Give yourself permission to feel depressed. Don’t expect too much from yourself, since this will only lead to feelings of failure – and this in turn perpetuates the depressive pattern. Don’t fight the depression so hard. Giving in to it may alleviate the depressed feelings. (However, if you have suicidal or other destructive thoughts, you are advised never to give in to these – and to consult a professional immediately.)
Try not to set difficult goals for yourself or to take on more responsibilities than you can realistically handle. Break large tasks into smaller ones. Set priorities and take things one at a time. Learn to comfort yourself when you feel depressed.
Realize that you may have negative thoughts – and that they are a symptom of the depression. One thing you may focus on in therapy is turning negative thoughts into positive ones.
Postpone important life decisions until your depression is brought under control. If you must make major decisions, consult others who can be trusted and can take an objective view of the situation.
It is important during a depression to avoid the use of alcohol or drugs. While you may feel a temporary “high,” this can lead to a dangerous pattern of highs and lows which can ultimately create a negative spiral that is very difficult to get out of.
Try to spend as much time as you can around other people. While this may seem impossible, it is better than being alone. It is important not to overdo it, however. Feeling better takes time.
Recognize that there are certain times of the day when you feel better. Use these times to your advantage.
While it may seem impossible, try to get some exercise. Pumping up your heart for even half an hour every other day does wonders for your mood, and you can do this by taking a walk. Don’t blame yourself, though, if you cannot accomplish as much as you think you should.
Treat yourself, everyday if possible, to some activity that makes you feel better. Take a walk in a park or enjoy a bubble bath. Read an interesting article, listen to some music you like, or attend a social or religious function.
A Depression Checklist
If you check at least half of the following items, you may benefit from a consultation with a trained professional who can help you in working through a depression.
____ It is hard for me to concentrate on reading or watching TV.
____ My future seems hopeless.
____ I do things slowly.
____ Pleasure and joy have gone out of my life.
____ I feel sad, blue and unhappy.
____ I have lost interest in things that used to be important to me.
____ I have difficulty making decisions.
____ I feel that I am guilty and deserve to be punished.
____ It takes a great effort to do even simple things.
____ I feel fatigued.
____ I have had thoughts about hurting myself.
____ My sleep is disturbed – too little, too much, or broken sleep.
____ Without trying to diet, I have lost (or gained) weight.
____ I feel depressed even when good things happen.
____ I have negative thoughts much of the time.