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Self-help techniques that can improve depression

If you have depression, you may feel like everything is too hard and out of your control. However, making small changes in your life can help with depression. Read below for some suggested small changes you may wish to try.

Get some exercise

Exercise will make you feel better. You could talk to your general practice team about a Green Prescription to help you find an exercise that might be suitable for you, in your local area.

Sleep well

Sometimes despite all your best efforts, depression makes it very hard to sleep well. Sometimes people need sleep medications to help them in the short term. Talk to your general practice team or psychiatrist about this.

Read more about sleeping well.

Avoid alcohol and recreational drugs

It's common for people to use alcohol or recreational drugs to help with symptoms of depression. This is not a good idea as in the long-term this strategy harms your health and prevents your ability to manage your depression. Sometimes people cannot stop using alcohol or drugs without professional help. Talk to your general practice team about drug and alcohol counselling.

Eat well

Eating well helps your brain deal with depression. For a range of healthy eating resources and recipes, see this page on HealthInfo.

Stay social

Staying connected to people helps recovery from depression. This can just mean small contacts daily until you are ready for bigger social events.

Join a support group

Learn to relax and reduce stress

The library can be a good place to start for relaxation tapes. This document has a number of quick relaxation techniques that you might like to try.


Self-treatment can be effective for many people with depression.

You can find good self-treatment resources on the Centre for Clinical Interventions website, including information, worksheets and activities. Download and work through the modules to help you with your recovery.

Consider alternative therapies

Many people are interested in alternative therapies. This page from has information about complementary medicines and traditional medicine and can help you evaluate which ones are helpful.

Specific advice about St Johns Wort and Omega 3:

Get help with anxiety

Depression often goes hand in hand with anxiety symptoms. Understanding anxiety can help you manage it better.

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed March 2017. Last updated October 2018.

See also:

Reading in Mind book scheme

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Review key: HIDPR-5763