Find specific tips and coping mechanisms that help learn how to overcome major depressive disorder. Learn more about living with this disorder.

Article at a Glance:

  • Depression is an illness and not a personal failure or weakness
  • You can’t just get over it or snap out of it when you have clinical depression
  • Depression is treatable, but treatment is often an ongoing, long-term process
  • Most people with depression do have multiple episodes during their life

Overcoming Major Depressive Disorder

If you have been diagnosed with major depressive disorder, it can feel overwhelming. Even though you may have known for a long time that something was wrong, hearing the diagnosis can feel like the end of the world, but it’s not. Explore these tips on how to cope with major depressive disorder and improve your quality of life.

Depression can affect thoughts and feelings as well as behavior and functionality. It’s not uncommon to have trouble doing daily activities when you live with major depressive disorder.

Feelings of depression or anxiety can lead to suicidal thinking. If you or a loved one is experiencing suicidal thoughts or tendencies, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

Follow Your Medication and Treatment Plan

When you have major depressive disorder, along with initially receiving treatment, it’s essential to follow your treatment plan and take medications as instructed. If you don’t, you run the risk of developing severe complications.

If you were to stop taking a prescribed medication abruptly or without medical supervision, you could experience withdrawal or worsening depression symptoms.

In addition to following your medication and treatment plan, empower yourself and be an active participant in your treatment. Learn more about major depressive disorder so you can ask relevant questions and share input with your healthcare providers.

Surround Yourself with Positivity

When you have even, well-managed major depressive disorder, you may find yourself being overcome with dark or negative thoughts. You can work to combat this by finding positivity in your life.

For example, surround yourself with people who support and empower you. Learn to find ways to remind yourself of the positives when it’s difficult. You might write affirmations that you can refer to if you find yourself slipping into a negative place.

Keeping a gratitude journal can be an excellent way to remind yourself of the positive things in your life.

Develop a Support System

People with major depressive disorder often face social isolation for several reasons. They may feel like they aren’t worthy of having people who love them or they may be ashamed of their disorder.

Work through these feelings and develop a strong support system you can rely on. Maybe you join a support group so you can connect with other people who are also sharing similar challenges to your own.

Confide in a few close friends or family members and let them be there for you. That sense of vulnerability can be hard at first, but valuable as you work on how to deal with major depressive disorder.

If you have specific thoughts or feelings you aren’t comfortable sharing with anyone, consider writing them down. You can journal your feelings as a way to express and work through your emotions. Another mechanism some people find helpful is writing letters or emails to loved ones, but not necessarily sending them.

Develop a Healthy Lifestyle

If there is one aspect you prioritize in terms of learning how to deal with major depressive disorder, it should be a healthy lifestyle. Mental and physical health are very much linked to one another.

The healthier you can be physically, the more improvements you’re likely to see in your depression symptoms.

Although exercise isn’t a cure for depression, it can reduce symptoms when used with treatment. Find exercise and physical activities that you enjoy. It’s good for your health and also to reduce stress.

A healthy diet is important, as is getting enough sleep. Not having enough sleep can trigger anxiety and symptoms of depression. Try to go to bed at the same time every night and wake up around the same time every morning.

Simplify Life

Life will also include stress and complications, but when you have major depressive disorder try to simplify it as much as possible. Cut out toxic people or situations that aren’t necessary. If you’re feeling overwhelmed at home or work, don’t be afraid to ask for help. It’s much better to proactively ask for help than to let the situation spiral into something worse.

Don’t commit to too many things, whether at school, home or work. It’s okay to say no and this will help you maintain more control over how you’re feeling.

Develop strategies to cope with stress in healthy ways if it does occur. For example, mindfulness or meditation are excellent coping mechanisms for stress and feelings of anxiety.

Develop a Plan

Even when your major depressive disorder is actively treated, a slip is possible. When you are feeling good, create a plan for what you’ll do if this happens. Be specific and write your plan down so you’ll have it when you might not be as clear-headed.

Include information about which health care providers you’ll contact, the strategies you’ll take on your own and the loved ones you’ll reach out to. Include what you’ll do in case an emergency arises as well.

If you are struggling with substance abuse and a co-occurring disorder like major depressive disorder, contact The Recovery Village. We can provide you with more information about addiction treatment and treatment for major depressive disorder and other mental health disorders.

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Editor – Jennifer Kopf
Jennifer Kopf is a Florida-based writer who likes to balance creative writing with helpful and informative pieces. Her passion for helping people has translated into writing about the importance of treatment for substance use and mental health disorders. Read more
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Medically Reviewed By – Dr. Kevin Wandler, MD
Kevin Wandler holds multiple positions at Advanced Recovery Systems. In addition to being the founding and chief medical director at Advanced Recovery Systems, he is also the medical director at The Recovery Village Ridgefield and at The Recovery Village Palmer Lake. Read more

Aroshas, Talia. “This Is What Living with Major Depressive Disorder Looks Like.” Healthline. July 9, 2018. Accessed January 18, 2019.

Sharecare. “Overcoming Major Depressive Disorder.” Accessed January 18, 2019.

Haelle, Tara. “6 Life-Changing Tips from People Living with Depression.” Everyday Health. November 4, 2015. Accessed January 18, 2019.

NIH National Institute of Mental Health. “Depression.” Accessed January 18, 2019.

Mental Health Foundation. “Physical Health and Mental Health.” Accessed January 18, 2019.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.