Depression and How to Cope

Depression can be crippling. It impacts the lives of those that live with it as well as those that love them. The content here covers both the medical aspect of depression as well as some non-conventional ways people can cope with depression.

The Guide to Coping with Depression

Everyone experiences sadness—but what happens when that sadness becomes a life-altering mental health condition that effects your mood, livelihood, and ability to function? Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses, but it can present itself in many different ways.

If you are struggling with depression, it can be difficult to recall what normal life looks like. Looking at your treatment options is the first step in comprehensive recovery that can get you back on track to a health and fulfilling life—but it can be difficult to know where to start.

This guide is meant to be a thorough to connect those struggling with depression and their loved ones with the best depression help including: treatment providers, medication information and options, literature and media surrounding depression, lifestyle tips, and more.

If you have not personally experienced depression—it’s highly likely that someone you know has or is currently struggling with it. We encourage you to share this information with your family and friends.If you are in a crisis or a loved one is at risk of harming themselves, help is available 24/7. Please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK(8255).

We encourage you to share this article as it can possibly reach someone in need. Millions of American's struggle with depression and getting help isn't the easiest thing to do.

What You Need to Know About Depression

Despite being one of the most common mental health problems, depression is often misunderstood. Depression is not your typical sad mood—it is a lasting and persistent condition that changes the way an individual thinks and behaves. Clinical depression is a severe mental health condition that causes a range of symptoms that can effect a person’s physical and mental health. Left untreated, depression can lead to serious problems or one becoming a danger to themselves.

Clinical depression, or Major Depressive Disorder(MDD), is classified by a a number of persistent criteria that last for longer than two weeks. Depressed individuals can experience altered mood, thoughts and feelings of hopelessness, loss of interest in activities, difficulty concentrating, low energy, and suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Though depression is a mental disorder, it can also manifest itself in physical symptoms as well, including loss of appetite, weight changes, extreme lethargy, lack or excess of sleep, or worsening chronic pain.

80-90% of those who seek treatment for their depression respond positively. If you think you are suffering from depression and it is effecting your well being, it is important that you seek treatment from a mental health professional.

What Causes Depression

Depression is a complex mental disorder that can have different causes. While depression is thought to be caused by changes to the brain, it can be brought on or worsened by several different catalysts. In many cases, depression is caused by multiple factors.

Some of the common causes of depression include:


Depression is thought to be a genetic disease, meaning that if someone in your family has depression you are more likely to suffer from it too. If someone has a parent or sibling with depression, they are 2-3 times more likely to have depression themselves.


Those who have experienced abuse, neglect, or severe trauma(especially early in life) are at a higher risk of developing serious depression. Trauma has a profound effect on the brain.

Life Changes

Death of a loved one, loss of a relationships, or financial stress are all normal parts of life and can cause emotional distress. However, for many, these life events can perpetuate a depressive episode.


Many pharmaceutical drugs have the potential of depression as a side effect. Common drugs that can cause depression include anti-epileptic drugs, smoking cessation medications(Chantix), benzodiazepines, and antihypertensives.

Health Conditions

Multiple health problems can trigger depression including thyroid problems, heart disease, nutrient deficiencies, chronic pain, immune disorders, and more.

Substance Abuse

Depression frequently co-occurs with substance abuse disorders, but substance abuse itself can actually cause depression. Abuse of alcohol or drugs causes chemical changes in the brain that can exacerbate symptoms of depression. Many who already suffer with depression turn to substance abuse as a form of coping. If you are struggling with substance abuse and depression, many providers offer treatment for both diagnoses.

Seasonal Depression

Seasonal Depression or Seasonal Affective Disorder(SAD) is thought to be brought on by limited access to sunlight and outdoor exposure. This type of depression usually occurs in the winter months.

Other Mental Health Conditions

Depression can also be brought on or worsened by other mental health conditions such as bipolar disoder, personality disorders, or generalized anxiety disorder. Experienced mental health professionals can treat co-occuring mental disorders through both pharmaceutical and psychotherapuetic interventions.

Depression: What are the Symptoms?

Depression can effect individuals in different ways—but it can create disturbances in daily functioning that make it hard to live a normal life.

To meet the criteria for Major Depressive Disorder(MDD) as classified in the DSM-5, an individual must exhibit five out nine of the following symptoms for two weeks or more:

The symptoms of depression are not limited to this criteria. Depression effects everyone differently and can manifest itself in a number of ways.

Depression and How it Is Treated

Depression is treated in many different ways depending on its severity and how a patient responds to treatment. Depression treatment has advanced rapidly in the last 50 years with the introduction of new therapeutic methods and pharmacological advancements.

The Most Common Depression Treatments Include:

Depression is treated several ways. Unfortunately, it's also never treated for those that can't identify they have depression or simply lack of resources such as insurance. Here are some of the most common forms of depression treatments.

Nearby Therapists are Here to Help

Therapy can be one of the most effective tools in treating depression. However, finding the right therapist or type of therapy can feel challenging. When it comes to treating depression with therapy, you have several different options.

Types of Therapists


A psychologist has a doctorate degree and can provide diagnostic testing, comprehensive therapy, and work in tandem with a psychiatrist to treat mental health disorders.

Counselors & Licensed Therapists:

This class of mental health professionals includes Licensed Marriage & Family Therapists(LMFTs), Licensed Counselors, and other certified professionals who carry a masters degree or higher with clinical experience in the psychiatric field.

Types of Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT is a very effective modality in addressing depression. CBT works by addressing negative thought-behavior patterns and reframing thinking patterns that can contribute to depression and anxiety. Intervention with CBT has been shown to have lasting benefits in patients with depression.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

DBT helps those with depression to learn better coping skills, conflict resolution, emotional regulation, and mindfulness. While it was originally developed to treat Boderline Personality Disorder, DBT has been found to be an effective treatment for certain depressed patients.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing(EMDR)

If trauma exists with depression, combining CBT with a treatment like EMDR can be extremely beneficial for an individual. EMDR therapy can help an individual with a history of trauma or abuse to function, think, and process emotions better.


Many licensed mental health professionals now offer their services through digital health platforms. This means that patients have access to quality mental healthcare from the convenience of their own home. A digital therapy session can also be a good way to start your recovery journey if you are new to or nervous about trying therapy.

Prescription Medications : Do They Work and What You Need to Know.

Medication is often one of the first interventions when it comes to treating severe depression. Often used in conjunction with therapy, medication can be extremely effective in alleviating many of the debilitating symptoms associated with depression.

Who can prescribe psychiatric medication?

If you are feeling depressed, you may be wondering if you can just ask your general practitioner for a prescription. While most doctors can prescribe antidepressants, it is best to ask for a referral to a psychiatric professional who specializes in mental disorders.


Psychiatrists specialize is medication management of psychiatric disorders, including depression. In many cases, your psychiatrist can also direct you to other treatment resources including therapy, medical interventions, and community support.

Psychiatrist Nurses

Psychiatric Nurses are Nurse Practitioners who work under the supervision of a psychiatrist and can prescribe certain psychiatric medications. Some nurses also conduct psychotherapy.

Types of Depression Medication

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors(SSRIs)

SSRIs are usually the first line of defense when it comes to pharmaceutical  depression treatment. These drugs work by increasing levels of serotonin in the brain over time and generally take about 4-6 weeks to be effective.

Common SSRI Depression Medications Include:

Serotonin and Norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors(SNRIs)

SNRIs are a newer class of antidepressants that block both the reuptake of serotonin and norepinephrine. They are usually prescribed for those who do not respond to SSRI treatment or have co-occuring anxiety disorders.

Common SNRIs Depression Medications Include:

Other Antidepressants and Medications

When SSRIs or SNRIs aren't effective or other symptoms are present, other medications may be used.

Tricyclic Antidepressants(TCAs):

An older class of antidepressants, TCAs arestill considered an effective means of treating depression when SSRIs or SNRIsdon’t work. Common drugs include amoxapine, doxepin, Pamelor, and Surmontil.

Dopamine Reuptake Blockers:

These drugs are often used for Seasonal Affective Disorder, treatment resistant depression, or smoking cessation.Brands include Wellbutrin, Forfivo, and Aplenzin.

Other medications:  

If depression exists with other medical orpsychiatric conditions, your doctor may prescribe additional medications tohelp manage symptoms such as anxiety medication, sleeping medication, or moodstablizers.

Different people respond to medications invarious ways—talk with your doctor regularly to find what works best for you.

Depression Treatment & Exercising

We are an huge proponent of what exercise can do to help cope with depression. It is proven, that exercise can help relieve stress, change thought perception as well as help you cope with negative thoughts.

Running, riding a bike, lifting weights can help you cope with depression. Paired up with a great podcast or a great audio book and you can feel better even if your darkest moments.

Depression Podcasts and How They Can Help

Dealing with depression can be extremely lonely. Listening to those who have dealt with the same struggles you are facing can be both empowering and educating. Here are some of our favorite podcasts that discuss depression and mental health:

The Hilarious World of Depression

Mental Illness Happy Hour


Happy Place

The Struggle Bus

Books & Audio Books that Can Help With Depression

Books and audiobooks can be an invaluable tool to educate yourself about depression and learn new coping skills when struggling with depression.

Try Softer
Lost Connections
The Happiness Trap: How to Stop Struggling and Start Living
Furiously Happy
How to be Happy(Or at Least Less Sad): A Creative Workbook
Prozac Nation

Mobile Apps that Can Help With Depression

Mobile apps are becoming a valuable way to manage, track, and assess depression symptoms. New apps have the power to do everything from connecting you to online depression resources to connecting you with a live therapist.

Headspace (iOS and Android)

Talkspace (iOS and Android)

Talklife (iOS and Android)

Youper (iOS and Android)

What’s Up (iOS and Android)

Treating Therapy with The Help of Groups

Group support can be an invaluable asset whendealing with depression. Whether you are suffering with depression or have aloved one who is—there are thousands of groups available to offer supportduring this challenging time.

Group Therapy

.Group support can be an invaluable asset whendealing with depression. Whether you are suffering with depression or have aloved one who is—there are thousands of groups available to offer supportduring this challenging time.

NAMI Support Groups

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) offers hundreds of support groups for teens and adults suffering with mental illness, their families, and for mental health professionals.

Social Media Influencers That Giving a Voice to Depression

When you are struggling with depression, scrolling through your social media feed and seeing those who can relate to you can lift you up. There are many social media accounts that offer depression stories, advice, and positivity.

When you are struggling with depression, scrolling through your social media feed and seeing those who can relate to you can lift you up. There are many social media accounts that offer depression stories, advice, and positivity.

View this post on Instagram

This is my gratitude post: I GOT A JOB!✌🏾I’m the new Clinical Psychologist (&) Professor at Columbia University Medical Center/New York Presbyterian Hospital! I’m still digesting the news. I start in a few months, so don’t go in there asking for me y’all, LOL! I’m so grateful to have been offered this job by people I appreciate as colleagues and humans. And I get to go back to serving my beloved Washington Heights community. *Currently on cloud 9* And to make matters even more amazing, I’ll still be teaching at Teachers College, at the Columbia main campus and reuniting with my mentors and former students. Let me remind you that I’m blessed but not unique. Many people who look like me, with the right opportunities and removal of oppressive barriers, can achieve what I have achieved. We are people of excellence and I’m proud to be a part of my lineage. I hope God and my ancestors are up there smiling. Now let me get my Black Dominican behind to work. I’ve got ceilings to continue breaking over here. May you all have a wonderful rest of your day. I’ll be somewhere meditating as my way of celebrating. 〰️ FREE YOUR MIND 〰️ #collectivehealing #collectivetrauma #racialtrauma #relationships #therapy #toxicrelationships #relationshiptherapy #blackgirlsrock #stereotypethreat #attachment #healing #attachmenttherapy #attachmentstyles #therapytools #attachmenttheory #relationshipquotes #selflove #anxiousattachment #teachersfollowteachers #teachersofinstagram #columbia #attachmentdisorder #attachmenttrauma #selfhealers #selfcare #selfhelp #blackmentalhealth #latinxmentalhealth

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When you are struggling with depression, scrolling through your social media feed and seeing those who can relate to you can lift you up. There are many social media accounts that offer depression stories, advice, and positivity.

Other Depression Treatments

While a combination of medication and therapy are usually the most common treatments for depression, other interventions canbe useful and effective in managing depressive symptoms.

Lifestyle Changes

One of the most important things you can do if you are struggling with depression, is adopt healthy lifestyle changes like adding exercise, time outdoors, good eating habits, and sleep hygiene habits are all important. Reducing stress in your life while dealing with depression and learning healthier coping mechanisms like meditation, working out, finding a new hobby, writing, or other healthy outlets.

Brain Stimulation Therapies

For those with treatment resistant depression,more intensive modalities like brain stimulation therapy may be implemented.Therapies like electroconvulsive therapy(ECT) and transcranial magnetic stimulation(TMS) stimulate the brain in certain areas to improve symptoms of depression that have not responded to traditional treatment.


Traditionally used by doctors as an anesthetic, ketamine is making a breakthrough as a treatment for severe depression. In2019, the FDA approved Spravato, a nasal Ketamine spray for the treatment of those who did not respond to antidepressant treatment. Many doctors also offerKetamine as an intravenous infusion for depression treatment.

Coping with Family, Friends and Partners with Depression

If you have a loved one struggling with depression, it can be difficult to know what to do. Comprehensive recovery includes everyone in someone’s community, and your role in your loved one’s treatment is important.  

Educate yourself about your loved one’s condition and offer empathy and support as they seek treatment. Though it can be difficult to know how to help, seeking your own therapy or engaging in couple’s or family therapy with your loved one can be an extremely valuable tool during the recovery process. Help your loved one by aiding them in reaching small recovery goals and celebrating their accomplishments and milestones. Create a loving space and environment, but be aware of the warning signs of worsening depression or self-harm/suicidal behaviors that often coincide with depression.


Depression may be one of the most difficult things you ever deal with, but there is help and there is hope. Treatment doesn’t look the same for everyone, but by working with a qualified and experienced mental health professional—you can develop a treatment planned tailored to your needs.

We hope that this guide has provided you with the resources you need to get started on your journey to complete and lasting recovery and back to a healthy mindset and life.