Depression is a common mood disorder that affects nearly every aspect of your life, from appetite and quality of sleep to personal hygiene and job performance. Far from a sign of weakness or a character flaw, coping with depression or seasonal depression is a serious problem that often requires medical attention, and it’s not something that people can just “snap out of.”
While a variety of medications can successfully treat , research has shown that there are a number of ways to cope with depression and reduce its intensity either in tandem with—or in some cases, in place of—medication. Either way, these seven tips are worth a try if you suffer from depression and are looking for relief.
7 Tips for Coping with Depression
Talk to a therapist: A combination of medication and therapy is the most effective way to treat depression, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.1 Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, helps you identify and solve the underlying issues that contribute to depression, change distorted patterns of thinking to combat feelings of hopelessness and develop skills to improve the symptoms of depression.
Exercise: Just 90 minutes of exercise each week can be as effective as antidepressants at reducing symptoms associated with depression.2 Exercise increases endorphins, or feel-good brain chemicals, and promotes feelings of relaxation and well-being by reducing levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Practice yoga: Harvard Medical school reports that a regular practice of Sudarshan Kriya yoga, or SKY, a type of yoga that involves cyclical breathing, has been shown to reduce feelings of depression by 75 percent.3 But any type of yoga can help alleviate symptoms of depression by promoting an overall sense of well-being and relieving stress.
Meditate: Meditation is fast becoming a mainstream treatment for a wide range of conditions and illnesses, including depression. A study by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine revealed that 30 minutes of meditation each day can relieve depression as effectively as medication.4
Eat healthy food: A healthy diet positively impacts your brain as much as it affects your body. A number of studies have found that people who consume a poor-quality diet full of sugar, unhealthy fat and processed foods are more likely to suffer from depression than those who eat a healthy diet that includes lots of fruits, vegetables and fish.
Get acupuncture: According to a recent study by researchers at the University of Arizona, acupuncture designed for depression reduced symptoms in 43 percent of the study’s participants. Acupuncture alleviates stress and feelings of depression by improving blood and lymphatic fluid circulation in the body and promoting the release of endorphins in the brain.
Consider art therapy: Art therapy has been shown to help combat depression by leading participants to express, through creating and viewing art, those difficult emotions that may be hard to put into words or even into conscious thought. It can help you synthesize what you’re feeling or even help you to feel again, if your symptoms include feelings of numbness and disconnection from the world. Looking at and creating art gives voice and validity to feelings of helplessness or hopelessness and can help channel those feelings into a therapeutic and productive outlet.
If you or someone you love is coping with depression, help is available. Medication, therapy and other forms of treatment can dramatically improve your quality of life and increase your overall sense of well-being for greater happiness and better productivity.