In our everyday lives, there are a number of factors that can make us feel sad or let down. This is quite common for any person but if that despair and sadness stay on your mind, they lead to depression. Depression can have adverse effects on a person’s life. It can prevent someone from taking joy in the everyday pleasures of life. In extreme cases, it can even give rise to suicidal intent. However, if a person takes correct measures, he or she can overcome depression.
Psychotherapy is a common method to overcome depression. This method is where a person in depression talks to a psychiatrist. These sessions happen regularly and the psychiatrist tells the patient how to deal with this mental disorder in his everyday life.
They also provide medication for the same. There are different types of psychotherapy, or talk – therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy, also known as CBT and interpersonal therapy, also known as IPT are the most famous of the types. They have been found to be extremely effectual for treating depression.
In fact CBT helps those suffering from depression change the way they think, that is it helps them avoid being pessimistic. It helps them have a positive and realistic approach towards people around them and also the environment that they are in. You will also be able to identify the different symptoms of depression and also help you change your behavior. IPT on the other hand helps people understand themselves and the people they are close to and also avoid any troubled relationships that are causing depression.
Mindfulness, which has its roots in Buddhist practices, is the practice of focusing attention on what is happening in the present—and accepting it without judgment. And that—many physicians and therapists believe—can be a powerful therapeutic tool. Mindfulness is often learned through meditation, a systematic method of regulating your attention by focusing on your breathing, a phrase, or an image.
Over the last few decades, scientists have discovered the benefits of using mindfulness meditation techniques to help relieve stress, treat heart disease, and alleviate other conditions such as high blood pressure, chronic pain, sleep problems, and gastrointestinal difficulties. Some experts believe that it works, in part, by calming the body’s stress response. In recent years, therapists—particularly cognitive behavioral therapists—have turned to mindfulness techniques to treat mood problems.
Studies have found that mindfulness meditation can help prevent relapse in people who have had three or more episodes of depression. For example, in one study, while 78% of depressed people given normal treatment for depression relapsed in the following year, only 36% of people who got meditation training in addition to regular treatment did.
There is evidence that meditation has distinct effects on the brain. In one study, researchers measured brain electrical activity before, immediately after, and four months after a two-month course in mindfulness meditation. They found persistent increased activity on the left side of the prefrontal cortex, which is associated with joyful and serene emotions.
Mindfulness offers other benefits, as well. One of the goals is to enhance your appreciation of simple everyday experiences. And by learning to focus on the here and now, many people who practice mindfulness find that they are less likely to get caught up in worries about the future or regrets over the past.
3. Be Happy:
There has been a lot of research done on depression and how to beat it naturally and one thing that stands out, above everything else, is happiness. Now, I know that may sound odd to someone who is suffering from depression but you can do it. You can choose to redirect your attention, find something positive to focus on and, when you do that, the levels of serotonin in your brain increase. Serotonin is known as the “feel-good” or “happiness” chemical and the higher your levels the better you will feel about yourself and life in general.
We’ve always thought that, just by changing the way we think, we can alter how the blood flows to the brain but it is only recently that scientists have found out that the way you think can also change your neurotransmitter levels. We know that meditation can make us feel calmer and better about ourselves but do you know why? Meditation increases your dopamine levels, which makes you feel happier and that, in turn, raises your serotonin levels. Serotonin is the all-important buzz-word in kicking depression for good.
It’s been proven that decreased serotonin receptor function is directly associated with poor moods and high function with good moods. So, in a nutshell, low levels will make you feel sad but if you can focus on something positive, something that makes you happy, your levels increase and you naturally start to feel better.
4. Get Out in the Open Air:
Much research has been carried out on the effects of being outdoors and we know now that working outside can significantly improve your health, happiness and productivity levels. The problem comes in moving your working area outside and, to be fair, it isn’t something that most people can do. However, what you can do is get out for a walk, especially on sunny days. Why is that?
It’s all to do with melatonin and, yes, serotonin. There is a fine web that connects these with sunlight – when you go out in the sun or bright light, the light hits your optic nerve. Some of the light is directed to the gland that is responsible for melatonin production in your brain. In response to that, the amount of melatonin your brain is producing slows down and your serotonin levels rise. It works the other way round when you are in the dark all the time so staying indoors when you are depressed is only making matters worse.
One other thing that is connected with sunlight – vitamin D. your body cannot make this vitamin on its own so you have to get it in other ways and the best way is a daily dose of natural sunshine. High levels of vitamin D help your body to maintain those serotonin levels, thus keeping you feeling happier for longer.
A 2010 national study found that the likelihood of having depression is higher in people with low levels of vitamin D.
5. Exercise Regularly:
I know, everything comes down to exercise but, in this case it really does work. It comes down to doing the right kind of exercise even though you may not feel like getting up and doing anything. Motivation is important and, once you are up and doing something I guarantee you will start to feel a lot happier.
So, how does exercise work?
In a number of ways:
- It releases brain chemicals, such as neurotransmitters, endocannabinoids and endorphins, all feel-good chemicals.
- It decreases chemicals that suppress your immune system.
- It raises your body temperature which helps to calm you.
And, exercising regularly can also help you to:
- Boost your self-confidence and feel better about yourself.
- Distract your mind from your worries, breaking the negative cycle.
A study published in 2005 found that walking fast for about 35 minutes a day five times a week or 60 minutes a day three times a week significantly improved symptoms in people with mild to moderate depression. Walking fast for only 15 minutes a day five times a week or doing stretching exercises three times a week wasn’t as helpful.
Some studies suggest that exercise is as effective as medications or therapy. A study published in Archives of Internal Medicine assigned 156 depressed patients to an aerobic exercise program, the SSRI sertraline (Zoloft), or both. At the 16-week mark, 60% to 70% of the people in all three groups no longer had major depression. In fact, group scores on two rating scales of depression were essentially the same.
This suggests that for those who need or wish to avoid drugs, exercise might be an acceptable substitute for antidepressants.
You already know that you don’t really feel like eating and, when you do, you probably just eat junk food because you can’t be bothered to prepare a proper meal. That is just making you feel worse and eating a healthy diet can go a long way towards kicking depression in the balls.
Your diet should be healthy and balanced, a combination of all the major food groups and, although there is still much ongoing research into food and depression, you will start to feel better because you will be in better health. Base your diet on starchy foods, like rice, pasta and potatoes and add in lots of fresh vegetables and fruit, protein rich fish and meat and dairy.
7. Ask for help and support:
It is a regular symptom of every kind of depression to feel worthless and hopeless. These feelings are not what you truly are. The easiest way to overcome these feelings is to talk to people and open up. Even if the other person cannot cure you, letting out all that you have bottled inside will really help make you feel better.
It is important to have someone you can confide in. You may often feel that it would be best to cut off from people for a while so that you can get some space but isolation fuels depression. Talk to your family and friends and let them know what you are going through.
8. Join in Activities:
Try not to isolate yourself from others. Depending on your personal preferences, attending religious services, having a meal with an understanding friend, or going to a movie, ball game, or concert may help lift your mood.
- Understanding Depression: A Harvard Medical School Special Health Report
- Breaking Free From Depression by Zayne Parker