Depression is a serious mental health condition that sneaks up on you when you least expect. What starts as a case of the blues can quickly transform into ongoing feelings of sadness, worthlessness and despair.
Depression is a serious condition that can affect both your physical and mental well-being. While many people turn to antidepressants with good results, others may want to take a more natural approach.
Facts About Depression
Depression is one of the most common and severe mental illnesses that affect the way people feel. In fact, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) have estimated that one in 15 adults experience depression every year. Left untreated, depression can cause a variety of mental and physical issues in both men and women.
Depression can happen to anyone of all ages, however, it’s most common in people who are in their early 20’s or the elderly.
To combat the ill-effects of depression, below are seven ways that may work to boost your mood and ward off future depressive episodes.
Consistently eating a high-fat diet can cause negative effects as ongoing stress.
Furthermore, consuming an unhealthy diet robs your body without the essential nutrients it requires to maintain both physical and mental well-being.
Here’s how you can prevent depression by eating a healthy diet:
- Consume meals that are high in protein as well as fruits and vegetables.
- Lower your intake of foods that are high in fat and sugar.
- Avoid consuming processed foods.
- Add more omega-3s into your diet with foods such as nuts and fish.
- Drink at least six to eight glasses of water each day.
- Avoid drinks such as soda, coffee and processed juice.
- Incorporate unsaturated fats into your diet with grapeseed oil and seeds.
Getting the necessary amount of sleep is also necessary for your physical and mental health. Research from the National Sleep Foundation has shown that people who suffer from insomnia are a greater risk of suffering from depression than those who get a good night’s sleep. Not to mention, not sleeping enough causes cognitive impairment, weight gain and even increases the risk of being involved in a fatal car accident.
To improve your sleep hygiene, incorporate the following tips into your nightly routine:
- Do not look at any screens before bed, including your phone. Screens give off a blue light that tricks your circadian rhythm into thinking it is still daytime.
- Try meditating before bed. Meditating helps clear your mind, which will make it easier to sleep.
- Sleep on a mattress that’s comfortable. Sleeping on an uncomfortable mattress hinder restorative sleep. In fact, it can also cause physical problems like chronic back pain.
- Do not drink any caffeine in the afternoon. This includes coffee, soda and even tea. Caffeine is a stimulant and stays in your system for up to eight hours at a time.
Getting routine exercise is one of the best ways to improve your mental health. The Mayo Clinic has even stated that exercise aids the prevention and treatment of depression in various ways.
Here’s how exercise can help alleviate depressive symptoms:
- It increases your body temperature, which produces a calming effect on the nervous system.
- Exercise releases feel-good chemicals like endorphins, which helps improves your mood.
- Exercise reduces the chemicals produced by your immune system that may cause depression.
Keep in mind that any type of physical exercise whether it’s water aerobics or just simply power walking down the block can treat depression. Of course, it can be a little confusing and overwhelming to figure out where to start.
In order to get more exercise, consider the following:
- Join an exercise group and partake in Zumba, kickboxing, yoga or pilates.
- Use the stairs rather than the elevator.
- Make exercising a habit. Doing this will ensure that you maintain your desired fitness level.
While stress may be the most common cause of depression, it’s also the most preventable. However, learning how to cope manage stress is the hard part.
Here are a few ways you can manage stress more effectively:
- Do not overcommit to plans and tasks.
- Learn how to meditate or practice mindfulness.
- Learn how to let go of things that you can’t control.
Another great way to fight depression is going to cognitive behavioral therapy. It gives you a chance to vent your feelings to a neutral party. For some people, therapy may be more effective than antidepressants.
However, there are many forms of talking therapy aside from CBT. Depending on your depressive symptoms, your healthcare provider can determine what kind of therapy you need.
Avoid Drugs and Alcohol
It’s easy to rely on drugs or alcohol to combat depression. Unfortunately, using either one typically results in a downward spiral. To help ease the pain of depression, avoid drinking alcohol or taking drugs. If you are struggling with addiction and depression, seeking guidance from a trained professional, such as those on BetterHelp can help you with both issues.
If you don’t want to stop drinking, there are ways to curtail your intake:
- When dining out, order an appetizer instead of alcohol.
- Invite friends and family to a social event where there is no alcohol.
- Try ordering cranberry juice. No one needs to know it doesn’t have alcohol in it.
Define Common Triggers
Try to avoid the triggers that are associated with your depression. It’s important that you determine what has caused your depression. However, this isn’t always a simple thing to do. For example, if you’re in an abusive relationship but don’t know how to end it, you need to seek immediate assistance. Understanding what causes your low mood goes a long way towards stopping future depressive episodes.
Above all else, your mental health should always be a top priority. If you feel like you’re struggling, ask for help. Suffering with depression is nothing to be ashamed about.