How to Survive a Depression: Essential Tips for Survival

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Understanding Your Depression

Many people mean well, but hearing what you need to do - like just cheer up - is not likely to help much when you are depressed, and can make it worse. In some ways just deciding to feel better is not how to survive a depression, but in some other ways, that is how you survive. There is no quick and easy solution though. It takes daily effort and vigilance to get through a depression.

What makes it hard is that the very things that could help you feel better when you are depressed, are the very things you least want to do, and the things that make it worse, are the things you do want to do.

There are some excellent tips out there on how to survive a depression. You may not feel like doing much, but you can do something. And if you can do just one or two things, that will get you on the path to recovery.

Another Possibility

Sometimes people with ADHD get depression. The two seem to go together. At times if you treat one with medication, they both get better. If you have ADHD you might consider medication, or if you do not, it might be something to investigate. Many adults have ADHD and do not know it because the condition has only recently come to the fore. There are many surveys online to give you an idea as to whether you might have ADHD. Take the results to your doctor and ask if that could be a factor in your depression.

How to Survive a Depression: Tips for Survival

  • Avoid isolation: When you are depressed you want to crawl in a hole and hide, but that only makes it worse. You will likely not want to be around people or involved in any activities, but that is the very thing you should do. Do something each day that will help avoid isolation. You can at least walk around the block, or perhaps telephone someone. Even better would be to go to some activity or gathering.
  • Get support: Find a friend you can talk with about your depression. It is good to get an outside, and more objective opinion about what is going on. A friend, a priest or pastor can help. Or consider talking to a counselor.
  • Examine your thought life: Just because you have a negative thought about yourself or others, does not mean it is true. In fact, it may not be true, and convincing yourself of something that is not true can lead to worse depression. For instance, thinking “I am a failure,” could make you feel depressed when you start believing it. Instead, take the thought and address it with truth. You might think, “yes, I failed at one thing, but that does not mean I am a failure”.
  • Eat healthy and get exercise: This is another area where everything is counter-intuitive. When depressed you don’t feel like exercising and want to eat junk food that is high in fat or sugar. This makes depression worse. Get some daily exercise and pay attention to what you eat.
  • Read a good book: There are many self-help books out there. Try to read one a week. If you get just one or two good ideas from each one, it will have been worthwhile. Read other inspirational literature as well.
  • Structure your time: Especially when depressed, it is easy to stay in bed or not do anything that is not absolutely necessary. Having a schedule can help keep you on track.
  • Remember the good times: Think back to things you may have once enjoyed, whether it was sports, music, walking, or whatever it might be. Do those things whether you feel like it or not, even if it is not fun. Being active will lift your spirits.
  • Pay attention to yourself: Consider keeping a journal about how you feel during the day. Notice times of day when you feel particularly good or bad, and notice as many specific things as possible that affect you one way or the other. Look for patterns. Try to figure out why various things had a certain effect on you. Change what you can accordingly.
  • Acceptance: Try to understand what things you can and cannot change. Change the things you can, and recognize the things you cannot change. Try to accept those things, or at least stop taking responsibility for things you cannot change.
  • See a doctor: A regular checkup can be a great help. Sometimes medical conditions can cause depression. Also consider whether you should take medication for your depression. Consult professionals before making any decisions about medications.


Mayo Clinic: Depression coping and support

Help Guide: Dealing with Depression

Psychology Today: Depression, a catch-22

Anxiety and Stress Disorders Institute of Maryland: Depression, helping yourself.