Depression is a complex condition to varying degrees, but overall it is characterized by feelings of anxiety and helplessness. The result is a loss of energy and living in a constant state of sadness. Sadly, depression is prevalent in today’s society.
The increase in the prescription of antidepressants around the world is staggering. More than 164 million prescriptions were written in the United States alone in 2008. While the disease has been around for centuries, the epidemic of depression is a relatively new phenomenon with millions of new cases each year. Could it be that the incidence of depression has something to do with the way we live these days? Could we heal ourselves by making simple adjustments to our lifestyle instead of numbing ourselves with drugs?
Diet and supplements
If we don’t starve ourselves, we eat empty calorie, nutrient-free, over-processed foods. The severity of depression can be managed by going back to eating basics: eat a few fresh, well-balanced meals throughout the day with two small, healthy snacks in between. Opt for homemade dishes with a nutritional balance. Choose animal and vegetable protein, whole grain “unprocessed” breads, fresh fruits and vegetables and if you must have sweets, choose those that are only homemade with real sugar. Avoid anything that is processed, “fat free” or frozen. Processed foods are poison, and your body needs fat for your brain to function properly. Eat the old-fashioned way (like grandma used to) and you’ll get the nutrients your body needs to stay healthy. Eat apples as a snack instead of a donut. Drink water instead of soda (try soda water with a little fruit juice for a soda effect). Make your own dressing – every little bit helps.
Avoid caffeine, tobacco, alcohol, and excess sugar. These substances work to give you a momentary “high”, but the crash afterwards will leave you with low blood sugar in addition to your mental state. And although many people believe that herbal remedies like St. John’s Wort are effective in managing depression, recent studies have proven otherwise.
Eating only natural, fresh foods will have a big impact on mood. If the supermarket is too confusing, limit your shopping to an “organic” store. Although a little more expensive, at least you can buy with confidence that you are getting fresh food.
The ability to deal with stress is an important factor in the ability to deal with depression. Stress is inevitable, so we need to be taught what to do with it. Pick your fights and try to channel the stress into something positive. Is the source of stress easily overlooked? Can the situation be turned into something constructive? Can you laugh at this one? Or is it something that needs to be faced? If the stressful situation is too complex, such as a divorce, it may be a good idea to seek therapy. Knowing how to deal with stress has a big impact on your state of mind.
If you are under too much stress (as in the case of career mom), enlist the help of a co-worker or family member to reduce your number of “to-do’s”.
There is a condition known as a “runner’s high”. It is caused by the release of endorphins during physical exercise. Endorphins are chemicals in the brain that you release when you laugh or have sex. Anyone who finishes a “cardio” session releases endorphins. As a result, a dedicated exercise program is a good way for a depressed person to feel happy and relaxed.
Any vigorous exercise will release these endorphins and improve your mood. Pick an exercise that fits your lifestyle and that you enjoy doing. If you’re someone who needs to work with others, join an aerobics class, running club, or swim team. Strength training will help build muscle, but endorphins are only released with cardio exercise. And yes, enthusiastic sex matters!
When designing your training program, set yourself achievable goals and work on them. When you reach those goals, set new ones. You should train at least half an hour four times a week.
Now for the first few weeks you’ll wonder if endorphins hurt (they aren’t – it’s just your muscles getting into shape), but after your first few weeks you’ll start to develop an “addiction” to it. exercise. Your body craves endorphins.
One of the biggest problems in North American society today is that we forget how to be adventurous and have fun. We settle into our daily commute, our days at the office and take the kids to football. We eat the same thing over and over again. We yell at the children to hurry up. We are drones in our busy lives and we never enjoy life. Monotony is a way of life these days, it seems.
To avoid becoming depressed from monotony, you need to make time for yourself each day. Take at least half an hour every day to do what you want to do. It’s your time, so your kids will have to wait for you to complete their next application. Read, garden, take a walk, have lunch with an old friend, exercise, take a class or go shopping. The kids will appreciate your state of mind after you have had your short daily waiting period.
If you want even more adventure, consider a weekend or a weeklong trip. What have you always wanted to do? Your choice should be within your budget and something that includes family. Why not rent a sailboat and visit the Virgin Islands? What about skiing in the Alps? Even something as local as a helicopter ride over your house can lift your spirits. Do something new. Mix. Being adventurous will have a big impact on your mind.
Give yourself time to make these adjustments in your life. It will take time – and work – to see the positive effects. Managing your own diet, exercise, stress, and adventure plans won’t cure your depression, but it will help you take small steps to turn those sad feelings into happy ones.