What to Do When You’re Depressed

As a person who experienced depression, I acknowledge that not all people get the privilege to access mental health service. Let alone not all people know what mental health is. There is quite a lot of depressed people who are not yet aware of their condition—that they may be experiencing depression. However, there is also a case when people are aware that they are experiencing depression but they simply do not know what to do.

For those who feel continuous sadness symptoms alongside with several indications of clinical depression for at least two weeks, then it is better to provide a space for yourself to stop for a while and think of a strategy to crawl out of the pit of depression.

Here are some things to do when you think that you have clinical depression symptoms:

  1. Give yourself a time

Sometimes depression is associated with burn out or too many workloads and activities. Giving yourself a day, two days, or even a week break is good for your mental health.

In the middle of this super busy world, our brain never gets time to rest. Whereas, occasionally letting ourselves do nothing is an extremely important thing.

You can do your hobby, meditate, yoga, exercise, read stories, pray, finish adult colouring book or visit tourist attractions, spiritual centre, and engage in other activities. Pampering yourself is not a sin, even more at this age that is full of life’s demands.

Ask yourself,

“When was the last time I do something that makes me happy?”

“When was the last time I carry out my hobby?”

“When was the last time I laugh?”

If we already give ourselves a time to rest but we still experience sadness and other symptoms of clinical depression, it is time to take a more serious step by visiting a psychologist.

 2. Exercise routinely

Maybe we are sick of this suggestion. But indeed exercise is an effective method to boost our mood. Exercise is not only related to physical aspects, but also psychological aspects. By exercising, we will become more enthusiastic and it will improve the quality of sleep.

While depressed, it is easier for us to consider ourselves as worthless and incapable of doing anything. By exercising, we will get a sense of achievement. Sweat becomes a proof that we can do something. Then, we will feel content with ourselves and more enthusiastic to do something else.

3.Balance your diet

It is a common knowledge that psychological condition can affect the dietary pattern. Depression can make us eat too much or not at all. Therefore, we have to acknowledge the change in our eating habit and try to reverse it back to the normal state.

Besides that, there are many studies which state that eating healthy food can uplift our mood. For example, consuming complex carbohydrates such as whole wheat, beans, and vegetables can fix our mood and stabilize it. On the other hand, simple carbohydrates such as soda and cakes will elevate our mood for a moment, but drop it down quickly.

There are many foods that can help us combat depression. Two of the most essential things are omega 3 and yoghurt. Omega 3 is proved to rejuvenate some parts of our brain function that shrank because of depression, while yoghurt can help us to maximize gut-brain axis which is associated with depression.

4. Talk to someone you trust

If visiting psychologist still seems strange and awkward, then you can shed your sorrow to a friend you trust. Find a friend who will understand you without giving judgments that you are not grateful enough. Find a friend whom you think can hear you sincerely,

If the one that you trust gives irritating statements, try to understand that he (or she) never experience depression before. Stop talking to him and do not engage in counterproductive debate with him or blame him because he is not empathic enough.

5. Learn more about depression

Visit educative websites like pijarpsikologi.org or other websites that cover mental health issues. Educate yourself on numerous issues of mental health. Assure yourself that experiencing mental hearth disturbance is no different from experiencing physical sickness. Tell yourself that “it is okay to ask for help” because similar to a broken bone, depression cannot be cured with praying alone.

Try to understand the differences between depression and regular sadness. Try to profoundly understand the symptoms of depression. For example, you can read the article on how to help yourself when you are depressed. Afterwards, you can also read more specific articles such as the discussion of depression in men or postpartum depression. Find the cause of your depression.

6. Seek an online help

There is no more reason to suppress your depression in this digital era. There are many online helplines which can be accessed anytime at your own pace. If you want to have a free consultation session with a psychologist, you can register at Pijar Psikologi website. If you are thinking about suicide, you can reach Into the Light Indonesia. If you want to do it via real-time chat, you can visit 7cups. You can check more online helplines at this page.

7. Seek psychological service options (from free to paid)

If you are studying in Indonesia, check the mental health service on your campus. A prominent campus like UGM has its own free psychological counselling service that can be utilised by the students. If you are already working, try to find some information on your insurance package, whether it covers psychological counselling and psychiatric service or not.

If you are residing in Yogyakarta, there are psychologists in each ‘puskemas’ in Yogyakarta, so you can make use of the service there. If you are residing in a city that has psychological faculties such as UGM, Unpad, Ubaya, and UI, try to find a help there since the service is integrated with research and teaching, thus you can ensure that the service is excellent.

If you are abroad, then you can find non-governmental organizations which focus on mental health services. Read here for more information about international mental health services for Indonesians.

8. Prepare yourself to meet a psychologist

This is not a compulsory step, but please bear in mind that your healing comes depends on your inner self. A psychologist may help us to find the root cause of our problem. However, to accelerate the process of finding our negative core beliefs, it is best for us to make a daily note of when and where we feel sad, whom we remember that triggers the feeling, etc.

There are 11 tips to prepare yourself before meeting a psychologist, there are also some expectations that you have to anticipate before meeting a psychologist.

Once you are ready, go to the nearest psychologist in your city!

9. Take antidepressant

This is the last option. Some people may ask, why medicine? Is it just a normal stress?

Depression is a complex illness since it is influenced by bio-psycho-social-spiritual aspects. Sometimes the therapy alone is not enough to fully cure depression. From the author’s and other friends’ personal experiences, usually the decision to take an antidepressant is given after 10 psychological counselling sessions but it has no effect whatsoever.

10. Forgive yourself for having depression

Acceptance is one of the hardest processes for depressed people. Even more when previously we are alpha people, the leader in various groups or the one who always be the centre of attention and radiates happy-go-lucky attitude. Annoyed and foolish feelings will keep haunting.

“I should not be depressed.”

“It is impossible for people like me to get depressed.”

“Why do I become weak?”

11. Understand that you are not alone

Depression is going to be the world no.1 illness in the world by 2030. Frankly, nowadays a lot of people experience depression, but we all suffer in silence because we are afraid of the stigmas.

You can also read the real-life stories of people who come out of mental illness through several websites such as The Mighty, Buzzfeed, or even TED Talks. If you want to read the stories of fellow Indonesians who open up about their mental health journey you can visit Regismachdy’s blog at Svadharma.net or Endri at Liquidkermit.net.

Through their stories, you will know that depression is a collective journey. You are not alone and you surely can overcome it.

12. Ensure that everything will get better at the right time

When you are trapped in the pit of depression, the future seems so dark.

Happiness is an impossible thing. We are covered with fear, guilt, rage, hate, and sorrow.

The only strength that we can rely on is hope. When we believe that there is a good hope ahead that everything will get better, then we will be stronger to face this episode of depression. There are numerous people who are able to overcome depression, and you are the next.


The article was translated by Aulia Ardista Wiradarmo, you can reach her through her Instagram account @nonfictionbookclub_

To read the Indonesian version “Yang Harus Dilakukan Saat Mengalami Depresi” originally written by Regis Machdy, click here

Let others know the importance of mental health !