Coping Skills for Depression (7 Useful Strategies)

In this blog, we will explore eight coping skills for depression. These can be used by anyone battling this leading cause of disability. Readers will first learn how coping skills help with depressive disorders. Then, we will describe these coping skills in detail.

What are some Coping Skills for Depression?

Here are some useful coping skills for depression:

  • Follow a Routine
  • Force Yourself to Reach Out & Connect
  • Do What Brings You Joy
  • Serve Others
  • Practice Gratitude
  • Challenge Your Thoughts
  • Engage in Physical Activity
  • Practice Sleep Hygiene

How Coping Skills Help with Depression

A coping skill is a targeted behaviour that helps you deal with a problem better. It can either reduce the impact of the problem or increase your tolerance for it. Depression is a serious mental illness that can be quite debilitating. It impacts your functionality in an insidious way so you don’t even realise what hit you.

Dealing with depression is quite difficult so one can’t help but develop coping skills for it. However, some coping strategies are healthier and more helpful than others. An effective coping strategy for depression allows you to reduce symptom intensity, increase hope and feel-good factors, and break out of negative thought cycles.

8 Coping Skills for Depression

In this section, we are going to describe in detail eight such coping skills for depression. Each of these is a healthy and effective strategy with research backing its validity. You can try them all and stick with the ones that work best for you.

Follow a Routine

The first coping skill we’re going to talk about may seem a little dull but it sure is effective. Setting a routine and following it religiously adds structure to your day to day life. Depression tends to take away all structure because you don’t feel like getting out of bed, mundane tasks seem too hard to do, and you’re always low on energy.

Hence, if you assign specific activities to each quadrant of the day, you can give yourself a push to maintain that structure. It doesn’t have to be very strict or time-bound as long as you avoid being idle. Idleness makes you vulnerable to getting stuck in cycles of negative thoughts.

Force Yourself to Reach Out & Connect

One of the biggest signs of depression is a loss of interest in other people along with a feeling of loneliness. The illness makes you feel like a burden on others and as if no one understands or has the time for you.

It’s easy to retreat into one’s shell when this happens, but to fight depression, you must engage in social interaction. It may seem difficult and not worth it at first but according to neurological studies, talking to others makes it harder for you to feel suicidal.

Do What Brings You Joy

People who are depressed often experience ‘anhedonia’. It is a condition that makes one unable to feel pleasure in things they used to previously enjoy. You might have had certain interests before you got depressed that you can’t seem to find the energy for anymore.

Take a few moments to reflect on what used to make you feel truly happy and nudge yourself into restarting those activities. It helps to do it with a buddy so that you feel more accountable and don’t quit too easily. With persistence, soon enough, you’ll be reminded what joy feels like.

Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness.

Serve Others

When you do a kind deed out of goodwill or to help someone you care about, you feel like a part of something bigger than you. That feeling of contribution adds to your social identity, so you make more positive attributions about yourself.

Since you’re having a tough time putting a smile on your face, try doing it for someone else. It will definitely increase your sense of self-worth and you’ll find yourself feeling better. You can try this through volunteering, tutoring, babysitting, or any kind of charity of your choice.

Practice Gratitude

Experts have reason to believe that gratitude is a powerful coping skill to fight against depression. It is basically a positive emotion that one experiences when they feel thankful for something. It can be anything, big or small.

It helps to maintain a gratitude journal so that your practice is more measurable. At the end of each day, write down five things you are grateful for. It could be something nice that happened to you that day or something you feel thankful for every day. You can even note down sources of materialistic joy.

Challenge Your Thoughts

One of the most effective treatments for depression is cognitive therapy, which involves learning to recognise unhelpful thoughts and replacing them with helpful ones. Since depression is essentially a thought disorder, this strategy works.

You can develop this coping skill by consulting a mental health professional, going through books and online resources, or practising it on your own using a workbook/worksheets. The idea is to catch yourself thinking irrational or negative thoughts and to question them. After all, thoughts aren’t facts.

Engage in Physical Activity

When you exercise or do any kind of movement, your body produces endorphins. These are feel-good chemicals that brighten your mood. Since depression makes it awfully hard to cheer yourself up, physical activity serves as an excellent coping skill.

Moreover, getting regular movement will make your body fitter, stronger, and more resilient. Consequently, you’ll feel a positive change in your sense of self-worth and self-esteem. You don’t necessarily have to hit the gym. You can also try yoga, dance, walks, martial arts, swimming, aerobics etc.

Practice Sleep Hygiene

Depression almost always impacts your sleep schedule. Either it has you sleeping more than you need to or it makes it impossible for you to get enough sleep. It’s also common to have broken sleep, nightmares, and early awakening when you’re depressed.

Sleep hygiene is a set of behavioural changes you can make to promote good-quality sleep. Try the following three changes to practice sleep hygiene:

  • Only use the bed/sleeping area for sleep or sexual activity (find a different spot for everything else)
  • Avoid screentime 30 minutes before and after sleep
  • Create a bed-time routine you follow consistently every day

Conclusion

In this blog, we explored eight coping skills for depression. These can be used by anyone battling this leading cause of disability. Readers first learned how coping skills help with depressive disorders. Then, we described these coping skills in detail.

The coping skills for depression mentioned here included Follow a Routine, Force Yourself to Reach Out & Connect, Do What Brings You Joy, Serve Others, Practice Gratitude, Challenge Your Thoughts, Engage in Physical Activity, and Practice Sleep Hygiene.

What we recommend for Counselling

Professional counselling

If you are suffering from depression or any other mental disorders then ongoing professional counselling could be your ideal first point of call. Counselling will utilize theories such as Cognitive behavioural therapy which will help you live a more fulfilling life.

FAQs (Coping Skills for Depression)

How do you know if you have depression?

Only a licensed professional can diagnose whether you have depression or not. However, if you find yourself experiencing the following symptoms, it’s recommended to consult a mental health professional for a formal diagnosis of depression:

  • Changes in sleep and appetite
  • Inability to enjoy things you used to before
  • Social withdrawal
  • Irritability
  • Low mood 
  • Frequent crying
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Inability to make decisions
  • Reduced interest in sex
  • Suicidal thoughts

Can depression be cured?

Yes, indeed! With the right treatment and consistent efforts, it is possible to overcome depression. Generally, a combination of pharmacotherapy along with psychotherapy helps in treating this condition. One can improve their prognosis by making certain lifestyle changes like diet, exercise, and sleep. 

Why is it so hard to cope with depression?

According to the World Health Organisation, depression is one of the leading causes of disability in the world. Despite its high prevalence, it can be hard to detect depression till it becomes quite severe.

It’s difficult to deal with this mental illness because it takes away your energy and willingness to do anything, let alone take care of yourself. It’s common to experience low self-esteem, low self-worth, and feelings of hopelessness and helplessness when depressed. No wonder it’s so hard to cope with it.

References