You may be able to find relief during a depressive episode by following a routine and engaging in physical activity, among other practices.

Coping with a depressive episode can be difficult. The symptoms of depression can make you lose interest in activities you usually enjoy and make it challenging to get through the day. But there are things you can do to fight the negative effects of depression.

Here are nine ways to boost your mood during a depressive episode:

If you have bipolar depression, a doctor may prescribe antidepressant medications along with a mood stabilizer to prevent mania. Taking your prescribed medications as directed, even when you’re feeling better, may help reduce episodes and manage the symptoms you experience.

If you feel your medication is not working as effectively as it should, you can talk with your prescribing healthcare professional to see whether another dosage or medication is a better fit.

When you feel depressed, it’s easy to adopt unhelpful habits.

You may not feel like eating even when you’re hungry, or you may continue eating even when you’re full.

The same goes for sleeping. When you’re depressed, you’re more likely to sleep too little or too much.

These eating and sleeping habits can make your depression symptoms worse. Following a daily routine can make it easier to maintain positive habits.

Consider adopting these habits:

  • Eat meals and snacks at set times throughout the day.
  • Increase your intake of vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains.
  • Get 7–9 hours of sleep each night, or let a doctor know if you’re unable to sleep enough.
  • Wake up and go to bed at the same time every day.

Just as scheduling your eating and sleeping can help ease depressive symptoms, so can structuring the other activities in your day.

It can be helpful to create a list of daily tasks to check off as you complete them. It’s also useful to keep a calendar and sticky notes to help you stay on track.

When scheduling your daily tasks, be sure to set aside enough time for resting and relaxing. Being too busy can worsen depressive symptoms and cause frustration.

It’s best to prioritize your time, taking extra care to make sure you attend medical appointments.

When you’re not experiencing a depressive episode, you may find pleasure in certain activities, such as reading or baking.

When you’re feeling depressed, however, you may not have enough motivation to do anything.

Despite your lack of energy, it’s important to continue to partake in activities you usually enjoy. Doing the things that make you happy may help alleviate your depressive symptoms.

Don’t be afraid to do the activities that usually boost your mood. While you may fear that you won’t enjoy them as much when you’re depressed, that doesn’t mean you should avoid them. Once you start doing these activities again, you’re likely to feel much better.

Researchers have found that exercise can help alleviate the symptoms of depression. The National Institute of Mental Health (NAMI) recommends vigorous exercise like jogging, biking, and swimming.

A recent study in people with bipolar depression showed that regular exercise reduced depressive symptoms in participants by 50%.

For best results, experts say you should exercise at least 3 to 4 days per week for 30 to 40 minutes at a time.

When you’re depressed, social situations can seem overwhelming. You might feel like being alone, but it’s important not to isolate yourself. Being alone can increase the symptoms of depression.

Get involved in social activities, such as local book clubs or athletic teams. Spend time with friends and family or chat with them regularly on the phone. Having the support of friends and loved ones can help you feel more comfortable and confident.

Trying new things may be one of the last things you want to do when you’re in a depressive episode. However, doing so can help alleviate your symptoms.

For example, if you’ve never gotten a massage before, consider scheduling an appointment at a local spa.

Similarly, yoga or meditation may be new to you, but they can be beneficial during depressive episodes. These activities are known for being relaxing. They can make it easier for you to cope with the stress or irritability you may be experiencing.

It can be helpful to join a support group for people with bipolar disorder. A group gives you the opportunity to meet other people with the same condition and to share your experiences during depressive episodes.

Ask your mental health care professional about support groups in your area. You can also find different bipolar disorder and depression support groups by searching online. Visit the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance website for a list of online support groups.

You may already have a mental health professional or therapist, but a depressive episode coming on may be an opportunity to reach out for an additional session. A therapist can help by listening to what you’re feeling and helping you reframe or manage those thoughts and feelings.

If you do not have a therapist, consider searching for one who best meets your needs.

While there are various types of bipolar disorder, the symptoms of depression, mania, and hypomania are similar in most people.

Common symptoms of depression

You may be in a depressive episode if your symptoms include:

  • deep feelings of sadness or hopelessness for a long period of time
  • having little to no interest in activities that were once enjoyable
  • difficulty focusing, remembering things, and making decisions
  • restlessness or irritability
  • eating too much or too little
  • sleeping too much or too little
  • thinking or talking about death or suicide
  • attempting suicide

Get help

If you find yourself having thoughts of suicide during a depressive episode, call the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline by dialing 988. Counselors are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All calls are anonymous.

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Common symptoms of mania

The symptoms of mania can include:

  • an overly joyful or outgoing mood for an extended period of time
  • intense irritability
  • talking quickly or rapidly transitioning between different ideas during a conversation
  • racing thoughts
  • being easily distracted
  • picking up many new activities or projects
  • restlessness
  • difficulty sleeping due to high energy levels
  • impulsive behavior or behavior that may have harmful effects

The symptoms of hypomania are the same as mania, except for two key differences.

With hypomania, changes in mood usually aren’t severe enough to interfere significantly with a person’s daily activities.

Also, no psychotic symptoms occur during a hypomanic episode. During a manic episode, psychotic symptoms may include:

  • delusions
  • hallucinations
  • paranoia

What are people with bipolar depression like?

People with bipolar disorder may experience different symptoms during a depressive episode. Common symptoms can include losing interest in things that previously interested them, having a lack of energy, and having difficulty focusing.

What are three symptoms of bipolar depression?

A depressive episode can cause a lack of energy, changes in sleep and eating habits, and a severely depressed mood.

What skills do you build for bipolar disorder?

Some coping skills that may benefit people with bipolar disorder include mindfulness or developing an awareness of your feelings without judgment, establishing and following a healthy routine, and reaching out for help when needed.

Do things trigger bipolar depression?

Some people may experience depressive episodes without a known trigger. But some common triggers may include alcohol or drug use, stress, hormonal changes, or changes to prescribed medication.

There’s no cure for bipolar disorder, but you can manage your condition by following a treatment plan and making lifestyle modifications.

In severe cases of depression, temporary hospitalization may be required. Most of the time, however, you’ll be able to manage your bipolar disorder symptoms with a combination of medication and psychotherapy.

Certain practices, such as reaching out for help when you need it and practicing a healthy routine, can help relieve symptoms of bipolar depression.

Don’t hesitate to call a doctor or mental health care professional if you need help.

If you find yourself having thoughts of suicide during a depressive episode, call the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988. Counselors are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All calls are anonymous.