Stress, anxiety and depression

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Tips for coping with depression

If you're feeling depressed, it can be helpful to try some coping strategies.

David Richards, professor of mental health services research at the University of Exeter, offers these self-help tips for dealing with depression.

Stay in touch

Don't withdraw from life. Socialising can improve your mood. Keeping in touch with friends and family means you have someone to talk to when you feel low.  

Be more active

Take up some form of exercise. There's evidence that exercise can help lift your mood. If you haven't exercised for a while, start gently by walking for 20 minutes every day. 

Read about exercise for depression.

Face your fears

Don't avoid the things you find difficult. When people feel low or anxious, they sometimes avoid talking to other people. Some people can lose their confidence about going out, driving or travelling.

If this starts to happen, facing up to these situations will help them become easier.

Reading Ten ways to fight your fears may help.

Don't drink too much alcohol

For some people, alcohol can become a problem. You may drink more than usual as a way of coping with or hiding your emotions, or just to fill time. But alcohol won't help you solve your problems and could also make you feel more depressed.

Read some tips on cutting down on alcohol.

Try to eat a healthy diet

Some people don't feel like eating when they're depressed and are at risk of becoming underweight. Others find comfort in food and can put on excess weight.

Antidepressants can also affect your appetite.

If you're concerned about weight loss, weight gain or how antidepressants are affecting your appetite, talk to your GP.

See tips on how to eat more healthily.

Have a routine

When people feel down, they can get into poor sleep patterns, staying up late and sleeping during the day. Try to get up at your normal time and stick to your routine as much as possible.

Not having a routine can affect your eating. Try to carry on cooking and eating regular meals.

Seeking help for depression

If you're still feeling down or depressed after a couple of weeks, talk to your GP or call NHS 111.

If you start to feel that your life isn't worth living or about harming yourself, get help straight away. These are signs that you need to talk to someone urgently.

Various treatments are available for depression, including talking therapies, antidepressants and self-help.

Find out about treatment for depression.

You can also contact helplines, such as Samaritans on 116 123, for 24-hour confidential, non-judgemental emotional support. 

If you've had depression or anxiety in the past, even if they weren't formally diagnosed, get help immediately. You're more likely to have an episode of depression if you've had one before.

You can hear other people's tips on coping with depression on healthtalk.org.


Moodzone: Low mood and depression

Dr Chris Williams explains what you can do to help yourself cope with low mood and depression. This podcast is one of an eight-part series for Moodzone.

Media last reviewed: 02/03/2015

Next review due: 02/03/2017

Page last reviewed: 03/01/2016

Next review due: 03/01/2018

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