What Can I Do for Depression?


Recommendations for symptoms of depression:

The following section was written in the perspective of a psychiatrist (Dr. Saleh), and what they might recommend for someone who is depressed.

As mentioned in the encyclopedia section, depressive symptoms can be triggered by different factors, such as illness (physical or mental), and life events (e.g., divorce, the loss of a loved one), or drugs (prescribed, over-the-counter, or recreational). An assessment through your family doctor can help exclude physical conditions and to understand what’s going on. Talk with a health professional to help determine the best course of treatment for you. 


Prevention is better than Treatment

Addressing your depression early on can help prevent future episodes and keep your depression from getting worse.


Basic Lifestyle Recommendations

  • Self-care: Sometimes it can be hard to even get out of bed – just doing that can be an accomplishment! If you can do that, take small steps in the day. It helps to keep up your daily activities, like taking care of yourself, getting out of the house, having meals, and setting a regular sleep pattern. Read more about sleep here.
  • Relax: Take some time for yourself to relax, away from work or school. For example, see a friend, listen to some music, or watch a movie.
  • Get active: Give your life an active balance by mmaintaining regular daily physical activity like going for a walk for 10-20 minutes. Read more about why exercise can help here.
  • Staying healthy: Keep a healthy lifestyle by watching your diet and other behaviours because your physical and mental health are related. For example, although alcohol and drugs might initially elevate your mood, they can also lead to dependence, depression, and suicidal thoughts, making your symptoms worse.
  • Organize: Look at the way your day is organized and what your schedule is like. Do you keep a to do list and prioritize your day, or do you just wake up and see where the day takes you? To maintain good self-care it is very important to organize your time and plan for future events, like exams and your free time.


Managing Depression

  • Journal your thoughts: Keep a diary of your thought patterns to pay attention to the negative thoughts you may have. For example, some thought patterns you have may be negative (e.g., “I’ll never be able to do this and I’m a failure”) and constructing these thoughts in a different way can be more helpful (e.g., “If I divide the work, I can take it on in small”). Try to modify them or frame them in a more positive light. Being aware of the way you verbalize your thoughts in your head can help you to modify your negative thought patterns into more positive ones.
  • Get in touch: Often when people are depressed, they withdraw from their friends and family. Trying to maintain regular social contact and being in touch with others can enhance your sense of wellbeing. Read more about socialization here.
  • Open up: If you experience distress, try to open up to someone. Sometimes we may not have our own supports in place; if this is the case, try to make use of the community resources like the crisis line or other support facilities.
  • Reward each step: Reward yourself for any small steps you take each day.
  • Manage your stress: Try not to overwhelm yourself by overloading your schedule with too many activities. Start with small steps, especially if you are not feeling very well. Use relaxations methods to calm yourself and avoid stress, like taking deep breaths, or doing whatever helps you to cope best.
  • Develop a crisis plan: With your health professional, develop an emergency plan for what you will do if you have a crisis.


Extra Advice

  • It is also good idea to avoid making important decisions during this phase, like quitting school, because depression may impair your judgment and thoughts.
  • Suicidal thoughts are commonly associated with depression, especially during the initial phase of treatment. If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, get in touch with someone here.
  • Treatment may need 3-4 weeks to get effective, so be patient and talk to your health provider to discuss how you can to bridge this period.                                                                            


Seeking Further Help

Don’t be afraid to reach out for help - it may be useful to you to seek professional help from a mental health professional to help address symptoms of depression. For example, they may help to guide you through treatment such as cognitive behavioural therapy, to address your thought patterns in a more structured way. Sometimes depression may be treated also with medications, so your mental health professional may discuss this with you as an option.

By Firyal Saleh