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10 Tips to Manage Depression

Two people holding hands in gesture of support.


In this Article:

  • Depression can impact all aspects of your life.
  • Depression is treatable.
  • Know the symptoms of depression and seek help to improve your state of mind.

Depression can affect anyone. It’s more than being bummed out for a couple days, going through a rough patch, or feeling sad. Depression is a medical condition that can impact all aspects of your life.

If you experience some or all of the following symptoms, and they last more than a few weeks, depression could be the cause:

  • Anger or agitation
  • Changes in appetite
  • Feeling sad
  • Poor concentration
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Boredom or loss of interest
  • Changes in sex drive
  • Social withdrawal
  • Physical aches and pains

You are not alone. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, an estimated 16 million American adults—almost 7 percent of the population—had at least one major depressive episode last year.

Steps to Living in a Healthy State of Mind

To manage depression, know your treatment options and seek help early. Here are 10 tips to get you started:

  1. Talk to someone. Share how you feel with someone you trust who will support you. This could be a close friend or family member, or maybe a chaplain, medical health professional, or human resources representative at work.
  2. Seek help. Talk to your medical health professional about your symptoms as well as treatment options—which may include medication, therapy, and/or self-management strategies.
  3. Make a safety plan. To ensure you won’t harm yourself if you have a depressive episode, make a “safety plan” [PDF 57KB] on your own or ask your medical health professional to assist you. A “safety plan” will help guide your actions when you are feeling depressed.
  4. Exercise. Physical activity like walking, running, swimming, dancing, or playing basketball can naturally boost your mood. Need some workout ideas? Check out our #WarriorReady workout videos for other exercise ideas.
  5. Eat healthier. What you eat has a direct impact on the way you feel. Aim for a balanced diet of low-fat protein, complex carbohydrates, fruits, and vegetables. Avoid foods that can have a negative affect on your brain and mood, such as caffeine, alcohol, and fatty fried foods. Our Food & Nutrition section has more healthy eating tips.
  6. Join a support group. Attending a support group with others who share similar concerns can help you work through your depression and boost your overall mental health. Ask your medical health professional about groups in your area or look up options on Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance’s website.
  7. Keep a journal. Experts say that writing in a journal can be good for your state of mind. Keeping a journal can provide insight into your thoughts and feelings, allowing you to develop strategies to process and cope with depression. It also helps track your progress towards overcoming challenges.
  8. Hear stories of hope. Let others inspire you by learning about their journeys to recovery. Get inspired by fellow Soldiers on the Personal Stories page.
  9. Do something that makes you feel good. Doing something fun or relaxing can lower your stress level and improve your mood. This can be as simple as reading a book, watching a movie, going out with friends, volunteering, or cooking your favorite meal.
  10. Care for a pet. Pets can bring joy and companionship into your life and help you feel less isolated. Caring for a pet can also give you a sense of feeling needed, which may improve your sense of worth.

If you are feeling helpless, hopeless, or like there is no way out, please reach out for immediate help by calling 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) and press 1. Counselors are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help you and all calls are confidential. You can also chat online or send a text message to 838255.

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