Living with depression can feel debilitating. Activities you once loved may no longer sound enjoyable, and you may struggle to find the motivation to complete basic tasks. Although it’s hard to see the light while experiencing intense sadness, there is hope. Take a look at the following seven strategies to help lift your spirits when the blues don’t go away.
1. Look Into Prescription Medication
If you’ve been low for a while, antidepressant medication may help you start feeling like yourself again. There are a variety of different types of antidepressants, and prescriptions will vary based on each patient’s unique needs and symptoms. Typically, these medications work by balancing neurotransmitter levels in the brain. Higher levels of neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin usually lead to a reduction in depression.
If you don’t have time to take off work for a visit with your doctor, connecting with a medical provider online can provide support and mental health treatment if deemed appropriate. Visit here to learn more about how you can get mental health treatment online.
2. Reach Out for Support
When you’re feeling down, reaching out to friends and family is often the last thing you want to do. However, having a support network that cares about you can help improve your symptoms. Maintaining meaningful relationships encourages you to engage with the world and creates purpose in your life. This sense of purpose can be challenging to find on your own when you’re depressed.
When creating your support network, choose people who make you feel happy and reduce your stress. Try to avoid situations and people who drain your energy. For example, create space between you and your overly critical friends. It’s also a good idea to avoid loved ones who drink too much or abuse drugs. Many people dealing with depression self-medicate with drugs and alcohol, worsening symptoms in the long run.
3. Eat Healthy Fats
For years the health industry encouraged people to avoid eating fat. But recently, wellness experts have begun highlighting this macronutrient’s many health benefits. Along with promoting heart health and maintaining stable blood sugar, Omega-3 essential fatty acids also optimize brain function. A 2023 study found that daily omega-3 supplementation significantly improved depression symptoms in patients.
To start consuming more healthy fat, eat fatty fish like salmon or trout a few times a week. If you don’t eat fish, try consuming flax seeds daily. This little seed is one of the best plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids for non-meat eaters.
4. Improve Your Sleep Hygiene
The occasional late night out with friends won’t cause depression. But constantly getting a poor night’s sleep may make your symptoms worse. Many people who suffer from depression also struggle with sleep disorders like insomnia. This can make it more challenging to regulate emotions, increasing your vulnerability to depression.
If you struggle to get a peaceful night of sleep, take steps to improve your sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene refers to a set of healthy behaviors that help you fall asleep and stay asleep. Common behaviors include turning off screens, going to bed around the same time, and engaging in relaxing activities.
5. Move Your Body
When you suffer from depression, it’s hard to muster up the energy to exercise. But if you can get yourself off the couch, moving your body can make a world of difference. When you exercise, your body releases feel-good hormones called endorphins. These hormones help to improve your mood and reduce stress.
Getting started can feel intimidating if you haven’t exercised in a while. The good news is that you don’t need to train for a marathon to reap the mood-boosting benefits of movement. Simply going for a walk or dancing around your living room has the power to make you happier.
6. Get Outside
Many people spend their days staring at a computer screen for work, only to wind down with some Netflix on their television. While technology has its fair share of benefits, it’s also drastically reduced the amount of time people spend outdoors. However, spending time in nature may be exactly what you need to live a happier and more fulfilling life.
When you’re outside, you get direct exposure to sunlight. This increases your brain’s production of a mood-boosting hormone called serotonin. If you spend all of your time indoors, your serotonin levels can fall, increasing your risk of developing depression. So if you’re feeling sad, try a little nature therapy.
7. Talk With a Therapist
Depression is challenging to manage alone. Seeking professional guidance from a therapist can make dealing with symptoms easier. Along with the lifestyle changes mentioned above, a therapist can create a personalized treatment plan that includes behavioral changes and mindset shifts.
If you can’t afford in-person therapy, consider exploring online therapy options. Many online programs match you with a virtual therapist for a fraction of the cost of in-person treatment. Additionally, many people find online therapy more convenient than traditional therapy since they don’t need to drive to their provider’s office.
You don’t have to live with intense feelings of sadness. By using the strategies above, you can begin working toward a life you love that isn’t ruled by your depression.