When you’re living with depression, some days will be more challenging than others. But you don’t have to go through it alone.

Some days may feel extra challenging. Other days, you may feel like you’ve got it under control. Many people with depression go through these ups and downs.

However, learning to manage your symptoms day-to-day can make it a little easier and help strengthen your ability to handle challenges in the future better. By exploring new tools to help you understand your depression, you can better control these fluctuations.

Even if you feel like you’ve tried everything, continuing to improve your mental health is always a worthwhile goal. You deserve to live your best life — your depression doesn’t define you.

When you live with depression, it’s natural to feel discouraged or even hopeless at times. These feelings might also be intensified by troubling world events or new situations happening around you. Some days, it may even feel as if it’s too much to handle alone.

But the truth is, you aren’t alone — over 16 million U.S. adults are estimated to have major depressive disorder (MDD). Still, your experiences are unique to you, and managing depression may look different from how someone else manages theirs.

For instance, you may find yourself feeling unusually tired, or you may feel restless. You might notice a change in your weight, changes in your appetite, or you might have trouble falling asleep.

You may even find yourself feeling irritable for days at a time, or you may have difficulty making decisions or concentrating.

You might experience some or all of these symptoms of depression, or maybe your symptoms don’t fit neatly into these boxes, but they’re getting in the way of you living your life.

Depression looks different for everyone, so it’s essential to explore new coping methods to find the ones that work best for you.

You may encounter people who don’t understand what it’s like living with depression and will likely misunderstand or invalidate your symptoms. This isn’t completely surprising either, with so many myths and misunderstandings surrounding depression.

‘It’s all in your head’

Depression is recognized by mental health professionals, including the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), as a severe mood disorder and mental health condition. Depression isn’t simply something exaggerated in the mind, and there isn’t any one cause for it.

Depression can be caused by a number of factors, including a possible chemical imbalance, medical issues, stressful events, early trauma, or even your genes could all have influenced your depression.

‘You can just shake it off’

Depression isn’t dust on your shoulder or a passing feeling — it cannot simply be brushed aside. When living with depression, it’s possible to learn how to manage your symptoms, but just “snapping out of it” or “getting over it” isn’t an option because depression isn’t a condition that can be switched off.

‘Antidepressants will change your personality’

Antidepressants are meant to make you feel more emotionally stable and help you get back into your regular routine by managing chemical imbalances in the brain. But this doesn’t cause a change in your personality.

In addition, a 2012 study explored antidepressants and personality and found that there wasn’t a significant correlation between the two.

Even so, if you’re concerned that antidepressants might change your personality, consider consulting your doctor or mental health professional about your treatment options.

‘Talking about your depression makes your depression worse’

Though there’s no evidence to support this claim, research supports talking with a therapist to help manage the symptoms of depression. Talking about your depression with someone you trust can help you feel seen, heard, and understood.

Spending time talking about your depression can also help you get to the root of your feelings and help you unravel negative thoughts and emotions.

Depression is an illness that is often downplayed by unfair misconceptions. Stigmas toward depression can make it even harder to reach out and ask for help. No matter how your experience with depression may differ, you always have options.

When depression goes untreated, it can make the symptoms and management much more overwhelming. The longer you wait to seek professional help, the further you get from reducing the severity of your depression.

You truly deserve to feel like yourself again, and you can make that process easier by seeking help.

If you’re unsure where to begin, here are a few inclusive resources to consider:

There are several coping methods to manage depression. Some may work for you, and others may not. Some could even work for you years later. It may be worthwhile to try something again, even if it didn’t work for you in the past.

  • Journaling. Journaling is a great way to communicate how you feel, especially if you often have trouble finding the words to explain your emotions. If blank pages are overwhelming, you could work with prompts, too, such as writing what you’re grateful for each day.
  • Self-care. From finding a new hobby to rethinking relaxation, there are several self-care ideas you could try to take care of your body and mind.
  • Good sleep hygiene. Getting enough rest is crucial to helping you feel your best. As Dr. Matthew Walker said in his book, “Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams,” “the best bridge between despair and hope is a good night’s sleep.”
  • Eating habits. Research has found links to optimal nutrition and mental health. By eating more nutrient-dense food, you could shift your mood and make it easier to regain the life you want.
  • Support network. Consider seeking out people who can discuss your depression with you in a nonjudgmental way. You can do this by strengthening ties with your family and friends, or you can attend a local or virtual support group.
  • Accountability. Learning to cope with your depression will take time and patience. You may feel discouraged at times — and that’s OK. You can manage your symptoms with practice.

Getting into a healthful routine may feel a long way off when you live with depression, but you can get there. You may face challenges along the way, but as you continue to add to your wellness toolkit, you’ll be able to overcome them.

Living with depression doesn’t mean you can’t be happy again. It’s all about finding your unique recipe for joy.

So, if you’ve ever asked yourself, “Can I live with depression?” consider asking yourself, “Can I thrive with depression?” The answer is yes, and with the right tools, you can start to live your best life.