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Depression: This Too Shall Pass? continued...

What can you do to cope? The next step is to shake things up a bit and make some lifestyle changes, Bea says.

Yes, it can be hard to make changes -- especially positive and healthful ones -- when you are feeling down. It is much easier to settle in on the couch and get lost in mindless TV than to go out for a walk or join a team, but you have to push yourself, he says.

“Create an obligation,” he says.  “Sign up for a gym with a friend.”

For further motivation, reward your new habit by doing something that you like afterward.

“Get plugged back in to life,” Bea says. “Maybe even revisit something that you loved to do as a child, as a way to kick-start your engine.”

Be creative. “Think about the things that you loved at different times in life,” he says. You likely didn’t start feeling like this overnight, so it may take a while to get back in the game.

Depression: Taking Steps to Feel Better

When you’re depressed, it’s OK to “behave as if you are enthused and stop saying how difficult everything is,” Bea says.

Although lifestyle changes and picking up an old hobby can help, sometimes it’s simply not enough. Medication and counseling are also part of the solution, adds Bryan Bruno, MD. He is the acting chairman of psychiatry at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. “If you are in therapy and things are getting worse, this is an indication that you should consider medication.”

Depression: Getting Support

You may already be on medication and still not feel like your usual self. If that’s the case, talk to your doctor if your current medications and treatment plan aren’t working.

“Sometimes more aggressive therapy is needed even if you are on medicine already,” says Bruno. Other options to help you cope with depression include:

  • Finding a depression support group. It can help to talk with others who are experiencing similar challenges.
  • Connecting online with other people who have depression.
  • Spending time with friends instead of being isolated and feeling alone.
  • Keeping a journal to help you monitor your moods and sharing it with your doctor.
  • Getting active. If you dread the thought of going to a gym -- and many people who feel depressed do -- consider trying a yoga class or taking a walk in the park to boost endorphins.

You don’t have to pretend that you feel good when you’re depressed. Talking to your doctor about ways to manage your depression -- and being honest about how you’re functioning -- can go a long way in feeling better long-term.