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What Can I Do to Help Myself if I Feel Depressed?

Depression is a serious but treatable illness. See your doctor and get help for recovery. It's always a good idea to get a physical exam in order to rule out other possible causes of the symptoms. You should tell your doctor that you think it might be depression, so that he or she can ask you the right questions and come to the most accurate diagnosis. Therapy is also very important. Many studies have shown that the most effective way to fight depression includes a combination of medication, psychotherapy, and self-care.

Self-education is an important part of self-care. One of the features of depression is that it distorts thinking. Everyone who has depression should learn as much as they can about the disorder. This achieves three things:

  • It will allow you to understand the disorder better.
  • It will underline the fact that these are very real medical disorders and will help to fight prejudice and stigma.
  • It will give you knowledge and tools that you can use to help yourself.

Here are some other ways that you can help to take care of yourself, prevent relapse and maintain wellness:

  • Support groups are a very important form of self-care. They provide much-needed emotional support and are a place to share concerns, information and experiences. They also underline the fact that you, as someone with depression, are not alone. Depression is an illness, not a weakness! Contact your local mood disorders or mental health agency for a location near you.
  • Physical fitness is very important to people with depression. This can be very hard because depression zaps your energy and limits motivation and drive, but your body has to work as effectively as possible in order to counter the effects of depression.
  • Diet is also important. Depression tends to alter your appetite. In addition to making healthy food choices, vitamins and supplements are often valuable in providing balance.
  • Resist the urge to allow yourself to become isolated from others. It is very common to want to withdraw from other people when you're depressed, but try to keep family and friends part of your life. Isolation and loneliness can make depressive symptoms worse, but social contact can help. One-on-one interactions, such as going to a movie or out for coffee with a friend are also good forms of social contact. Being around others provides support, companionship and has a good effect on your general health.
  • Don't allow friends or well-meaning family members to make you feel ashamed or guilty about seeking medical care. Educate those around you to the facts about depression.

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