October is National Depression Education and Awareness Month. At Domus Retreat® of beautiful Orange County, California, we’re proud to honor this campaign. Why? We want more people to know about this common mental health condition and in this article, you will learn ways to cope with depression!
But before we begin, here are some fast facts about depression to get started:
- According to the World Health Organization, about 300 million people worldwide have depression
- Depression is a leading cause of disability
- Women are more likely than men to be diagnosed with depression—by about twice as much
- Depression often co-occurs with other conditions like generalized anxiety disorder and substance abuse disorders
- With the right treatment, many people experience a full remission of their depression. Many others learn how to manage their condition and go on to lead meaningful and engaged lives
- Raising awareness matters! Studies show that depression awareness campaigns reduce stigma, which is often a huge barrier to seeking help. Awareness campaigns also help people recognize depression signs and symptoms and may even reduce rates of suicide when combined with other intervention approaches like specialized training for community members (including teachers, clergy, media, and doctors)
Living with depression can make even the smallest tasks seem insurmountable. That’s why at Domus, we believe knowledge is power. Educating yourself about depression is an important step if you have this condition or know someone who does.
Another important step is acting on what you know. Taking informed action helps you get the right treatment and helps you cope with your condition more effectively.
Need some inspiration? Check out these seven ways to cope with your depression with greater ease and confidence.
1. Find Your Team
Ups and downs in life are unavoidable, and everyone needs people in their corner who can offer help along the way. And we know from the research that social support can ease the challenges of depression.
So, nurture the relationships you have with your loved ones and friends. Find people whom you can trust and connect with. Do you have trouble making friends or meeting new people? Volunteering, online and local support groups, and even new hobbies are all great opportunities for socializing. Start small and feel free to ask a mental health professional for more individualized guidance.
Lots of studies show exercises are beneficial ways to cope with depression and can alleviate their symptoms. The effects of exercise are even thought to be comparable to medication and therapy!
What kind of exercise should you do? All types help, but especially aerobic exercise performed at a moderate intensity level—around 50 to 70% of your heart rate max, or challenging enough where you can talk but can’t sing.
According to the American College of Sports Medicine, adults should aim for 30 minutes of physical activity on most days of the week. But even just 20 minutes per day three times per week is enough to provide depression relief. You don’t even have to do all 20 minutes at once, but can accumulate it throughout the day in bouts of 10 minutes at a time.
If you’re brand new to exercise, check with your doctor before starting a new routine. Also, experiment until you find something you actually enjoy! Exercise shouldn’t feel like a chore, but something you can look forward to as a way to take your mind off things and give you a boost of energy. It can even help you lose weight and sleep better.
3. Sustain Your Body With Nourishing Foods
People who are depressed often crave sugary foods and other heavily processed products. But over-consuming these foods may worsen depression symptoms, trigger weight gain, and promote inflammation, which can be damaging for overall health.
You don’t need to be super “strict” with your diet. Just try to choose (and cook with) more nutrient-dense whole foods more often. Reach for things like vegetables, healthy protein (like eggs, fish, and chicken), healthy fats (like avocados and nuts), and fruits.
Eating more of these (and fewer processed foods, sugary beverages, and alcohol) will give you the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients needed to support brain function and gut health, which is strongly linked with mood.
4. Prioritize Sleep
If you have depression, the advice to “get more sleep” may seem unhelpful. Chances are, you already want better Zzz’s but still struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep.
But a good night’s sleep—eight hours on average—can make a huge positive impact on your mental (and physical) health. Here are a few quick tips from the National Sleep Foundation that can help you get better rest:
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
- Get healthy exposure to sunlight during the day and minimize your exposure to artificial lights at night.
- A cool dark bedroom promotes sleep. Make your room pitch black and set the temperature between 60 and 67 degrees.
5. Find Ways to Reduce Stress
Stress isn’t a problem—but chronic stress caused by worries over health, money, relationships, and other issues can be a big challenge. This is because when you’re stressed out, your body releases a hormone called cortisol. Too much cortisol in the body can cause or exacerbate your depression—and lead to other health problems, too.
So as some of the ways to cope with depression, learn some techniques that can help you manage your stress better. Ask for help, learn how to delegate tasks, learn how to say no (this can be hard!), start a journaling or meditation practice, and be sure to work on getting better exercise, nutrition, and sleep.
6. Practice Small Acts of Self Care
When you’re depressed, it’s common to feel emotions like worthlessness and hopelessness. Doing small daily acts of kindness for yourself can slowly help you re-build your self-esteem and help you see that you’re someone who deserves to be treated with love, kindness, and respect.
So, learn how to be on your own team. Do small things for yourself every day that you would do for a friend: give yourself a simple hand massage, watch a funny movie, take yourself out for coffee, go for a walk with your dog.
7. Seek Professional Guidance
It takes strength, smarts, and courage to seek professional help for your depression. Unfortunately, many people don’t think their depression is serious enough to warrant professional care, or they feel embarrassed and ashamed, so they don’t seek help. In fact, only about a third of people with serious depression ever get treatment.
The truth is, depression treatment—including medications, psychotherapy, and even the above tips—can make a difference. So, don’t think you have to ignore your depression or figure it out by yourself. Use the resources available to you in your community, school, or even online, and find a mental health professional you can trust as ways to cope with depression.
If you have a mental health condition like depression or substance abuse disorder, know that deciding to seek help is a sign of incredible strength and resiliency. Our experienced, compassionate, and multidisciplinary team at Domus Retreat® are amazed every day by our clients who come to us from all walks of life, ready to reclaim the productive and fulfilling lives they deserve.
If you’d like to learn more about our luxurious recovery center and speak with someone who can help you learn more about our treatment and recovery options, contact us today at (310) 734-8024.