5 Empowering Steps for Decreasing Symptoms of Depression

Monday, September 21, 2015 @ 12:07 PM

“Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up.” – Ann Lamott

Because depression is an increasingly common problem, it’s important to know that we can take steps to help ourselves when symptoms start to appear and/or worsen.  Symptoms of depression can include feeling down or sad, lacking pleasure or interest in day to day events, significant changes in weight, changes in sleep, fatigue, a sense of being worthless, difficulty sitting still/agitation, difficulty concentrating, and/or suicidal thoughts (DSM-5, 2013, APA).   Everybody is different and can exhibit a distinctive blend of symptoms that may vary in intensity.

Sometimes there are multiple reasons why depression occurs and because every person is unique, in order to heal, it can be important to look at the biological influences, the social environment, behavioral contributors, thought processes, nutritional factors, the spiritual dimension, and really, each aspect of a person’s world to determine areas that may be out of balance or in distress.  The great news is that if we are willing to start making small changes they add up and can make a big difference for healing over time.

Below are 5 steps that can often be helpful:

Recruit help – Start by sharing with a trusted friend how you have been feeling. Sometimes the act of sharing alone can be helpful in getting thoughts and feelings out.  Beyond that, meeting with a counselor, pastor, doctor, or mentor can prove helpful, too.  It can be important to get their feedback and support as you work on recovery.  It’s very important to reach out and to know that you are not alone.

Go outside – The act of getting out of your house and into nature regularly can, in and of itself, be healing. Whether its enjoying the sunshine or simply watching squirrels run up and down a tree, being in nature can be cathartic.  Find a beautiful spot that you can frequent to read, meditate, walk, or pray.

Move your body – Exercise like walking, running, or swimming can be really helpful in making your body produce the hormones in your brain that make you feel better. It may be the last thing on the planet you feel like doing, but sometimes gently pushing yourself through 30 minutes of movement can go a long way.  You may have to gradually work your way on up to it if 30 minutes is too much.  Gradual change is still change.  If the thought of formal exercise is out-of-the question, try something active that is less intense such as gardening, visiting an art gallery, or browsing in the mall.

Get some helpful nutrients – Consider how to eat healthfully, making sure that your body has the vitamins and minerals it needs to be healthy. A poorly fueled body has difficulty giving us energy and the hormonal boost we need to feel happy.  Focus on getting a variety of real foods full of color and nutrients.  Consider consulting a dietitian or naturopath to see if the foods you are eating have enough of what you need to feel good.

Do something fun – Break the routine and do something out of the ordinary, preferably with other people. Find something that is healthy and makes you smile.  It’s hard to play a board game without laughing.  It can be fun to go for a boat ride, on a tour of a town, or to a comedy show.   Avoid alcohol because it can hinder healing from depression and it’s healthy to learn how to have fun without it.


Depression can be very difficult to deal with and yet, there are many changes we can make, even if they are small, to decrease the symptoms.  Albeit it may be a process, there is hope for improvement and people can heal.  Try some of these tips to start feeling better today!


Forte Counseling and Wellness Center

Erica Rivers, MA, LPC, CPT, MBA

Office: (940) 222-0446