Five Tips for Coping with Depression.

Via on Feb 27, 2012

Tony Birrer

Think happy thoughts! Wake up early and exercise! Don’t slouch!

If you’re anything like me, hearing this kind of advice when you’re in a funk only makes you more depressed. Whether we have a diagnosed condition or are simply human, periods of depression are something we all face. Sometimes life becomes blasé — the spark is gone, and all that seems appealing is retreating into the sheets, the computer screen, or any other way to tune out.

The good news is, as tough as it can seem, things can be done to alleviate depression. It isn’t a hopeless, eternal dead end. It’s up to you to pull yourself out.

Like many people, I struggle with periods of depression. I won’t purport to have a cure, but the following things have always helped me move through difficult times.

1. Push Yourself

You can’t get out of depression by sitting still. Part of the insidious nature of depression is that it robs us of our motivation to do what we need to do to feel better. Even by reading this article, you’re making an effort to change how you feel. The key to overcoming depression is willingness to do what it takes, even when you don’t want to or can’t see how it will help. If all else fails, do something — anything is better than remaining inactive and running a broken record of doom and gloom in your head.

2. Stay Active

You may feel like you’re treading water in life by keeping up your routine and responsibilities, but at least you aren’t sinking. If you allow depression to rob you of your ability to stay in control of your life, things will only get worse. It’s easy to use it as an excuse to give up on the challenges of day to day life, but whatever you do, don’t give up the fight.

3. Stay Connected

Depression is a powerful foe, and it helps to have allies if you hope to defeat it. It has helped me greatly to have people in my life who I feel like I can be honest with about how I feel. You don’t have to burden everyone you pass on the street with your depressed thinking, but feeling a part of the human race can keep it at bay. Try to socialize, to see friends or family and to get outside. If nothing else, it’s a distraction from indulging in thoughts of “woe is me.”

4. Remember That Feelings Pass

You weren’t always depressed, and you won’t always be. Feelings are like the weather — sometimes clouds move in, sometimes the sun is out, but it is always changing, and always will change. Patience can be difficult to practice when every moment feels like an eternity, but the reality is that you won’t always feel how you feel now, even though it may seem like it.

5. Remember Your Passion

We all have things that bring a smile to our face and quiet our mind. One of the tricks in depression’s bag is to make you believe that these things won’t make you feel better. Whether it’s a hobby, a creative endeavor, a friend, a lover, a book, or a piece of music, there’s something we’re passionate about.

Depression will delude you into thinking there’s nothing in life worth doing. Don’t be fooled!


More on elephant about depression:

> Does Back Pain Cause Depression?

> Natural Remedies For Depression

> Banish Depression With the Tree of Happiness


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17 Responses to “Five Tips for Coping with Depression.”

  1. Andrew Rose says:

    These are all great tips! Therapy helps too. Sometimes a counselor with no dual relationship can be the best person to work with when you’re ready to really let it all hang out.

    Affordable relational psychotherapy (MA internship site)

  2. Sheri McCord sheri says:

    Fantastic reminders!

    Just posted to "Featured Today" on the brand new Elephant Health & Wellness Homepage.

    Sheri McCord
    Please "like" Elephant Health & Wellness on Facebook.

  3. randolphr says:

    Greg, this is a deeper subject than your comments describe & allow for. I think you took this a tad too lightly.

    • elephantjournal says:

      That's a somewhat insensitive comment, considering he (as all of us) is speaking from personal experience. No one takes depression lightly, by definition. ~ Waylon

    • bea says:

      I suffer from rather severe depression and I think these are great tips. When you are in it deep, the reminder to keep moving, stay connected and remember that feelings pass is crucial to getting through a particularly bad bout. Lying around, isolating yourself and thinking you'll feel this way forever are incredibly harmful.

    • Greg Eckard says:


      Thanks for your honesty! Depression is an illness and it can be fatal. I use western medicine (therapy, medication) to help treat my depression, and it certainly helps. I don't deny that these measures help a lot of people, but I think it's important to meet them halfway. I've realized there's no pill that will give me fulfillment. I didn't mean to insinuate that people were responsible for having depression because they chose to have a negative attitude. I have found, however, that it's my responsibility and mine alone to question whether my thinking is distorted and be open minded to positivity.

      ~ Greg

      • Louise Brooks says:

        I'm glad you have expanded on your personal experience and revealed your use of medication and therapy. What Randolphr and I take exception to is the way you made depression appear to be a "mood" disorder that can be overcome by simply pulling up your bootstraps and getting on with life. I have suffered from severe anxiety disorder and depression since I was a child. Without medication I would not be here writing this post. I continue to be mystified by the yoga community's dislike of the use of medication for mental illness. Depression and anxiety are serious illnesses and are not simply overcome with cognitive therapy and putting on a happy face. For those that find "5 easy tips" solves their problem they did not have a severe illness. Rather, they likely had a passing low point or stressful period in their life. People commit suicide over depression and anxiety every day, every month, every year. The yoga community needs to get real about this issue.

        • Yes, Louise, depression is indeed a very complex and serious illness. I hear your concern that it not be taken lightly. I have known many people who suffer from depression, and your points and Randolphr's are important ones. I liked this sentence of his: "When the simple things fail, what's left ? Blame, shame, not trying hard enough ? That's where the real help is truly required." And yes, many times that help involves medication. Sometimes, in the yoga community, people will not take medication for depression because they feel it is a sign of their inability to master their moods via their yoga practice. Unfortunately, this just makes them more depressed. I wrote a little article on a depressed swami here, if you'd like to read it.… Hearing your concerns inspires me to write a more in-depth article on depression in yoga communities addressing some of the negative stigmas. THank you.

          • Louise Brooks says:

            Thank you so very much Catherine. Your words, and the article you wrote brought tears to my eyes. I fully support your plans to write another article about depression in the yoga community. May I suggest you include Anxiety as well? In your research, you will find clinical depression and clinical anxiety pretty much always include experiences of the the other. Think of depression and anxiety on a spectrum. I agree with you point about many in the yoga community feeling medication means "failure" to master their moods. This is where their misunderstandings and ignorance about this type of mental illness come into play. Depression and anxiety are not mood disorders. If they were, any old pill would help. A bit of talk therapy and trip to Jamaica would solve everything. Alas, for those of us who have been suffering for most of our lives we have tried everything. I can tell you will full sincerity that there is something amiss in the chemistry of my brain. I am very fortunate that roughly 6 years ago a medication (Effexor) was tried and has kept me "anxiety attack free" since then. Other medications did not work. I still do suffer from depressive thoughts and have to continue to be vigilant with cognitive therapy, meditation, my meds, exercise among other things. I have accepted this will be a life long journey for me.
            Best of luck with your article and feel free to contact me if you include personal accounts in your article (or for any other reason).


  4. elephantjournal says:

    Just Sarit for the normal case of the "blues," this is helpful, but not for those truly suffering from clinical depression.
    9 hours ago · LikeUnlike · 2
    Mary Nash-Pyott thin line between allowing and indulgence. We tend to tip into the latter, completely negating the healing effects of the former…
    9 hours ago · LikeUnlike
    Mary Nash-Pyott clinical depression is simply a line in the sand of delusion. On one side, we still have some chance of clarity. Slip further, and you are toast.

    but if we are ok with a bit of pain and confusion, we can still allow it and let it play itself out.
    9 hours ago · LikeUnlike
    Rachel Waters Spoken like a true therapist! Exactly what mine says.

  5. randolphr says:

    - Anxiety ….. when that is part of 'the mix' , phew …. It took me quite a few years to realize that this was a word which did not simply adhere or apply to the 'situational' ….. Perhaps some of us have seen or have read @ musician Sly Stone's interview on (if I recall correctly) the old Tonight Show w/ Johnny Carson where he gives, by way of explanation, the answer to the question: "where have you been … what happened to your career ?" and he replies: "Cocaine is a helluva drug ……" as he smiles and pretends to slide off his chair ….. Depression AND Anxiety ? ….. that's a helluva combination ….. and if only these things came with an easy to read tag or could be measured with a thermometer in the mouth ….. When these issues are pervasive and occur early in life, prior to having, say, established real traction, identity or life direction, then they're like ghost companions that you didn't even know were there: One begins to 'understand' oneself without realizing that there is a core problem, a thing 'other than' ability, aptitude, personality etc. but none the less deeply woven into one's fabric. Things that are so terribly adjacent to one's feelings & perceptions that one might never know another way of feeling, much less that there is a possibility of feeling much, much differently, and of living much, much differently.

    I am thankful to everyone who wrote in. I wish there had been more.

    Thanks for starting it off Greg.

  6. [...] high. When one accomplishment is achieved we feel the high for a short amount of time, then the crash and burn comes. We feel empty again so we set out for the next the next big high and so the vicious cycle [...]

  7. [...] Our approach is designed to guide you toward balancing your body, settling your mind and connecting to your heart, so that the enemies of joy, the external forces beyond your control, have less power over you. These forces can be fierce, but you can be just as fierce in how you respond to them. [...]

  8. April says:

    I am an alternative medicine practitioner of many modalities and I have suffered from depression numerous times. I don't use drugs to treat it myself but I think this article is ridiculous and borers on dangerous. Magical thinking, exercise,etc. is not always going to cure depression. Sorry, I just don't agree. Been there, done that and it didn't work for me. I also know many others that can attest to it as well.

  9. giraffetime says:

    You are talking about feeling down or "blue." You are not talking about depression. And your failure to use the proper words has made this a very offensive and dangerous article.

  10. Aaron says:

    Thanks, bro! Your message of self empowerment really resonates with me!

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