6 Things You Can Do to Combat Depression, and Why You Should Always Do Them

man in sweater feeling depression

There are a lot of things you can do on top of taking medications to combat depression. Some people will get a lot of mileage out of these, and others may not feel much benefit, but here are a few you should do no matter what.

1) See a Psychiatrist

You need a doctor who is a specialist in mental health. Hopefully you’ll find a good one (you can use the same techniques outlined here for finding a good therapist).

Your regular doctor can’t handle your Bipolar II Disorder by banging out a prescription for Prozac, or even Abilify.

2) See a Therapist

Find a good one, and make sure that you keep reminding yourself to be open with them. If you really don’t hold back, it will help a lot more.

3) Don’t Punish Yourself 

Dishes not done? Mail unread? Worn the same clothes for a week? Subsisting on gummy bears? So what.

Remember that sometimes you don’t have the capacity to do things – you actually don’t. Sometimes doing even one thing makes your mood crash. Don’t push yourself, and don’t punish yourself for having an illness.

4) Stay Away From Alcohol

For a lot of people this won’t be a big deal. If you find that drinking helps you deal with life stressors or symptoms from bipolar disorder, it might be time to find new strategies. If you find it’s tough to socialize with friends and coworkers unless it’s at a bar or having beers at someone’s house, that doesn’t have to be a big deal: if you’re comfortable with not drinking, nobody else will make an issue out of it. If you feel the need to offer explanations, you can say you’ve discovered you get a headache whenever you drink, and you’d rather not have a headache.

What’s Wrong With Alcohol?

Alcohol can mess with every psychiatric medication you might be taking. The issue of toxicity aside, alcohol can keep your medications from working properly. 

More importantly, alcohol can cause your moods to be unstable, with or especially without the medications. Some people report experiencing a sort of high right after drinking, and then crashing into depression the next day. Alcohol could certainly spark a hypomanic or depressive episode.

In my experience, most psychiatrists will tell you it’s OK to have a drink or two, no matter what you’re on. I’d be more conservative.

5) Drink Enough Water

Did you know that mild dehydration is linked to anxiety? It’s linked to depression too. Mild dehydration will make you feel fatigued, and impair your cognitive abilities.

Many psychiatric medications will increase your need for water, so if your water intake was adequate, it may not be anymore.

Pro tip – most people mistake the body’s thirst signal for a sign of hunger. This can leave you chronically thirsty, and chronically dehydrated. Pay attention to what your body is telling you.

6) Keep a Journal

Studies show that people who keep a daily journal are less likely to be depressed. It certainly can’t hurt you, unless you decide to start doing it, miss a day or two, and then berate yourself about it.

The most important thing to remember about your journal is that there is no audience. It’s for you to write in; even the future you isn’t the audience.

If I miss a day of writing, it’s not a big deal to me. Besides, “don’t feel like writing” or “writing this just to check off to-do box” are completely acceptable entries for your journal!

Keeping a journal can help you work through problems you’re having, thoughts that are swirling around your head, or can act as an emotional release. It’ll help you keep track of how you’ve been doing over time as well.

Photo by Segopotso Makhutja from Pexels

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