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Navigating the Shadows: Strategies for How to Deal with Depression

It’s estimated that 5% of the global population has depressive disorder, or depression, making it one of the most common mental health conditions in the world.

Depression is a very serious disease that is responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths every year. Unfortunately, many sufferers feel there is no way that they can possibly manage the symptoms of the disease. Luckily, the complete opposite is true, and there are many effective strategies for dealing with depression.

Recognizing the Signs of Depression

Young depressed woman looks out the window on a rainy day

The first step to dealing with depression is recognizing the signs of the disease, whether it’s for yourself or a loved one.

It’s important to note that depression symptoms can be difficult to recognize, especially in someone else. Many depression sufferers deliberately hide their condition or do not want to bother others. This is why it’s especially important to get the help of a mental health professional if there’s a chance you or someone you love could be suffering from depression.

Recognizing the Signs of Depression in Yourself

Below are some of the most common signs that you may be dealing with depression:

    • You experience feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or worthlessness.
    • You no longer enjoy activities that you once did.
    • You are frequently tired or have trouble sleeping.
    • Anxiety
    • Changes in appetite
  • Increased substance abuse
  • Forced happiness
  • Suicidal thoughts or desires
    • If you have thought about, planned, or attempted suicide, seek help immediately. In the U.S., you can call or text 988 to reach the 24-hour Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.

If the above symptoms look familiar, you may want to seek professional help for dealing with depression.

Recognizing the Signs of Depression in Other Adults

Whether it’s your spouse, sibling, or friend, it’s important to be able to recognize the signs of depression in others so you can be there to support:

  • They routinely express feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or worthlessness.
  • They no longer participate in or express disinterest in previously enjoyed activities.
  • Constantly lacking energy
  • Irritability
  • Changes in weight
  • Uncontrollable emotions and mood swings
  • Increased substance abuse
  • Complaining about physical pains without an apparent cause
  • Low sex drive
  • Personality changes
  • Expressing suicidal thoughts or making suicide attempts
    • If your loved one has talked about or attempted suicide, encourage them to call or text 988, the toll-free, 24-hour Suicide and Crisis hotline for the U.S.

Remember, only a mental health professional can properly assess and diagnose someone with depression. If you think your loved one could be dealing with depression, assure them of your support and consider suggesting that they seek professional help.

How to Recognize and Deal with Signs of Depression in a Teenager

Teenage depression is extremely prevalent and should be taken seriously. It’s estimated that 20% of U.S. adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 have at least one depressive episode each year.

Signs that your child could be suffering from depression include:

  • They routinely express feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or worthlessness.
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Uncontrollable emotions and mood swings
  • Experimenting with substance abuse
  • Personality changes
  • Expressing suicidal thoughts or making suicide attempts
    • If your child has talked about or attempted suicide, seek help immediately from a mental health professional. Make sure your child knows they can call or text 988—the toll-free 24-hour Suicide and Crisis Hotline—at any time.

If you think your child may be dealing with depression, see if their school has a counselor on staff who can help assess and diagnose their condition. Many try to dismiss teenage depression as “just a phase,” but it is critical that they receive support to help them deal with this very serious and deadly disease.

15 Ways to Deal with Depression

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You do not have to be a victim of depression. There are ways to build healthier habits, mind patterns, and relationships so that you can live a happier, healthier life.

Psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP) Valerie Puffenberger says, “Staying active with regular exercise can really boost your mood. Don’t forget about keeping your diet in check, getting your shut-eye, and working on relaxation techniques like deep breathing and mindfulness. Setting a routine and little goals can keep you on track, and having friends, family, or support groups on your side can make all the difference.”

Below, we’ll go over 15 ways to help deal with depression.

1. Seek Professional Help

The most effective and successful way to treat depression is with professional help.

Many different types of talk therapy have been proven to help patients deal with the symptoms of depression, including:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): Focuses on the connections between feelings, thoughts, and actions to cultivate a more productive and positive mindset.
  • Interpersonal psychotherapy: Focuses on the relationships that may contribute to depression.
  • Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT): Uses mindfulness and cognitive therapy to help cultivate self-awareness, love, and care.
  • Psychodynamic therapy: Focuses on unconscious thoughts and past events that may contribute to depression.

Today, many employer insurance plans provide generous coverage for mental health services. If you don’t have insurance, there are telehealth apps and services that provide counseling for a flat monthly fee.

There are also a wide variety of medications that have been repeatedly proven to help alleviate or eliminate depression symptoms, like Lexapro, Prozac, and Zoloft. Medication combined with talk therapy can be a very effective way to deal with and ultimately treat depression.

2. Establish an Exercise Routine

Regular exercise has been shown to reduce or alleviate depression.

Why? Exercising releases endorphins, which are some of the body’s natural “feel-good” chemicals. It also helps keep the body healthier and can improve self-esteem, which also helps prevent or minimize depressive episodes.

3. Evaluate Your Diet

Eating a healthy, balanced diet helps prevent depressive episodes and also reduces their severity when they occur.

Certain foods, like processed sugar and soft drinks, can actually cause depressive episodes and worsen moods and should be avoided.

In contrast, some foods have been found to improve moods. Specifically, foods high in amino acids like:

  • Tryptophan
  • Tyrosine
  • Phenylalanine
  • Methionine

Talking to a nutritionist or conducting some research of your own can help you develop a diet that’s better for your mental health.

4. Try Mindfulness

Mindfulness is very helpful when dealing with depression. It is a mental state focused on the present moment. It’s all about bringing intentional awareness to your thoughts, feelings, and body sensations.

Mindfulness can help you identify—and even stop—thoughts and feelings caused by depression. There are a wide variety of mindfulness techniques, such as yoga and meditation, that have been shown to help with depression.

5. Paint or Draw

Expressing yourself creatively has been shown to improve moods and reduce the impact of depressive episodes when they happen.

Painting and drawing are particularly useful because they require a substantial degree of focus and mental energy. They are also useful because both improve with repeated practice, which can create a sense of accomplishment.

6. Write Down What You’re Grateful for Daily

Remembering all the things that are good in your life can improve your mood and alleviate depressive symptoms. This is especially important, as depression can often cloud the mind and make it seem as if you don’t enjoy anything. A reminder of what you do love in life is helpful in combating a negative mindset.

7. Learn About and Practice Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

The goal of cognitive behavioral therapy is to help patients identify negative thought patterns and behaviors and then to change them.

CBT has been repeatedly shown to be one of the most effective therapies for treating depression, as well as many of the co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders that often accompany it. A therapist or counselor can equip you with CBT techniques so that you can practice and master them for lifelong use.

8. Join an Online or In-Person Group for Hobbies or Interests

Loneliness is a powerful symptom and cause of depression. Establishing and fostering relationships, especially those based on common interests, is an excellent way to build a community and reduce isolation.

You can use websites like Meetup to find and join groups of people who enjoy the same hobbies, activities, and interests as you. You might also check nearby public parks or search the web for local adult sports leagues. Many museums and art studios offer group classes and can offer a fun and fulfilling way to creatively express yourself while connecting with other people.

9. Join a Depression Support Group

Depression can both cause and be caused by loneliness, and the condition’s symptoms are certainly worsened by isolation. Support groups are one of the most effective ways for depression sufferers to build a community with like-minded individuals who truly know what they are going through. Participation in support groups has also been shown to provide participants with a sense of meaning and purpose.

If you have a therapist who’s currently treating your depression, ask them if there are any support groups they’d recommend. You can also search the web for virtual and in-person depression support groups.

10. Consider Medication

There are a wide variety of medications used to treat depression.

Every patient will react differently to each medication and its side effects, some of which can even be deadly.

As a result, most depression patients will have to go through an experimental phase that generally lasts several months or years before they find a medication that works for them and does not have side effects that they cannot handle.

Examples of common depression medications include:

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs): Enhance the availability of serotonin in the brain by inhibiting its reabsorption, helping to alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety.
  • Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs): Increase levels of both serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain by blocking their reuptake, aiding in the treatment of mood disorders like depression.
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs): Inhibit the enzyme monoamine oxidase, leading to increased levels of neurotransmitters like serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. Often only used as a last resort because of the side effects and dietary restrictions that MAOIs present.
  • Atypical antidepressants: A diverse group of medications with varying mechanisms of action, such as bupropion, mirtazapine, and trazodone, that target neurotransmitter systems beyond serotonin, offering alternative options for managing depression and related conditions.

11. Get Sober from Drugs and Alcohol

Many depression sufferers use drugs and alcohol to help them reduce their depressive symptoms. However, substance misuse dramatically worsens depression over time, especially if it grows to the level of addiction.

Many substances can actually cause depression as a result of their use or the withdrawals or hangovers they cause. Substance use can also increase the severity, duration, and frequency of depressive episodes.

If you are suffering from a substance use disorder, help is available. At Legacy, we offer both mental health services and addiction treatment programs to improve all aspects of your life and future.

12. Develop a Support Network

Having a support network of loving friends and family can dramatically improve the quality of your life and provide the strength you need to deal with depression.

A quality support network can help you recognize when you are not doing or feeling well. More importantly, they can help you get back on track.

Your support network should also include people you can reach out to when you’re about to make a choice that could be dangerous to yourself or others. Perhaps most importantly, they can fill your life with happiness and provide meaning to your life.

13. Grow Yourself Spiritually

There is more to your total well-being than just your mental and physical health. Your spiritual health is just as important. Growing your spirituality can help you deal with depression by providing community, guidance, and an outlet.

There are thousands of different avenues to pursue spiritual growth. Joining or participating in religious groups or services is a common and relatively simple way to get started but may not work for everyone.

Ultimately, spirituality is all about connecting to a higher power, whether that is a god, the universe, or something else. Finding and honoring something bigger than you will take time and an open mind. Be patient and enjoy the journey.

14. Cultivate Healthy Relationships

The company of others, especially those with whom you have close, meaningful relationships, is one of the best ways to prevent loneliness and battle depression.

Some people enjoy having relationships with more people, and some prefer to have relationships with fewer people. The number of relationships, as well as whether they are platonic, romantic, or familial, does not matter.

What matters is that both parties mutually benefit and encourage each other to be the best versions of themselves. Ask yourself, does this person “fill my cup” or drain it? And am I filling the cups of others I am around?

15. Participate in Acts of Charity

Giving back to others and the community fosters a sense of belonging, gives an opportunity to build relationships, and creates a sense of pride and accomplishment. All these wonderful benefits dramatically improve the lives of depression sufferers and have the added benefit of making the world a better place.

Participating in charitable causes can be especially beneficial when depression is at its worst. It is affirming to have others express their gratitude to you and makes you realize all the good things in your life.

Get Professional Help for Depression

If you or a loved one suffers from depression, it may seem as if nothing will ever get better. But that is simply not true.

There are thousands of treatment professionals, including those at Legacy Healing Center, who can help you deal with depression and dramatically improve your quality of life.

Here at Legacy, we treat depression with a three-pronged approach that emphasizes the right psychotropic medications (if needed), evidence-based psychotherapy, and peer support.

You don’t have to let depression control your life anymore. Call 888-534-2295 today to speak with a staff member about how we can help you better deal with depression.

Dealing with Depression FAQs

What are some effective ways to deal with depression?

The most effective way to deal with depression is to seek professional help and then participate in a treatment regimen. The most effective treatment regimens combine medications that alleviate or eliminate the symptoms of depression and therapy that increases self-awareness and helps patients change their behaviors.

Regular exercise, a healthy diet, building a sense of community, and practicing mindfulness are all additional ways of dealing with depression.

How can I support someone with depression?

Here are some tips for helping someone deal with depression:

  • Educate yourself.
  • Listen without judgment.
  • Validate their feelings and emotions.
  • Encourage and enable professional help and medication adherence.
  • Respect their pace.
  • Engage in healthy activities with the person.
  • Be available.
  • Avoid giving unsolicited advice.
  • Be mindful of language and triggers.
  • Help with practical tasks.
  • Celebrate all wins, even if small.
  • Take care of yourself.
  • Know your limits.

Always remember to exercise empathy, patience, and understanding when helping someone deal with depression.

What are the signs of depression in a spouse?

Signs that your spouse may be suffering from depression include:

  • Loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyable.
  • Changes in sleep patterns, like insomnia or oversleeping.
  • Changes in appetite or weight.
  • Fatigue and low energy.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt.
  • Unexplained physical aches and pains.
  • Avoiding friends, family, and social events and becoming increasingly isolated.
  • Suicidal thoughts.
  • Increased irritability, restlessness, or easily becoming frustrated over minor issues.
  • Changes to or lack of self-care.

How do I help a teenager deal with depression?

Helping a teenager deal with depression requires special consideration of their unique developmental stage and needs. If you think your teen may be depressed, enlist the help of their school counselor or another mental health professional to put together a treatment plan.

Tips for helping a teenager deal with depression include:

  • Maintaining open communication.
  • Respecting their privacy.
  • Encouraging and enabling professional help.
  • Normalizing and destigmatizing mental health.
  • Offering supportive resources.
  • Encouraging and enabling healthy habits.
  • Respecting their feelings and emotions.
  • Helping them identify positive coping strategies.
  • Staying involved.
  • Limiting their screen time.
  • Setting realistic expectations.
  • Promoting social connections.
  • Being a role model.

How can I deal with depression on my own?

The best way to deal with depression on your own is to NOT deal with depression on your own.

The best way to effectively treat depression is by seeking professional help. Platonic, romantic, and familial relationships all help reduce loneliness and increase life satisfaction. The joy and support that comes from others can help you get through depression, and healthy, quality relationships can add meaning to life.


  1. Mayo Clinic. (2022). Depression (Major Depressive Disorder).
  2. National Library of Medicine. (2023). Major Depressive Disorder.
  3. National Institute of Mental Health. (2023). Major Depression.
  4. Medical News Today. (2022) Recognizing the Hidden Signs of Depression.
  5. World Health Organization. (2023). Depressive Disorder (Depression).
  6. American Psychological Association. (2019). Depression Treatments for Adults.
  7. Lakhan SE, Vieira KF. (2008). Nutritional Therapies for Mental Disorders.
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About the Author

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Jeffrey Juergens

Jeff Juergens is a leading author in the addiction and recovery field, dedicating the last seven years of his life to helping those struggling with substance use issues find the help that they need. Jeff's work has been used in rehabs across the country as tools to help patients achieve sobriety.

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Dr. Edwin Gomez, M.D.

Edwin Gomez, M.D. joined the Legacy Healing Centers Medical Team in 2021. In addition to working at Legacy Healing Centers, Dr. Gomez operates a private practice and research here in the South Florida Area and the Florida Keys. Prior to joining Legacy Healing Center, he served as Medical Dire...