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If you’re dealing with depression, you’re not alone. The good news is there are lots of strategies that can help you manage depression. These young people share their depression stories, and talk about what works for them. 

Boyd, 24, VIC

Managing my sleep cycle is very important for me. I need at least eight hours a night, and I stick to a regular bedtime (approx. 10.30 pm) and wake time (approx. 7.30 am). Through trial and error, I realised that if I don’t get enough sleep, or if I sleep in too much, my energy levels are lower. Having a good sleep cycle helps reduce some of my depression symptoms. To wind down before bed, I read a book for half an hour and then do a short meditation.

Aericka, 19, VIC

When my depression was at its worst, I felt really lonely. I didn’t have a job, so I had a lot of free time to think negatively. Eventually, I managed to get a job and also joined a university club. I volunteered at community events through the club, and was able to meet lots of like-minded people who I could talk openly with. Doing these things helped me to stay busy, gave me a sense of accomplishment and increased my confidence.

Hannah, 22, QLD

When I was at my lowest, medication helped me the most. I was reluctant to go on it at first (due to the stigma), but once my doctor put me on it I started to feel a lot better. It helped to clear my mind and gave me the motivation I needed to do other things that were good for me. It took the pressure off me to try and handle it on my own. As well as the medication, visiting my psychologist and speaking with family and friends really helped. 

Depression is an illness that you can't control, but you can control the steps you take to deal with it.

Ben, 21, VIC

Getting support from my community helped me a lot. I had friends who were there for me if I needed them and invited me to a bunch of social events. It made me feel like I wasn’t alone and that people cared for me. I realised there was a lot to live for. It was hard to open up to people at first because I thought I was going to be judged, but when I did finally talk to them there was no judgement. Seeing a mental health professional – in my case, a psychologist – also helped. They taught me lots of helpful tips for managing depression.

Dominic, 18, NSW

Calling a helpline such as Kids Helpline and Lifeline helped me a lot. I felt anxious before I called, but once I made it they really listened and validated my feelings. It’s a big step to get support, so it’s okay if you feel nervous about it. If you’re not ready to talk to a professional, talk to someone you trust like a friend or family member and go from there. I’d ask them if they had time to talk, then I’d go straight into it, saying something like ‘I’ve had a tough day’ or ‘It’s been rough lately’ and let them know what’s going on. It’s fine to take baby steps. No one expects you to change your life on the first day.

Erin, 25, WA

Focusing on the little things you can control, like getting up and getting dressed each morning, is so important. I’d take it one hour, one day, at a time and break things down into small steps. I’d say things to myself like, ‘If you get to the gym for 30 minutes today, that’s good, but if not that’s okay.’ Celebrate the small achievements. Once you start climbing out of depression you can do more things, but it’s important not to overwhelm yourself or try to do too much.

I also try to validate my own feelings by saying to myself, ‘It’s okay to feel this way’ and give myself a pass to feel upset. Remembering that tomorrow is a new day, and that things will get better eventually, also helps me.

Vicky, 23, NSW

Exercise helped me a lot in getting through depression. I went for a run every day, which helped because it was something I could control. It distracted me from what was going on, even if just for a short time. When I felt my mood lift during the run, I learnt that depression wouldn’t be around forever. When I had negative thoughts, I’d tell myself, ‘I don’t need to listen to these thoughts.’ When the depression started to go, it felt like a dark shadow over me was slowly being lifted and I could breathe a bit easier every day. Now I know my depression isn’t me: I’m so much more than that.

What can I do now?