Managing Depression, Adult

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    Managing Depression, Adult

    Managing Depression, Adult

    Depression is a mental health condition that affects your thoughts, feelings, and actions. Being diagnosed with depression can bring you relief if you did not know why you have felt or behaved a certain way. It could also leave you feeling overwhelmed. Finding ways to manage your symptoms can help you feel more positive about your future.

    How to manage lifestyle changes

    Being depressed is difficult. Depression can increase the level of everyday stress. Stress can make depression symptoms worse. You may believe your symptoms cannot be managed or will never improve. However, there are many things you can try to help manage your symptoms. There is hope.

    Managing stress

    Person sitting at a desk and writing in a notebook.

    Stress is your body's reaction to life changes and events, both good and bad. Stress can add to your feelings of depression. Learning to manage your stress can help lessen your feelings of depression.

    Try some of the following approaches to reducing your stress (stress reduction techniques):
    • Listen to music that you enjoy and that inspires you.
    • Try using a meditation app or take a meditation class.
    • Develop a practice that helps you connect with your spiritual self. Walk in nature, pray, or go to a place of worship.
    • Practice deep breathing. To do this, inhale slowly through your nose. Pause at the top of your inhale for a few seconds and then exhale slowly, letting yourself relax. Repeat this three or four times.
    • Practice yoga to help relax and work your muscles.

    Choose a stress reduction technique that works for you. These techniques take time and practice to develop. Set aside 5–15 minutes a day to do them. Therapists can offer training in these techniques. Do these things to help manage stress:
    • Keep a journal.
    • Know your limits. Set healthy boundaries for yourself and others, such as saying "no" when you think something is too much.
    • Pay attention to how you react to certain situations. You may not be able to control everything, but you can change your reaction.
    • Add humor to your life by watching funny movies or shows.
    • Make time for activities that you enjoy and that relax you.
    • Spend less time using electronics, especially at night before bed. The light from screens can make your brain think it is time to get up rather than go to bed.


    Medicines, such as antidepressants, are often a part of treatment for depression.
    • Talk with your pharmacist or health care provider about all the medicines, supplements, and herbal products that you take, their possible side effects, and what medicines and other products are safe to take together.
    • Make sure to report any side effects you may have to your health care provider.


    Your health care provider may suggest family therapy, couples therapy, or individual therapy as part of your treatment.

    How to recognize changes

    Everyone responds differently to treatment for depression. As you recover from depression, you may start to:
    • Have more interest in doing activities.
    • Feel more hopeful.
    • Have more energy.
    • Eat a more regular amount of food.
    • Have better mental focus.

    It is important to recognize if your depression is not getting better or is getting worse. The symptoms you had in the beginning may return, such as:
    • Feeling tired.
    • Eating too much or too little.
    • Sleeping too much or too little.
    • Feeling restless, agitated, or hopeless.
    • Trouble focusing or making decisions.
    • Having unexplained aches and pains.
    • Feeling irritable, angry, or aggressive.

    If you or your family members notice these symptoms coming back, let your health care provider know right away.

    Follow these instructions at home:


    • Try to get some form of exercise each day, such as walking.
    • Try yoga, mindfulness, or other stress reduction techniques.
    • Participate in group activities if you are able.


    • Get enough sleep.
    • Cut down on or stop using caffeine, tobacco, alcohol, and any other harmful substances.
    • Eat a healthy diet that includes plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, and lean protein. Limit foods that are high in solid fats, added sugar, or salt (sodium).

    General instructions

    • Take over-the-counter and prescription medicines only as told by your health care provider.
    • Keep all follow-up visits. It is important for your health care provider to check on your mood, behavior, and medicines. Your health care provider may need to make changes to your treatment.

    Where to find support

    Talking to others

    Two people walking outdoors.

    Friends and family members can be sources of support and guidance. Talk to trusted friends or family members about your condition. Explain your symptoms and let them know that you are working with a health care provider to treat your depression. Tell friends and family how they can help.


    • Find mental health providers that fit with your financial situation.
    • Talk with your health care provider if you are worried about access to food, housing, or medicine.
    • Call your insurance company to learn about your co-pays and prescription plan.

    Where to find more information

    You can find support in your area from:

    Contact a health care provider if:

    • You stop taking your antidepressant medicines, and you have any of these symptoms:
      • Nausea.
      • Headache.
      • Light-headedness.
      • Chills and body aches.
      • Not being able to sleep (insomnia).
    • You or your friends and family think your depression is getting worse.

    Get help right away if:

    • You have thoughts of hurting yourself or others.

    Get help right away if you feel like you may hurt yourself or others, or have thoughts about taking your own life. Go to your nearest emergency room or:
    • Call 911.
    • Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or 988. This is open 24 hours a day.
    • Text the Crisis Text Line at 741741.

    This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your health care provider. Make sure you discuss any questions you have with your health care provider.

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