I've been depressed for a while. It has affected my schoolwork and social life a lot. How can I get over being depressed without taking antidepressants?
Not everyone who's depressed needs to take antidepressant medications. There are many other things that can help. Finding out what's best for you starts with an evaluation by your doctor or qualified therapist.
Talk therapy (a very common treatment for depression) helps people give words to sad feelings, talk about their situation, and feel understood. Therapy also helps people learn how to turn thoughts in a more positive direction and come up with ways to work out problems.
Don't underestimate the power of seemingly simple actions to help put your mood back in balance. Get outside. Take a walk. Play a sport you enjoy. Choose nutritious foods and resist junk foods. Get a full night's sleep. People who are depressed may not feel much like being active. But make yourself do it anyway (ask a friend to exercise with you if you need to be motivated).
For people who experience seasonal wintertime depression, getting enough daylight is important. This can be done by getting outdoors every day or by using a special type of light box.
It's common for depression to have an impact on social life because it can make a person feel withdrawn and subdued. Try to spend time with a good friend doing something you both enjoy or just hanging out. Open up to someone you feel close to — a friend or parent. Let someone know what's going on with you. Don't dwell on troubles — share the good parts of your day, too. It's the sharing that matters. Feeling connected to others helps relieve depression.
Above all, be kind to yourself. Depression affects a person's thoughts, making everything seem dismal, negative, and hopeless. Don't let this translate into down-on-yourself thinking. Try to remember your strengths, gifts, and blessings.
Some people do need medication to get over depression. But it is rarely used alone as a treatment — especially in young people. How will you know what is best for you? See your doctor or therapist for an evaluation and a treatment plan that's right for you.
Reviewed by: D'Arcy Lyness, PhD
Date reviewed: July 2015
*Names have been changed to protect user privacy.
|National Mental Health Association (NMHA) NMHA works to improve the mental health of all Americans through advocacy, education, research, and service.|
|Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance The mission of this group is to educate patients, families, professionals, and the public about depressive and manic-depressive illnesses.|
|American Psychological Association (APA) The APA provides information and education about a variety of mental health issues for people of all ages.|
|Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS) CMHS is a federal agency that provides information about mental health to users of mental health services, their families, the general public, policy makers, providers, and the media.|
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|Talking to Parents About Depression If you feel depressed, you need to reach out for help and support. Read our tips for teens on talking to parents about depression.|
|Depression Depression is very common. For more information about depression and feeling better, check out this article.|
|When Depression Is Severe Severe depression can cloud a person's thinking and lead some people to think that life isn't worth living. But severe depression can be treated. Find out what to do and how to get help in this article for teens.|
|Why Do People Get Depressed? There's no one reason why people get depressed - many different things can play a role. Find out more about the things that can trigger depression.|
|Going to a Therapist Getting help with emotions or stress is the same as getting help with a medical problem like asthma or diabetes. This article explains how therapy works and how it can help with problems.|
|Stress & Coping Center Visit our stress and coping center for advice on how to handle stress, including different stressful situations.|
|5 Ways to Fight Depression It's important to take action against depression - it doesn't just go away on its own. In addition to getting professional help, here are 5 ways to feel better.|
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