Depression

  • Medical Author:
    Roxanne Dryden-Edwards, MD

    Dr. Roxanne Dryden-Edwards is an adult, child, and adolescent psychiatrist. She is a former Chair of the Committee on Developmental Disabilities for the American Psychiatric Association, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, and Medical Director of the National Center for Children and Families in Bethesda, Maryland.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Understanding Depression Slideshow

Quick GuideDepression Guide: Signs, Symptoms, and Testing

Depression Guide: Signs, Symptoms, and Testing

Is it possible to prevent depression?

Programs that use mental-health professionals to teach thinking skills (cognitive techniques) that assist in coping with stress seem to be effective in preventing depression. Key aspects in the prevention of postpartum depression include helping new mothers decrease those specific aspects of their lives that may contribute to depression, like having little social support and poor adjustment to their marriage or other domestic union. Engaging in religious or spiritual practices can often prevent depression, thought to be the result of decreasing stress, increasing a sense of hope, and providing a sense of community. On the other hand, people who feel they are unable to live up to the standards set by their religious or spiritual practices may feel a sense of guilt that becomes a risk factor for depression.

What about self-help and home remedies for depression?

Depressive disorders can make those afflicted feel exhausted, worthless, helpless, and hopeless. Such negative thoughts and feelings make some people feel like giving up. It is important to realize that these negative views are part of the depressive illness and typically do not accurately reflect the actual situation. It should be remembered that negative thinking fades as treatment begins to take effect. In the meantime, the following are helpful tips for how to fight depression:

  • Eat healthy foods. The frequent lack of adequate nutrients and presence of excessive fats, sugars, and sodium in fast foods can further sap the energy of depression sufferers.
  • Many may find that folate and vitamin D food supplements help coping with depression.
  • Make time to get enough rest to physically promote improvement in your mood.
  • Express your feelings, either to friends, in a journal, or using art to help release some negative feelings.
  • Do not set difficult goals for yourself or take on a great deal of responsibility while dealing with depression.
  • Break large tasks into small ones, set some priorities, and do what you can when you can.
  • Do not expect too much from yourself too soon as this will only increase feelings of failure.
  • Try to be with other people, which is usually better than being alone.
  • Participate in activities that may make you feel better.
  • You might try exercising, going to a movie or a ball game, or participating in religious or social activities.
  • Don't rush or overdo it. Don't get upset if you do not feel "cured" right away. Feeling better takes time.
  • Do not make major life decisions, such as changing jobs or getting married or divorced without consulting others who know you well. These people often can have a more objective view of your situation. In any case, it is advisable to postpone important decisions until your depression has lifted.
  • Do not expect to abruptly "snap out" of your depression. People rarely do. Help yourself as much as you can, and do not blame yourself for not being up to par.
  • Remember, do not accept your negative thinking. It is part of the depression and will disappear as your depression responds to treatment.
  • Plan how you would get help for yourself in an emergency, like calling friends, family, your physical or mental-health professional, or a local emergency room if you were to develop thoughts of harming yourself or someone else.
  • Limit your access to things that could be used to hurt yourself or others (for example, do not keep excess medication of any kind, firearms, or other weapons in the home).
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/17/2016

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