Lifestyle and depression
There are many ways (as well as having psychological therapy and taking medicines) you can help yourself to recover from depression and get your life back on track. Be realistic in planning these — start small. For example, a walk around the block once or twice a week may be enough to get started with an exercise program. Make it something you know you can do.
Start small with exercise – make it something you know you can do.
Exercise can help you feel better when you are depressed. Given all the other health benefits, it is a good idea to build exercise into your routine. If you find a type of exercise you enjoy, you are more likely to stick with it. Exercise can also be a great social activity, which is especially helpful for reconnecting with people and getting support from others.
Getting all the nutrients you need by eating well is another way you can support yourself to stay well.
Read more about healthy eating and depression.
Avoid alcohol and drugs
Drinking alcohol or using illegal drugs can add to your problems rather than help them, especially if you drink more than the recommended limits. Sometimes people use alcohol or drugs to try and cope with depression. Reducing your reliance on alcohol and other drugs will be an important part of your recovery.
If you are dependent on alcohol or drugs, specific counselling can help. It may be more difficult for you to recover from depression if you don’t deal with your drug or alcohol problem.
Do things you enjoy
Schedule time in your week for activities you enjoy, as this can help you recover from depression. Get together with friends each week or continue with a hobby you used to enjoy.
Look after yourself if you’re a carer
Caring for a person with a mental illness or other chronic condition can be stressful and tiring. If you’re a carer, it’s vital that you look after yourself too, by taking breaks, continuing enjoyable activities, eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly and getting enough sleep. You’ll be able to look after someone else more effectively if you’re in good health yourself.
For more information
- Treatment for depression
- Medicines for depression: antidepressants
- Psychological therapies
- Which antidepressant?
- Managing side effects of antidepressants
- Antidepressants A – Z
- Staying well: tips for keeping depression away
- beyondblue. beyondblue guide to the management of depression in primary care. Melbourne: beyondblue, 2009. beyondblue.org.au/index.aspx?link_id=7.102&tmp=FileDownload&fid=1335 (accessed 22 February 2012).