Guide to Coping with Depression: Helpful Strategies for Managing Your Mental Health

Guide to Coping with Depression: Helpful Strategies for Managing Your Mental Health

The word “depression” is sometimes thrown around casually. But if you are living with clinical depression, you already know it is anything but simple. 

Many people experience depression daily. The COVID-19 pandemic also increased the prevalence of this condition. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates1 that nearly 280 million people suffer from depression worldwide. 

If this is you, you’re not alone. This guide can help you cope with depression. It will cover proven strategies to help treat your symptoms. It will also offer credible depression resources you can implement right now. 

Understanding Depression: More than Just Feeling Down

“I’m depressed” isn’t just something you say when things aren’t going your way. Being depressed is much more than just feeling down. 

Depression can be debilitating when it gets bad. Those who suffer from it deal with ups and downs on a long-term basis. 

Some symptoms of depression2 include:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feelings of guilt and low self-worth
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Thinking about death and suicide
  • Sleep issues
  • Changes in appetite
  • Low energy
  • Low motivation

Feeling sad is a normal part of life that comes with challenges and difficult situations. Yet, regular sadness is different from clinical depression. Clinical depression will get in the way of your everyday life, while normal sadness will have a clear cause (such as losing a loved one). 

Proven Strategies to Cope with Depression 

Some people turn to medication to treat depression. Although this option is worthwhile for many people, it is not the only one. 

You can make some changes to your lifestyle that could immensely impact your depression. The following are proven coping strategies for depression:

1. Have a Daily Routine: There’s Power in Structure

Leaning into a routine can help you feel less depressed. Consistency will make your days feel more predictable, helping to prevent stress. Stress is a common trigger for depression; the two can feed into each other. So, it is crucial to keep stress levels to a minimum. 

Here are some practical tips on implementing a routine:

  1. Start with a morning routine:
    1. Wake up early enough to not feel like you’re being thrown into the day.
    2. Do some free journaling or reading before starting your day. 
  1. Evening routines are equally as important. 
    1. Go to bed around the same time each night.
    2. Take some steps before bed to help you settle in and relax. 

Routines help you have small things to look forward to, which can help improve feelings of hopelessness. 

For example, if you drink chamomile tea each night before bed, you may look forward to this small daily ritual. You may feel excited that you will end your day with it. 

2. Set Small Goals and Celebrate Achievements

It’s important to feel a sense of achievement. Even small tasks can help you feel this way. 

Set small and reasonable goals for yourself so you don’t get overwhelmed. Any small accomplishment will create momentum to keep you going throughout the day. It may be as simple as wiping down the countertop or unloading the dishwasher. 

3. Stay Active: Exercise Improves Mental Health

Research has proven that exercise can help with depression.3 Exercise releases “feel good” chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins can help boost your mood and combat depressed feelings. 

If you’re struggling to feel motivated, start with small activities. For example, go for a short walk or do some light stretching. 

4. Modify Your Diet to Improve Your Mood 

One of the surprising ways to cope with depression is by modifying your diet.4 

The food you eat can influence your mood. Eating a healthier diet can help you feel better. Eating a lot of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, fish, olive oil, and antioxidants can help decrease your risk of depression. 

The Importance of Self-Care and Activities

It is essential to take steps to care for yourself. Self-care is becoming a lost art today. Many of us emphasize productivity and glorify working overtime. But you can fight against social norms, slow down, and care for yourself. 

Doing more of the activities you love can help you feel good and combat the effects of depression. Everyone has different hobbies; activities to cope with depression will vary from person to person. Some examples include: 

  1. Creating artwork 
  2. Spending time with friends
  3. Walking in nature
  4. Writing creatively 

Journaling, Meditation, and Mindfulness

One of the keys to overcoming mental health issues like depression is understanding your thoughts and where they are coming from.5 

Practicing mindfulness can help you get to the root of the issue. Mindfulness unravels the unrealistic thought patterns fueling your depression. Practices like journaling and meditation help you know what’s going on in your mind to best overcome these challenges. 

Dealing with Depression in Special Situations

Certain life circumstances can act as a trigger for depression, such as workplace stressors and seasonal changes. 

Below, we share some tips for dealing with depression in these special circumstances. 

  1. How to Overcome Seasonal Depression 

Some people become depressed when seasons change. This is called seasonal depression or seasonal affective disorder (SAD). It usually happens more in the fall and winter when it gets dark earlier. 

Some ways to cope with seasonal depression include:

  • Do more mood-boosting activities like exercise and spending time with friends.
  • Try light therapy. Sit near an artificial light box that gives off light that mimics the sunshine.
  • Spend as much time in the daylight as you can. Take small breaks throughout the day to get outside and absorb some sunlight.
  1. How to Navigate Workplace Challenges

Sometimes, work can trigger depression, especially in a stressful work environment. If your job seems to be draining you, consider taking these steps:

  • Set boundaries with how much work you can and cannot complete in a given day or week
  • Speak up if a particular coworker is causing you to feel stressed out
  • If your job is toxic overall, consider making a change
  • Make sure to limit your working hours and prioritize self-care when you are not working

Coping with Depression without Medication

Antidepressant medications are a great option for a lot of people. However, they are not for everyone. 

Below, we list some natural solutions that don’t involve using medications. 

1. You Can Use Natural Supplements

Common natural supplements6 used for treating depression include:

  • St. Johns Wort
  • Saffron
  • Omega-3 fatty acids

2. You Can Try Talk Therapy and Counseling 

Talking with a therapist is one of the most effective ways to cope with depression without medication. Therapists can help you identify aspects of your life that are causing or worsening your depression. They can also help you overcome these issues by providing practical solutions. 

3. Build a Support System Around You

Reach out to friends and family when you need help or want someone to talk to. 

You can also find a local support group to connect with others who struggle with the same things. 

FAQs about Coping with Depression: Answering Common Questions

Is it possible to overcome depression on my own, or do I always need professional help?

Most people benefit from getting professional help for depression. This is because psychologists are trained to provide realistic solutions. However, once you see a psychologist, you may be able to apply what you’ve learned on your own if you experience depression again. This eliminates the need for ongoing, long-term therapy. 

What are the common side effects of antidepressant medications?

Common side effects7 of antidepressants include:

  • A decrease in alertness
  • Headaches
  • Nauseousness
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Dental issues like tooth decay
  • Diabetes
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding

How long does it typically take for treatment to work?

Depending on the approach, treatment times will vary. If you choose to take antidepressant medications, it can take 1 to 2 weeks8 to work. Seeing a therapist will also take some time to work. You can expect at least 2 or 3 sessions before you start to notice results (sometimes more). So, depending on how frequently you go, this could take weeks or months. 

Can depression lead to other physical health issues?

Depression can take a toll on your body.9 When left untreated, it can lead to other health issues like autoimmune disorders, type 2 diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, and arthritis. 

Resources for Immediate Help

The SAMHSA National Helpline can provide immediate help for individuals or families struggling with mental health issues like depression. The number is 1-800-662-HELP. 


Depression is more than just feeling down every once in a while. Clinical depression can be debilitating. 

This is why finding coping methods that work is so important. Remember that there is hope for you, even if you’re currently struggling. 

You can start by seeking professional help and leaning into your support systems. Finding effective coping methods can help you get back to feeling like yourself again.

Additional Resources


  1. World Health Organization. Depression. Published March 31, 2023.
  2. ‌National institute of Mental Health. Depression. National Institute of Mental Health. Published September 2023.
  3. Harvard Health Publishing. Exercise is an all-natural treatment to fight depression – Harvard Health. Harvard Health. Published February 21, 2021.
  4. Tello M. Diet and depression – Harvard Health Blog. Harvard Health Blog. Published February 22, 2018.
  5. Gautam M, Tripathi A, Deshmukh D, Gaur M. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Depression. Indian Journal of Psychiatry. 2020;62(8):223-229. doi:
  6. Hall-Flavin D. Natural remedies for depression: Are they effective? Mayo Clinic. Published 2018.
  7. NHS. Side Effects – Antidepressants. Published February 5, 2021.
  8. Depression: How effective are antidepressants? Published June 18, 2020.
  9. Stuart A. How Depression Affects Your Body. WebMD. Published September 12, 2020.
Written By
Sophia Deschler RN, BSN

Sophia Deschler is a Registered Nurse and professional medical and health writer based in Northeast Florida. She is a contributing author for multiple health and wellness websites such as, and many others She is a busy mother of two and long distance runner committed to educating others about overall health and wellness.

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