Coping skills & self-soothing · Mood and anxiety · Uncategorized

100 ways to conquer depression

The ListOften when I see a patient with depression, I show them the List*.  It’s just a basic run-through of available treatments for depression.  It takes five separate angles — biological, psychological, social, systems, and alternative methods — and pulls them together onto one sheet.

But this List is about more than just conquering an illness.  It’s hope.  The take-home message: depression is treatable.

Before going onto the List, here are some tips:

  • Don’t limit yourself to just one intervention.
  • Trial and error it.  Identify the ones that work for you.
  • If an intervention helps mood, it’s considered “effective.”  These are your first-line treatments.
  • An intervention that works part of the time or reduces the volume of depression without getting rid of it completely is considered “partially effective.”  Hold onto these as second-line.
  • Those that don’t work can be labelled “not effective” — but don’t toss out a treatment method until you’ve given it enough time and effort!
  • There might be interventions that aren’t right for you; if in doubt, talk to a mental healthcare professional.

Conquering depression

Conquering Depression: the List

(1) Biological interventions
  • Exercise
  • Healthy diet
  • Sufficient sleep
  • Medications: antidepressants, augmenting agents
  • Healthy nutraceuticals (like SAM-e, Methylfolate, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, 5-HTP, Saint John’s Wort, etc)
  • Light therapy
  • Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)
  • Ketamine infusions
  • Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS)
  • Treatment of co-occurring disorders (like antipsychotics for hallucinations, detox for alcohol withdrawal, Suboxone for heroin addiction, or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) for  post-traumatic stress disorder)
  • Treatment of physical problems
  • Rule out physical problems that mimic depression
  • Yoga, tai chi
  • Endorphins (laughing)
  • Avoid unhealthy behaviors like excessive drinking or using drugs
(2) Psychological Interventions
  • Education about depression
  • Psychotherapy or self-help therapy books, including:
    • Cognitive therapy
    • Behavioral activation therapy for depression
    • Psychodynamic therapy
    • Acceptance and commitment therapy (mindfulness-based therapy)
    • Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT)
    • Psychoanalysis
    • Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy (for bipolar depression)
    • Interpersonal therapyaffirmation
    • Positive psychology
    • Experiential therapy
    • Narrative therapy
    • Couple therapy
    • Family therapy
    • Group therapy
  • Support groups (online or in person)
  • Affirmations
  • Spirituality
  • Find meaning
  • Creativity (locate your muse)
  • Art therapy
  • Maintain routine/schedule
  • Mindfulness/meditation
  • Hobbies, fun tasks (drawing, going skating, or drinking hot chocolate)
  • Actions that bring a sense of achievement (finishing errands, volunteering, or studying a new language)
  • Self-help or inspirational books
  • Self-help websites
  • Gratitude list
  • Make moves to reduce stress
  • Make moves to increase resilience
  • Change your perspective
  • Make changes in your environment
  • Help others
  • Music
  • Aromatherapy
  • Humor
  • Pet therapyRelaxation
  • Relaxation/muscle relaxation
  • Coping skills
    • Think about good memories
    • Journaling
    • Distraction
    • Preparing ahead of time
    • Imagery, imagination
    • Assertiveness
    • Doing the opposite
    • (There are too many coping skills to list them all here)
  • Treatment of other symptoms/disorders (anger-management for anger, exposure therapy for panic attacks & obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD),  AA or substance abuse rehabilitation for addiction.)
  • Avoid unhealthy behaviors like cutting to relieve stress or threatening suicide to get back at someone
(3) Social interventions
  • Adopt a pet
  • Breed or train animals (parrots, horses, therapy dogs)
  • Write a letter or send an email
  • Make a gift for someone and send it to them (anonymously?)
  • Reach out to family and friends
  • Spend time with your partner or spouseSpend time with spouse
  • Talk to someone you trust  (professor, teacher, priest)
  • Strengthen the friendships you have
  • End or limit toxic relationships
  • Meet new people or make friends
  • Participate in local groups or clubs (online or in person)
  • Work part-time
  • Change careers and find a job you like
  • Take a class
  • Volunteer
  • Join a church
  • Learn about events in community and attend them
  • Avoid unhealthy social behaviors, like isolating or staying in unhealthy relationships
(4) Systems intervention
  • Get to know your mental health providers
    • Psychiatrist
    • Psychotherapist (psychologist, social worker, or licensed professional counselor)Freud, the first therapist
    • Case manager
    • Life coach
    • Vocational rehabilitation therapist
    • Others (recreational therapist, occupational therapist)
  • Assertive Community Treatment Team (ACT team)
  • Partial hospital, day program, or intensive outpatient hospitalization
  • Crisis unit
  • Psychiatric hospitalization
(5) Complementary and alternative interventions
  • HypnotherapyHelp for depression
  • Organic food diet
  • Gluten-free diet
  • Vitamins and minerals
  • Massage therapy
  • Acupuncture, acupressure
  • Biofeedback

As long as it is, this isn’t an exhaustive list.  There are likely another hundred interventions not included.  Let me know if you think of any.

* While some treatments listed above are backed by scientific studies, others don’t have enough research to support their efficacy at this time.   

“There are far, far better things ahead than anything we leave behind.” — C. S. Lewis


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