How to Develop a Positive Mental Attitude Despite Depression

A positive mindset can be hard to maintain when you have depression, but it is possible. Find out how at HealthyPlace.

A positive mental attitude is not something we associate with depression. In fact, the symptoms of depression tend to bring about quite the opposite. However, working on developing positive thoughts can be highly beneficial for your mental health. A positive attitude does not mean faking a smile and feeling optimistic about everything, either ("Does False Positivity, Fake Positivity Help or Hurt You?"). As we all know, doing either of these things can be impossible when you have depression. Luckily, there are things you can do to develop a positive mental attitude despite your mental illness.

Achieving a Positive Mental Attitude During Depression

A positive mental attitude is a great defense against mental illness. Thinking positively can help you approach your mental health with constructive actions and techniques with the belief that you can and will get better. This last part is particularly important, as hopelessness is a common feature of depression, and it can make you feel as though you will never get better.

This is the illness talking, however. Although your suffering feels personal to you, depression is not unique. Millions of people suffer from depression in various forms, and millions of people recover. The commonality of the illness means it is one of the easiest mental health conditions to treat. Some people with depression go on to do inspiring things with their lives, such as write books, become movie stars or become politicians, so there is no reason to hold yourself back.

Positive Actions for Depression

Let’s turn to positive actions you can take against depression ("How to Be More Positive When You’re Depressed"). A technique often used in therapy is to look at a problem and come up with a list of positive actions you can take to resolve it. You can do this in your head, but it is most effective written down on a piece of paper.

  • Problem-Solving

Create two columns. The first column should be entitled “Problems”. This section can be filled out with negative thoughts, things about your life you would like to change, circumstances such as a job loss or break up and just about anything that makes you feel negative.

The second column is for “Solutions.” This is where you will write down the possible actions you could take to resolve or improve upon the problem.  If you come across a problem you have no control over, simply move it to a new page called “Trash.” You are still writing these problems down, but they are no good to you. Hence, you are mentally moving them to your “trash” folder. 

  • Self-Soothing

During depression, you won’t always have the motivation for problem-solving. This is why it’s important to self-soothe when you need a little extra care. Examples of self-soothing include anything that makes you feel calm and positive, such as taking a warm bath, journaling, listening to music or exercising. According to CBT techniques, you should focus on five senses when self-soothing: touch, taste, smell, feel and hear. Experiment with self-soothe activities to discover what grounds and calms you most effectively.

Achieving a Positive Mental Attitude with Depression

With a little work and self-care, achieving a positive attitude with depression is not so far-fetched as you might think. There are plenty of things you can try to help yourself recover from a mental illness, whatever recovery looks like for you. They key is building habits into your daily lifestyle and keeping track of your symptoms. That way, if you feel yourself slipping into low moods, you can use the techniques you’ve acquired to help yourself feel better.

article references

APA Reference
Smith, E. (2021, December 21). How to Develop a Positive Mental Attitude Despite Depression, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 19 from

Last Updated: March 25, 2022

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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