Self-help and Coping Measures for Individuals with Depression

  1. Do not shy away from seeking expert opinion on your condition. Always involve your physician/psychiatrist, family, well-wishers in your depression management and seek their advice, as needed. Notify your doctor appropriately on your response to treatments, any side-effects experienced with medications prescribed, any uncontrolled or worsening symptoms of depression, to help suggestion of any alternative measures.
  2. Low endorphin levels in the body are linked to depression and other associated symptoms. Try incorporating little time of exercise schedule in your daily routine. Regular physical exercise can help reduce the fatigue, release endorphins, which can help combat depressive symptoms. Consider your exercise tolerance before taking up this task and build on it slowly, as your endurance allows. Finding an exercise partner or joining an exercise group can not only help build motivation and compliance with the routine, but also helps with improved socialization.
  3. Exposure to sunlight can help increase release of a neurochemical serotonin, which is known to induce a state of happiness. Daily exposure of depressed individuals to sunlight for defined time can help improve their mood and outcome for other treatment measures in place. Individuals with sensitive skin can consider applying sunscreen, as needed. One can consider blending an activity they enjoy doing with exposure to sunlight, such as, working out in the sun, going for a walk mid-morning, doing lawn mowing or gardening, or even mere sitting at a window with blinds open for sunlight to come in.
  4. Depressed individuals can use food as a coping mechanism, resulting in overeating, unhealthy weight gain, and obesity. Often, they do not take the strain of making a healthy meal but rely on easily available unhealthy snacks and comfort foods, such as, chips, French fries, noodles, and pasta. Excess intake of these unhealthy and easily available comfort foods can complicate the management of other co-morbidities, thus weakening the prognosis of the depressed individual. Also, avoid skipping meals, as irregular eating habits can alter your blood sugar widely, induce a stressful state of fasting, lead to increased steroid production in the body, all of which can influence the mind and mood in an unhealthy way and worsen the prognosis for a depressed individual. Considering well-balanced diet, reducing intake of unhealthy snacks and comfort foods can help significantly. Adding a daily vitamin supplement can contribute to improved outcome. Seek a dietician consult, if needed
  5. Try doing things that you enjoy doing the most, such as, reading a book, painting, cooking, gardening, etc., This can help with keeping oneself occupied, relax the mind, and take the mind away from negative thoughts influencing the depression. Practicing alternative relaxation techniques, such as, deep breathing and relaxation, progressive muscle relaxation, yoga, meditation, and dance can also help with relaxation and induce a state of well-being.
  6. Always try for reality check versus drawing quick & easy conclusions without verifying for evidence. Try to minimize focus on the negatives and maximize focus on the positives out of any situation. Coming out of this negative thinking and focusing on the positives of life can be difficult at times and need a voluntary & willful effort. Seek caregiver or support group assistance, as needed.
  7. Depressed individuals often find it comfortable keeping to themselves and retreating into their shell. This can contribute to offering more comfort, but reinforces their negative and depressive thought process, which can be damaging in the long run. Take time to visit family or a friend for a good quality time. Voice your concerns always with a well-wisher. Joining a support group can help socialization, identify others around in similar situations, offer a different perspective to your thought process, insight into better solutions to the problems at hand, opportunity at encouraging each other, and improve coping
  8. Incorporate regular sleep time into your daily routine, which can promote restful state and improve the mood. Avoid all stimulants, such as, television, phone, and computer after a defined time in the evening. Turning off all the lights closer to bedtime, playing soothing songs can contribute to falling sleep easier. Intake of melatonin can help induce a sleep state in individuals with difficulty falling sleep. Check with your physician on the validity of this measure in your case. Having a bedside urinal/commode can help avoid the effort making a long restroom trip during the night, which can disturb the sleep. This measure can especially help individuals with interrupted sleep pattern due to the need for frequent restroom use.
  9. Reduce the daytime consumption of caffeinated products. Avoid drinking caffeinated drink or too sugary drinks closer to the sleep time. These measures can help promote healthy sleep patterns, thus contributing to control depression. Minimize or avoid consumption of alcoholic beverages, as they are known to alter the mood and potentiate depressive thought process.