According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America, as of 2017, more than a quarter billion people around the world live with depression.
To be clear, the mental health issue known as depression is not simply when one feels “down” or experiences having a particularly “bad day.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) distinguishes depression this way: “When a sad mood lasts for a long time and interferes with normal, everyday functioning, you may be depressed.”
Signs or symptoms of depression include the following:
- Feeling sad or anxious often or all the time
- Not wanting to do activities that used to be fun
- Feeling irritable‚ easily frustrated‚ or restless
- Having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
- Waking up too early or sleeping too much
- Eating more or less than usual or having no appetite
- Experiencing aches, pains, headaches, or stomach problems that do not improve with treatment
- Having trouble concentrating, remembering details, or making decisions
- Feeling tired‚ even after sleeping well
- Feeling guilty, worthless, or helpless
- Thinking about suicide or hurting yourself
A tricky, even dangerous aspect of depression is that it can lead you into believing, “Nothing will help,” or “Even if I feel better for a while, I’ll eventually return to feeling this way again. So what’s the use in trying to overcome it?”
The fact is, though, there are a wide array of steps you can take to address depression. Here are a few of the primary recommendations for coping with depression.
Give Extra Attention to Maintaining Your Physical Health
- Prioritize engaging in some daily physical activity or exercise, preferably 15 – 30 minutes each day. Walking, bicycling, jogging or yoga all are possible options that can be done on your own or with a friend or family member.
- Ensure you’re eating a nourishing, well-balanced diet.
- Safeguard your sleep – commit to getting a sufficient amount of rest each night. This will provide you not only with a foundation for your physical well-being, but also for your mental and emotional health.
Examine Your Mental Activity and Make Adjustments Whenever Necessary
- Inventory any recurring thoughts in a journal or notebook, particularly any negative thoughts about yourself, those closest to you, your future, and the world at large. The act of writing down these thoughts can allow you to recognize any possible distortions or faulty beliefs or notions.
- Regarding any distorted thoughts or beliefs you find recurring, ask yourself directly and honestly, “Is this true? Or does it just feel like it’s true? Is there clear evidence of the truth or non-truth of this thought or belief? Am I getting any benefit by thinking this way?
- Ask yourself, “What belief or thought can I hold or action I can take that I know will be good for me right now?”
Take Inventory of Your Behaviors and Replace any Hindering or Harmful Ones with Healthy, Helpful Behaviors
- Every day, participate in some sort of healthy, joyful activities – identify what brings you joy and commit time to regularly “do” such activities.
- Avoid isolation – stay in touch with your friends and loved ones, even if it’s briefly, on a regular basis. Consider sharing with them what you are experiencing and how they can help.
- Practice self-love and be kind to yourself. Choose to do acts of self-“TLC” each day. Show yourself sufficient compassion, forgiveness and graciousness.
The bullet-points above are ways you can be proactive in addressing any symptoms of depression you notice, in order to move forward in a more healthy manner.
If, however you’re experiencing severe symptoms of depression, seeking professional help is strongly recommended. Local resources are available to assist you in both treating and navigating your way through severe depression.
Symptoms of severe depression include:
- Symptoms that are intense, paralyzing, and/or unrelenting (last months)
- Inability to care for yourself (basic needs) or attend to daily responsibilities or relationships
- Symptoms that are accompanied by substance abuse, self-harm, and/or thoughts of suicide
Be sure to reach out for help as immediately as possible if you’re experiencing any of the above signs of severe depression.
 “Number of People in the World with Depression.” OurWorldinData.org. 2017.
 “Mental Health Conditions: Depression and Anxiety.” Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. 2/15/21
 Dr. Kathariya Mokrue – Anxiety & Depression Association of America. “Tips for Handling Depression.” 2020.