11 Tiny Things To Stop Doing If You’re Trying To Manage Depression

These things will only make your depression worse.

unhappy woman holding head in hands Tiko Aramyan / Shutterstock

It’s easy to forget self-care when you’re depressed. Avoiding negative habits and building on positive habits is critical to managing depression, whether you have the blues or you’re working with your doctor to treat clinical depression. To know how to deal with depression, here are some things you must stop doing when you are depressed.

Here are 11 tiny things to stop doing if you’re trying to manage depression:

1. Don’t watch or read the news

Set the comics aside and put the rest of your newspaper in the recycling bin. When you’re feeling depressed, you don’t need to find additional reasons to feel pessimistic about life. This is the one time when watching a laughing baby or funny pet video is adaptive.


RELATED: People With Depression Are Sharing Videos Of What It Can Look Like To Outsiders & It Is Not What Most Would Expect

2. Avoid social media

The new DSM-5, the diagnostic manual for mental health issues, has now added a condition called Facebook Depression. When you are feeling down about your situation, seeing posts about your friends’ fabulous vacations, new cars, or romantic dinners is not likely to make you feel better.

3. Don’t keep the curtains or blinds drawn and sit in the dark

Have you heard about SAD — Seasonal Affective Disorder? Being exposed to light keeps our circadian rhythms balanced. And, it lightens our mood by keeping our serotonin levels up. Serotonin affects your mood, sleep, intimate desire, and memory. Get as much light as you can. Natural light is the best.




4. Don’t drink alcohol

Often, when we’re depressed, we drink to "take the edge off." You may feel better for a few hours as the alcohol numbs your pain. But, alcohol works to further depress your mood by decreasing serotonin. This makes it harder for your body to make the neurochemicals it needs to feel happier.

RELATED: 7 Surprising Things That Make Your Depression Even Worse

5. Don’t stress eat

Like indulging in a few cocktails, eating your favorite comfort foods will make you feel better  But, unhealthy foods will leave you feeling bloated and lethargic, which increases your depression. Over time, you will gain weight, which rarely makes anyone feel good about themselves.


6. Don’t stop going to the gym

Exercise releases endorphins that elevate your mood. No matter how much effort it takes to get to the gym, a workout will provide rapid relief for the blues. It also gets you out of the house and into a community of people. The amygdala, part of our limbic system, controls our emotions. Our limbic systems resonate with other people. If you are around happy and energetic people, you will begin to feel happy and energetic.

Photo: Eduardo Romero/Pexels

7. Don’t stop showering, brushing your teeth, doing your hair, or wearing make-up

Sometimes, you do have to fake it until you make it. Looking good can elevate your mood. When you look good, other people may notice. Compliments always make you feel good!


8. Don’t cancel plans with friends

Get out of the house. Let your friends support you. Ask for their help. Don’t worry about being Debbie or Donnie Downer. Have you ever been there for your friends? Think of it as reciprocity. But, if friends are downers, you should avoid them. If your limbic system begins to resonate with them, you risk being pulled into a deeper downward spiral of depression.

RELATED: How People With Depression Tend To Speak Differently

9. Don’t stop practicing gratitude

Research shows that reminding yourself of the good things in life, no matter how small, sets your brain on an upward spiral of positivity. So, pull out your gratitude journal and start writing. Don’t stop until you get to ten things. There is no such thing as "too small" for gratitude.  

10. Don’t stop volunteering or helping others

No matter how badly you feel, helping others is a guaranteed mood elevator. It gives you a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. Veterans who work with organizations that provide public services, like Team Rubicon and The Mission Continues, have found their PTSD decreases or goes away entirely.


11. If you have been diagnosed with clinical depression, don’t stop your medications

Even if you're feeling better, don't stop taking them. Many anti-depressants take time to build up in your system. They are part of an ongoing treatment plan. Don’t mess with your medications without talking to your doctor. Don’t miss your therapy appointment. They are also a part of helping you get back to your happy place.

If you find yourself thinking about killing yourself, talk to your doctor within 24 hours if you are making a specific plan to kill yourself, call 911 or have a friend take you to the emergency room. Depression will get better with help. Suicide is final. Don’t do the things that bring you down. Do the things that lift you. Know that you have the resilience to shift yourself back to a happier place. Believe in yourself and your strength to overcome today’s challenges.

If you or somebody that you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, there is a way to get help. Call SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or text "HELLO" to 741741 to be connected with the Crisis Text Line.


RELATED: A Therapist Shares 10 Things To Do At The First Twinge Of Depression

Gretchen Martens is an author, speaker, coach, and happiness expert. Her methods draw from three decades of eclectic experience as an anthropologist, an ontological coach, an experiential educator, and an improvisational comedy performer.