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Our Tips on Recovering from Depression

Recovery from depression is defined as being symptom-free or feeling "normal" for six months or more. (Bieling, P.J. and Antony, M.M. 2003. Ending the Depression Cycle. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications.) We may have times where we are in "remission" or when our symptoms are absent or greatly reduced for two or more weeks. However, real recovery is not being depressed for quite a long time.

For some of us, recovery may not be fully achieved or we may relapse even after recovery. This happens because we might be more prone to depression - we have a greater genetic tendency, our life circumstance doesn't support wellness or we have not learned how to manage it. It is also the case that each time we get depressed, it becomes more likely that we will relapse. Without making adjustments in our lives we are prone to have an episodic depression experience, cycling in and out of depression.

When we are depressed it is hard to do anything, so we tend to stay depressed. To recover, we need to begin doing just a few things to gradually get going again. Start by following these simple steps:

Get Professional Help - Get a check up by your personal physician. You may have a medical problem that is causing your depression. If you do not have a medical problem apart from the depression you should consider seeing a psychotherapist or counselor. This is usually a clinical psychologist, marriage and family therapist or licensed clinical social worker. This person can help you to determine the nature of your depression and if you should consider taking a medication to help relieve the symptoms.

The most effective and best researched psychotherapy treatments for depression are Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT). For more information or to locate a CBT therapist, please visit the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies website at or the Academy of Cognitive Therapy website at

IPT therapists might be a bit harder to find but you can ask any therapist what their approach is for dealing with depression. See a psychiatrist if your symptoms are moderate to severe. A psychiatrist can prescribe medications if needed. Most psychiatrists do not however provide psychotherapy.

Establish a Personal Support System - When we are depressed we might become more isolated - uninterested in being around other people. But other people can help us to do things and get reengaged in helpful activities. It is important to find a few people who understand what you are experiencing and are willing to patiently help you. It could be a friend who will call you and invite you out to lunch. It could be a patient, understanding spouse who will listen to how you are feeling or will encourage you to eat or go for a walk. It's important to remember that not everyone in our lives can serve in this role or do it well all of the time. Consider joining a group like those offered at Depression Recovery Groups.

Take Good Care of Yourself - Often depression distrubs our sleeping, eating, exercise routines, and engaging in fun activities. You will need to make some effort to work on each of these, but as you get better these areas can accelerate your recovery and keep you well. In our meetings we discuss issues and opportunities to help each of these areas.

Rebalance Your Life - Gradually, patiently rebalance your life - physically, socially, spiritually, and mentally. When we are depressed we often want things to be better instantly - to have our pain lifted and our lives back to normal. Unfortunately, it has usually taken time for us to get depressed so it usually takes time to feel better and learn how to stay better. If we can develop our own personal plan and the skills we need to implement it, we can get better and avoid or manage a relapse as well.

Congratulate Yourself - It's important to congratulate yourself for what you accomplish, forgive yourself if you fail, and never give up! Our dysfunctional, depressed brain is likely to distort how we see what we do. We might be hypercritical and not notice the progress we are making or we simply may not be able to focus. We need to try to consciously appreciate our accomplishments, not wallow in our setbacks and to keep going even if our pace slows to a crawl.

Depression Recovery Groups is dedicated to helping you to learn what you can do, no matter where you are in your experience with depression, and do the best with it. The research on dealing with depression and our experience working with hundreds of participants proves that we can learn to avoid, reduce, or better manage our depression episodes.

To read more on how Depression Recovery Groups can help in your recovery, click here.
Try these to help ease or avoid depression ...

Get enough sleep and rest - You might be tempted to stay in bed or "veg out" on the sofa but that is not the same as getting the seven or eight hours of sleep that we need.

Eat healthy - Carbohydrates and "comfort food" may feel good at first but they will tend to slow you down.

Avoid alcohol and caffeine - Alcohol is a depressant and will just slow you down. Too much caffeine may create an "energy valley" when it wears off or it may disturb your sleep.

Exercise regularly - a great reliever of stress and a natural antidepressant. This may be hard to do if you think about it too much. Take the advice of the commercial -- "just do it!" Start out with something easy - even a five minute walk will help get you started. Find a regular time and activity that works for you and be kind to yourself if you need to miss a session.

Talk with someone - Spend some time talking with someone, if not a few people, every day. It's an easy way to put some activity in your day and to get a different perspective on the world.

Do something you enjoy - Allow yourself to do something fun or relaxing and congratulate yourself for taking care of yourself in this way.