do the work of personal growth and development – the happier you will be, in my humble opinion.
Top 43 Ways to Stave Off Depression:
Improve your diet – more fresh, whole foods – less junk food and sugar. Recent research shows that eating a diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, fish and lean meat helped young adults reduce their depression (https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0222768). One medical fact I found in my research was that magnesium deficiency is well known to produce neuropathologies (Med Hypotheses. 2006;67(2):362-70. Epub 2006 Mar 20). NOTE: Up to 50% of Americans are deficient in magnesium! This was a very interesting medical article, whose title “Rapid Recovery from Major Depression Using Magnesium Treatment (PubMed-NCBI) caught my eye, so I am including a little more from this abstract:
“Case histories are presented showing rapid recovery (less than 7 days) from major depression using 125-300 mg of magnesium (as glycinate and taurinate) with each meal and at bedtime. Magnesium was found usually effective for treatment of depression in general use. Related and accompanying mental illnesses in these case histories including traumatic brain injury, headache, suicidal ideation, anxiety, irritability, insomnia, postpartum depression, cocaine, alcohol and tobacco abuse, hypersensitivity to calcium, short-term memory loss and IQ loss were also benefited.”Equally fascinating from the same paper: “The possibility that magnesium deficiency is the cause of most major depression and related mental health problems including IQ loss and addiction is enormously important to public health and is recommended for immediate further study.”
This is from a 2008 study found in the US National Library of Medicine – National Institutes of Health (U.S. medical database):
On the basis of accumulating scientific evidence, an effective therapeutic intervention is emerging, namely nutritional supplement/treatment. These may be appropriate for controlling and to some extent, preventing depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, eating disorders and anxiety disorders, attention deficit disorder/attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD), autism, and addiction.[4 ](Indian J Psychiatry. 2008 Apr-Jun; 50(2): 77–82.) This sentence comes from this journal reference: 4. Shaheen Lakhan SE, Vieira KF. Nutritional therapies for mental disorders. Nutr Jr. 2008;7:2.
The bottom line is that if you are dealing with depression, then improving your diet could really help you! Also, talk to your physician about taking magnesium.
Exercise of any kind has been shown to improve mood and do great things for your body even if it is just walking. According to Harvard Medical School (Harvard Health Publishing), exercise is an all-natural treatment to fight depression (although it might not be enough for some types of depression). Get out there and move!
Get a mission/vision/purpose for your life – one that inspires you. There’s no doubt in my mind to stave off depression nothing works like having a vision, mission or purpose for your life that you are inspired by. If you don’t have one, then get going because there is no time like the present to create your future.
Get outside in nature – go for a walk or a drive. The research shows that simply being in nature has physical health and wellbeing benefits for people. This is a simple way to elevate your mood and get some health benefits as well.
Organize or clean anything. I am not saying if you are depressed that you will feel like cleaning or organizing anything, I am however saying that you will feel better if you do.
Do things that make you happy. If you don’t have a list of things that make you happy, then get busy and start making a list of things that make you happy. Then sprinkle your life with items from your list. This actually works.
Get together with friends. As I have written in the past, there are major health benefits for socializing that might surprise you, so get together with friends for a definite way to stave off depression. Unless you have bad friends, in which case then it is time to make new friends.
Plan a reunion or other event. Planning a reunion or event will help you have something to look forward to, which is always helpful. It will also give you something to keep you busy, which can also be effective for staving off depression. I have done this and I can say with clarity that it works.
Do or start a hobby. I have an entire blog post dedicated to hobbies (December 11, 2019: How Hobbies Can Help You Love Your Life and the Top 23 Reasons You Should Hobby Up), so I am definitely a fan of hobbies. Hobbies can help you in many ways. If you don’t have one or more hobbies that you really enjoy, yes, hobbies are something that you should enjoy – then it’s high time you hobby up!
Call a friend or family member for a pick me up call. While this can be very hard if you are feeling depressed, letting people know that you need a pick me up can be so helpful.
Keep a gratitude journal or list. As I mentioned earlier, it is really important to keep things in perspective. Keeping a gratitude journal or a list of things you are grateful for can really help alter your mood and help you stave off depression.
Set attainable goals for yourself that will make you happy. Setting attainable goals and working towards them can help you boost your mood. You set the goal(s) that would make you happy and then get to work.
Groom yourself. Take a shower. Do your hair. We all know that we will feel better after a hot shower or a good soak in the tub. Get cleaned up and do your hair or other grooming. You will look and feel better.
Dress up. Yes, even if you are not going anywhere, putting on a decent outfit will help you feel better. I’m not talking about your Sunday best, but something that you would wear out in public if you were meeting a friend.
Find someone worse off than you and help them. Study poverty in third world countries. There are literally so many people who are much worse off than you. I am not saying this to minimize your feelings or minimize your situation. I am saying this because if you got yourself together you could really make a difference in the world. The world needs you! Yes, we do. So, pull yourself together because there is a place for you and your gifts are needed.
Volunteer at an animal rescue shelter or any place for that matter. If volunteering at an animal rescue shelter does not appeal to you, then there are lots of other places that need you! Find an organization that calls to you and then pitch in. You will not only be doing the world a great service, but you will also meet new people, make new friends, and how is that ever bad?
Self-care: Make a list of what you can do to take better care of yourself and start doing it. Too many of us are not so great when it comes to self-care. So, make a list of all the things you could do in the area of self-care and start doing it.
Read inspiring material – books, articles, or stories or watch inspiring movies or shows.
Get your attitude adjusted – try thinking positively. While this might be more difficult for some, it’s important. A positive thought will make you feel way better than a negative thought.
Understand the concept of the self-fulfilling prophecy. You are or will become what you think you are or will become. The self-fulfilling prophecy is a psychology concept that basically says, in essence, we have a belief that comes true because we were behaving in a manner for it to come true.
Start training your brain with affirmations. Affirmations can help you change your attitudes, rewire your brain, and help you in many ways to stave off depression.
What are your coping skills? Work on boosting them or getting better ones. What are your top coping mechanisms? Go to work on either improving the ones you have or by getting better coping mechanisms.
Write the story of your future and then live into that future. Write a story about how you would like your life to go and then start living into that. Start taking the actions you would need to take in order for the story you have written to come true.
Make a list of things you can do today (anything) and go do one thing. Something this simple can improve your mood a lot. Go do something. You will feel accomplished unless you are very good at beating yourself up, in which case you might still feel defeated. If that is the case then it is time for self-love and self-care.
Listen to music you love. This is an easy way to improve your mood and help stave off depression.
Even better – dance to a song that makes you happy. If you have the ability to, dance to your favorite music. You will definitely be boosting your mood and the little bit of movement won’t hurt your body.
Start using a reward system to spur you onto getting things done. I have been using a reward system for decades and I know that if you set one up that it can really motivate you. Having a system set up for things that need to be done and the corresponding rewards can help you stave off depression because, hopefully you actually want the rewards that you have put into your system.
See a doctor to rule out any medical conditions that could cause depression like thyroid problems, a brain tumor, or vitamin deficiencies. While the research indicates that a magnesium deficiency could be at the core of depression for many, it is always a good thing to rule out any other possible medical causes for depression.
Own your feelings instead of resisting them. Claim them. Sometimes claiming your own feelings can be very liberating. The acknowledgement of your feelings can free you up to create a plan to deal with things. Pretending you are not depressed if you are is not helpful. Owning it and creating a plan is where the power is.
Pray or meditate. Prayer or meditation can be very helpful in staving off depression. I am one who prays and finds it very comforting, uplifting, and freeing. Some people get great benefits from meditation.
Get a coach or accountability partner. An accountability partner or a coach can help you move through tough times and stave off depression because you will feel empowered and that someone is on your side. You can work with a friend or family member so it doesn’t have to cost you money. It can be really helpful to have someone else to hold your proverbial feet to the fire, which is especially good if you are still working on being self-disciplined.
Deal with the source of your depression or feeling depressed. If you are grieving a loss including unfulfilled dreams or broken promises then go through the grieving process and then create a bright new future for yourself after you have gone through the process of dealing with your feelings.
Put up empowering or inspiring signs. This might seem ridiculous to some of you, however I can say with clarity that it works very well. I would recommend graphically appealing signs that you like to look at.
Reframe your view of your life and your future. Sometimes all you need to do is reframe your view of your life, a particular situation, or an event to become empowered by it. I know this can be a powerful tool in staving off depression.
If you can’t find a mission/vision/purpose for your life then MAKE IT UP! It’s okay to make up a purpose, a vision or a mission. You simply have to find something that lights you up and pulls you forward. If you can’t find it, then just make it up. Do yourself a favor though and make up something great! You deserve that.
Ask for help. I know that asking for help can be hard. Here’s what I know about asking for help – the worst case is you ask for it and you don’t get it. So, what. You will never know if you don’t ask. Making your needs known allows other people to help you where and when or if they can. I love helping other people. Most people do. Let your needs be known and see what happens.
Create a team. Ask people to be on your team in life. Ask, ask, ask. Create a team to help you moving forward. Life is so much more fun when done in a team.
Be present. In the NOW. Being present in your life is one big way to stave off depression. If you are worried about the future or spending time regretting the past, that is not living in the present. We only have now. Right now.
Find ways to laugh – it’s so good for you. Spend as much time as you can laughing. And I hope you can laugh at yourself. Life is so much better spent laughing. If it’s either laughing or crying then I’ll take laughing any day.
Get into therapy. Therapy can be helpful. Get into therapy and learn what your issues are and then get to work on them.
Draw a line in the sand and make a commitment to be happy, be joyful, and live a life that you love. Seriously, throw down the gauntlet. Make a declaration. Decide. Choose. And don’t look back.
Work on yourself – growth and development. Okay, I do love personal growth and development because the more you know yourself the easier your life can be. If you want to stave off depression, then start doing the “work”.
Try tapping or EFT- According to a recent research article, the Emotional Freedom Technique is an evidence-based, self-help therapeutic method and over 100 studies demonstrate its efficacy (Bach D, Groesbeck G, Stapleton P, Sims R, Blickheuser K, Church D. Clinical EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) Improves Multiple Physiological Markers of Health. J Evid Based Integr Med. 2019;24:2515690X18823691. doi:10.1177/2515690X18823691.
I was in a very depressing situation for an extended period of time and I was able to be mostly happy because I did the things that I blog about. I still do these things. You can be in an extremely difficult or horrible situation or circumstance and it doesn’t have to define you. You don’t have to be miserable. There ARE things you can do. The better you get at having certain habits and practices then the better off you are in life. Period. Regardless of what happens – good or bad.
What makes you happy? What do you love? Sprinkle that into your life! Do the work. How can I help you live a better life? It’s all I want for you! Please let me know how I can support you in your journey!