When Depression Hits: Five Ways to Help You Cope Until You Feel Better

You feel it coming on like the flu or a common cold. It starts slowly enough, but before you know it you don’t want to get out of bed in the morning, you can’t get to sleep at night, you worry about everything under the sun, but can’t seem to muster the energy to do much about it.

Depression is debilitating for millions of people and its causes are varied and complicated. What can you do about depression? Here are some tips to help you cope while you seek help.

  1. Call Your Primary Care Physician Immediately

    Don’t wait to seek medical advice and relief. Your primary doctor can help so don’t delay in getting an appointment. Often times, it can take a week or more to get into the office, so do this quickly. There are great prescription medications that can alleviate many of your symptoms while you work on the root problem. Take advantage of these modern medical marvels.

  2. Schedule a Consult or Appointment with a Mental Health Professional

    If you have seen a therapist in the past, give that person a call and set up a time to talk. If you’ve never had counseling before, ask your primary physician for a referral. Many insurance plans cover short-term therapy, so don’t worry about the cost if it’s part of your benefit package. There are even some companies that have a short-term therapy benefit that does not even charge a co-pay. Look into all the options available to you. Having an impartial person to discuss your concerns with and get a different viewpoint about your issues can really help put your life and problems into perspective.

  3. If You Take Medications, Make Sure You are Not Missing Doses

    Whatever your prescriptions are, make sure you are keeping on top of the timing, the dosage and that each dose is administered properly. Some medications can have side effects if you miss doses that will make you feel even worse than you do while depressed. Make sure that your doctor knows every drug you are taking, every herbal remedy or vitamin or mineral supplement you are taking. Some drugs and herbal medicines can cause brain chemical imbalances, so make sure this is not the cause of your depression.

  4. What’s Causing Your Depression?

    If your depression is not caused by a drug interaction, have you recently had a baby? Post-partum depression is common and treatable. Do you have a history of manic depression or being clinically depressed? Have you suffered a recent loss such as a death of a family member, a miscarriage, the loss of a job or any a major financial setback? All of these things can bring on intense depression. Make a list of all the things that have happened in your live during the past six months to a year and see where the most stressful areas are. If you’re feeling the cause is an unhappy marriage, get counseling on your own or as a couple. If you’re having trouble with your teen-agers, find a family counselor who can intervene and help the entire family work better together. Remember that teen-agers are not immune to depression either.

  5. What Can You do to Feel Better?

    Force yourself to stick to a regular schedule. Every day, get out of bed and get dressed. This may take all day, but do it no matter how much work it is, no matter how much you don’t want to. Make this an absolute must-do event every day. After you are dressed and ready for your day, make your bed so that you won’t be tempted to climb back in and sleep all day. During the day, try to get outside for a walk. Getting exercise and fresh air will get the endorphins flowing in your brain and help make your outlook brighter. If you have a membership at a health club, make sure you go and do something physical every day.

These five coping methods won’t make you feel better immediately, but they will help you to hang on while you’re getting medical and mental health help. When you feel depression coming on, the best thing you can do is be proactive, make those phone calls for professional help and then do whatever you can to get through each day.

Anne Mathews is pursuing a graduate degree full-time and teaches part-time at a major U.S. university. If you are interested in writing professionally for this site and others, Ms. Mathews would appreciate the referral bonus:   

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  1. Good tips!

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