Some Productive Advice for People With Depression

I'm tired of people telling me to exercise, "just smile," or listen to a happy song. Here are some (doctor sanctioned) things that will genuinely help if you, like me, are depressed.
  1. Regulate your sleep schedule.
    This is SO important, and will make a huge difference. Wake up at the same time every day (yes, weekends too), before 9AM. Get 8-9 hours of sleep every night. Take a melatonin or Tylenol PM before you sleep to help you get a more restful night.
  2. Sleep in a dark, cool room.
    Blackout curtains are your friend. Don't have a TV in your room. A cool temperature will help you get a restful night's sleep, so cuddle up with a nice duvet and get some quality zzz's. 😴
  3. Your bed is for sleeping and sex– nothing else.
    No phones, computers, eating or reading in bed. Train your mind and body to associate your bed with restfulness. Don't confuse it with these distractions.
  4. No naps.
    But if you really must, only 30 mins, and only in the afternoon. Stick out the tiredness during the day and you will get a really good night's sleep. Napping will lead to a jet-lag effect, and we all know how much that sucks.
  5. Morning sunshine.
    Get outside in the morning. It will wake your body and mind up. Don't just sit by a window; actively go outside. It truly does wonders.
  6. Journal.
    Venting your feelings is a WONDERFUL and productive way to heal. Your journal is yours and yours alone. Do not hold yourself up to crazy standards. Just write stream-of-consciousness style. Or write quotes or draw squiggles. Just the physical act of writing on paper can be a release.
  7. Find an outlet to express yourself.
    Do you play an instrument? Draw or paint? Practice yoga or cook? Do anything creative? Find something to do that helps you feel some relief from your heavy mind.
  8. Exercise (if you can).
    I know I said I was tired of being told to exercise, but it's a valid aid for depression. For many depressed people exercise can be too much. But if you suddenly feel the urge, go for it. If not, it's ok. Once you start feeling better you will have more energy to exercise. At that point try to get out there 4 times a week (any less and you won't really feel the effect). But until then let yourself just be.
  9. 3000-4000mg of fish oil every day.
    This is just general good life advice. Depressed people really need the Omega 3's.
  10. Be around people.
    Hang around people. If you don't want to talk, go to a library or coffee shop where you can be around people but exist in your bubble. Or hang out with your friends for a little while. This is hugely important. It's so easy to isolate yourself when you're depressed, but this is completely self destructive.
  11. Don't drink.
    Alcohol is a depressant that will worsen the side effects of depression. Cut out drinking, or if you don't want to, stick to only 1 drink on a night out. Your mind will thank you.
  12. Take it day by day.
    Recovery is hard, and it's easy to be overwhelmed if you start thinking about the future. Realize that at this moment in your life, you need to focus on getting through each day. Don't catastrophize the "what-ifs." Focus on what is right in front of you.
  13. Talk to people you trust.
    Let the people you trust the most know what is going on in your head. These people will support you. You don't need to struggle through this alone. Too many people suffer in silence, and opening up will be a huge weight off.
  14. Talk to a therapist.
    This one is obvious, but worth reminding you. Therapy is great because it reminds you that you are not alone, and gives you a (theoretically) non-judgmental person to vent your feelings to. It will bring relief. They may also recommend medication. Which brings me to...
  15. Take your medicine.
    If your doctor prescribes you a medication, take it at the same time every day. Make this your regimen and stick to it. Pay attention to the signals your body tells you: is it helping? How are the side effects? Are they normal and manageable, or do you need to talk to your doctor about making a change?
  16. Be kind to yourself.
    This is incredibly difficult when you are depressed, I know. But you are worth it, and you deserve love and acceptance. Believe it. If you have a particularly bad day, don't beat yourself up over it. You are depressed, and it impacts your functioning. If you have a good day, allow yourself to feel that success. Overall, accept that this is a difficult time, and things will be hard, but with some love and care you will get through it.