Overcoming Depression – Fifteen Tips For Combating Depression And Anxiety

Black-and-white photo of a young man sitting on floor with his hands covering his face

Photo by Chris Elward

Depression and anxiety are little-understood illnesses that affect millions of people. They often accompany one another, and they can be quite debilitating. Many folks who suffer from depression or anxiety turn to prescription drugs as a solution. They often lead relatively normal lives, but the drugs mask the underlying problems and sometimes create dependencies or carry side effects that lead to additional health issues.

Of course, the first step in combating these illnesses is to see a physician and follow the advice in order to stabilize the situation. After that, one can do many things to return to a quality life.

Here are fifteen suggestions for coping with depression and anxiety:

#1. Spend Time With People.

Plan to be with people on a social basis for part of every day. Your job doesn’t count. I distinctly remember working in several busy offices during my career and feeling remarkably lonely. Arrange to have social contact every evening and on weekends. If you are unable to see friends in person, a telephone call can fill the void.

2. At Dusk, Find Something Interesting To Do Or Someone Engaging To Talk To.

Dusk is a difficult time for many people who suffer from depression or anxiety. Oddly, nighttime is often not so challenging as the hour or so before darkness sets in. If you are in the throes of depression, arrange during that time to do something fun or to be with someone who provides distracting conversation. If you live alone and can’t find a companion, call a friend at the twilight hour and lose yourself in the dialogue.

3. Take Up A Hobby That Is Complicated And Forces You To Think.

Engaging in a hobby or other activity that is relatively complex will help relieve your anxiety. Activities like quilting, learning to play a musical instrument, working on a classic car, playing Sudoku, building a model airplane, cooking, and remodeling your home can calm you and take you out of the difficult moments. Niche groups exist for many hobby interests, and once you join one, the new friends you make will provide you with additional social contact and a helpful distraction.

4. Walk, Walk, Walk.

Regular exercise, a lot of it, does more than perhaps anything else to relieve depression and anxiety. Getting physically tired helps you relax in the evening and sleep through the night. Walking and running are particularly desirable modes of exercise because they are rhythmic, and rhythm heals in a multitude of ways. Aerobic dancing combines the rhythm of music with body movement and is wonderfully therapeutic.

5. Drink Plenty Of Water.

Water is a symbol of the unconscious mind and is magically healthful. It nourishes you far more completely than simply supplying liquid to your cells, which are 55% to 78% water. You should drink approximately two liters of pure water daily.

6. Consume Foods That Are High In B Vitamins.

High-stress situations cause your body to consume elevated amounts of B vitamins, and a deficiency in this important vitamin group can contribute to your depressed or anxious state. Consider taking a B-Complex supplement, and include in your diet the regular consumption of whole-grain breads, lecithin, whole-grain cereals, Brewer’s yeast, wheat germ, liver, turkey, tuna fish, potatoes, bananas, lentils, chili peppers, beans, nuts, molasses, green-leafy vegetables, and dairy products.

7. Avoid Caffeine.

Caffeine is a stimulant, and the price of ingesting too much of it is high. An increased awareness of caffeine intake should include monitoring consumption of coffee, chocolate, tea, colas, and caffeine-spiked alcoholic beverages.

8. Say No To Sugar.

Sugar causes the body to consume nutrients without adding anything positive to the health equation. An increased consciousness of sugar intake should include monitoring consumption of honey, fructose, dextrose, lactose, sucrose, white breads, and pastries.

9. Reduce Stress.

If you suffer from depression or anxiety, adjusting your lifestyle to reduce stress should be a high priority. Should you be unable to take out the stress, doing the other things on this list will help you mitigate it. Remember, though, the other points listed here are salves and bandages that heal the wound, and stress is a knife that constantly reopens it. No serious plan for recovery can exclude confronting the principal demon in the pack.

10. Educate Yourself About Depression And Anxiety.

Educate yourself to better understand the nature of the enemy you face. Knowing your opponent is of primary importance, and once you make progress on that front, you can focus on solutions. This is easier said than done. When you are in the heat of battle, moving forward with your life may seem impossible. As you work to implement the suggestions on this list, you will find yourself gradually regaining a quality life.

11. Help Others.

Volunteer work is fulfilling and increases your sense of self worth. Assisting other people can provide an important distraction from your malady. Don’t forget, though, that you can’t give what you don’t have. Fill your own cup first, and then you can help others.

12. Engage In Spiritual Development.

If you are religious by nature, you may choose to develop your spiritual side through devotion or prayer. Meditation, yoga, and alternative approaches are fine options, as well. The important thing is to develop a spiritual philosophy that will serve as fertile ground for hope to grow in your life. Without hope, functioning in the real world is nearly impossible.

13. Keep A Journal.

Putting your observations, ideas, fears, and dreams in writing is a powerful tool for confronting your demons. Try to journal every day, but if that’s not possible, you can benefit from writing once or twice a week.

14. Use The Internet.

The Internet is an invaluable tool for finding healthful foods, creative remedies, and other information that will help you combat your depression or anxiety. You can also join an on-line support group or create one yourself and invite others to participate.

15. Don’t Expect Too Much Too Fast.

If you take small steps along the way, you’ll find it easier to follow the suggestions on this list. You may not be able to digest all of them at once. Fighting depression is a minute-by-minute war that you win a little bit at a time.

At your darkest hour, you may feel the imminence of some frightening end. At that point, when your unconscious mind has your full attention, you will take action. Do the things on this list that you are able to do, and leave the others for later. You need not do all of them right away, although with time, you will probably end up doing most of them.

The abyss of depression may seem impossibly deep, but a way out does exist. You should see a physician initially and submit to treatment for a time in order to stabilize your body and attitude. Then, if you believe, as I do, that a drug-free life is the only quality life, you can take the measures outlined here to make that happen.

Wellness – The Human Body’s Flawless Signals

9 comments… add one

  • Andrea Rios November 1, 2010 at 9:09 pm

    When I’m very sad and feel desolate, I think of people that have had it much harder than me and how they overcame their obstacles and went on to have rich lives (my parents, for example). That helps me find inner strength. And I would recommend people learn a Psalm. Psalm 23 is specially beautiful. My dad had me memorize it, he said it would help me through my darkest moments, and it always has.

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  • damaris Johnson November 2, 2010 at 8:55 am

    This article is very interesting and helpfull, mostly when you have some friends in depression and you don’t know what you can do for them. For sure, I will recommend it to my friends. Thanks for the tips.

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  • martha November 3, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    Excellent advice. I know several people who struggle with this and I agree that it’s best to avoid drugs. Professional help is advisable for severe depression.
    During our lives we all experience joy and sadness. I think it is important to distinguish between these ordinary human feelings and depression.

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  • Sharon November 14, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    I enjoyed reading this article! For me, particularly as the days shorten with winter coming on, getting outdoors at least 30 minutes a day in direct sunlight (or, any daylight) is most helpful to handling seasonal affective symptoms. Plus, the shock to my physical self, of just being outdoors in the cold is stimulating; the experience of just being outdoors is stimulating to my visual system. I think, too, a widening visual input, extending attention to the leaves, the wind, listening for quiet (if there is any quiet outside!) is also an important part of things. I also find it helpful to meditate and as part of that, and to practice ‘watchfulness’ …(as various thoughts intrude on my consciousness)… I just let the intrusive content pass by like water flowing in a stream and within a short while my mind clears and I’m back in that open uncontaminated space. Thanks for the article! Sharon

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  • Judy December 30, 2010 at 9:54 pm

    sunshine, exercise, people–absolutely

    May I add: It’s important to eat breakfast especially, and eat some healthful foods for lunch, dinner or snacks. Make it a routine. If your depression makes you eat too much, try to start with something good. Walk away from the pastries and chocolate.

    Clean up and get dressed. Again, make it a routine.

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  • Patty February 20, 2011 at 8:39 am

    I am a woman in my late 40’s, and I have been suffering from anxiety my whole life. I have been in an emotionally abusive marriage for over 6 years; however, we have been separated for the last 6 months. This past year has been quite difficult, and the anxiety has also brought on panic attacks, depression, as well as high blood pressure. I have some tough decisions to make, but I feel paralyzed to do anything. I feel so hopeless about my future. In my head, I know what I need to do, but my heart and soul are screaming at me to go in another direction. I feel lost, alone and afraid. My husband says he wants to change and wants me to come back home. However, I am not sure if this is what I want to do. I feel like I am in a horrible limbo.

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  • Duende February 20, 2011 at 8:54 pm


    Thank you for your candid comment. I hope the advice in the article will help you (at least a little) move forward to face both the outer and inner things that confront you. Sometimes in life we are forced to deal with several issues at once, and keeping them straight can be challenging. Speaking to a professional will not resolve everything for you immediately, but doing so will help you clarify some of the issues so that you can deal with them separately rather than feeling overwhelmed as they fly at you from all sides.

    You can do a lot to combat your depression/anxiety without respect to your marital and abuse issues. I see several important matters in your message, and I think you would benefit by speaking to a professional about how to approach them separately and work toward some solutions. I encourage you to focus on one day at a time as you move forward from here. When you are in a crisis, however, you may have to focus on only the few minutes in front of you. So much is involved that I will not attempt to advise you here, but I wish you all the best. Feel free to return here any time you wish. Although it may not seem so now, I can assure you that a way out does exist.

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  • reba July 13, 2013 at 4:20 pm

    I can see the light but I still have some bad moments…..it is so hard to read negative comments on taking meds…..I personally dont want to take them but if it helps….shouldn’t we? Im praying, exercising, seeking information, but it doesn’t take away the isolation that comes over you…..please pray for all of us……I know its just a matter of time ill be well.

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  • Depression Treatment New Jerse June 14, 2016 at 9:51 am

    Good mental health isn’t just the absence of mental health problems. Being mentally or emotionally healthy is much more than being free of depression, anxiety, or other psychological issues. Rather than the absence of mental illness, mental and emotional health refers to the presence of positive characteristics. Similarly, not feeling bad is not the same as feeling good. While some people may not have negative feelings, they still need to do things that make them feel positive in order to achieve mental and emotional health.

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