New To Depression? What To Do


If you think you may be suffering from depression, it is better to address it now than to wait and see whether it worsens. Depression is easier to treat when caught early.

If you have not seen a doctor in a while, make an appointment with one. He or she can rule out other causes for your symptoms, and if necessary refer you to a therapist or psychiatrist.

If you have been seeing a doctor regularly and your health is good, you may want to make an appointment to consult with a mental health professional.

While waiting for your appointment, try to do certain activities proven to help reduce symptoms of depression, or prevent them from worsening.

  1. Maintain your regular daily routine as much as possible. Although staying in bed and becoming inactive is tempting when depressed, people tend to feel worse when they have too much time to dwell on difficult thoughts and feelings. You will not feel motivated to shower, make the bed, or go to work, but do them anyway.
  2. With depression, your appetite may be diminished, or you may want to eat junk food all day. Do your best to eat healthy portions of foods that nourish your body and mind instead. Limit your intake of sugary and processed foods since research associates them with mood symptoms and fatigue.
  3. Though you may feel lethargic, stay active, and get regular exercise. Any physical movement helps including walking, stretching, making the bed, gardening, playing with the dog, or swaying to music. If you can go swimming, bike riding, or play tennis—even better. Also, eliminate unnecessary commitments that may be increasing your stress level.
  4. Sleep can be a problem with depression but try to get seven to ten hours each night. If you find yourself tossing and turning it may be better to get up and enjoy a relaxing activity.
  5. Continue spending time with supportive friends and family. You do not have to feel happy or even join in the conversation. Just being with others is often helpful. Many individuals with depression isolate. While that is understandable it frequently leads to a worsening of symptoms.

If your symptoms are so severe that you cannot care for yourself and/or are contemplating suicide, ask a family member for help, or visit the nearest emergency room, or call 911.

Photo credit: Priya Saihgal / flickr creative commons


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