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Lifestyle Tips for Treatment-Resistant Depression

How you live can help support expert medical care.

Treatment-Resistant Depression: Taking Care of Your Body continued...

Don't rely on alcohol or other substances. Many people who have treatment-resistant depression also struggle with alcohol or drug abuse. While substances might seem to offer a temporary escape, they also make depression worse -- and they can prevent your medicines from working as well as they should. If you think you might have a problem, you need to get help.

Talk to a doctor about supplements. So far, the research is mixed on the effectiveness of supplements for treatment-resistant depression. There's some promising evidence that fish oil -- which is rich in omega-3 fatty acids -- might have some benefit. Some research has indicated that folic acid supplements might also help boost the effectiveness of antidepressants. A folate-based medicinal food which is available by prescription for people who haven't fully recovered with an antidepressant. In general, more research needs to be done into supplements for treatment-resistant depression. If you're interested in trying one, talk to your doctor first.

Try light therapy. Some people with treatment-resistant depression find that the changes in the seasons -- specifically the onset of winter -- can make them feel worse. So talk to your doctor about trying light therapy -- using a special lamp that provides artificial sunlight.

Treatment-Resistant Depression: Changing How You Think and Act

Stop assuming the worst. When you're depressed, you begin to see the world -- and yourself -- in the worst possible way. You might "catastrophize" -- you come to the most depressing and terrible interpretation of any given situation.

"When you're depressed for a long time, you learn to expect the worst out of life," MacKinnon says. Adjusting that negative outlook isn't easy. Some people find that even when the overt symptoms of depression have lifted, that distorted way of seeing things lingers on. It's like a bad habit, says MacKinnon, and it can be hard to break.

So what should you do? The first step, experts say, is to start paying more attention to your thoughts. Try to catch yourself when you're making those assumptions. Before you get carried away and leap to a conclusion, reason with yourself. Is there a less depressing -- and more likely -- interpretation?

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