How to Get Out of Depression
Getting out of depression can seem impossible. Depression has many negative effects. It can completely change someone’s life and rob him of the person he thought he was. Happily, that person isn’t gone. That person is smothered under the weight of depression. The following ideas for how to get out of depression can be effective strategies for overcoming depression.
- Embrace and work with your strengths
- Operate from the perspective of gratitude
Getting Out of Depression with Your Strengths
Depression says that you’re inadequate. You aren’t, of course, but it’s hard not to believe it. Depression makes it difficult to do things both big and small, and when it prevents you from being active, it blames you for it and belittles you with name-calling. Naturally, this makes it even harder to do things. There’s a way out of this cycle, and there’s a way out of depression. One method of getting out of depression is by taking action with your strengths.
Depression makes people forget that they have any strengths at all. You do have strengths, and you can use them daily. Here’s how to get out of depression by drawing on your strengths:
- Remind yourself of all of the good things about you. Write them down in a dedicated notebook, or make a collage and hang it on your wall for a constant visual reminder. Focus on things you do well and on positive character traits you have. For example, are you caring? Do you have perseverance? Discover your talents and character strengths, and let them be your guide.
- Use your strengths to guide you to enjoyable, meaningful actions and activities.
- Record your activities (anything from making your bed to volunteering at your local elementary school) in a journal so you can see that you are doing things and that you are making a difference.
How to Get Out of Depression by Listening
A problem with depression isn’t an inability to listen in general. If you are living with depression, chances are that you’re listening very well—to your depression. Unfortunately, depression is a harsh inner critic that labels you, picks on you, and keeps you mired in its muck. The critical inner voice isn’t your true voice.
Separate your real voice from depression’s voice. When depression tells you that you can’t do something or that you’re worthless, notice it, challenge it, and then choose one of your strengths-based activities to do. It’s another way to get out of depression.
Gratitude and Getting Out of Depression
Depression zaps joy. It washes away positive feelings. It makes the world, inside of you and outside of you seem bleak and pointless. That is only a faulty perception, clouded by depression. Training yourself to notice and appreciate things in life helps pull you out of the depression perspective.
The field of positive psychology offers this exercise, often called Three Good Things (Peterson, 2006), for how to get out of depression the gratitude way:
- Set aside a time each day to reflect on things for which you are grateful, good things that you noticed during the day. Jot them down in a journal. This will help you notice the good in yourself and the world even when depression wants you to see only the bad.
- Next, reflect on this question: Why did these good things happen? You soon notice a pattern; good things aren’t arbitrary. You, and others, make good things happen. You are the one appreciating beauty. You aren’t your depression.
Depression can be so strong that it feels impossible to figure out how to get out of depression. Getting out of depression doesn’t have to be difficult or fancy. It can involve simple actions and different ways of thinking. Identifying and using your talents and strengths, learning to listen to yourself, the real you, and developing a grateful mindset all work together to help you get out of depression.
Last Updated: 15 October 2018
Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD