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If you’ve been feeling sad or blue lately, here are some tips that may help.

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It’s natural to feel down on occasion. Sadness is a normal reaction to life events, such as the loss of a loved one, a change in family status or a tough situation. But if you find yourself feeling down more often than not, or you just can’t seem to shake your bad mood, it may be a sign that you are experiencing depression.

Depression isn’t something you can easily snap out of. It may make you feel sad, hopeless and miserable. You may also have little energy or drive to do anything about it. But although it may be a difficult step to take, the best thing you can do if you’re depressed is to seek help.

Many people find it difficult to ask for help. They may not even be sure that what they’re experiencing is depression and may not realize that anything can be done to change the way they feel. Even if you’re not ready to begin any type of formal treatment, there are still ways to cope with your depression so you start feeling better.

Here are 5 steps you can take to manage depression:

  1. Get screened. If you’re not sure if what you’re feeling is depression, take an online quiz or talk to your doctor. There may also be counselors available through work or school. You can be screened for depression without having to step foot in a therapist’s office. Telehealth options are available.
  2. Stay connected. Talk to people who you feel comfortable with and can trust. Open up to them as much as possible about how you’re feeling and ask for any support you need. You may not feel like taking part in social activities, but isolation is likely to make your depression worse. If you don’t have anyone you can talk to, try building new relationships or join a support group.
  3. Take care of yourself. When you’re feeling down, you may not want to do much of anything, but the better you can take care of yourself, the better you’ll likely feel. Do your best to eat healthy, exercise and sleep. Get outside for a few minutes a day to take a walk—the fresh air and movement will do you good. Avoid turning to alcohol or drugs to ease your pain.
  4. Do things that make you feel good. Push yourself to do things you used to enjoy, even if you don’t feel much like doing them right now. Engage in a hobby, read, express yourself through art, take a walk through nature, play a sport, enjoy live music or volunteer. Once you get going, you may find that engaging in pleasurable activities makes you feel better.
  5. Accept help. There’s long been a stigma about mental health in our society, but it’s important to understand that depression is common—and having it doesn’t make you less of a person. The best thing you can do is to understand when you need help and to accept the help that’s available to you. Depression often requires treatment, including medication and/or other therapies. Finding the right treatment may take some time, but be open to trying different options until you figure out what works best for you.

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Date Last Reviewed: August 18, 2022

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD

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