How to Cope with Depression

Don't fight to escape your depression. You can learn healthy ways to cope.

Conversations about depression have thankfully become less taboo than they once were. The normalized discourse means people are raising awareness about the paralyzing fact that over 2 million people attempt suicide per year in the U.S. Now, even celebrities are talking openly about their struggles with mental illness. While most health issues seem like uphill battles with an eventual return to health, depression is about learning to live with your condition. The everyday struggles of living with depression can feel never-ending. Medication? Therapy? How can you figure out what is right for you?

Remind yourself you're not alone.

The repeated phrase may sound redundant, but in your darkest moments it's easy to feel misunderstood. Remembering that others have similar draining thoughts and are still here can be a source of strength. It's important to remind yourself, "Today is today, tomorrow is tomorrow, and the next day is the next day." Your depression can only define you if you let it.

Recognize your illness and its triggers.

The ability to recognize and avoid the small things that destabilize you each day is more important than people realize. When you're struggling, it's vital to make a distinction between the depression and your true reality. Depression can create a warped experience, dissociating you from the truth and bogging you down—do your best to recognize that your symptoms do not define you.

Create a routine.

Don't sleep in, have breakfast, and find a motivating mode of exercise—whether it's yoga, running, or lifting weights. Creating a routine which enforces a healthy lifestyle that nourishes your body and mind goes a long way. Coming to terms with your reality is an uphill battle in of itself, but knowing how to take care of your physical body is the beginning to a healthier and happier you.

Unload.

Unfortunately for many, venting to a loved one can feel overbearing and embarrassing. Instead of risking relationships over your illness, consider other outlets. If you're not comfortable going to a therapist yet or can't afford to do so, journaling is a simple tactic to unload your stress.

Of course, the same goes for therapy. Therapists are there to support and unpack your trials, not judge you. At times, it may feel exhausting repeating your traumas over and over until you find the right therapist, but a professional who understands you and your perspective is money well spent.

Unwind.

Prioritizing your happiness can help suppress your illness. Choosing to set aside time for yourself can contribute to great improvements in your quality of life. Make a list of all the things you'd like to do, but somehow never have time for. By cutting out phone time and working on your mental and physical health instead, you may just find you have time for the things that bring you peace—like reading a book or spending time with a friend.