Avoiding The Pitfalls That Lead Back To Depression

Life is going well. You're feeling better than ever, but how do you hold on to what you've achieved? Cultivating a healthy lifestyle is the key to maintaining a happy, balanced life.

Manage Stress

Stressful circumstances often lead to feelings of sadness and depression, so try to replace the stress in your life with relaxation as much as possible. Of course, it's not possible to avoid all stress, and difficult situations have a tendency to pop up when you least expect them. Therefore, developing coping skills is important for helping you through stressful times.

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America offers the following tips for stress management:

  • Practice yoga or breathing exercises

  • Reduce your intake of caffeine and alcohol

  • Aim to simply do your best, rather than holding yourself to a standard of perfection

  • Volunteer and stay involved with your community

  • Identify your stress triggers

  • Write in a journal

Exercise Regularly

The American Council on Exercise advises that, among its many benefits, exercise is good for reducing the symptoms of depression and anxiety. Your goal should be to get 30 minutes of exercise a day, five or six days a week. These 30 minutes can be completed in one block, or they can be broken up into smaller chunks throughout the day.

Along those lines, eating well and getting plenty of rest are also important for managing both stress and depression.

Find a Support System

Don't let yourself become isolated. It's important to build a support system around you. This can be individuals you know, a formal support group or a combination of the two. Mayo Clinic recommends considering the following people or organizations for your support needs:

  • National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

  • Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA)

  • Family and friends

  • Religious groups

  • Employee assistance programs

Seek Professional Help

It feels great to be free of your depression symptoms, but to keep it that way, consider long-term maintenance therapy. A study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health concluded that, in adolescents who had dealt with major depression, long-term treatment was a key to preventing relapse. To reap the benefits, these maintenance visits with a care provider should be ongoing, but do not necessarily need to be frequent.

Even if you opt not to pursue long-term treatment, reach out for help right away at the earliest sign of depression's return. The sooner you identify and treat your symptoms, the easier it will be to avoid a full relapse.