Depression is more than a rough patch. It’s a serious mental illness that requires attention. An estimated 16 million Americans have depression. It causes people suffering in all areas of their lives, personal and professional. While we’ve come a long way in finding effective treatments for depression, less than half of those affected receive any treatment. A range of barriers to access to mental health care exist, from stigma to poverty.
These are 16 ways to fight depression, 1 for each million depressed Americans.
- Don’t blame yourself. Accept that depression is an illness just as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer are illnesses. Trying harder won’t make depression go away. Seeking treatment will.
- If you aren’t already, see a psychiatrist.
- Maintain a routine. Sticking to a routine will make it harder to slip into isolation and procrastination when a bout of depression rears its ugly head.
- Reconnect with someone you love. Arrange to meet up, or if they live too far, give them a call.
- Join a group that shares your interests. A book club, a recreational sports team, a church group, support group, volunteer corps.
- Learn to meditate.
- Plan a trip. The trip can be big or small, but it will give you something to look forward to.
- Spend time with kids. Volunteer to babysit a younger relative or neighbor.
- Sleep at least 7 hours per night.
- Get your heart rate up at least 20 minutes a day, five days a week. Jump rope, walk briskly around the neighborhood, hop on the exercise bike at the gym. Whatever gets the blood pumping that you’ll enjoy (at least a little).
- Go hang out in a public place. Even just being in a social space can lift your spirits. Go to a mall, museum, or park.
- Watch a funny movie or show. The chuckles will do you good, even if you don’t feel like laughing.
- Spend more time in nature.
- Start a journal. Write about your needs, wants, and moods weekly.
- If you’re dealing with a bout of depression, postpone major decisions concerning relationships or your career. The negative outlook forced upon you by your depression will interfere with what you really want.
- Be kind to yourself. Cut yourself some slack and show self-compassion. All you can do is your best.