October 7, 2018
Depression is a common mental health disorder that affects roughly 7% of the U.S. population during any given year. Depression is commonly treated using medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of both; though sometimes a trial-and-error approach is needed to determine the best course of treatment. There are many healthy ways to reduce and fight depression that can complement conventional treatments, or that may be effective as an only course of treatment.
Here are 7 healthy ways to improve symptoms of depression so you can start feeling better and reduce your risk for related health problems.
1. Identify the Root Cause
Depression can be triggered by a countless number of factors, such as spending time in environments that cause stress both mentally and emotionally, as well as suffering from health conditions like substance abuse disorders, physical disabilities, or cancer. Depression can develop from many health conditions. Therefore, identifying the reason for your depression can help address the root cause, so you can fully eliminate depression or reduce your symptoms. For instance, if your depression is being caused by a serious illness such as cancer, type 2 diabetes, or Parkinson’s disease, you can receive treatment for your condition to become healthier.
2. Manage Stress
Chronic stress elevates the body’s cortisol levels for long periods of time and upsets the balance of other hormones like serotonin that play a major role in managing your mood. The brain’s chemical imbalances triggered by chronic, long-term stress have been linked to depression. If you’re constantly under stress, take steps now to start managing your stress more effectively such as exercising, practicing yoga, and trying psychotherapy.
3. Improve Your Diet
Nutritional deficiencies have been linked to mental health disorders such as depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. Studies show that people who eat foods that lack vitamins, minerals, omega-3s, and other nutrients are more likely to suffer from depression than their counterparts who eat healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts, and seeds. Make changes to your diet as needed so you consume fewer foods like soda, refined carbs, and processed foods, and replace them with healthier whole foods that contribute to good brain health.
4. Do Something New
Depression can often make you feel like you’re hopelessly stuck in a rut. Shake up your daily routine by doing something different or trying new activities, such as volunteering your time, taking a cooking class, or swapping out television for reading a book. Challenging your brain with new activities can alter your brain chemistry to ward off and fight depression.
5. Exercise Regularly
People who have sedentary behaviors like sitting and lying down are 25% more likely to suffer depression than their more active counterparts. Exercise stimulates the body’s release of feel-good chemicals known as endorphins and naturally balances other brain chemicals to reduce depression. Start exercising regularly and stick to doing activities you enjoy, so you feel more motivated to stay active long-term.
6. Get More Sleep
Sleep and depression are closely connected due to the way sleep deprivation can trigger stress, anxiety, and hormonal imbalances — all of which are risk factors for depression. An estimated 15 to 20% of people diagnosed with insomnia will eventually go on to suffer major depression. Adults should get at least 7 hours of sleep each night. Therefore, do whatever it takes to start getting more sleep — whether it’s receiving treatment for a sleep disorder like obstructive sleep apnea or simply going to bed earlier.
7. Make Time for Fun
General discontent and loss of interest in favorite, long-held hobbies are just some symptoms of depression that can make it tough for you to have fun. To fight these symptoms, make plans to have fun even if it feels like a difficult task or chore. Make dinner or movie plans with friends and family or treat yourself to something that supports one of the hobbies you discarded on behalf of depression. For example, if you enjoy restoring old furniture, visit a thrift or antique store to find a new piece you can start working on.
Healthcare Associates of Texas offers first-rate mental health services to help you fight depression and start enjoying life again. Request an appointment today to learn more about our effective, evidence-based treatments that can help you achieve improved mental health.