Behavioral Methods to Manage Depression

Oftentimes when a person is depressed they may feel tired, as well as have a lack of motivation and energy. These changes in mood can lead a person who is depressed not to carry out their daily tasks, activities, and responsibilities. All of these responsibilities at home, school, or work can begin to pile up. This can cause the person to feel overwhelmed, creating an increased feeling of guilt, uselessness, and failure. In turn, this can become a cycle that increases the depressed mood and further lowers motivation. 

squatsIncreasing your activity levels—simply getting exercise, for example, can help you to feel better, be less tired, and think more clearly. Positive experiences can help alleviate some of the depressed feelings and mood. 

The Behavioral Strategies for Managing Depression Module provides a list of 185 ideas about pleasurable activities that someone could do such as thinking about planning a day’s activities, exercising, or going ice skating, roller skating/blading. When you are feeling depressed, you have to make an effort to plan fun and enjoyable activities into your life.  The module has a worksheet for you to follow to help you track your activities and rate your depression, pleasant feelings, and sense of achievement before and after the activity. It also has a weekly schedule to help plan out daily responsibilities and pleasurable activities.

It’s best to start slow by adding just a few small activities a week. (For example, the squats in the photo above are part of a simple seven-exercise routine that starts small and builds—check it out here.) Then, over time, slowly increase the number of activities. It might seem hard in the beginning, but setting reasonable goals for yourself is important so it won’t feel like too much too soon.

Choosing to perform tasks that give you a sense of achievement or mastery will help you feel like you are starting to regain control over your life. Once you gain a sense of achievement, that sense may encourage you to do more and thus improve your mood.

What are some fun and pleasurable activities you do to help fight depression and increase your mood?

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Hi! The moderator is a research team member with a background in behavioral health. We're here to help answer your questions and stimulate some great conversation! We don't provide therapy and are not available 24-7 so please if you are in crisis, go to our crisis page: We look forward to talking to you!

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