If you or someone you care about are depressed it is important to take action to combat the issue. Therapy and medication are used to control depression but changes to behavior or lifestyle can be beneficial too. Physical activity, healthy diet, and lifestyle — can be effective natural depression treatments.
“Lifestyle changes are a very important part of treatment,” says Ian A. Cook, MD. Dr. Cook is the director of the Depression Research Program at the University of California Los Angeles. Dr. Cook recommends six natural ways to fight depression. Routine is very important too. Without routine one day can bleed into next and you can feel a sense of loss of control.
1. Exercise. Study after study has found that physical activity can boost mood. Recommendations of at least one half hour several times per week are noted. The type of exercise you use as a natural depression treatment doesn’t seem to matter. Your physician may have recommendations on a certain type of aerobic exercise needed for your health, such as to help your heart, but the benefit of moving is what seems to be needed for depression. Music or reading while exercising may have a positive effect on your mood too.
2. Diet. Although there is no special diet recommended for depression, a healthy diet is really the key.
“Nutrition is an important element in your effort to help treat your depression,” Dr. MacKinnon, John Hopkins Associate Professor of Psychiatry, says. “Healing from depression is a physiological process, just like healing from a physical injury and without good nutrition medications for depression can’t work as effectively.”
Some medication used to treat depression can lead to weight gain, so working with your health care professional may be helpful too.
3. Sleep. Sometimes those with depression sleep too much and often insomnia is a problem with those suffering from depression. No matter which one is occurring, taking actions to correct it is important.
Try to make your lifestyle more sleep friendly. Healthy sleep tips include: Going to bed and getting up at the same time every day, avoid too many or napping too long, and take all the distractions out of your bedroom — no computer and no TV.
4. Goals. Realistic goals are important for depression treatment. Accomplishing these realistic goals make you feel good about yourself. You have succeeded! You can then add extra additional realistic goals as you improve. You may have to get help from a therapist, friends or family to set priorities and break things up into reasonable amounts.
5. Responsibilities. A natural inclination when depressed is to give up all your responsibilities at home and at work. This can be more damaging. Having a sense of accomplishment is really important; just like staying active has really big benefits. Likewise know when you are pushing too hard. Maybe rather than full time work or school, part time might be better for a period of time, or consider volunteering. Giving to others can be a great way to feel better!
6. Relaxation. You have to make this happen. This doesn’t happen on its own. Plan a lunch, dinner or coffee date with a friend or meet them at the gym. What a great way to reconnect and relax.
Depression is not something to be ignored. Even with the springtime weather approaching depression still takes its toll on people. Coping techniques and awareness of ways to improve it are important! Do it for yourself or those you care about now.
Source: Griffin, R., Recognizing the Symptoms of Depression, WebMD, 3/20/12.
Author: Liz Smith, FCS Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension