Three tips for managing depression

Depression can be a range of long-lasting negative experiences, it can drain your energy, will, hope and even the drive to get out of bed and do something to make you feel better. Though depression seems overwhelming and stubbornly persistent, it is still possible to gain improvements, or at least some control over the situation.

The most important thing is to start from small things and build from there. Here are three areas you can focus on that might help you to manage depression.

Tip 1: Create supportive relationships with others

The nature of depression can cause people to isolate themselves from others. It often makes it difficult for people to reach out for help. However, isolation and loneliness makes depression even worse. So it is important to seek help and talk to someone about how you are feeling. Maintaining relationships and regular social activities help, and they can make a big difference. Here are some suggestions:

  • Speak to someone (e.g. family, friends) you trust who will listen and understand how you are feeling.
  • As much as possible, spend time with others so that you are not alone.
  • Try to keep up with social activities even if you do not feel like it.
  • Join a support group for depression.
  • Call or email an old friend.
  • Go for a walk with a loved one or friends
  • Schedule weekly social activities.
  • Meet new people by taking a class or joining a club. There are many options available, pick something of interest to you.
  • Seek help from professional counsellors as it provides a supportive relationship where you can talk about anything and everything that depresses you in confidence.

Tip 2:  Challenge negative thoughts

Depression makes everything seem grim and hopeless, including the way you view yourself, the situation you encounter, and your expectations for the future. It is common for people with depression to feel guilty, often for no real reason. It is important to break negative thought cycles and make way for positive thoughts. The trick lies in replacing negative thoughts with more balanced thoughts. Here are some suggestions:

  • Take time to reflect on how realistic some of the negative thoughts you might be having are. Discuss them with others might help. Try to view things in a more positive light.
  • Allow yourself to be less than perfect (For example, you do not have to be most popular or successful to have a good life).
  • Socialize with positive people and take note the way they view things.
  • Keep a journal and write down your thoughts, identify the negative ones and ask yourself if there is another way to view the situation.
  • When you are feeling irritable or agitated, try calming yourself down. Ask yourself what is driving your emotions.
  • If you feel unmotivated, try and incorporate some enjoyable activities into your schedule.
  • Focus on the positive, no matter how small it may be.
  • Do not make major life decisions while depressed, such as breaking up a relationship or quitting a job, as you may not see yourself or the world clearly when you are depressed.
  • Remember all these feelings of hopelessness and negative thinking are temporary, they will pass.

Tip 3: have healthy lifestyle

In order to overcome depression, you will need to adopt a healthy lifestyle that involves learning how to manage stress, practicing healthy diet, engaging in pleasurable activities, as well as exercise regularly.

  • Despite fatigue, be active as possible to keep yourself occupied. Try to fill up your schedule with exercise, social interaction or even household chores to get yourself out of bed and leave the house.
  • Avoid sleeping during the day or taking naps in the early evening.
  • Aim for eight hours of sleep, as depression usually associates with sleep problem, either sleeping too much or too little can affect your mood negatively.
  • Expose yourself to some sunlight everyday as lack of sunlight makes depression worse.
  • Reduce coffee and tea intake and do not have any tea or coffee after 4pm.
  • Practice relaxation techniques such as meditation and yoga to manage your stress level as it both triggers and worsens depression.
  • Play with a pet. Although pets cannot replace human contact but they provide joy and companionship to make you feel less lonely and isolated.
  • Involve in regular exercise such as taking walks or going to a gym, past research has revealed that regular exercise can be as effective as antidepressant medication in treating depression.
  • If urges to carry out suicidal thoughts become apparent, call a crisis line or seek professional help from your GP or a psychologist.

Unfortunately depression can be very stubborn and seems impossible to beat with sheer willpower, still, most of the symptoms and negative emotions are manageable and can be put under control to certain extent. Most of all do not lose hope in believing that everything will pass and you will get better. In any cases if your depression is getting worse, do not hesitate to seek professional help.

For more information about depression, you may visit:

beyondblue, an Australian organisation provides information about depression to consumers, carers and health professionals.

The Black Dog Institute, a world leader in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mood disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder.