Anybody who has dealt with depression in their lives will understand just how devastating it can be. Depression can be a life changing illness that destroys a person’s concentration, pleasure, and energy. People within a period of depression struggle to find any joy in the things that they do, but it’s crucial for anyone suffering with this problem to avoid habits that could be making it worse. Depression is worsened by numerous factors, some which a physical and some which are psychological. These are five habits that can prolong the symptoms of depression.

1. Isolating yourself is a sure way of staying depressed for longer. Although you may not feel like talking to other people, isolation is both physically and mentally the worst thing that you can do for yourself. According to research, those with stronger social networks are less likely to develop depression as close relationships promote better brain chemistry and lower levels of stress. Regardless of the situation, it’s essential to keep in touch with the people who care about you.

2. Lack of exercise can lead to an enhanced state of depression as movement is essential to your mental and physical well-being. Refusing to exercise not only harms your physical health, but can also negatively impact your confidence if you begin to gain weight. Usually, when you are feeling depressed, exercise might be the last thing you want to think about or do. Most of us prefer to sit in silence rather than be active, but exercise can make a huge difference to depression. The more you move around, the more your brain will produce chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin.

3. Unhealthy eating doesn’t just have a negative impact on your body, it also affects your mind. Our bodies cannot manufacture the nutrients for supportive brain tissue such as omega-3 fats solo, meaning we need to absorb them through the food we eat. If you don’t get enough of the right nutrients, you will be leaving yourself vulnerable to depression. Often, if you eat healthier, you’ll find your mind is healthier, too.

4. Bad sleeping habits create the ideal situation for depression. You should have a routine that allows you to get around seven or eight hours in bed every night. Make sure that you don’t use your laptop, watch your television or read in bed. Remember, lack of sleep causes people to become paranoid and easily agitated, whereas a well-rested mind is sharp and clear.

5. Dwelling on negative thoughts is one of the most common ways that people prolong their depression unintentionally. Although it can be difficult to feel positive when in a state of depression, negative thinking keeps the problem going and causes your mood to remain low. Thinking about things that you cannot change will upset you for no reason. Try to redirect your attention towards more positive or neutral thoughts when you find yourself ruminating on the negative aspects of life, and make sure to spend time with the people closest to you, as this can ‘take your mind off’ the issue at hand.