Public Education

Living with a depressive disorder


Besides taking medication there are many ways that you can help yourself in speeding up the recovery process. Your doctor may have already recommended a whole treatment plan for you. You may not be able to follow everything as planned, however, as you feel better and recover over time you will be able to achieve your goals eventually.

Depressive disorders make you feel exhausted, worthless, helpless and hopeless. Such negative thoughts and feelings make some people feel like giving up. It is important to realise that these negative views are part of the depression and typically do not accurately reflect your situation. Negative thinking fades as treatment begins to take effect.


  • Do not set yourself difficult goals
  • Do not take a great deal of responsibility
  • Break large tasks into smaller ones and set some priorities, and do what you can as you can
  • Do not expect too much from yourself. This will only increase the feeling of failure
  • Try to be with other people; it is usually better than being alone.
  • Participate in activities that may make you feel better. Go to a movie, a ballgame, or participate in religious or social activities.
  • Continue with your house chores. Do not stop working and continue with your house chores. (Even sweeping the floor is a good start).
  • Don’t overdo or get upset if your mood is not greatly improved right away. Feeling better takes time.
  • Do not make major life decisions, such as changing jobs or getting married or divorced without consulting others who know you well and who have a more objective view of your situation. In any case, it is advisable to postpone important decisions until your depression has lifted.
  • Do not expect to ‘snap out’ of your depression. People rarely do. Help yourself as much as you can, and do not blame yourself for not being up to par.
  • Remember, do not accept your negative thinking. It is part of the depression and will disappear as your depression responds to treatment. Eating right to feel good. You’ve heard the saying you are what you eat. In truth, your diet can make a big difference in how you feel.
  • Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Limit your intake of fats and sweets.
  • Drink more water and cut back on salty snacks and soft drinks.
  • Refrain from alcohol
  • When possible, prepare your own meals. That way, by knowing exactly what’s going into your food, you’ll be sure that your food, you’ll be sure that every meal is healthy. Do keep in mind that your depression can influence changes in your appetite. As a result, you may have gained or lost weight. In any case, ask your doctor for a balanced eating plan that may help you get back to your proper weight.


Proper exercise does so many good things for your body. It can raise your energy level, reduce tension, improve your sleep and even relieve tiredness and fatigue. No matter what age you are, or how long it has been since you last exercised, physical activity can help you feel better. And it doesn’t even have to be strenuous. A walk a few times a week will improve your health and overall sense of well being.

Why does exercise help make you feel better? Part of the answer is that during exercise, your body releases a substance called endorphins. One job of endorphins is to decrease the sensations of pain your body may be feeling and increase a sense of feeling good. And, when you are focusing on the exercise activity, you may often forget at least for a while your day-to-day worries. Taking your mind off these concerns during exercise gives you a mental break that may make all the difference. Finally, going to bed at night after having exercised at some point during the day, you may find that you fall asleep easier and sleep more soundly.


Sometimes, people who face the challenge of treating depression may be afraid to tell others about what they are going through. This could be because they fear they will be rejected or thought less of. They may even think that they will lose the love of someone they care about. But the role of your family and friends is so important in helping you to overcome your depression. And there are people who do care about you and they want to know how you feel. Now more than ever, you may need to know that there is someone you can talk to, openly and honestly. To give yourself the best chance at recovery, consider opening up to one or several people. It may be difficult at first to talk to them about how you feel, but with time, it will seem more comfortable, and it may be the help and support you need to speed you toward feeling well again.


After several weeks of treatment have gone by, you might notice some changes in your symptoms of depression. That’s because your whole treatment plan including your medication and other therapies (if your doctor recommended them), the changes you have made to your diet, and the new exercise program you have adopted has been designed to help heal your whole person. To help you remember important thoughts and feelings that might come up during your treatment, it may also be a good idea to keep a daily journal. You can also use the journal to jot down any questions that you may want to ask your doctor.


To help yourself to remember to take each daily dose, you should keep your medicine in a convenient place, such as next to your bed or in the bathroom. It is important to establish a routine, taking your medication for example after dinner, or when you brush your teeth, or before you go to bed. If you forget to take your medication at the appropriate time, take one as soon as you can, and then go on as before. If you completely forget to take your medication, then skip this dose and continue with the next dose.


Some people only experience one or two episodes of depression in their life. But people who have already had several episodes of depression are likely to experience another episode of depression in future. Everyone who has once experienced a depressive episode will know that it can seriously affect personal life, work and relationships. Therefore, your doctor may advise you to keep taking your medication, even after six months of treatment. If you want to be protected from another episode of depression, it is important to follow this advice, and keep on taking the medication preventatively.


Since depression can make you feel exhausted and helpless, you will want and probably need help from others. However, people who have never had a depressive disorder may not fully understand its effect. They won’t mean to hurt you, but they may say and do things that do. It may help to share this information with those you most care about so that they can better understand and help you.