Actions That Stop Depression

Depression is 10 times more common than is was 50 years ago–particularly among our teens.  Here are some actions you can take that not only stop depression, but have been found in studies to be as effective as antidepressants.  These are from the book Flourish by Martin Seligman.

1) Do a kindness for someone.This action has the greatest increase in self-reported well-being.

2) Write a letter of gratitude to someone who has changed your life in a positive way (or visit the person and tell them how much they mean to you.)

3) Keep a diary of the top 3 greatest blessings that happened that day and why they happened. For example:
Husband ran to the store for me – I have a thoughtful husband.

Daughter did really well on a test – My daughter is a hard-working student.

I organized a closet so it is much more peaceful – I enjoy peace and am willing to work for it.

It’s important to physically write these down, and keeping a log helps you to review what’s right about your life when you are feeling low. This is great activity to do before going to sleep.

4) Focus on your strengths and tell a story of how you use those strengths.  You can even use a “Strengths Finder”, found at

5) Forgive by acknowledging how negative events strengthened you.  

6) Focus on increasing satisfaction rather than maximizing satisfaction.  What can you do to increase your satisfaction in a situation?  Don’t expect perfection but rather increase.

7) See bad events as temporary, changeable and local.

8 ) Plan pleasurable activities and practice truly savoring them when you do them.  Savoring is a skill.

9) Exercise – Get oxygen to your brain.

10) Set goals that are achievable and achieve them.

11) When you have problems, brainstorm their solution.  Brainstorming helps you focus on the solution rather than the problem and it also helps you recognize that there may be many possible solutions.

12) Acknowledge when you have given value to others.  We’re taught it’s not OK to praise ourselves, but it’s actually very healthy to do this, even if it’s just in private.