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Depression Health Center

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Help Yourself out of Depression

Experts give advice about steps people can take to help ease their depression.

Baby Steps continued...

Break tasks into smaller ones that you can accomplish more easily. For example, maybe you haven't collected your mail for a while, and you know there is a stack waiting for you. One day, you might make it your goal to simply pick up the mail, and no more. The next day, you might sort it: Separate bills, letters, junk mail, etc. The following day, you might toss the junk mail in the recycling bin and open the bills, but not pay them. The day after that, pay one bill. Then pay two more the next day, and so on.

"So not only break it up, but spread it out," Aikens says.

Reactivate Relationships, Interests

If you've withdrawn from the social arena, you should take small steps toward getting back into it. Don't expect to show up at a party and command the room, but do try to get out and see some people. Meet with someone briefly for coffee, or maybe drop in on a friend to return something you borrowed.

It can help to talk about your problems with someone close to you. "I urge daily contact, at least over the telephone, with a confidant," Aikens says. This person should not act like a therapist. He or she needs only to listen. It shouldn't be someone who might make you feel worse by getting irritated with you or giving you harsh advice.

A support group may help, too. Joining one, says Lea Ann Browning, a spokeswoman for the National Mental Health Association, based in Alexandria, Va., need not be a long-term commitment. "A lot of people can benefit from a support group for six or eight weeks," she tells WebMD.

Also think about things you used to enjoy or find satisfaction in doing, but no longer do. Starting with small steps, begin to get back into doing them.

"Don't expect to enjoy it to begin with," Bilsker says. Like taking your medicine, do it because it's good for you.

If, for instance, a painter hasn't worked on a painting in a long time, she might start by taking out her materials and setting them up. Then she could commit to making a sketch, and so forth.

"You can think of it as 'loosening up' the depression," Aikens says. "You're maintaining and extending your psychological range of motion."

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