Being depressed can make you feel helpless. You’re not. Along with therapy and sometimes medication, there’s a lot you can do on your own to fight back. Changing your behavior — your physical activity, lifestyle, and even your way of thinking — are all-natural depression treatments. These tips can help you feel better — starting right now:
- Set goals. When you’re depressed, you may feel like you can’t accomplish anything. That makes you feel worse about yourself. To push back, set daily goals for yourself.
- It temporarily boosts feel-good chemicals called endorphins. It may also have long-term benefits for people with depression. Regular exercise seems to encourage the brain to rewire itself in positive ways, Cook says.
- Eat healthy. There is no magic diet that fixes depression. It’s a good idea to watch what you eat, though. If depression tends to make you overeat, getting in control of your eating will help you feel better.
- Although nothing is definitive, Cook says there’s evidence that foods with omega-3 fatty acids (such as salmon and tuna) and folic acid (such as spinach and avocado) could help ease depression.
- Get enough sleep. Depression can make it hard to get enough shut-eye, and too little sleep can make depression worse.
- What can you do? Start by making some changes to your lifestyle. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day. Try not to nap. Take all the distractions out of your bedroom — no computer and no TV. In time, you may find your sleep improves
- Take on responsibilities. When you’re depressed, you may want to pull back from life and give up your responsibilities at home and at work. Don’t. Staying involved and having daily responsibilities can help you maintain a lifestyle that can help counter depression. They ground you and give you a sense of accomplishment.
- If you’re not up to full-time school or work, that’s fine. Think about part-time. If that seems like too much, consider volunteer work.
- Do something new. When you’re depressed, you’re in a rut. Push yourself to do something different. Go to a museum. Pick up a used book and read it on a park bench. Volunteer at a soup kitchen. Take a language class.
- “When we challenge ourselves to do something different, there are chemical changes in the brain,” Cook says. “Trying something new alters the levels of dopamine, which is associated with pleasure, enjoyment, and learning.”
- Try to have fun. If you’re depressed, make time for things you enjoy. What if nothing seems fun anymore? “That’s just a symptom of depression,” Cook says. You have to keep trying anyway.
- As strange as it might sound, you have to work at having fun. Plan things you used to enjoy, even if they feel like a chore. Keep going to the movies. Keep going out with friends for dinner.
- When you’re depressed, you can lose the knack for enjoying life, Cook says. You have to relearn how to do it. In time, fun things really will feel fun again.
- Acupuncture may help ease depression symptoms, as well as treat the underlying condition, although more research is needed to confirm.
- In one 2013 study, researchers found that electroacupuncture, a type of acupuncture that uses a mild electric current transmitted through the needles, was just as effective as fluoxetine (Prozac) in easing depression symptoms.
- In another study, researchers examined the effect of acupuncture on sexual dysfunction, one of the most common antidepressant side effects. Both men and women in this study showed significant improvement after 12 weeks of acupuncture treatment.
- Many Western healthcare providers question the efficacy of acupuncture. It’s not exactly a verifiable and science-based treatment. However, research does show that the needles from acupuncture treatments release endorphins in your body.