Although depression is a common problem, each person's case is different and needs dealing with differently. However, there are several typical lifestyle issues which can get in the way of recovery. Here are 12 things it's best to avoid if you're suffering from depression or anxiety.
1) Don't ignore your issues. They won't solve themselves. Seeking help and addressing your problems is the only way forward, even though it can be painful to begin the journey.
2) Don't drink alcohol, especially not to excess. Although it can make you feel better in the short term, it doesn't solve anything, and can quickly introduce new issues. Also, it acts as a depressant, hindering other recovery efforts.
3) Try not to stay in bed or to let your sleep patterns become chaotic. Insomnia can make depression much worse, and sticking to a regular sleep routine is the best way to avoid this.
4) Don't lock yourself away indoors. Ideally, you should try to maintain social contact, but if you really can't face this, at least get some fresh air and sunshine. Studies repeatedly show that spending time outdoors is a powerful way of reducing depression and anxiety.
5) It might be tempting to escape into video games or other virtual distractions, but don't overdo this. At best it's avoidance, but at worst it further isolates you from the outside world, giving your problems a space in which to grow out of proportion.
6) Resist the urge to wallow in sad music. It might speak to your current mood, but it's unlikely to do much to lift it.
7) In the same way, don't fixate on depressing news and media. Bad news sells but gives an unrealistically pessimistic view of the world.
8) Avoid comparing yourself, and your life, with other people. You're almost certainly not seeing the reality, and it will only make you feel worse if you come up short. That is particularly true on social media, where most people just share the best parts of their lives.
9) Never feel guilty about your depression. It's an illness with both genetic and environmental roots. It's not your fault, you're not weak, and you can't just snap out of it.
10) Try not to think too hard about the future, especially if this always leads to catastrophization, where you can only imagine the worst. Try and live in the moment whenever something positive is happening.
11) Think carefully before embarking on a new relationship unless you've got a handle on your problems. It's not fair to the other person unless they're entirely in the picture, and any relationship failure linked to your depression will hurt you both badly.
12) However, don't think you can deal with depression on your own. Would you avoid medical help for a chronic physical disease? Talk to trusted friends and family, as well as seeking professional support.
Lastly and most importantly, don't lose hope. There'll be a time when life feels immeasurably better, and no matter how you're feeling now, that day will come sooner than you think.