We all need a break now and again, but for some of us, our minds make it impossible to ever truly relax. Whether you have persistent feelings of sadness, wrestle with anxiety or have been diagnosed with another disorder, our mental health affects every aspect of our lives.
Read on to discover five ways you can help yourself treat your depression and anxiety and start living life again on your own terms.

Learn Whether You Have an Actual Condition

It's normal to feel sad or worried sometimes, but chronic feelings of hopelessness, fear and unease could signify an actual disorder. Take some time to learn about the symptoms of depressive and anxiety disorders. You can also take online depression and anxiety screenings from official sources like the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
Keep in mind that online tools aren't designed to offer a definitive diagnosis; your results will let help you start a conversation with your doctor and gain access to possible treatment options. Additionally, remember that depression or anxiety might not be the only cause of your feelings. There are plenty of conditions that affect the mind. If you don’t get answers from these simple online tests, don’t give up. The only way to know for sure is to consult a licensed mental health professional.

Practice Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Therapists use cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to treat a variety of conditions, including major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. CBT is all about learning how to identify unhelpful thinking patterns and changing behaviors to handle situations better.
You can download many different CBT worksheets online to get started. The best part about CBT is that you don't need a therapist to practice it. CBT teaches us to address our own thoughts, recognize errors in our logic and break free from the cycle of depression and anxiety. However, if you can’t seem to stay motivated enough to do it by yourself, seeing a professional for help is also a great option.


Research shows that people who meditate experience less depression and anxiety symptoms. Meditation helps us reconnect with ourselves beyond our troubling thoughts and feelings. Rather than trying to fight off our symptoms, meditation helps us focus more on the present and learn to acknowledge our thoughts without identifying with them.
A regular meditation practice can change your brain structure. Meditation can improve memory by increasing gray matter in the hippocampus. Regular meditative practice also impacts two brain regions linked to depression: the medial frontal cortex and the amygdala.
The medial frontal cortex contains thoughts about ourselves, which cause us to identify with our thoughts and emotions. The amygdala is the "fear center" of the brain, which launches us into a fight-or-flight response. Meditation helps soothe the activity in these regions and break their connection, reducing feelings of depression and anxiety.


Keeping a journal has many benefits for mental health. It can help you process your emotions better and cope with your thoughts. Not only does a journal serve as an outlet, but it also provides you an opportunity to gain a better perspective on your struggles.
Journaling can help you keep track of your symptoms and identify any triggers. You can learn to change your behavior, practice positive self-talk and feel less suffocated by your worries.
A journal helps you identify the root of your depression or anxiety and begin to work through it one day at a time. You can also express how you're feeling without a filter; you don't have to worry about being judged or feeling guilty on paper.


Certain breathing exercises like the 4-7-8 method have been proven to help with anxiety and ward off panic attacks. Breathing exercises help reduce anxiety by slowing your heart rate and lowering the amount of carbon dioxide in your body. Focusing on your breathing can also give you a needed pause or break and help improve your mental state instead of what’s going on in the world.

Don't be afraid to reach out. Mental health issues have a way of making us feel utterly alone, but that couldn't be farther from the truth. Mental illness impacts one in five Americans, which translates to millions of people. Chances are someone in your family or among your friends have struggled too. You don't have to suffer in silence.
Talk to your loved ones about your feelings, and get professional help if you need it. A therapist can help you see things from a new perspective and teach you valuable skills that help you overcome your feelings. If you don’t feel like turning to those close to you is the answer, speak with a therapist or check yourself into a treatment facility specific to your diagnosis.
If you are contemplating ending your life or in emotional crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Author's Bio: 

Dixie Somers is a freelance writer who loves to write for business, health, home, and women’s interests. She lives in Arizona with her husband and three beautiful daughters.