Self-help for depression: 10 methods and resources (2023)

When depression leaves you feeling tired and empty, trying some simple self-help methods can lighten the load.

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Sadness, lack of energy and motivation, little interest in things you used to enjoy – all these symptoms of depression can make it difficult to take care of yourself on a day-to-day basis.

depression affects16.1 millionadults in the United States each year. So while depression can feel isolating and frightening, know that you are not alone.

while the gold standardtreatments for depressionare therapy and sometimes antidepressants, there are many things you can do along with your treatment plan to feel better.

Here are 10 self-help methods you can try.

You are unique and what works for others will not necessarily work for you. Make a list of things you can do when you need to lift your mood or feel overwhelmed.

Once you've made your list, save it somewhere you can easily access it. Better yet, save it to your phone so it's always handy. Then, when you need it, you can pull it out and review some ideas that helped you before. They may include just what you need right now.

Items in your customizeddepression self carelist can include:

  • listening to a favorite song
  • color or draw
  • call or text a friend
  • looking at a precious photo album
  • knit or craft
  • practicing yoga, tai chi, or other light exercise
  • doing stretching exercises
  • take a short walk around the block
  • doing somethingbreathing exercises

Depression comes with a variety of unwanted thoughts and feelings. Journaling what you are feeling can provide a useful outlet for your emotions, giving you some distance from unhelpful thoughts. This distance can help you process difficult emotions.

If you like, try sitting down for a few minutes and writing down what you're thinking and feeling. Allow yourself to face these thoughts with acceptance. They may feel bad, but feel them notyouplace.

Journaling can also help you keep track of the things, people, or places that make you feel better or worse, so you know where to move forward and what to avoid next time.

Journaling can also help you break out of negative thinking cycles. Writing about what you feel can help you.have conscienceof unwanted thoughts, so that you canlet them goand latelyreplace themwith tools.

As with any habit, setting aside regular time to journal can help you get the most out of it. You can download a mood tracker app to measure your mood over time, or set aside half an hour a day to sit down and write down whatever comes to mind.

Ready to start journaling?Check out these 64 journal prompts to help get you started.

There are excellent worksheets and self-help guides. These resources are designed to help you learn about depression, get in touch with your emotional health, and provide tools you can use to start feeling better.

You might want to try these free online self-help guides:

Having a routine can be comforting and help you feel more balanced in your daily life. Over time, sticking to a consistent routine can also help you adopt more consistent patterns of behavior and mood.

It's not always easy to stick to a routine, but remember that repetition is the key to success. To start, try taking small steps towards a routine that feels good to you, and give yourself small nudges when you deviate from it.

sleep schedule

Regular sleep is important to maintain your mental and physical health. With depression, you may find that you sleep too little or too much.

Try to keep regular sleep and wake times, even when you're not sleepy yet. Over time, you'll naturally start to feel tired and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends.

It can be helpful to monitor your sleep habits using a phone app likesleep score. Meditation apps likehead spaceoCalm, it can provide sleepcasts or ambient noise to help you fall asleep.

If you like to read, it can be a great way to relax. You could even try a depression-specific book likeChange your brain, change your life, which is about changing your thought patterns.

regular exercise

Exercising regularly can be a big help in managing depression. Exercise releases feel-good endorphins and can make you tired, helping you sleep better at night.

Take a 20-minute walk, ride a bike, swim, dance – there are so many great ways to get your body moving.Investigationeven shows that weight lifting can help with the symptoms of depression.

To make exercise part of your routine, you can decide to:

  • go for a walk every day after work
  • go for a run twice a week before class
  • practice yoga on weekends
  • dance along to a favorite album several times a week

Find a way to fit regular exercise into your routine, and you might start to feel more energized.

What you eat can also affect how you feel. It may be fine in the short term to eat comfort foods high in carbohydrates, saturated fats and processed foods, but these foods can make you feel sluggish and tired.

Eating fruits and vegetables, along with whole grains and healthy fats, can help you have more energy, sleep better, and feel more motivated.

Talking to someone you trust about how you feel can help lighten your load. It could be a friend, partner, family member, spiritual advisor, or other important person in your life.

If you are uncomfortable talking about your mental health condition with others, it can sometimes help to have someone to cheer you up or distract you.

Psychotherapy, one of the gold standard treatments for depression, involves talking to a professional who understands your experiences and knows how to help you. Sharing what's going on with you can help you feel supported and less alone.

You might also consider asupport groupfor depression Here, you'll meet others in similar life situations, and finding common ground can help you feel less alone.

A quiet corner is easy to set up and can be a place for you in your own home that relaxes you when you need a break. Your goal is to provide a peaceful zone filled with things that bring you positivity.

Inspired by the Montessori teaching method, the peace corners aren't just for kids, they can be anything you want them to be.

Find an area in your home that you can fill with comfort items like plants, stress balls, fluffy pillows, a yoga mat, candles, and books. You can spend time there every day or just when you are having a hard time controlling your depression symptoms.

Getting out in the sun provides much-needed vitamin D forincrease serotonin levels, a neurotransmitter in the brain that regulates mood. If your serotonin levels aren't where they should be, you may experience symptoms of depression.

By making sure you're getting enough vitamin D, you can boost your serotonin levels and therefore improve your overall mood. Even 15 minutes a day has benefits. You can also try vitamin D supplements or use a light box, especially if you live in an area that doesn't get much sun during the day.

Be sure to consult a mental health professional to see if a light box is right for you.

Some people find listening to podcasts to be a useful distraction. There are many mental health podcasts that can help you feel connected and less alone:

  • tell me what you are proud ofwith Dr. Maggie Perry offers insight into real therapy sessions with real clients.
  • happier, a podcast with Gretchen Rubin, talks not only about depression but also about happiness and how to find more of it.
  • Within mental health, the Psych Central podcast hosted by Gabe Howard, has tons of episodes to choose from, from depression, relationships, personality, grief, and more.

Depression can make you feel very alone, but you don't have to go through it alone. Keeping a list of numbers you can call as needed can help you remember that support is available.

Your list will be unique to you. You can include the number of your doctor, your therapist, a trusted friend, or a community group or organization that understands what you are going through.

You might also consider adding some of these hotlines:

Crisis Hotlines

Depression can be a difficult diagnosis, and sometimes even figuring out how to help yourself is a feat. Fortunately, there are some great ideas to get you started and think about what might best help you manage your symptoms and take care of yourself.

If you haven't already, consider reaching out to a therapist or doctor for advice and support. There are many options available to help you start feeling better.

Treating depression can take time. So when you hit a roadblock, remember that you're trying (as evidenced by the fact that you're reading this right now!), and that's something to celebrate. Take it easy and give yourself the time and space you need to start feeling better.


What resources are available to help those with depression? ›

Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) The ADAA works to improve the quality of life of those affected by anxiety and depression. This nonprofit's programs provide education, resources, and support for people to find treatment. If you're looking for a therapist, check out the ADAA's directory.

What are three strategies for coping with depression? ›

Tips for coping with depression
  • Stay in touch. Don't withdraw from life. ...
  • Be more active. Take up some form of exercise. ...
  • Face your fears. Don't avoid the things you find difficult. ...
  • Don't drink too much alcohol. For some people, alcohol can become a problem. ...
  • Try to eat a healthy diet. ...
  • Have a routine.
Jan 4, 2023

What are some self-help 5 strategies that may help people with their depression? ›

Here are 5 self-help strategies for depression:
  • Exercise. Both aerobic exercise like walking or jogging and anaerobic exercise like weight lifting can help alleviate symptoms of depression.
  • Relaxation training. ...
  • Light therapy. ...
  • Self-help books based on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). ...
  • Computerized therapy.
Jul 2, 2018

What is the coping mechanism a depressed person commonly do? ›

Do something that makes you feel connected to a higher power. Listen to music — music is another fantastic way to cope with depression. Make a playlist of uplifting songs to listen to when you're feeling down. Go for a walk — sometimes getting away for a while and taking a walk can help you deal with your emotions.

What are some resources available to individuals with mental illness? ›

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): For general information on mental health and to locate treatment services in your area, call SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

What is the most popular way to treat depression? ›

The kind of psychological treatment that is most commonly used for depression is known as cognitive behavioral therapy (often called “CBT” for short).

What are the 5 main coping strategies? ›

There are five main types of coping skills: problem-focused strategies, emotion-focused strategies, meaning making, social support, and religious coping.

What are the two major strategies for treating depression? ›

Medications and psychotherapy are effective for most people with depression. Your primary care doctor or psychiatrist can prescribe medications to relieve symptoms. However, many people with depression also benefit from seeing a psychiatrist, psychologist or other mental health professional.

What are the 4 major coping strategies? ›

What are some common coping strategies?
  • Lower your expectations.
  • Ask others to help or assist you.
  • Take responsibility for the situation.
  • Engage in problem solving.
  • Maintain emotionally supportive relationships.
  • Maintain emotional composure or, alternatively, expressing distressing emotions.
Nov 24, 2020

What are some self-help techniques? ›

Here are some tips to help you get started with self-care:
  • Get regular exercise. ...
  • Eat healthy, regular meals and stay hydrated. ...
  • Make sleep a priority. ...
  • Try a relaxing activity. ...
  • Set goals and priorities. ...
  • Practice gratitude. ...
  • Focus on positivity. ...
  • Stay connected.

What can I do on my own for depression? ›

How to cope with depression
  • Stay in touch. Don't withdraw from life. ...
  • Be more active. Take up some form of exercise. ...
  • Face your fears. Don't avoid the things you find difficult. ...
  • Don't drink too much alcohol. For some people, alcohol can become a problem. ...
  • Try to eat a healthy diet. ...
  • Have a routine.

What are three coping methods that can help you feel better? ›

Healthy Ways to Cope with Stress
  • Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including those on social media. ...
  • Take care of yourself. ...
  • Take care of your body. ...
  • Make time to unwind. ...
  • Talk to others. ...
  • Connect with your community- or faith-based organizations.
  • Avoid drugs and alcohol.

How do people with depression cope with stress? ›

Talking to a counselor, therapist, or other mental health professional can also be a useful way to deal with stress and depression. Talk therapy alone or combined with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or medication is a proven solution for both depression and chronic stress.

What are the two basic types of coping? ›

Coping is a dynamic process that involves both cognitive and behavioral changes to manage stress. There are two major categories in coping: problem-focused and emotion-focused coping.

What are 3 reliable resources for help with mental and emotional disorders? ›

  • Find a provider treating substance use disorders, addiction, and mental illness.
  • American Psychiatric Association Foundation. Find a Psychiatrist.
  • American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist Finder.
  • American Psychological Association. Find a Psychologist.

What are 3 ways to help mental health? ›

Tips for improving your mental wellbeing
  • Relax and reduce stress.
  • Find ways to learn and be creative.
  • Spend time in nature.
  • Connect with others.
  • Look after your physical health.
  • Try to get enough sleep.

What is emotional resources? ›

Emotional resources are those assets and skills within ourselves that we can rely on to take care of ourselves. Social resources are those support systems, other people, institutions and professionals that we may rely on to help us in times of need.

What is the best vitamin to take for depression? ›

Some of the best vitamins for depression include vitamin D, iron, B9 (folate), calcium, vitamin C, and vitamins B12 and B3. Keep reading to learn more about vitamins that help with depression so you can make informed decisions about how best to treat your symptoms of depression.

How do most people overcome depression? ›

Most mental health experts agree that a combination of psychotherapy and medication is the best treatment for depression (also called major depressive disorder and/or clinical depression).

What are the 14 coping strategies? ›

This questionnaire includes 28 items that explore the following 14 coping strategies: self-distraction, active coping, denial, substance use, use of emotional support, use of instrumental support, behavioral disengagement, venting, positive reframing, planning, humor, acceptance, religion, and self-blame.

What is the most effective coping strategy? ›

Relaxation. Engaging in relaxing activities, or practicing calming techniques, can help to manage stress and improve overall coping. Physical recreation. Regular exercise, such as running, or team sports, is a good way to handle the stress of given situation.

What is the ways of coping checklist? ›

The Ways of Coping Checklist (WCCL) is a measure of coping based on Lazarus and Folkman's (1984) stress and coping theory. The WCCL contains 66 items that describe thoughts and acts that people use to deal with the internal and/or external demands of specific stressful encounters.

What is the first line treatment for depression? ›

TREATMENT FOR MAJOR DEPRESSION — For the initial treatment of major depression, we suggest a combination of antidepressant medication and psychotherapy.

How do you treat mental illness without medication? ›

Things like therapy, brain stimulation, supplements, and self-care are scientifically-backed as effective ways to reduce the symptoms of certain mental illnesses.

What are 5 causes of depression? ›

Causes - Clinical depression
  • Stressful events. Most people take time to come to terms with stressful events, such as bereavement or a relationship breakdown. ...
  • Personality. ...
  • Family history. ...
  • Giving birth. ...
  • Loneliness. ...
  • Alcohol and drugs. ...
  • Illness.

What are 5 coping skills for anxiety? ›

Here are 11 tips for coping with an anxiety disorder:
  • Keep physically active. ...
  • Avoid alcohol and recreational drugs. ...
  • Quit smoking, and cut back or quit drinking caffeinated beverages. ...
  • Use stress management and relaxation techniques. ...
  • Make sleep a priority. ...
  • Eat healthy foods. ...
  • Learn about your disorder.
Jul 20, 2021

What are five stress management techniques? ›

Try these five tips to manage stress and reduce the overall stress of day-to-day activities:
  • Use guided meditation. ...
  • Practice deep breathing. ...
  • Maintain physical exercise and good nutrition. ...
  • Manage social media time. ...
  • Connect with others.
Feb 21, 2023

What eight coping strategies were found? ›

The model contains a total of eight coping styles forming a circumplex: positive emotional coping, efficiency, problem solving, preoccupation with the problem, negative emotional coping, helplessness, problem avoidance, and hedonic disengagement.

What works fastest for depression? ›

Types of fast-acting antidepressants
  • SSRIs such as fluoxetine (Prozac), citalopram (Celexa), and sertraline (Zoloft)
  • serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) such as venlafaxine (Effexor), desvenlafaxine (Pristiq), and duloxetine (Cymbalta)
May 12, 2022

What are positive exercises for mental health? ›

7 Quick & Easy Mental Health Exercises to Help You Through Your Day
  • Take Deep and Conscious Breaths. ...
  • Meditate at Your Desk. ...
  • Stand and Stretch. ...
  • Engage with Others. ...
  • Listen to Music. ...
  • Take a Moment to Laugh. ...
  • Make Your Goals Realistic.

What is the best exercise when feeling depressed? ›

Any exercise is better than none and even a brisk 10-minute walk can clear your mind and help you relax. Find out more about walking for health.

What are the 8 simple self improvement techniques? ›

8 of the Best Secrets to Self-Improvement
  • Start Your Day Off Right. One of the best ways to kick off your day is by waking up earlier. ...
  • Be Kind and Generous. ...
  • Accept Who You Are. ...
  • Learn Something New. ...
  • Be Afraid. ...
  • Replace Bad Habits. ...
  • Believe in Yourself. ...
  • Take a Break.
Sep 28, 2015

What are the 7 pillars of self-help? ›

Each method of self-care fits into one of the seven pillars: mental, emotional, physical, environmental, spiritual, recreational, and social. A well-balanced self-care routine involves each of these, so avoid restricting yourself to just one or two pillars.

What are the 8 areas of self-care? ›

Namely, there are 8 main areas of self-care: physical, psychological, emotional, social, professional, environmental, spiritual, and financial.

What natural stuff is good for depression? ›

Here are some supplements that are promoted by marketers as helping with depression:
  • St. John's wort. ...
  • SAMe. This dietary supplement is a synthetic form of a chemical that occurs naturally in the body. ...
  • Omega-3 fatty acids. ...
  • Saffron. ...
  • 5-HTP. ...
  • DHEA.

What is positive coping? ›

Positive coping strategies are any actions you take to manage and reduce stress in your life, in a way that isn't going to be harmful or detrimental in the long term. People who use positive strategies are not only better able to tackle challenges and bounce back from tough times, but they are also much happier.

Which activity is a positive coping strategy? ›

The most utilized coping strategies include: Physical activity (outdoors and indoors) Virtual and in-person (socially distanced) social interaction. Positive psychology practice (e.g., creativity, humor)

What type of stress can cause depression? ›

Socially stressful and traumatic life events, limited access to resources such as food, housing, and health care, and a lack of social support all contribute to depression risk.

How do you recover from mental stress? ›

Here are 15 evidence-based ways to relieve stress.
  1. Get more physical activity. ...
  2. Follow a healthy diet. ...
  3. Minimize phone use and screen time. ...
  4. Consider supplements. ...
  5. Practice self-care. ...
  6. Reduce your caffeine intake. ...
  7. Spend time with friends and family. ...
  8. Create boundaries and learn to say no.
Jan 20, 2022

What are two positive coping strategies? ›

Behaviors such as exercise, meditation, deep breathing, good eating habits, and getting enough sleep can help individuals better handle stress.

Which of the five coping strategies is the most effective? ›

Topping the list of effective coping strategies are active coping, positive reframing, instrumental support, religion, and acceptance. Here's what each entails. Active coping is characterized by solving problems, seeking information or social support, seeking help, and/or changing one's environment.

What is passive coping? ›

Passive coping refers to a series of strategies that allows the person to disengage with the stressor by avoiding, denying, or withdrawing. Passive coping can be behavioral or cognitive in nature and often results in the individual to relinquish control to others or the situation.

What is the one free thing you can do to relieve depression? ›

Take Up Meditating

Researchers at the University of North Carolina have found that mindfulness meditation -- in which you focus on your breathing cycles, awareness of thoughts and feelings, and relaxing physical muscles -- can reduce symptoms of depression by as much as 54%.

What help is there for a person who has symptoms of depression? ›

Medications such as antidepressants can be helpful in alleviating depressive symptoms. Therapy, especially cognitive behavioral therapy, teaches skills to better manage negative thoughts and improve coping behaviors to help break you out of cycles of depression.

How do I help myself? ›

About Self-Care
  1. Get regular exercise. Just 30 minutes of walking every day can help boost your mood and improve your health. ...
  2. Eat healthy, regular meals and stay hydrated. ...
  3. Make sleep a priority. ...
  4. Try a relaxing activity. ...
  5. Set goals and priorities. ...
  6. Practice gratitude. ...
  7. Focus on positivity. ...
  8. Stay connected.

What are the 4 main causes of depression? ›

Causes - Clinical depression
  • Stressful events. Most people take time to come to terms with stressful events, such as bereavement or a relationship breakdown. ...
  • Personality. ...
  • Family history. ...
  • Giving birth. ...
  • Loneliness. ...
  • Alcohol and drugs. ...
  • Illness.


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