Top 10 Things to Help Battle Depression

December 23, 2011 Jack Smith

We get lots of Top 10 lists this time of year. So I’ve made up a list of my own. It’s the Top 10 Things I Know I Should Do to Battle Depression.

Let me be clear here. I don’t do them all and often fail to do any of them. But I know they work.

  1. Exercise. Even though I haven’t felt like running lately (that was once a passion), I have at least gotten on the treadmill for a half-hour most days. When it’s not too cold, a walk outdoors helps, too. Exercise never fails to make me feel better.
  2. Make small, realistic goals. This one often relates to work. When I feel overwhelmed, I can survive if I remember to set small goals. Like return my phone calls from the day before. Or clean out my in-box.
  3. Get a massage. I don’t know what the science says, but I know what my mind and body think. A regular massage—even if only monthly—always helps me feel better physically and mentally.
  4. Take my meds. All of them. I’m generally a compliant patient, but occasionally I get sloppy and forget to take my antidepressant. I can relate to those who don’t want to take their meds when they start feeling better. It’s natural. But it’s never a good idea to do that without talking to a doctor.
  5. Focus on my family. Brutal honesty here. Sometimes I’m not “there” when I’m with my children. That only makes me feel guilty when I look back and realize I squandered a chance to love on them or really connect with them. I do better when I cut my phone off and put the day’s worries out of my mind, if only briefly. When I do that, my children enjoy me more. And I always feel better.
  6. Seek work-life balance. It’s a never-ending quest, and I don’t have an answer. I’m not sure I even know what work-life balance looks like. I know what it isn’t, though. And too many hours at work or too much stress at home isn’t it. As my Dad used to say, the work will still be there in the morning. Go home.
  7. Stay spiritually fit. I am a believer. I don’t judge others who aren’t, but I know my faith matters for me, and it helps me in my darkest hours. It’s like going into battle with an impenetrable shield. And when I get spiritually lazy, my problems seem to mount.
  8. Keep my therapy appointments. My therapist is really, really good. My experience and my knowledge from reading extensively about severe depression is that medicine and psychotherapy are usually needed to battle this dreadful illness.
  9. Listen to music or get lost in a movie. Music can be a great mood changer for me. I just have to be careful not to listen to music that makes me even more depressed. Movies are a great distraction when anxiety is getting the best of me. A good movie can lift my spirits and get my mind off my problems.
  10. Give back. Depression can turn us into selfish beings. I’ve found that when I do something for someone else, it makes me feel better. On a really bad day when my energy is low, it might be something as simple as offering a nice compliment to a co-worker. Or my wife. That’s always a good idea. Volunteering is an even better way to connect and feel better.

I hope this Top 10 list helps. I’d love for you to share what makes you feel better, and maybe we can discuss some of those in next week’s blog.

Have a Merry Christmas!

Jack Smith also hosts his own blog

APA Reference
Smith, J. (2011, December 23). Top 10 Things to Help Battle Depression, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 19 from

Author: Jack Smith

Dani Werner
December, 24 2011 at 5:49 am

Since moving to the UK, I've battled with depression. At the moment, I'm not on meds - I see them as a last resort. I always tell myself that while I might be feeling very low today, and maybe for a few days, I always seem to come out of it alright after a while. So I keep going until I do. What I find works is reading a good book and getting lost in the story; it's something I used to enjoy thoroughly as a child before homework piled up and university took over my time.
I will also agree heartily with number 10. I always feel better after doing something nice for someone. Just today, while checking a box of eggs at the grocery store, a pregnant woman with a squirming toddler stopped next to me, and I gave her the box I'd just checked because she had her hands full with her little girl. It gave me a glowing feeling.
Merry Christmas!!! xx

January, 13 2012 at 7:34 am

Really great list of tips! I find that exercise is non-negotiable when it comes to living with my bipolar II as well as fibromyalgia. But of course when you're depressed, the last thing you want to do is, well, anything....but if I can force it to happen, I will always be happy I did.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Jack Smith
January, 13 2012 at 8:14 am

Thanks for the tip and for stopping by. Exercise is crucial for me, too.

Dr Musli Ferati
January, 13 2012 at 9:06 pm

Depression as dreadful disorder of mood requires a complex and steady psychiatric treatment, in order to overcome many psychosomatic difficulties. Among these undertaking the moderation to lifestyle of person with depressive disorder indicates a crucial important. The intention is to be active and with fullfilment sense in daily engagement. Your ten suggestions are a good guide in this direction, but it should take in consideration individual preferences of respective patient. Essentially, it ought to be active and with perseverance in work, from which it would to find out a feeling of spiritual satisfaction. If the burden of tiresome fastening our global life affinities, the the probabilities to a successful recovery from depression would be next to nothing, even we take antidepressant medication.

January, 14 2012 at 7:52 pm

I have suffered from depression and anxiety, mostly anxiety for as long as I can remember. some days it is a real struggle and lately even though I am happier and more stable than I have felt or been in my life...I feel somewhat empty and I don't really look forward to much...I don't want to go on medication again..I keep trying trying to talk myself into being happy but I feel mostly numb..Thanks for letting me discuss this.

February, 20 2012 at 7:35 pm

Hi, I am Beverly, and I read all the comments to see if I fit into any particular category. I have depression, anxiety and have been on meds, Lexapro and Xanax which have helped me so much. Just lately, I had to change to Celexa for depression as my insurance no longer covered Lexapro. I am on 20 mgs for now and some days it works fine, other days, I feel very bad so Dr. said to try the 20mgs for a while longer and then he will probably change me to 40 mgs which he said most people need 40 mgs. I attend church and read the Bible, Guideposts and pray a lot which helps. I am 72 and retired and live alone with my cat. I have been divorced since 1984 and wish still I would find a good christian man and remarry. Only God knows that possibility. I do appreciate my family and grandchildren and try to keep busy around my condo, eat out with girlfriends or shop. I will keep reading on this site and I hope I have helped someone with my comments. Bev

Assault Lawyer
August, 31 2013 at 11:20 pm

Great. I agree.

August, 10 2014 at 6:32 am

Thank you for this.
I have recently been put in meds, but my parents r opposing the idea, for fear of addiction. But i want to thank u for reminding me that depression is not my fault and my thoughts of self harm r unreasonable. Thank u :D
Let us all keep the positive attitude.

Wilma Swan
March, 13 2015 at 3:22 pm

Thank you. I really hope I find some inner peace with these suggestions. I have been plagued all of my life, but for some reason this bought has been the most difficult. I watch myself from afar.......worsening.

Pam Dickhaus
March, 26 2015 at 1:18 pm

Great list, very good coping mechanisms. I have a hard time using my tools at times, the depression gets so bad, i just can't face anything. (Though it's been awhile since I've been in that state). I don't want to talk to anyone, see anyone, watch a movie, nothing. Exercise is hard for me due to physical limitations but I cannot picture myself going out for a walk if and when i am in that state. I have found one way that DOES help, one coping skill and that is to read a book.Durring my last flare up of depression, I read like 8 books in 7 days. For some reason, I can get lost in a book, where TV or a movie just seem to irritate me more.

November, 24 2015 at 12:01 pm

Thanks for this article and your blog post on suffering. Helps to know those of us who constantly struggle with this disease aren't alone. Exercise is key but so hard to when really depressed.

November, 30 2015 at 5:01 pm

Exercise was very hard for me during heavy depression. I quit for 4 months. I finally started with just 1mile jogs 3 times a week. It was hard and no fun. Little by little, and 3 months later, I am jogging 4 days per week at about 4-7 miles each time. I am finally feeling better. Exercise helps.

Nancy Mclernon
January, 9 2016 at 1:28 pm

All of the ten suggestions have been very helpful to me in coping with emotional up's and downs. It sadden's me however to read that family member's or friends give opinions about taking medications and whether it is a good thing or not. Those suffering severe depression,Bipolar Depression, Anxiety, Schzophrenia etc… need to be evaluated by a psychiatrist for their disorder . The above conditions are symptom's of the brain and neurotransmitters not working consistently. If a diagnosis is made and medication prescribed, it should not be considered a weakness or failure of will anymore than treatment taken for diabetes, M.S., cancer, etc., The brain is an organ and a major organ. Mental Illness's, continue to be met by stigma, shame,and often uneducated judgement. There is no shame in treating illness by taking medication,E.C.T., therapy etc. It saves lives and that is the most important thing.

Becky Armley
May, 11 2016 at 10:37 am

I've been struggling with Depression and Anxiety since I was 15 years old and been on a number of different anti-depressants. I've also tried a number of different therapies, medical and holistic. I'm doing ok at the moment. What I'm proud of though is that I've started writing a blog about my personal experiences with Depression and Anxiety. It's not much at the moment but I'm finding it a really therapeutic way of getting my thoughts out of my head and I think i'm gunna keep going at it. Feel free to have a read

May, 20 2016 at 11:33 am

Some really good points here :) I totally agree. And I totally agree with the other people's comments on exercise being extremely difficult when you're depressed. I've written my story and other tips on coping with Depression on my blog if you want to check it out:

Leave a reply