Tips for Living With Major Depressive Disorder

Medically Reviewed by Smitha Bhandari, MD on March 12, 2024
3 min read

Some days are easier than others when you have major depressive disorder (MDD), also known simply as depression. But other times, it can be more challenging to just get through your day-to-day activities.

Whether it’s medication or therapy, it’s important that you stick with the treatment plan you’ve created with your doctor.

But there are plenty of other steps you can take to make daily life easier.

Do things that make you feel good -- that are just for you.

You might want to listen to music or get a massage, sit in the sun or play with your pet. Take simple steps like treating yourself to special (healthy!) foods or a good product to take care of your skin.

Don’t feel bad about taking time for yourself.

Several studies suggest that spending time in nature is good for well-being.

Living around trees and walking in nature can boost your mood and may even help you live longer. It can lower levels of depression, stress, and anxiety, too.

When you see and hear birds and trees and other natural sounds and sights, it’s easier to put negative thoughts and worries to the side. So find time to take a walk or just sit outside.

It’s easy to take on too many commitments. Learn to say “no” if you have too much to do. It’s OK to have down time, especially when you’re feeling overwhelmed.

Leave time for yourself so you don’t feel like you’re running all the time.

While it's important to say no, it's also important not to isolate yourself.

It can be tempting to turn down invitations and just stay alone. But get together regularly with family and friends, even if it’s just by phone or video chat.

Loneliness and isolation can make depression worse. You could find a group that offers meetings, counseling, and other resources for people who have depression. It helps to talk to people who are feeling the same way you are. Ask your doctor or therapist for tips on finding a group.

If that seems like too much, you could also set up a weekly call or a regular walk with a friend.

Writing can help you express your emotions and track your mood. It’s a private way to let out your sadness, anger, pain, or anything else you’re feeling.

When you look back and read what you wrote, it can also help you notice how people, places, or events made you feel.

Don’t make big choices when you’re feeling low. It can be hard to decide even small things when you’re depressed. Wait until you feel better to tackle large issues.

If you need to make a decision now, talk about your options with people who know you well who'll be able to look at both sides of the situation.

Keep learning about depression. There are new studies and treatments created all the time. It’s true that knowledge is power.

The more you know, the more capable you’ll feel when dealing with your condition.

It can be easy to get into the habit of rumination. That’s when you think about something over and over again.

Instead, try to become aware of it when you’re doing it and learn to stop yourself. Focus instead on something that is more helpful and draw your thoughts to that instead.