Here Are Some Tips For A Natural Approach To Overcoming Depression
Have you been feeling bluer than usual? Is it hard to remember a time when you didn’t feel down? Depression is an unpredictable beast. It persists in some folks who have a history of trauma or neurotransmitter imbalances, but it can set in quickly for others dealing with stressful or painful situations.
In any given year in the United States, around 16.2 million adults will have at least one major depressive episode, with most of them being women. Around 1.5 percent of those affected experience persistent depression, which is associated with ongoing feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and indecision.
There are a host of conditions and experiences that are associated with depression – bipolar disorder, postpartum depression, and grief are some of the most common. With that said, it can be difficult to identify the root cause of your mental illness. Your relationships, job satisfaction, and brain chemistry can also contribute to your overall happiness, or lack thereof.
While feeling down on occasion is a completely normal experience, there are some signs that indicate you should consult a professional. If you feel uninterested in things that once excited you, sleep way too much or too little, struggle to complete daily tasks, or have suicidal thoughts, please seek help.
So, how do you treat or cure depression? Antidepressants can relieve symptoms and address chemical imbalances, but there are lifestyle changes that can also have positive impacts. In some cases, they may be able to relieve your depression entirely. Read on to learn how you can lend a helping hand to your mind…
If you’re experiencing depression, odds are that the last thing you want to do is hit the gym. On the other hand, maybe you do want to work out, but you’re having trouble peeling yourself off the couch.
Although it can be a challenge to get moving, just 20 minutes of vigorous exercise can stimulate new neuron growth and promote better connectivity in the brain. These new pathways literally help rewire your brain and clear up mental fog. Exercise also releases endorphins, the feel-good hormones that flood your body and are responsible for that post-workout “high.”
Sometimes the hardest part of exercising (whether you’re depressed or not) is starting. The gym is fantastic, and getting out of the house can give you a nudge to socialize. However, if that seems too daunting, you can always workout at home. Grab some light weights (even water bottles or a book will do) or follow a free HIIT video online and just start moving. You don’t have to be Arnold – just do what you can today.
Yoga is a low-stress, easy way to get moving and feel better. There are a host of apps and free online instructional videos that can lead you through routines designed to get your blood flowing. If twenty minutes is too difficult or daunting to manage, start with 5 minutes. Every little bit of movement can help.
Meditation can be a loaded word. You might think of some half-naked guru sitting on a mountaintop, eyes closed, and legs crossed. That is certainly one way to mediate, and if that’s what it takes to cure your depression, go for it.
Thankfully, you don’t have to take on the life of a monk to benefit from meditation. There’s a new kind of therapy known as MBCT (mindfulness-based cognitive therapy). This practice helps people become more present in their lives and puts a stop to the repetitive negative thoughts and emotions they’re experiencing.
MBCT is recommended for people experiencing major depressive disorders. They’re encouraged to view their thoughts as passing events in the mind, rather than accepting them as a permanent reality. Adopting this habit can teach you to better interact with your thought patterns and help you influence your emotions.
Even just sitting quietly for 20 to 30 minutes a day can make a difference. Focus on your breath to release tension in your muscles, stimulate endorphin production, and help you let go of repetitive thoughts.
Humans weren’t designed to sit under florescent lights in perfect temperatures every day. People evolved in nature – exposed to sunshine, dirt, and fresh air. When you find yourself feeling depressed, it can be helpful to go for a walk outside. Take a stroll under large trees at a nearby park or on a sandy beach.
Many scientists believe that a large percentage of people experiencing bouts of depression are vitamin D deficient. Your body produces vitamin D naturally, but only when your skin is exposed to sunlight. This is one reason why people often experience seasonal affective disorder (SAD) in the winter months, when there’s not as much sunlight.
Eat A Healthy Diet
When your body isn’t fueled properly, it can’t run smoothly. Low levels of vitamin D, vitamin B, magnesium, and zinc can contribute to depression, because your brain isn’t receiving the nutrients it needs to fire on all cylinders.
Additionally, inflammation puts undue stress on your body. You may feel tired, sore, or fatigued. You’ll be hard pressed to feel your best if both your mind and body are deficient in the nutrients they require. Inflammation is frequently caused by consuming excessive amounts of processed food.
There are a million conflicting articles out there on what the ideal diet looks like. The important thing to remember is that processed foods are inflammatory by nature. Whatever your preferred diet, stick to natural, whole foods like meat, fruits and vegetables. If it comes in a box and can last months in the cabinet, it’s unlikely to ease your depression.
If you’re really struggling to eat well, consider supplementation. Try taking a multivitamin or a vitamin B supplement for a few months (check with your doctor first if you have other health conditions). You’ll be amazed how much better you can feel once your body has the nutrition it needs to run efficiently.
Increase Your Antioxidant Intake
Inside every one of your cells is a powerhouse called the mitochondria. These microscopic cell organs are responsible for powering your entire body, and when they aren’t working properly, a host of problems can arise.
Your cells are constantly putting out waste as a byproduct of metabolism. These unstable versions of molecular trash are called free radicals. If you don’t have enough antioxidants to neutralize them, they can cause depression, as well as ADHD, cancer, and even Parkinson’s disease.
There are a few foods that help mitochondria produce the antioxidants necessary to keep a clean house. Increase your intake of polyphenols (green leafy vegetables), anti-inflammatory spices (turmeric or curcumin), and glutathione (available in supplement form). It’s also best to avoid oils such as sunflower, canola, and peanut, as these inhibit free-radical expulsion.
There are many forms of depression, and each person’s experience is different. If you find yourself unable to cope, contact your doctor as soon as possible. Even if you decide to use medication as a tool, incorporating exercise, mindfulness, sunshine, good nutrition, and antioxidants can certainly help. Guide your body toward better health, and your mind will follow.