How to Get Out of a Depressive Episode

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Read Time: 6 Minutes
Written by:Bisma Anwar, MA, MSc, LMHC

Published On: February 3, 2023

Medically reviewed by: Ashley Ertel, LCSW, BCD

Reviewed On: February 3, 2023

Updated On: November 2, 2023


If you’re experiencing a depressive episode, it can feel like you’ll never get better. While symptoms of depression can be debilitating, there are ways to manage them and effectively treat your condition. As you read on, you’ll learn how to get through a depressive episode so you can enjoy life.

Continue reading to learn more about what depressive episodes look like and to hear valuable tips and treatment options for getting out of one.

What Qualifies as a Depressive Episode?

Depression is a mental health condition associated with a low mood, feelings of worthlessness, and a lack of interest in activities. Symptoms of a depressed mood can include feelings of:

  • Sadness
  • Hopelessness
  • Anger
  • Emptiness
  • Frustration
  • Irritation
  • Low mood

iconExpert Insight

“A depressive episode consists of a period of low mood, low energy, lack of motivation and other depressive symptoms that last for 2 weeks or more. These symptoms can persist for several weeks or months at a time.”
Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC), MA, MSc Bisma Anwar

If you’re in a depressive episode, you’ll likely experience some or all of these symptoms most of the day.

Research shows that depressive episodes are unfortunately common. A 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health report found that more than 7% of adults in the United States had gone through a major depressive episode within the last year. Many people will experience multiple episodes throughout their lifetime. This is why learning how to get out of a depressive episode is so essential.

8 Tips for Getting Out of a Depressive Episode

If you’ve been dealing with severe or mild depression, the right tools, depression treatment options, and coping strategies could give you relief. The following tips can help you manage your symptoms and work through your next episode.

1. Set attainable goals

When you have depression or a depressed mood, even simple tasks can feel overwhelming. Setting simple, achievable goals can make everyday tasks feel more manageable. Completing goals can help you get motivated and make you feel like you’re in control of your life.

TIP: Every day, make a list of small goals that you’d like to accomplish. Your list should include simple, achievable tasks, like brushing your teeth or taking out the trash. Once you successfully complete these goals, you may feel energized to take on additional, more challenging tasks.

2. Practice self-care

Depression can leave you feeling mentally and physically drained. This can make taking care of yourself challenging. Unfortunately, neglecting your basic needs can make symptoms of depression worse. For example, studies show a strong link between poor sleep quality and severe depression symptoms.

TIP: Self-care is an important element in getting out of a depressive episode. Exercise, a healthy diet, and a consistent sleep schedule can all ease your mood and relieve symptoms. Simply put, giving your body what it needs and making your physical and mental health a priority will help you overcome depression.

3. Find ways to express your feelings

Instead of bottling up your emotions, find healthy ways to let your feelings out. Keeping a journal for your mental health is a good depression treatment that can help you make sense of your feelings. Beyond that, it can help you track emotions and begin to identify (and then avoid or learn to deal with!) triggers. Journaling is also a great way to redirect feelings so you can start to focus on the positives in your life.

TIP: Writing down your thoughts and feelings is a great start, but you also might want to try gratitude journaling. Gratitude journals are a way to document the things you’re thankful for. Expressing gratitude has been found effective in significantly improving mood, making it an excellent way to cope with feelings of depression.

4. Challenge your negative thoughts

While we all think negatively from time to time, persistent unhealthy thought patterns can contribute to severe depression and worsen symptoms. That’s why it’s important to challenge negative thoughts when they arise.

TIP: When you fall into a negative thought spiral, try pushing back against it. Instead of accepting negative thoughts, look for evidence that challenges your thinking. Then, counter those unhealthy thoughts with positive affirmations.

5. Make positive lifestyle changes

Developing healthy habits can improve your medical condition so you can fight back against depression. Not only can positive lifestyle changes help you figure out how to get out of a depressive episode, but they can also reduce your risk for future episodes. Of course, breaking bad habits and creating new ones isn’t easy, especially when dealing with severe or mild depression, but it’s worth the time, energy, and effort you’ll put in. Lifestyle changes can significantly (and positively) impact your quality of life and allow you to manage your depression.

TIP: Establishing and sticking with a daily routine can reduce stress and anxiety and improve overall mental health. Research also shows that reducing screen time can improve depressive symptoms.

6. Connect with friends and family

Social withdrawal is a common symptom of depression. If you’re in the midst of a depressive episode, you may feel the urge to withdraw from others. This isolation from a potential support group can leave you feeling lonely and increase emotional stress.

TIP: Make a point of reaching out to the people you’re close to. Even if you don’t feel up to activities, try to spend time talking to those you trust and enjoy spending time with. Solid social bonds can decrease depressive symptoms and help you break out of a depressive episode.

7. Accept your symptoms

Even though depression will try to trick your brain into thinking you’re all alone, remind yourself that this isn’t true. Many people struggle with symptoms of depression. What you’re going through isn’t a personal flaw, and they aren’t something you should be ashamed of.

TIP: Once you accept and acknowledge your symptoms, you can learn how to get through a depressive episode. Remember that your depression isn’t who you are. It’s possible to learn how to treat depression and manage your symptoms.

8. Start therapy

Although the symptoms of depression can be excruciating and challenging, it’s a treatable condition.

iconExpert Insight

“Using health coping strategies can help decrease the intensity of depressive symptoms. It can be hard to change the way one thinks and feels but over time it becomes easier as a person feels less depressed. Therapy can help bring positive changes which helps a person think and act more positively.”
Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC), MA, MSc Bisma Anwar

Therapy is one of the most effective interventions for depression. With the help of a therapist, you can learn to identify triggers for depressive episodes and find healthy ways to cope with your symptoms.

TIP: Over time, therapy for depression can lead to increased self-acceptance and improved self-esteem. In addition to providing relief from depression, talking therapy can help you in other aspects of your life. If you’ve been struggling with depression, don’t hesitate to seek professional help.

Manage Depressive Symptoms with Talkspace

Depression can be hard to live with. When you’re in the middle of it, it can feel like learning how to get out of a depressive episode is virtually impossible. Thankfully, it’s not something you have to deal with alone. Help is out there.

Talkspace is an online therapy platform changing how you can access and utilize talking therapy. You can connect with an online therapist quickly, and they’ll be able to help you start on a path toward healing. If you’re curious about the process of online therapy, make sure to read up on the benefits of online therapy to learn about how it may help you.

Coping with any of your depressive symptoms, whether it be suicidal thoughts or anxiety, will be challenging initially, but you don’t have to do it alone. With the help of a therapist, you can take control and start living a fulfilling, rewarding life full of joy and inner peace. Depression isn’t something that has to define you. Now is the perfect time to get the help you need.

See References

Bisma Anwar

Bisma Anwar is the Team Lead for the Talkspace Council of Mental Health Experts. A major focus in her work has been anxiety management and helping her clients develop healthy coping skills, reduce stress and prevent burnout. She serves on the board of a non-profit organization based in NYC called The Heal Collective which promotes advocacy and awareness of mental health issues in BIPOC communities.

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