top of page

6 Healthy Ways to Cope with Depression

By Ashley Barnes, M.S.

Reviewed by: Mark Hrymoc, MD


Symptoms.


Depression is reportedly the most common mental health disorder. Depression is one of the most common mental health challenges that people experience.


According to Harvard Health Publishing, “Research suggests that depression doesn't spring from simply having too much or too little of certain brain chemicals. Rather, there are many possible causes of depression, including faulty mood regulation by the brain, genetic vulnerability, and stressful life events. It's believed that several of these forces interact to bring on depression” (2022).


Some depression symptoms may not come as a surprise, yet others aren’t as commonly recognized. Common symptoms of depression are:

  • Depressed mood: feelings of sadness, hopelessness, emptiness.

  • Lack of pleasure: in various activities, even those you love most.

  • Fluctuations in weight: eating more or less than usual.

  • Sleep changes: you may find yourself sleeping more or less than you normally would.

  • Slowing down: you may be observed by others to move and talk slower than usual.

  • Loss of energy: you may experience tiredness and lack of energy.

  • Guilt: this feeling may become excessive and may be accompanied by feelings of worthlessness.

  • Concentration changes: you may have trouble focusing or making decisions.

  • Thoughts of death: some people experience thoughts of suicide or related ideation.

    • If you have any of these thoughts and have an intent to act on them, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 988 for your own safety.


6 Healthy Ways to Cope with Depression.


Depression symptoms often pull us to engage in behavior that ends up making us feel worse, such as social isolation. The following are 6 ways to counter depression symptoms:


Socialize - Connecting with our support system can enhance our wellbeing. Connecting with friends, family, and those in the community foster meaningful human connection and can make us feel good; research indicates that having perceived stronger and meaningful connections with others can help improve our mental health (Korb, 2015).


Cultivating Gratitude - Research also indicates that expressing gratitude can improve our general sense of well-being, especially pertaining to our mood (Emmons & McCullough, 2003). Gratitude can be especially helpful in challenging negative, depressing thought patterns. We can practice gratitude through a simple thought journal where we make an intention to note aspects of our life that we are thankful for. We can also express gratitude directly to other people. Gratitude helps us focus on the positive aspects of our lives in a way that makes those positive aspects more salient to us.


Reduce Alcohol and Substance Consumption - Dr. Mark Hrymoc, co-founder of the Mental Health Center, explains that “substance abuse is often a co-occuring disorder alongside depression. Those who live with depressive disorders experience emotional pain in the form of suicidal ideation and depressed mood; some use substances as a way to temporarily numb emotional symptoms. However, the co-occurring disorders feed off each other in a way that worsens both the substance abuse and depression over time.” Reducing alcohol and substance consumption can prevent depression symptoms from worsening.


Physical Exercise - We know that exercise is recommended for improving our physical health but has also been researched and observed to have positive benefits on mental health. It increases endorphins in our bodies, which help us effectively cope with stress and pain. Further, when we exercise, studies show that this can in turn positively impact our sleep cycles, enhancing our quality of sleep (Korb, 2015). Exercise can look different for each of us depending on our ability status and the time we are allotted with our various responsibilities, but finding ways to integrate exercise into our schedules is recommended.


Sleep - Depression can negatively impact our sleep schedule, which is unfortunate, as sleep is essential to our mental and physical wellbeing. Making sure that we get an adequate amount of sleep helps us cope with stress better, has a positive effect on memory, and improves mood (Korb, 2015). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests adults acquire around 7 hours of sleep per night (CDC, 2017). Sleep hygiene is a term we are suggested to get familiar with and describes good sleep habits that can help improve sleep quality.


Seek Help - It is crucial to be screened and evaluated by a mental health professional if you suspect that you are experiencing depression. Psychiatrists and therapists have extensive training in the area of assessment and will be able to best determine if what you are experiencing meets the criteria for clinical depression. Mental health professionals may use validated assessment tools such as the Beck Depression Inventory to screen for depression symptoms, using the results as supplementary information in reaching an accurate diagnosis.


Antidepressant medications are prescribed by psychiatrists and have been widely studied to diminish the symptoms that negatively impact the lives of those suffering from depression; selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are some of the most widely utilized medications for the treatment of depression and are known to work by allowing more serotonin to be received by neurons in the brain.


Psychotherapy, also known as “talk therapy,” has also been studied to be extremely effective in the treatment of depression, especially when paired with psychotropic medications like antidepressants. Psychotherapy gives us the opportunity to work through our thoughts and feelings in an effective and healthy manner, all while receiving support from our therapists and developing coping strategies. Yet, some individuals find that their depression symptoms still persist, even after trying several types of antidepressants. Mental health professionals understand this circumstance as treatment-resistant depression.


Ketamine is an effective option for treatment-resistant depression. Ketamine, when administered by a mental health care professional at the clinically appropriate dose, targets neurons in a way that stimulates the activity of neurotransmitters in a way that combats depression symptoms.


Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy (KAP), a combination of psychotherapy and ketamine treatment, is another effective way to combat treatment-resistant depression. In KAP, a therapist guides the patient through the session, engaging the patient in sensitive and attentive psychotherapeutic work to process the experience.

Please contact us at the Mental Health Center for sensitive, attentive mental health care. We look forward to supporting you!

References


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017). CDC - sleep hygiene tips - sleep and sleep disorders. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved November 19, 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/about_sleep/sleep_hygiene.html.


Emmons, R., & McCullough, M. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. Journal of personality and social psychology. Retrieved October 28, 2021, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12585811/.


Harvard Health Publishing. (2022). What causes depression? Harvard Medical School. Retrieved May 23, 2022, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/what-causes-depression

Korb, A. (2015). The upward spiral: Using neuroscience to reverse the course of depression, one small change at a time. New Harbinger Publications.

15 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page