Do you want to avoid using psychotropic medications to address your symptoms of depression? Here are some behavioral methods you can use to combat the symptoms.
- Exercise daily – The best thing you can do to behaviorally manage symptoms of depression is exercise 20 minutes every day. Exercise releases endorphins in your brain that fight depressed mood. It does not have to be a rigorous workout. You just need to get your heart rate up. That can be accomplished by walking briskly, jogging, etc. You can start off slow (always check with your physician before beginning an exercise program) and work your way up to the 20 minutes.
- Diet – Eating healthy is important too. Many people over or under eat when they feel depressed. Either way, it is not good for you. Our bodies need food to keep energy levels up. Remembering the importance of good nutrition is key to managing symptoms of depression. If you are unsure what types of food are good for you, make an appointment with a nutritionist or dietician.
- Sleep well – Sleeping too much or not enough can increase symptoms of depression. If you are experiencing insomnia, try some relaxation exercises to help you get to sleep. If you are sleeping more than 8 hours a day, you are getting too much rest. Instead of staying in bed, get up and attempt to stay as close to your normal routine as possible. If you need to sleep during the day, limit yourself to a nap of one hour or less.
- Mediation – Meditation is an extremely healthy way to turn off your thinking and allow your body to heal and grow. If you are experiencing negative thoughts, this technique can give you a reprieve.
- Thought Stopping – Turn those negative thoughts off! Every time you catch yourself thinking negatively, tell yourself to stop. Then, see if you can challenge yourself to think more realistically about the situation.
- Don’t Isolate – One of the worst things you can do is shut down and stay away from your supports. Utilize those people that you are connected to. Talk to them daily to remind yourself that you have people in your life that care.
- Keep a Gratitude List – Each day find one thing you are grateful for. It doesn’t have to be anything monumental. It can be something simple like noticing a beautiful sunset. Write one thing down every day and start the next day reading the entire list.
- Self-Sooth – There are many things you can do that release endorphins and make you feel good. Some examples include listening to uplifting music, watching a comedy, reading a book you enjoy, and petting an animal. Anything that makes you feel happy normally can be a benefit when you are feeling down.
If you practice the above techniques you will notice that your symptoms begin to fade, and you will be feeling better. Keep in mind that if symptoms persist for more than two weeks or if you are having suicidal thoughts, you need to contact a professional.