Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, according to the World Health Organization – more than 300 million people struggle with the illness globally. Meanwhile, anxiety, a frequent companion of depression, is the most common mental illness in the United States.
Many of those with anxiety and/or depression have struggled with finding effective ways to cope, and the stigma associated with mental illness certainly doesn’t help. This AskReddit thread gives 35 coping strategies for depression and anxiety that are actually helpful.
#35. The power of pets
For me getting a new kitten tugged me out of depression. I’m a huge cat person and this kitten just chose me like we got home and she came out of the cage straight to my lap to nap. Two years later her just being here loving me has made me a totally different person.
#34. Healthy living
Working out and eating healthy. Friends dragged me into it. Changed my life.
#33. Following a routine
Making a positive routine to replace the negative one you’re stuck in.
For instance I would take my phone into my room and go to bed and watch s DVD then waste time on the Internet for a bit and eat some junk food and then try to sleep, which wouldn’t happen and would lead to a pattern of sleeping during the day and being awake during the night.
So I went into my spare bedroom which unlike mine was bare at about 11pm without any phone or kindle or food and climb into the covers to sleep.
I slept better and broke that negative cycle and had the day to do things where I was awake properly.
Exercise and getting out if the house is another one
#32. Working on yourself
Doing things for myself, and putting work into myself. There’s nothing wrong with saying I want to do this for me. For me it was guitar, reading, and writing. I’m bad at all of them but I do them for me.
And leaving bad things behind, bad people behind. Thinking critically about negative aspects of my life. Consciously asking myself how they’re affecting me, and how I feel about them.
#31. Focusing on yourself
Plenty of water, regular exercise, a diet that is plant-based and varied, sunshine/light box/vitamin D supplements as needed/, lithium orotate, evening primrose oil, vitamin B p5p, adequate sleep, essential oils for different occasions.
To be honest I stopped talking about my problems so much. Keeping quiet about what I might be feeling at every moment helped me assess when I really was feeling something that I needed help with. I stopped going to therapy when I found myself repeating the same worry, I wasn’t getting anywhere. When I realized I could help myself I felt better because I was in control of my life.
I was labeled as a person with Borderline Personality Disorder which made me work harder to not be that person. It doesn’t feel good to have something “wrong” with you and it gave me more incentive to be someone who helps make everything positive around them. Hopefully I make others feel good in a genuine way every day. While I am far from reproach, as I also have feelings/opinions and am not a doormat, I think that I’m doing pretty well in my objective.
#30. Being your own bully
I bullied myself out of severe social anxiety. It got to the point where being in a moderate to large group/crowd of people would give me terrible diarrhea. It got to the point where it was a hopeless spiral of fear of shitting myself in public (only ever happened once and no one noticed) and fear of crowds feeding into each other.
One day, I’d just had enough. Enough missing out on things and excluding myself from concerts. I think it was the night my sister and her husband brought me to see Les Mis when they were on tour, and I shat myself on the way to the bathroom.
So I started being my own bully. I told myself: “Ya know what, Atlas_Mech? You are going to do this, even if you shit yourself in the process. Don’t want that? Too fucking bad. Bring an extra pair of panties and pants. You’re nervous? Oh fucking well. You’re shaking and trembling and having a fucking panic attack 3 days in advance? Too fucking bad. You made a promise to be there, and you don’t ever fucking break a promise.”
And it wasn’t an instant success. I bailed early at parties and events, but people were glad I showed up. I told someone about my social anxiety and consequential diarrhea and they said, “that’s okay, it’s what I have a washer and dryer for! Oh! And now you can try on my clothes! I’ve got your back.”
#29. Doggos are the best
Getting a dog. Funny thing is I didn’t even want to get one, I’m a cat guy and had a bad experience with a dog when I was younger. However my wife put up with my 2 cats for long enough so it wasn’t fair of me to refuse her when she wanted a dog, so here we are. Having something that both loves AND depends on me makes a huge difference – no offence [sic] to my wife or cats, but they’re pretty independent!
#28. Try a new hobby
Video games. Not kidding.
During my one and only anxiety/panic attack my friend took me to a LAN party at someone’s house. There was a steep learning curve on whatever war strategy game we were playing but I didn’t care, it did the trick.
#27. Take a unique approach
Exercise, the keto diet, daily 10 minute mediations, and lsd. I was anxious my whole life and now it’s gone. I was depressed and passively suicidal for years and now that’s all gone too. It feels like enlightenment but I don’t know if a person should say they’re enlightened lol.
Medication. People shit on it, but when it works it really works.
#25. Cutting out caffeine
Besides meditation for me a HUGE thing was cutting out caffeine. I used to drink one to two cups a day in the morning and then take preworkout in the evening When I stopped I noticed almost an immediate enhancement to my quality of life. I know it doesn’t change everyone’s life but it definitely made a huge difference in mine.
Besides that, a daily routine. Writing out your goals every week and holding yourself accountable for accomplishing those goals. If I don’t actively have something to learn or move towards then I instantly get the sads. Go to the gym, go be outside. And as crippling as depression and anxiety can be, force yourself to be in social situations. Because no matter how hard it is to be in public, it will only get harder the longer you abandon society.
#24. Spending time with friends
Getting a job..
Hanging out with people who cared about me. I was very lonely as I just moved to a new city and had no friends at all. The source of my depression was essentially that I truly felt no one cared about me at all. Or even liked my prescence [sic]. Some friends came into the city for the weekend and I realized again that there are people out there who like me.
#23. Ignoring social media
Staying off social media seems to be overlooked but it helps me a lot. It’s not the total cure but a piece to the puzzle. You’re subconsciously comparing your life to a bunch of fake portrayals of other people’s happy lives which can make you feel down.
#22. Helping someone
I’ve learned that I can usually get out of bed to help someone else. It’s just a temporary fix, and maybe it’s sad that I can’t get out to help myself, but if I set my mind on doing something nice for another person, it’s much easier to get up. The motivation is good, and brightening someone else’s day is extremely rewarding. I encourage friends to always reach out if I can help with anything, because it helps me too. Even if they just want someone to bring them coffee or lunch at work.
#21. Writing down your thoughts
Making use of a journal and writing in it daily. It is key to get of your head and putting your thoughts down on paper is what helps. And most importantly doing rather than thinking. Of course visualizing is great, but be careful you’re not day-dreaming. Again, get of your own head and do something.
#20. Letting go of what doesn’t matter
Started to stop giving fucks about things I used to care and started to work out. The beginning was the hardest though.
#19. Financial independence and awareness
Getting a job. I was quite badly depressed (with ups and downs) all throughout HS, University and that one terrible year of unemployment after my graduation. At some point I pushed myself to just go and get a job because I was afraid to lose my then BF (that’s not why we broke up). I find that even though I’ve had some short depression periods since, it never blew up to the same extent.
Being financially inedpendent [sic] helped me be at peace with who I am, as well as allowed me to invest money into the things I like. Having a schedule and something to do every day didn’t allow me to slip into the old patterns of procrsatination and let me have a purpose for the day. I don’t love my job, I actually hate how boring it is, but I’m working on changing that.
Another important part in overcoming the depression and anxiety is awareness. Digging deeper for the cause of it all, linking it to my family and the way I raised, again, helped me to accept myself and understand that not everything is my own fault. It was a huge relief in allowing myself to exist and be happy sometimes.
#18. Starting over
Moving on. Moving to a new town, starting college, essentially cutting myself off of my previous life with anxiety. I know, not very practical, but it helped me to break away from the stigmas that came from acquaintances observing your anxiety.
#17. Realizing you can change
The realization that I could change my reality.
I was unhappy with my weight so I started walking… Then running.. And then I was thin.
That simple cognitive realization tore down all of my self limiting barriers and enabled me to grab life by the balls.
#16. Building relationships
You know how everyone says that to find a significant other, you must first learn to love yourself and be happy alone? When I was depressed, I felt so lonely. But someone started to like me. My confidence started to come back. Feeling loved felt like I was a real human being, worthy of love, and I started to believe it. It was the best thing that happened to me, a year later I didn’t feel depressed anymore. And after we broke up, for unrelated reasons, I still have the feeling that I’m not such a worthless person, someone did love me. I can do this.
#15. Live in the moment
I learned from watching kids and dogs. Feel your emotions in the moment, then let them go and don’t worry about it so you can enjoy the simple things.
#14. Meditation and therapy
Mindfulness meditation/Cognitive behavioral therapy. Realizing that you are still in control of what you consciously attend to, the thoughts and feelings that run through your mind do not have to consume your identity. Observe them without judgement, let them pass without indulging in them and they will fade away.
#13. Understanding and accessing your emotions
Coming to understand why I had become the way I had become, felt the way I felt.
My condition caused me to increasingly lock away my emotions over a decade. Made me robotic and excessively logical. Manifested what would eventually be diagnosed as chronic depression.
When, through the help of therapy and a particular theory of emotional development, I had come to understand what had lead me to become this way, my emotions came flooding out. Never did I cry so much before, and never was I so happy to do so.
It’s been a little 4 years since that fateful weekend, and I have much greater access to my emotions. There’s still a risk that I’ll slip back towards more robotic behavior, and “periods when I feel low and unmotivated” characteristic of chronic depression still occur, but they occur with much lesser intensity and frequency over time.
#12. “Don’t tell me what to do”
I just don’t like it when things try to force me to do something, and when I realized that my depression was just neurochemicals [sic] in my brain making me feel completely disengaged from everything and everyone I used to love and making me just want to sleep 24/7, I just told myself no more. Otherwise the chemicals win, and fuck that. More than I hated my life at that point, I hate it when I’m forced to be a certain way. Don’t tell me what to do.
#11. Release oxytocin
A nice release of oxytocin works wonders, especially when it comes in the form of a hug or kiss.
#10. Start your day off right
Get up and take a shower
Put on fresh and clean t shirt and pants
Do this everyday and don’t forget about it.
#9. Find financial stability
For me… Making good money and finishing my 3yr long job training. I was constantly stressed and not the outgoing type before, so of course that did not help. But once I finished my training and had some decent money to do things without counting what I spent, I was surprised how I said to myself “now you stop worrying all the time, and go have some fun”.
I’m still getting used to being around people, but I’m on a good track, I think.
#8. Run, Forrest, run
Running. Run like Forrest Gump himself, a few miles a day and my nerves are calmed, self-worth improved.
#7. Enjoy the fiber arts
Knitting and crocheting. The feeling of creating something nice and warm in this cold world. (Not ironic).
#6. Try something new
In my teenage years I fell back on music to get me through. Just knowing I wasn’t alone helped a ton with my depression. Now that I’m a lot older my thing is new experiences or just a change of scenery. I’ll take a trip somewhere a few hours away or go to a concert. Or if it’s an option I’ll get a new tattoo.
#5. Accomplish something, even if it’s small
Being busy, not spending too much time on Reddit. Eating right helps a ton too. If an unhealthy mind can cause an unhealthy body, then an unhealthy body will cause an unhealthy mind. Produce each day. By that I mean do something productive, even if it’s only doing a load of laundry.
#4. Get moving
I can’t believe I’m giving the answer I always hated hearing:
It doesn’t change the shittiness but it adds energy to your reserves to deal with the shittiness.
Also mindfulness/dialectical behavioral therapy helped a lot. It helped me change my “I want to die” thoughts to “This sucks” thoughts. Made a huge difference.
#3. Enjoy nature
Long walks through nature and working out in my room while watching hearthstone streams.
#2. CBD oil
My wife suffers very bad anxiety and depression. We live in Maryland and I was thinking about sending her on a trip to Colorado to try Cannabis oil. She has a backpack full of meds currently. We do not drink. I don’t think she has ever smoked pot. She hates the idea of smoking anything, or vaping for that matter. She is 30 and has been living with this for quite some time now but it does not seem to be getting any better. She hates taking so much medicine but if she does not it can get pretty bad. She mostly does it for our kids, if not for them she would probably stop taking them and deal with the craziness. We talked about this Cannabis oil for a while but the closest place is D.C and have to have medical waiver. I don’t really have the cash to send her out to Colorado but if it helps it would be worth it. Just to see if it helps.
Honestly? Crafting. I need something to do with my hands, so knitting/crocheting has been my lifesaver. Even if it’s just simple squares or a doily, making things has helped me tremendously. Bonus points for being able to donate to the local warming centres and humane societies with the stuff you make.