12 Recovery Steps to Help You Stop Being Depressed

It is a common misconception that depression is equivalent to extreme sadness. Depression is something far more intricate and complicated than that.

“Depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. It causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease your ability to function at work and at home.

Depression symptoms can vary from mild to severe and can include:

  • Feeling sad or having a depressed mood
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
  • Changes in appetite — weight loss or gain unrelated to dieting
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Loss of energy or increased fatigue
  • Increase in purposeless physical activity (e.g., inability to sit still, pacing, handwringing) or slowed movements or speech (these actions must be severe enough to be observable by others)
  • Feeling worthless or guilty
  • Difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions
  • Thoughts of death or suicide”


Depression or grief?

It is important to distinguish the differences between depression and grief. We all have different reactions to challenging emotional situations in life and extreme sadness is something we can experience when grieving.

While depression and grief can coexist, it doesn’t mean that you have to have grief to have depression. Depression can be a symptom of an underlying medical condition or even genetic. It is crucial to understand that people don’t necessarily have to experience a traumatic event for them to develop/suffer from depression. It is a mental illness that can arise from life experiences (especially ones to do with traumatic childhoods) but isn’t limited to just life experiences.

Pt 1: Seeking Licenced Help

This section will focus primarily on seeking help from different kinds of professionals to help you with your depression.

1. Seek professional psychological help

Depression is a very personal and individualistic mental illness. Not all depressed people have the same symptoms or causes for their depression. This is why it is important to seek out psychological help from a professional to help you identify and learn more about your specific situation and get the best kind of help for you.

You can benefit from all the other steps that will be discussed in this article by yourself through your own means as I understand that getting professional help might not be a feasible option for everyone. However, if you feel that you are experiencing symptoms of depression, and you can afford to seek professional help, I urge you to try and get that help.

If you cannot find any therapists or mental health professionals in your area, I strongly recommend the online therapy platform: BetterHelp. It is an extremely affordable online therapy platform to help connect you with professional, licenced therapists who are experienced in many different fields of mental health. You can apply for financial assistance if needed, however, rates are already extremely affordable (around $60 to $90 per week) in comparison to traditional therapy.

2. Get checked by a doctor for health issues

As mentioned before, depression can be a symptom of different underlying health conditions. In some people, a chronic illness causes depression. Some examples of chronic illnesses that may cause depression are: diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, kidney disease, HIV and AIDS, lupus, and multiple sclerosis (MS).

Additionally, hormonal issues, such as problems with the thyroid (hypothyroidism) can also contribute to depression. Hypothyroidism is paired with many other symptoms such as decreased metabolism, brain fog, fatigue, sensitivity to cold, hair loss, weight gain, irregular periods, muscle aches and digestive problems.

While having depression on its own can sometimes cause you to develop physical illnesses later on, if you suspect that you might be experiencing depression because of an underlying health issue, make sure to communicate this with your doctor. This way you can receive the necessary treatment to help you on your mental health journey.

Pt 2: Things that you can do on your own

This section will focus on things that you can do on your own without external help to improve your mental health and help you battle depression.

3. Take care of your physical wellbeing

Your physical wellbeing can contribute to your mental health and general mood. This is why it is so important to take care of yourself – physically.

Fuel yourself with the right foods that give you the energy and nutrients that you need and don’t make you feel fatigued and glutty. Have a look at the 11 different types of foods that will help you improve brain function!

4. Start working out

Do your best to dedicate time to working out or doing cardio exercise (like running) as this causes endorphins and dopamine to be released (happy hormones) which can really help improve the way you feel.

Even just going outside for a walk everyday can contribute to your mental wellness. Doing this consistently will give you long term results not only physically but also mentally. It will also help you ground yourself and improve your mindfulness.

Have a read of our article on 17 benefits of running that will make you want to run forever.

5. Journal your thoughts and feelings

One really effective way to help you cope with depression is by journaling. There are 2 different ways you can do this:

  • Keep a dairy that you write your thoughts/feelings in daily or whenever you feel like expressing your emotions
  • Personify your depression. This is especially helpful for people that are battling mental illnesses. By personifying your depression, you essentially separate yourself from your depression. You stop thinking of it as a part of you – which makes it easier for you to work on overcoming it. When you journal, talk to your depression as if it is another person. Tell your depression how it made you feel, what you think of it, how it impacted you on that certain day. Try to end each journaling entry by telling your depression that you will overcome it.

6. Say yes to things

One common symptom of depression is self-isolation. If you catch yourself self-isolating, as much as you want to continue doing that, you need to recognise that it is detrimental in the long run. There is nothing wrong with needing alone time but we are social creatures by nature and we need some kind of social interaction now and then. If you can feel yourself withdrawing from people and wanting to be alone more than usual for extended periods of time, it is time to take initiative.

Even if you don’t feel like it, try to say yes. Say yes to going out with your friends, going to social events, or just being surrounded by other people. It doesn’t have to be for a long time or every single day. Set a limit for yourself. It could be at least 3 times every week or once. But try to say yes, even if you don’t feel like it because chances are you’ll feel better about going than not going.

7. Cut out toxicity

The people and situations that we surround ourselves with largely impact our mental health. As social creatures by nature, our social interactions and social circles can really have a toll on us – negative and positive.

If you feel like certain people or certain situations are impacting you negatively – cut them out. If you have toxic friends especially, stop engaging with them altogether. Nothing is more important than your mental health and it is better to be surrounded by no one than to be surrounding by the wrong people. Trust that filtering your life of all the negativity will allow having room for good things.

8. Declutter your life

Having clutter in our lives can not only add to our stress situations but it can be really messy and untidy. Not only does everything look a mess but it can also make you feel out of control. It will also help you learn to detach from things that no longer serve you and let go of the past.

So declutter your living space. Donate as much as you can and throw away the rest. A clean, tidy and convenient living space will translate into your life as well.

9. Work on yourself as a person

By giving yourself a “project” to work on, you can help inspire and motivate yourself a little more to become more engaged in your own life once again. You can make this project your own self-improvement as a person.

If you’re interested in reading more about how to do this in a clear constructive easy-to-follow way, have a read of our article on 21 powerful ways to become a better person.

10. Work on your self confidence

For a lot of people, depression can come from a place of insecurity which translates into depression and lack of confidence in multiple areas of your life. Confidence is not just about feeling happy about the way you look, it is about feeling secure and content with yourself as a person in all ways and with your abilities and life.

If you want to know how to do this effectively, have a read of our article on 9 steps on the secret to not being insecure anymore.

11. Change up your life

Sometimes, what we need is a little bit of change in our lives to promote motivation. For some people, the same routine can get tedious and suffocating which can worsen their depression. For people like this, having change and a new environment is necessary for them to stay engaged and grounded with life. Whether you want to change your appearance, your place of living, your job or your routine, try and incorporate change into your lifestyle to encourage curiosity and excitement in yourself again.

12. Be patient and kind with yourself

Depression is hard. It is a battle that so many people feel they have to go through alone. And that isn’t true. Aside from surrounding yourself with loved ones, it is really important that you become a loved one. You need to learn to be patient with yourself. Depression isn’t something that just disappears in a day. You’ll have good days and you’ll have bad days and for many people suffering with depression, the goal is to one day get far more good days than bad days.

But you need to be patient with yourself. It can take months if not years to truly heal and recover from depression. So it is absolutely crucial that you remain kind to yourself. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Personify your depression and separate it from the person you really are beyond your depression. And then choose every day, to be kind and patient with that person.

Be kind to yourself, you need it.

Final Note

There are many different things you can do to help you cope with your depression in a healthy and non-destructive way. Depression doesn’t have to be a verdict, in fact for many people, recovery is more than possible. However, once again, I urge you to seek professional help if you can observe your symptoms worsening. If you are in crisis or having suicidal thoughts, please find your country from this list of worldwide suicide hotlines and seek help.

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