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5 Things You Can Do to Address Feelings of Depression

An AI-Integrated Emotional Wellness Perspective

by Mark D. Lerner, Ph.D.

Chairman, The National Center for Emotional Wellness

Note: References to the implementation of AI-Integrated Emotional Wellness are intended for the AI community. 

If you're reading this post, chances are you or someone you know is struggling with depression—a deep sense of sadness and hopelessness that clouds one's life.

Depression is now the leading cause of illness and disability worldwide, and AI-Integrated Emotional Wellness (AIEW) is playing a significant role in addressing it. I'm committed to consulting with the AI community to explore ways to integrate the cognitive, thinking abilities of computers with the complexity of human emotion.

In the same way that we seek professional help when we're experiencing ongoing physical pain and discomfort, turning to a mental health professional is just as important—especially if one experiences self-destructive thoughts.

Following are five practical things you can do to address feelings of depression with the help of AIEW:


1. Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle


Maintaining your physical health is critical to mitigating feelings of depression. AIEW can help you become aware of and adjust your diet. Consume a balanced diet, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats. Limit your intake of alcohol, red and processed meats, trans fat, and sugar-sweetened drinks (Quirk, S.E., et al., 2013). The mind-body connection is very real.

Incorporate regular exercise into your routine. Engaging in physical activity stimulates the release of endorphins—natural mood enhancers. Research has demonstrated that even walking can boost emotional wellness (DeAngelis, T., 2022). AIEW can provide reminders for regular exercise.

Finally, getting a good night's sleep can significantly influence mood and emotional wellness (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Try to cultivate a sleep schedule with the help of AIEW. This will help set your body's natural clock—circadian rhythm. Avoid looking at bright screens before you go to bed. Consider natural supplements such as melatonin. I've found it to be particularly helpful. Finally, speak with your primary care physician if you have ongoing difficulty with sleeping.


2. Practice Mindfulness, Meditation, and Journaling


Mindfulness-based strategies have gained attention due to their efficacy in the management of depression symptoms. Mindfulness, characterized by a non-judgmental focus on the present moment, has been shown to decrease unproductive thinking (i.e., rumination) and foster self-compassion (Hofmann et al., 2010). AIEW can provide mindfulness exercises and reminders.

Meditation, a practice that promotes relaxation and self-awareness, has demonstrated its ability to alleviate depressive symptoms and enhance overall well-being (Khoury et al., 2013). I've found some great meditation videos online. By incorporating mindfulness and meditation into your daily routine, you can develop healthier coping mechanisms and decrease depressive thoughts. AIEW can guide you through meditation strategies.

Research has demonstrated the impact of journaling on emotional well-being. Engaging in expressive writing has been proven to enhance both physical and mental health—alleviating symptoms commonly associated with anxiety and depression (Pennebaker, 2004). By documenting and reflecting on moments of happiness, gratitude, and personal growth, you can cultivate and nurture your emotional well-being.


3. Seek Social Support


Depression can lead us to isolate ourselves from others. However, research consistently underscores the importance of social support in decreasing feelings of depression. Openly sharing your thoughts and feelings with trusted friends or family can be very helpful (Cuijpers et al., 2011).

Participating in individual counseling or therapy sessions, and group therapy can also be beneficial, as they provide a safe space for people to share their experiences and learn from others going through similar experiences (Penedo & Dahn, 2005).

Consider using an online chatbot or virtual therapist as an adjunct to mental health care. These platforms, especially those integrated with AIEW emulation, can provide round-the-clock support. While they may not fully comprehend human emotion, they’re designed to recognize patterns and respond in ways that can be helpful and comforting. This 24/7 availability can be particularly beneficial for those times when you need immediate support or when traditional therapy options may not be accessible.

4. Address Negative Thoughts


Feelings of depression are often triggered by negative thought patterns, such as self-criticism and self-blame—being hard on oneself. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques can be helpful in challenging and restructuring these negative thought patterns. By identifying and replacing negative thoughts with positive ones and speaking compassionately to ourselves, we can significantly improve our mood and reduce depressive symptoms (Butler et al., 2006). AIEW can provide tools and exercises to help with this process.

Before rushing to a magic pill, consider having the benefit of CBT—a standard of care in helping people who are depressed. Countless studies support CBT's efficacy, and I recommend finding an empathetic, warm, and genuine mental health professional who utilizes CBT (Nakao M. et al., 2021; Beck, J.S., 2023). AIEW can assist in finding such professionals. I often recommend as a valuable resource.


5. Participate in Enjoyable Activities


Depression can diminish our motivation and enjoyment—making it challenging to do things we once found pleasurable. However, participating in activities that bring joy and a sense of accomplishment can be an effective antidote to depression. Take a look at my post about Emotional Wellness and Digital Photography. Research has demonstrated that engaging in enjoyable activities, such as hobbies, sports, and the arts, can improve emotional wellness and counteract depressive symptoms (Josefsson et al., 2014). If you're feeling overwhelmed, take small small, baby steps. I've found that simply playing music from a happy time can quickly shift my emotional state, particularly when I'm feeling down. AIEW can help you identify activities that bring you joy.


Addressing depression requires a multimodal approach that combines practical strategies such as the ones I've shared, as well as the benefit of professional help. By maintaining a healthy lifestyle, practicing mindfulness, meditation and journaling, seeking social support, addressing negative thoughts, and participating in enjoyable activities, you can take significant steps towards overcoming depression.

Everyone's journey is different, and it's important to be patient and compassionate with yourself as you navigate challenges and change on your path toward emotional wellness. AIEW will ultimately be invaluable on this journey.


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