Lifestyle and Behavior Changes

Behavior and lifestyle choices can affect your depression. Here are changes you can make as part of your depression treatment.

Behavior and lifestyle choices can affect your depression. Here are changes you can make as part of your depression treatment.

Gold Standard for Treating Depression (part 15)

For many people, depression medications alone, or even the combination of antidepressant medications and psychotherapy, are not enough to end depression. Considering that depression can often be triggered by your personal choices as well as outside events, the more control you take over your lifestyle, behaviors and thoughts, the better chance you have of managing depression more effectively. There is no question that making these changes and learning what triggers your depression can be difficult at first. The good news is that you have the most control here and the changes are easier to implement than expected and are often free.

What are the Main Lifestyle Changes I Need to Make?

There are many steps you can take to reduce your depression symptoms naturally:

  • Regulating Sleep
  • Exercising
  • Changing your diet
  • Getting bright light exposure and fresh air
  • Staying connected with other people and getting involved -- finding a daily purpose so that you can get break the hold depression has on your behavior
  • Reducing caffeine, alcohol and avoiding substance abuse

When you first look at this list, you may feel overwhelmed. This is normal, but it's also important to know that these changes can be made very gradually. Something such as using a light box to increase your bright light exposure in the winter may be a better first step than completely stopping caffeine while adding a short walk to your day can be more realistic than making new friends.

Why Do I Need to Make These Changes?

Your lifestyle choices affect depression in many ways from damaging your physical health to actually increasing depression symptoms. How much sleep you get, what you eat, the alcohol and caffeine you drink, the street drugs you use, the amount of bright light you get daily and the people you interact with can all affect depression in a negative way if they are not examined and changed for the better. Whether you are mildly or seriously depressed, there is always at least one step you can make in order to feel better. The action of making a change can often help as much as the change itself. Depression can make you inert. You need to fight this by making positive changes one step at a time.

video: Depression Treatment Interviews w/Julie Fast


APA Reference
Fast, J. (2009, January 1). Lifestyle and Behavior Changes, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 13 from

Last Updated: May 17, 2019

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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