Things You Can Do Now to Counteract Depression
1. Order Overcoming Depression
This manual is produced by the Treatments That Work program and provides detailed, step-by-step procedures for assessing and treating clinical depression. These procedures are based on empirically tested treatment programs that have been proven successful in treating depression.
2. Monitor your activity level and try to (gradually) increase it.
People who are depressed typically display diminished motivation and a lower energy level. The depressed individual feels like withdrawing from activities. This is a tendency worth fighting against. A cardinal rule in the treatment of depression is: feelings follow behavior. If you can keep your activity level up, you may notice that your motivation and energy level rise sooner than they otherwise might have. Tips to help accomplish this:
- Keep your goals realistic. Don’t set yourself up to fail. Break tasks into smaller
ones you can accomplish more easily e.g. walk 15 minutes rather than two hours; wash the dishes rather than clean up the entire house.
- Do things you once liked to do even if you don’t feel like it when you are depressed. By pushing yourself to engage in such activities, you are increasing the chances that the pleasure centers in your brain will get activated, which then might have a broader impact on your mood.
- Keep a daily activity log. Whenever you keep a record of a behavior you want to change, you are increasing the chances of success. An activity log can also provide concrete feedback about progress which individuals with depression tend to minimize.
3. Recognize — that when you are depressed — your thinking becomes distorted. One of the central research findings with depression is that one’s thinking becomes skewed and negative. In particular, people are noticeably more self-critical and pessimistic. Knowing that you are looking at the world through gloomy glasses, it is helpful to subject your thinking to the following questions:
- Am I using that negative filter? Is there another way of looking at it?
- Am I exaggerating the negative aspects of a situation or putting myself down? How would someone else see it?
- Am I just focusing on the worst possible thing that could happen? What would
be more realistic?
- Am I putting more pressure on myself, setting up expectations of myself that
are almost impossible? What would be more realistic?
- Is this thought realistic? Or am I thinking in an all-or-none manner? Am I
jumping to conclusions?
4. Get regular exercise.
When you’re depressed, exercising may be the last thing you feel like doing. But exercise is a powerful tool for dealing with depression. Studies show exercise can be as effective as antidepressant medication in treating mild to moderate depression. Aerobic exercise releases hormones that relieve stress and promote a sense of well-being. Regular exercise can reduce fatigue and improve self-esteem. To gain the most benefits, aim for 30 minutes of exercise per day. You can start small, though, as short 10-minute bursts of activity can have a positive effect on your mood. Here are a few east ways to get moving.
- Take the stairs rather than the elevator
- Park your car in the farthest spot in the lot
- Take your dog for a walk
- Walk while you are talking on the phone
5. Take a self-screening test for depression.
While a screening test cannot substitute for a formal diagnostic workup of depression, it can alert you to signs and symptoms that would suggest you seek out a health care professional.