Can depression be prevented?

While some people are simply more prone to depression than others, you can reduce your risk of developing depression by taking steps to avoid situations that tend be associated with depression. These include social isolation, sedentary lifestyle, sleep deprivation and lack of involvement in activities that are meaningful. Research has shown that certain thought patterns (e.g., all-or-nothing thinking and misplaced guilt) are strongly associated with depression. Learning to challenge such ways of thinking is an important tenet of cognitive behavioral therapy, which is one of the most effective treatments for depression.
Ariel & Shya Kane

Below are some transformational tips for coping with depression (of course, there are some cases where people struggling with depression can benefit from professional help; these tips we offer are for people who are generally feeling down.) Our perspective is anthropological, not psychological, so our suggestions are not about trying to “fix” what is “broken,” but using awareness, a non-judgmental observation of the way you are.

  1. Reach out: Our cultural and genetic heritage has been one of cooperation for millions of years and this conflicts with the current idea of "being independent". You don't have to prove you can do it on your own. It will be a much easier journey if you realize you are not traveling this road alone.
  2. Realize what you resist will persist and grow stronger: If you focus on depression and keep replaying it, you will get stuck and won't have a life.
  3. Recognize no two things can occupy the same space at the same time: Sometimes, putting one foot in front of the other is the way out of feeling depressed. When you put your attention on taking care of what is right in front of you, maintaining the thoughts and feelings that accompany depression becomes difficult, since you cannot do both at once. You can either put your attention on feeling depressed or on taking care of the people and things around you. 
  4. Learn to include depression rather than focus on it: If you recognize when those thoughts and feelings of depression arise and say, "Oh look, here they are again," you will eventually have a choice; putting your attention on the people and things around you will center you. 
  5. See what depression saves you from: Depression may have become a lifestyle because it may be less challenging than some of the things you are facing in your life: your job, family, relationships or creative endeavors. It can save you from the big, confronting things such as finding a job or dating but it also saves you from annoying minutia such as washing dishes and buying the toilet paper.
  6. Start handling incompletions in your life and depression will disappear. If you change the light bulbs, wash the dishes etc., really be there while you are doing these activities, you'll be back in the flow of life and a stronger version of yourself, including everything that's happened, not in spite of it.

Because the underlying causes of depression are not fully understood, there are no known methods to completely prevent the condition. Heredity is one factor known to contribute to depression and which cannot be avoided, as well as depression caused by hormone or neurotransmitter imbalances. However, by keeping healthy lifestyle habits that include positive interpersonal relationships, getting regular exercise, and avoiding drug and alcohol abuse, you can take steps to avoid putting yourself at heightened risk for depression.

Continue Learning about Depression Prevention

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.