Do not expect too much from yourself too soon, as this will only accentuate feelings of failure. Avoid setting difficult goals or taking on new responsibilities.
Break large tasks into small ones, set some priorities, and do what can be done, as it can be done.
Recognize patterns in your mood. Like many people with depression, the worst part of the day for you may be the morning. Try to arrange your schedule accordingly so that the demands are the least in the morning. For example, you may want to shift your meetings to midday or the afternoon.
Participate in activities that may make you feel better. Try exercising, going to a movie or a ball game, or participating in religious or social activities. At a minimum, such activities may distract you from the way you feel and allow the day to pass more quickly.
You may feel like spending all day in bed, but do not. While a change in the duration, quality and timing of sleep is a core feature of depression, a reversal in sleep cycle (such as sleeping during daytime hours and staying awake at night) can prolong recovery. Give significant others permission to wake you up in the morning. Schedule “appointments” that force you to get out of the house before 11 a.m. Do this scheduling the night before; waiting until the morning to decide what you will be doing ensures you will do nothing.
Avoid overdoing it or getting upset if your mood is not greatly improved right away. Feeling better takes time. Do not feel crushed if after you start getting better, you find yourself backsliding. Sometimes the road to recovery is like a roller coaster ride.
People around you may notice improvement before you do. You may still feel just as depressed inside, but some of the outward manifestations of depression may be receding.
Try not to make major life decisions (such as changing jobs or getting married or divorced) without consulting others who know you well and who have a more objective view of your situation.
Do not expect to snap out of your depression on your own by an exercise of willpower. This rarely happens.
Remind yourself that your negative thinking is part of the depression and will disappear as the depression responds to treatment.
Find support from people who understand. Self-help groups can provide a supportive environment for you as well as your family and friends. Hospitals and health departments sponsor self-help groups, and an increasing number are found online.
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Michael Herkov, Ph.D., and Wayne Goodman, M.D. also contributed to this article.