Women's Health Matters

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What can you do if you are depressed

Depression is a highly treatable disorder. While many people struggle with depression, most do not end up seeking treatment. There are many things that can be helpful for individuals with depression. Here are a list of things you can do on your own, and some suggestions for different treatment options.

Self care

  • Connect with others in your life
    • Reach out to friends you trust.
    • Do an activity with a friend. Make a plan to go out for coffee or to see a movie with a friend.
    • Ask someone you trust to check in with you. Ask them to call you at a time you typically find difficult.
    • Start volunteering at an agency that interests you. Helping others can have a positive effect on you and them. 
    • Go to a park where others might be. Sometimes you don’t have to be directly involved with others to feel connected. Even being around others can feel comforting.
    • Enroll in a community class, like writing or pottery.
  • Exercise – Exercise has a powerful effect on the body. It increases endorphins, increases your heart rate, relieves muscle tension and reduces stress. Try to fit simple forms of exercise into your day.
    • go for a walk with a friend after dinner
    • take your dog for a walk
    • take the stairs instead of the elevator
    • look into exercise classes at your local gym
    • try a yoga or tai chi class
  • Eat well – What we put into our bodies can influence how we feel.
    • Eat regular, small meals every day. Skipping meals can exacerbate depression.
    • Eat less sugar and less refined carbohydrates and eat more whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Sugars and refined carbohydrates are foods we often crave (candy, chocolate, muffins, etc). While these foods often taste good going down, they lead to a sugar crash very quickly, which often worsens your mood and can leave you feeling tired and down.
  • Get plenty of rest
    • try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day
    • do the same calming activities as you prepare for bed (such as taking a bath, reading a book)
    • avoid stimulating activities, such as organizing your closet or reviewing your expenses
  • Practice relaxation strategies
    • listen to calming music you enjoy
    • write in a journal
    • read a good book
    • flip through magazines
    • walk in nature
    • take a bath
    • draw, paint, sketch
  • Take care of yourself
    • Find out what feels good to you. What lifts your mood? What makes you smile? Try to incorporate these activities, or parts of these activities, into your daily life.


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  • A publication of:
  • Women's College Hospital