Veteran's Health Library Menu

Health Encyclopedia

Living with Depression

When you're going through depression, you can't just shake it off. You might have a couple of good days followed by a bad day or a string of bad days. And you don't know how long it will last. Depression is not like the flu or a sprained ankle, where your healthcare provider can tell you about how long it will take to get better.

When you're getting better, many experts call it recovery. Recovery is finding your path to the life you care about. There are 10 principles that can help you recover from depression on your terms. They help you gain self-confidence and respect for yourself.

During your recovery, be patient and kind to yourself. Remember that depression is not your fault. Continuing your treatment, helping yourself, getting support, and having a healthy lifestyle are all part of your recovery. Your symptoms will fade as your treatment starts to work. Don't give up. Focus your energy on getting better. Your mood will improve. It just takes some time.

Your self-care

You can take many steps to help yourself when you feel depressed or are waiting for your medicine to work. These steps also help prevent depression from coming back:

  • Be realistic in what you expect and what you can do. Set goals you can meet. If you have a big task to do, break it up into smaller steps you can handle. Don't take on more than you can handle.

  • Don't blame yourself or others for your depression.

  • Think about putting off big decisions until your depression has lifted. Wait a bit on making decisions about marriage, divorce, or jobs. Talk it over with friends and loved ones who can help you look at the whole picture.

  • Get support from others. Your family can help you get the right treatment and deal with your symptoms. Social support and support groups give you the chance to talk with people who are going through the same things you are.

  • Tell people you trust about depression. It is usually better than being alone and keeping it a secret.

  • Build your self-esteem and try to keep a positive attitude.

  • Try to be part of religious, social, holiday, or other activities.

  • If you have any other health problems, like diabetes, heart disease, or high blood pressure, continue with your treatment for them. Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take, with or without a prescription.

You also can help yourself by thinking about what is good in your life. You can:

  • Help others who are not as well off as you are.

  • Thank people for the small and big things they do for you.

  • Be thankful for big things like having a home, family, and friends.

  • Be thankful for little things like making people laugh, enjoying a piece of music, or finding warm gloves for the winter.

Remember the basics

  • Get regular exercise. People who are fit usually have less anxiety, depression, and stress than people who aren't fit. Even something as easy as walking can help you feel better. Find a way you can be active.

  • Eat a balanced diet. This helps your body deal with tension and stress. Whole grains, dairy products, fruits, vegetables, and protein are part of a balanced diet.

  • Get enough sleep. A good night's sleep can help mood and stress levels. Don't take sleeping pills unless your healthcare provider prescribes them.

  • Deal with stress. Too much stress can help trigger depression. You can do a lot to help relieve stress.

  • Don't drink alcohol or take illegal drugs or medicines that have not been prescribed to you. Having a substance abuse problem makes treating depression harder. Both problems need to be treated.

  • Prevent depression from coming back. Take your medicine as your healthcare provider advises. Depression often returns if you stop taking your medicine or don't take it as your healthcare provider advises.


Author: StayWell Custom Communications
Last Annual Review Date: 7/1/2018
Copyright © The StayWell Company, LLC. except where otherwise noted.
Disclaimer - Opens 'Disclaimer' in Dialog Window | Help | About Veterans Health Library