1. Join a Support GroupOne of the most important things you can do to help yourself with depression - other than medication and therapy - is to develop a support system for yourself. For some, this may mean forging stronger ties with friends or family, but for others it could mean seeking out a depression support group, either in your community or on the Internet. In fact, you can find one of the best depression support groups right here on About.com.
2. Reduce Your StressWhen you are under stress, your body produces more of a hormone called cortisol. In the short-term, this is a good thing because it helps you gear up to cope with whatever is causing the stress in your life. Over the long run, however, it can cause many problems for you, including depression. The more you can use techniques to reduce stress the better because it will reduce your risk of becoming depressed.
3. Improve Your Sleep HygieneSleep and mood are intimately related. In fact, some studies seem to show that rather than being only a symptom of depression, insomnia may in fact be a cause of depression. Learning how to get a good night's sleep could improve your mood.
4. Improve Your Eating HabitsA poor diet can affect both your physical and mental well-being. Eat better to feel better.
5. Learn How to Stop Negative ThoughtsDid you know that habitual negative thinking can lead to depression? Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy which works to alter common patterns of negative thinking called cognitive distortions in order to eliminate depression. Numerous studies have shown that CBT is an effective treatment for both depression and anxiety. The best results are obtained by using CBT in conjunction with medication.
6. Beat ProcrastinationThe symptoms that we experience when depressed, such as fatigue and hopelessness, make it easy to fall into a habit of putting things off until we feel better. When important deadlines draw near, however, procrastination creates anxiety and guilt that further feeds our depression. It's a vicious cycle, but it can be stopped by learning how to break through the habit of procrastination.
7. Get a Handle on Your Household ChoresWhen we feel depressed it becomes difficult to keep up with daily chores such as housework because we just feel too tired and unmotivated to work. Unfortunately, a dirty home only magnifies our feelings of worthlessness. The good news, however, is that by taking a few simple steps we can regain control of the mess and help ourselves feel better.
8. Learn How to ForgiveHolding on to anger about past events can contribute to depression. Forgiveness can help us heal and move forward, but the way we often define forgiveness may prevent us from taking this important step. Do we really have to forget what happened and act like things are okay? To enjoy the benefits of forgiveness, however, we don't have to take it that far.
Perlis, Michael L., et. al. "Insomnia as a Risk Factor for Onset of Depression in the Elderly." Behavioral Sleep Medicine 4.2 (2006): 104-113.
Rupke, Stuart J., David Blecke and Marjorie Renfrow. "Cognitive Therapy for Depression." American Family Physician 73 (2006): 83-6,93.
Tafet, G.E., et. al. "Correlation between cortisol level and serotonin uptake in patients with chronic stress and depression." Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience 1.4 (2001) :388-393(6).