Self-help for depression

Self-help is about taking control of your depression and finding what works for you

The value of self-help is that you don’t need to rely on other people. You get to take charge of your situation and be in control of what you do. On this page there’s some ideas of ways you can help yourself to get you started.

Become your own expert

Become an expert in your own illness. You’ve started by looking at this site, carry on reading about treating depression, the symptoms of depression and different types of depression. But don’t just take our word for it. There are lots of good books and websites out there.

Inspirational and self-help books

Reading inspirational or self-help books is a useful way of finding out more about depression and anxiety and how to deal with emotional problems. Self-help books range from personal accounts of living with mental health problems to more structured course workbooks where you practice techniques.

Visit the book review section of this website for reviews of books that may help you.

Guided self-help

Guided self-help involves working through a self-help book, CD or computer program either on your own or with a therapist or self-help coach. It is often, but not always, based on Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT).

Your GP can prescribe guided self-help or, if you’re in Scotland, you can access guided self-help through Action on Depression.

Spend time with people you trust

It can be easy to isolate yourself when you have depression but loneliness can make depression worse. Often people with depression lose confidence and feel like their friends and family don’t want to be around them. If you have people who accept you for who you are in your life, spending time with them can be a real mood booster.

Talk about it

Talking about how you feel is one of the best things you can do if you are concerned about your low mood or anxiety. If you don’t have anyone to talk to, or don’t want to talk to your friends and family call or email a helpline. You can call Action on Depression free on 0808 802 2020 or email us. Other helplines are Breathing Space on 0800 83 85 87 and the Samaritans who are available 24/7 on 08457 90 90 90. There are more helplines listed on our urgent help page.

Self-help support groups

Join a self-help support group where you will be able to talk to people who have had similar experiences to you and share hints and tips on coping with Depression. Joining a group can help you to feel less isolated and alone with your depression. Action on Depression supports self-help support groups in Scotland and so do other organisations. We also have an online community for people with depression including a forum and regular live chat group on our Look OK…Feel Crap? site.

Get creative

Art, music, poetry, stories, photography… doing something creative can help you express your emotions and feel better. You don’t have to be Jay-Z or Leonardo Da Vinci – it’s about finding something that works for you.

Do something you enjoy

You may feel like you don’t enjoy anything, even things you used to like, but do something you may enjoy. Whether it’s going to the football, a long walk in the countryside, going to the cinema, a night out with pals or something else give it a go. Write down how you feel about going before you go and rate how much you think you will enjoy it out of 10. Then after the activity, rate how much you actually enjoyed it out of 10. You may be surprised! If you don’t enjoy it, try something else.

If you would like us to send you a mood scale to help you rate your mood, email Action on Depression.

Be kind to yourself

A lot of people with depression are very hard on themselves. You may feel you deserve it, but ask yourself would you treat someone else that way?

Try and treat yourself as you would treat a friend. When you have that internal voice nagging you or telling you you’re no good, think about what you would say to a friend in that situation.

Lifestyle changes

Read about how lifestyle changes like exercising more, changing what you eat and drink and improving your sleep can help your depression.