Depression is a mood disorder marked by a loss of interest in all activities, low mood or sadness, loss of motivation to do anything, and feelings of guilt and worthlessness for prolonged periods. According to the World Health Organization(WHO), depression is a common mental health condition worldwide, affecting over 3.8% of adults. Self-help tips and strategies for depression can help individuals prevent and fight this condition. But before progressing onto these strategies, let’s learn more about depression.
Depression: Types, Causes, & Symptoms
The most common type of depression is situational depression. The term “situational depression” is not clinically recognized, and a better way to explain this depression might be a stress response. It happens due to significant life events and (usually)doesn’t persist for very long. However, given improper care and resources for recovery, this condition can become prolonged and harm the patient’s lifestyle for a longer time.
Following is clinical depression, the primary diagnosable depression that can be divided into different forms.
Major depressive disorder is clinically recognized depression that fulfills more than five symptoms over two weeks. According to the DSM-V, the aforementioned significant symptoms of depression include:
-depressed or low mood,
-loss of interest or pleasure,
-weight loss or gain,
-insomnia(sleeping too little) or hypersomnia(sleeping too much),
-psychomotor agitation(difficulty in normal functioning),
-fatigue or tiredness,
-feeling worthless or excessively guilty,
-and suicidal thoughts.
Depression can have numerous causes, but some are more common and easily identifiable. For instance, significant life changes and chronic conditions that affect physical and mental health can cause depression. Childhood trauma or family history can also increase the chances of depression in childhood and adulthood. On the other hand, brain structure, brain chemistry, hormone levels, and other medical conditions can also cause depression.
Persistent depressive disorder is depression that continues for more than two years. This depression might be classified as major chronic depressive disorder or dysthymia. The latter is less severe or may have fewer symptoms than depressive disorder and is sometimes called mild, chronic depression.
Seasonal affective depression is a depression that happens in the winter months. The days are shorter, and you get less sunlight. While it has the same symptoms, this depression can be treated using light therapy, in which you will be exposed to bright light for about 15 minutes.
Other forms of depression that occur with specific life events or mental health conditions include psychotic depression, postpartum(after childbirth) depression, bipolar depression, and many more.
Now that you’ve learned more about depression, how it is clinically categorized, how to identify it, and what can cause this condition, you must wonder whether there’s a way to recover from depression by yourself. Following is the ultimate self-help guide with the best self-help tips and strategies for depression.
7 Best Self-Help Tips For Depression
Note: Before learning all these strategies, it is necessary to note that depression is a severe and clinical mental health condition. It is different from simply feeling the blues or not having the interest to do anything. All of the self-help tips and strategies for depression mentioned here are preventive and supplementary measures that, according to research, will reduce depressive symptoms or prevent the worsening of the condition if applied accurately.
1. Take Care Of Your Body
A lot of mental health conditions are prolonged or caused by improper care of the body. To get started on physical health, you can follow the three self-help tips for depression. These include exercise, sleep, and nutrition.
A study by Yale University across a population sample of 1.2 million over four years showed that exercise is linked with positive health outcomes in the general population. Simply put, exercise can help reduce depressive symptoms or improve mental health. According to the study, exercising from about 120 to 360 minutes is the sweet spot for achieving the best results for your mental health. The most effective exercise included group sports, cycling, aerobics, and gym activities. Other forms of exercise you can practice include yoga poses, calisthenics, running, or hiking.
Following a regular morning routine with exercise and setting up and mastering your sleep cycle can help you establish a sense of stability in life. Sleep is a necessary activity that allows the mind and body to relax. You can avoid using your phone during late night hours, limit caffeine intake, exercise correctly, use guided sleep meditation, and start mindful eating for better sleep.
2. Set Up Systems & Routines
Among the self-help tips and strategies for depression, setting up baseline systems, good mental health habits, and routines is the most powerful.
Baseline systems consist of your most essential habits. These systems can help you maintain your mental health when unsure what to do. For instance, daily exercise, nutrition, sleep, time for rest and self-care, and essential chores can become a part of your baseline systems. These systems establish the bare minimum you need to do daily.
Routines, on the other hand, focus on building positive habits. Vital habits include meditation, reading, leisure time, and meaningful work.
3. Build Supportive Relationships
Friends and loved ones support you through challenging times and can help give you strength when you need it the most. Relationships are a support system that can help you maintain and improve mental health. To enhance the quality of your relationships, you can:
-empathize more with the people around you by being an active listener,
-show gratitude and appreciation for the people in your life,
-give thoughtful gifts or spend quality time,
-or come up with ways to strengthen bonds with others.
As supportive relationships can guide you through tough times, going to a support group isn’t bad either. These groups usually contain people who have experienced or are experiencing exactly what you’re going through. They can help you feel heard and understood and, most importantly, provide helpful tips for recovery.
4. Develop A Positive Attitude
In this ultimate self-help guide for depression, being more optimistic and positive is vital. Viewing your work, life, environment, or relationships negatively can sap your emotional energy. To create a positive mental attitude, you can:-
-start focusing on what you have rather than what you lack,
-challenge your negative bias (inner self-talk),
-be grateful(and show gratefulness) for the things and people in your life,
-smile and laugh more often,
-and exit your comfort zone.
5. Validate Yourself
Fighting your feelings or having a negative attitude toward them can hinder your recovery. To use these self-help tips for depression correctly, acceptance is a must.
Self-validation is a skill applied in Dialectical Behavior Therapy(DBT). It refers to objective observation and acceptance of your feelings. Rather than acting on your emotions, validating yourself means understanding that you are justified to feel a certain way. This practice is connected with mindfulness as it returns your focus to the present with acceptance.
6. Take It One Day At A Time
The self-help tips and tools for depression included in this ultimate self-help guide for depression focus on the fundamentals. Many feel-good strategies can help you escape from or avoid depression but prolong or worsen it in the long run. Rather than taking such an approach, it is better to make a recovery, one day or one step at a time. To do the same, you can:
-set attainable short-term goals so that you don’t procrastinate,
-avoid fantastical or magical thinking,
-measure your capabilities and slowly increase your workload to match them,
-and improve your energy levels slowly through better physical and mental care.
7. Consider Opting For Therapy
If your current condition is overwhelming and usually hinders functioning, consider opting for therapy or getting an official diagnosis if you don’t have one. Doing so can help you focus your efforts on recovery and make it easier to navigate your situation while maintaining your typical lifestyle. The best thing about therapy today is you can access it anywhere through online therapy platforms.
Depression is a mood disorder marked by low mood, lack of interest or pleasure, and a loss of motivation to do anything for prolonged periods. Self-help tips for depression can help you prevent, aid, or stop your mental health condition from worsening. Through the ultimate self-help guide for depression, you can improve your lifestyle and become more mentally healthy. However, maintaining your recovery and improved mental health can be challenging. Regular self-care activities are one way to do the same. Refer to this blog post to learn more about the benefits of self-care.