Depressions - Signs, Treatment & Lifestyle Changes

Written By: Carolyn Yaffe

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Updated On:December 26, 2023

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How to Overcome Depression?

There are numerous possible reasons for depression, including genetic vulnerability, stressful life events, medication, and clinical issues. For the people who are suffering from depression, they may feel like they have deeper personal issues, they can experience feelings of guilt and disgrace that they cannot simply get over. To overcome this psychological issue, it must be tackled in similar fashion as any other medical problem.

Symptoms of Depression

Depression of symptoms may manifest as:

  • Difficulty to focus & concentrate
  • Fatigue
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Worthlessness
  • Feelings of pessimism
  • Insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Irritability & restlessness
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Overeating or loss of appetite
  • Headaches, digestive problems
  • Feelings of ‘emptiness’
  • Thoughts of suicide or self-harming

When to see a Doctor for Depression?

If you feel depressed, it is best to do something about it. In addition to receiving professional help from a doctor or therapist, there are certain tips that can be part of your treatment plan, making your recovery much faster, and could prevent depression.

Cognitive Distortions

Depression puts a negative spin on your self-perception and your premonitions. When these pessimistic thoughts overcome you, it is important to remember that this is a symptom of depression and these irrational beliefs, known as cognitive distortions - are not accurate at all.

It is not always easy to break out of this pessimistic mindset, especially if you just tell yourself to just think positive thoughts. The method to feel better is to identify these negative thoughts that are worsening your depression and replace them with more logical assessments: this is called Cognitive Restructuring. It is the process of identifying and challenging negative and irrational thoughts. Although everyone has some kind of cognitive distortion, having too many negative thoughts are linked to depression.

Some Types of Cognitive Distortions:

  • All or nothing thinking: There is nothing in between, everything is either black or white.
  • Overgeneralization: Generalizing from a single negative encounter and thinking that everything else in life is similarly unfavourable.
  • The mental filter: Always ignoring the positive events, and only focusing on the negative incidents.
  • Diminishing the positive: Making up reasons why positivity does not count.
  • Jumping to conclusions:  Making negative interpretations without any genuine evidence.
  • Emotional reasoning: Believing that your feelings reflect reality.
  • Labeling: Degrading yourself based on missteps and perceived shortcomings

In some cases, the familiarity with a cognitive distortion might be enough to kill it. Other cognitive distortions are more profoundly ingrained and require additional work. This is the place cognitive restructuring procedures prove to be useful.

Cognitive Restructuring Techniques:

For the most persevering cognitive distortions, there are several techniques to help fight them. With time, the cognitive distortions will have changed and will have been replaced with more rational thoughts. Ask yourself the following questions regarding your thoughts:

  • How realistic are my thoughts?
  • Are my thoughts based on facts or just feelings?
  • Is there any evidence to support these thoughts?
  • Am I misinterpreting the evidence?
  • Am I a victim of “All or Nothing Thinking”?
  • Are my thoughts out of habit? Are there facts to support these thoughts?

Lifestyle Changes that treat Depression

There are lifestyle changes you can make to help you manage your depression. These strategies can be used along with therapy to obtain the best results.

Healthy Eating:

Eating well is useful for your body and helps your mood in general.


Exercise increases the body’s production of natural antidepressants. Exercise cuts down stress, improves your mood, boosts self-esteem, and regulates your sleep.


Fatigue from lack of sleep can add to symptoms of depression, so sleep is an important factor to combat your depression. Following a consistent sleep schedule makes the quality of sleep better, as well as induces more sleep. Activities such as Meditation or listening to relaxing music before sleep are encouraged.

First lines of Depression Treatment:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Focuses on testing and changing unhelpful cognitive distortions and negative practices. It helps to improve emotional regulation and works towards developing personal coping strategies to solve common problems using evidence-based techniques and approaches.
  • Talk Therapy: The therapist can help you identify patterns of thoughts or behaviours that contribute to your depression.
  • Medication: Medications for depression are often a common part of treatment. Your Psychiatrist will take multiple factors into consideration before prescribing any medications such as your symptoms, possible side effects, health concerns and drug interactions.

Requiring help for depression does not mean you are weak. Occasionally, negative thinking that one can experience during depression can cause you to feel like you are a lost cause, but depression can be dealt with, thus making you feel much better! For an efficient battling with depression, it is imperative to have empathy for yourself and to take action to beat this state, including looking for help and life changes.

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Mohammad Wafeek Eid
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Laila Mahmoud
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Girish Banwari
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Asfar Afridi
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MBBS, MD, CBT training, Couple Therapy, Master in Psycho Pharmacology Certification
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Sobia Nasim
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Waleed Alomar
MBBS, MSc in Psychiatry
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