How to Manage Depression in 2023

Medically reviewed by Mark Hrymoc MD

If COVID has taught us anything over the last few years, we are all vulnerable to mental health ups and downs. Depression rates skyrocketed during the pandemic and are still high today. Research shows that over 17 million adults have had at least one depressive episode. Among adolescents, over 2.5 million have severe depression, yet only about 60% receive treatment.

There is no better time to start taking charge of your depression. You can do numerous things to make mental health a priority this year.

In this article, you will learn how to manage depression.

How to Manage Depression

Depression is a common mental health condition that affects millions of people around the world.

It can impact every aspect of a person’s life, including work, relationships, and daily routines. While many effective treatments are available for depression, managing the condition can be challenging. This article will explore practical strategies for managing depression and improving your overall well-being. From building a support system to developing healthy habits, these tips can help you take control of your mental health and start feeling better.

Here’s how to manage depression in 2023.

Confirm You Have Depression

Getting an accurate diagnosis from a psychiatrist or licensed mental health professional. A unique treatment plan is designed to address the diagnosis and any personal needs contributing to your depression.

To receive a diagnosis of depression, you must meet the criteria established by the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (DSM5). During two weeks, you exhibit five or more symptoms for most of the days:

  • Depressed mood for much of the days
  • Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Significant unintentional weight changes
  • Slowed thinking or physical movements
  • Fatigue and lack of energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Inability to concentrate or make decisions
  • Suicidal thoughts or attempts

Other common symptoms that are not specific criteria include being tearful even when there isn’t necessarily a reason to be tearful. Other signs include pacing, wringing your hands, nervousness, sleep disturbances, body aches, headaches, digestive problems, poor hygiene, and anger or mood swings.

Before you begin to understand how to manage depression, it’s essential you receive a diagnosis.

Confirm the Source of Your Depression

Working with a licensed mental health professional, they will discover the source of your depression. This is important in creating the right depression treatment plan. If the source of your depression is specific to an event, such as the loss of a loved one, your treatment may include individual or group therapy. If your depression is due to biological factors in the brain, you can benefit from medications and therapy.

In addition, depression can be a side effect of other physical and psychological problems. Lyme disease, thyroid disorder, multiple sclerosis, and arthritis are conditions known to cause depression. Drug and alcohol misuse are also contributors to depression. While treating symptoms, your doctor will also treat the source.

Self-Care for Depression

Committing to taking charge of your depression must be followed up with self-care activities, which enhance your mental and physical health. Self-care may seem like a hurdle since depression can eliminate your desire to engage in activities. However, if you start with small steps, they will quickly become part of your daily routine.

Choose self-care goals that are small, realistic, and doable. If getting out of bed and leaving the house seems overwhelming, set a smaller goal of getting out of bed and looking out the window for at least 20 minutes several times during the day.

Even more ideas for self-care include the following:

  • Replace negative self-talk with self-affirmations
  • Practice mindfulness through meditation or yoga
  • Learn a new hobby or skill
  • Make lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise
  • Improve sleep hygiene 
  • Find ways to laugh by watching funny YouTube videos, comedy movies, or reading jokes
  • Help someone else, volunteer, or give back in some way
  • Attend individual, group, or family therapy and support groups
  • Write in a journal about your feelings, physical symptoms, gratitude, etc.

Connect With Friends and Family

Isolation from friends, family, coworkers, and acquaintances can lead to an increase in depressive symptoms. Find other ways to connect even if you aren’t up for hanging out with someone. The benefits of social connections include the release of feel-good neurotransmitters in the brain, which boosts mood and improves sleep and concentration.

You can make social connections with phone calls, video chats, emails, texts, and in-person meetings. Understanding how social connection impacts your mental health is essential to understanding how to manage depression. You can also use telehealth services to connect with therapists, doctors, and peer support.

Set Short and Long-Term Goals

Goals are a snapshot of what you want to happen in your future. They keep you focused and moving in the right direction. Long-term goals focus on something you want to happen at some point in your future. They do not have to be specific but must be realistic and achievable. Therapists often recommend using the Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound (SMART) Recovery goal-setting format.

Examples of long-term goals for taking charge of your depression this year include:

  • Start a new hobby
  • Build a support network
  • Set healthy boundaries
  • Improve sleep
  • Improve overall health
  • Find ways to boost mood

Short-term goals are tasks you can complete now. They are smaller steps that help you reach your long-term goals. With each short-term goal you accomplish, you feel a sense of reward, which improves motivation. Examples of short-term goals that support a long-term goal:

Long-term goal:

  • Find ways to boost mood.

Short-term goals:

  • Anti-depressant medication
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Support groups
  • Positive self-affirmations
  • Gratitude journal

Treatment-Resistant Depression

If your depression does not improve even after trying multiple treatment approaches, including various medicines and therapies, do not give up. There are new options your psychiatrist can offer, such as ketamine infusion therapy and ketamine-assisted psychotherapy for treatment-resistant depression.

In recent years, ketamine’s medical benefits have been recognized. The Food and Drug Administration approved a ketamine nasal spray called Spravato® (Esketamine). Psychiatrists have since been able to administer off-label ketamine via infusions.

You are given the lowest dose under the supervision of your psychiatrist, who then monitors you for over an hour or until the effects fade. In a short period, ketamine boosts neurotransmitters in the brain and opens your mind to positive suggestions that replace negative thoughts that lead to depression.

Now that you know how to manage depression this year, you can begin to take steps toward healthily managing depression.

You can start taking charge of your depression today by calling the Mental Health Center. With a thorough assessment and custom treatment plan, you can start living the life you desire.