6 Habits That Can Fight Depression Symptoms

Psychological studies support these six fascinating ways of fighting depressive symptoms.

Psychological studies support these six fascinating ways of fighting depressive symptoms.

1. Change how you see the future

It’s often assumed that it’s depression that causes a pessimistic view of the future.

But it could be the other way around, a study finds.

Being pessimistic about the future may actually cause depression.

There are three ways in which thinking about the future may cause depression:

  • Poor generation of possible futures.
  • Poor evaluation of possible future.
  • Negative beliefs about the future.

Depression also likely feeds back into more negative views of the future, creating a vicious circle.

Try to address the way you think about the future — is there a way to be a little more optimistic about it?

2. Eat a Mediterranean diet

A Mediterranean diet including fruits, vegetables and legumes can prevent depression, a large study finds.

People only had to make relatively small changes to see the benefits.

Depression could be partly down to a lack of essential nutrients.

The benefits of the diet are likely related to higher levels of omega 3 and other essential nutrients.

3. Socialise face-to-face

Regular face-to-face communication reduces the risk of depression in older adults by half, a study finds.

In comparison, socialising by phone or email does not have the same beneficial effect.

Dr Alan Teo, who led the study, said:

“Research has long-supported the idea that strong social bonds strengthen people’s mental health.

But this is the first look at the role that the type of communication with loved ones and friends plays in safeguarding people from depression.

We found that all forms of socialization aren’t equal.

Phone calls and digital communication, with friends or family members, do not have the same power as face-to-face social interactions in helping to stave off depression.”

4. Identify with a group

It has long been known that social connections are vital for a person who is experiencing depression.

Research finds that it’s not just social groups which help those with depression, crucially it’s identifying with that group which helps alleviate depression.

The conclusions come from an Australian study of patients both at risk and diagnosed with depression who had joined a number of local groups.

These patients who strongly identified with the groups they’d joined — whether at the hospital for group therapy or in their hobbies — said they felt supported because they were ‘in it together’.

5. Give up Facebook for a week…or longer

Comparing yourself to other people on Facebook has been linked to depressive symptoms, a study finds.

While the social network can be a useful way of connecting with others, there may be psychological dangers.

Mai-Ly Steers, the study’s first author, said:

“One danger is that Facebook often gives us information about our friends that we are not normally privy to, which gives us even more opportunities to socially compare.

You can’t really control the impulse to compare because you never know what your friends are going to post.

In addition, most of our Facebook friends tend to post about the good things that occur in their lives, while leaving out the bad.

If we’re comparing ourselves to our friends’ ‘highlight reels,’ this may lead us to think their lives are better than they actually are and conversely, make us feel worse about our own lives.”

6. Ask Socratic questions

A technique called ‘Socratic questioning’ can help depressed people recover, a study finds.

Socratic questioning is used by many therapists to help patients explore new perspectives on themselves and the world.

Socratic questioning differs from ‘normal’ questioning by focusing on fundamental issues and concerns.

For example, if a patient feels their life is a failure because of a divorce, the therapist might ask:

  • Is everyone who experienced divorce a failure?
  • Can you think of anyone for whom that is not true?
  • How does being divorced seem to translate into being a failure as a person for you?
  • What evidence is there that you have succeeded, and thus not been a “total failure?”


Author: Jeremy Dean

Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology. He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book "Making Habits, Breaking Habits" (Da Capo, 2013) and several ebooks.

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