7 ways to decrease depression
By Krista Borgwardt // June 28, 2018
Depression continues to rise each year in the U.S.. Approximately 16 million adults live with major depressive disorder and 1.8 million youth suffer from severe depression.
Depression can interfere with everyday life in many ways at work, home and socially.
Many people suffer from other forms of depression and grief symptoms that mimic depressive symptoms. People may self-medicate with alcohol and other substances. However, there are many healthy ways to effectively decrease depression symptoms.
Sleep – People with depression may sleep too much or not sleep enough. Every person is unique in how much his or her brain and body need for optimal health. Adults usually need an average of 6 to 8 hours of sleep. Teenagers need about 8 to 10 hours a night; their brains are developing at a higher rate. If you sleep too much set your alarm and take timed naps (20 minutes). If you have difficulties falling asleep find some helpful tools such as guided sleep meditations, herbal teas before bed, and yoga. Daily physical exercise increases our bodies’ ability to a deeper REM sleep.
Nutrition – Eating a healthy diet affects your brain and body. Decrease any fatty foods, processed foods, high sugar foods and high carb foods. Monitor your caffeine and alcohol intake, moderation is important. Eliminate energy drink consumption, read the label and warnings. Increase complex carbs, omega-3 foods (salmon, walnuts), sweet potatoes, fruits, hummus and colorful vegetables.
Moving your body – Exercise can psychologically and physically have an impact on improving your mood. The body releases feel good chemicals when people exercise, such as dopamine and endorphins. There are many forms of exercise that are beneficial the key is to be moving your body. Aerobic exercise provides the most benefits for reducing depression, since it increases circulation to the brain. However, low impact exercises like stretching for 15 minutes, yin yoga, and tai chi are also beneficial. Set a goal for yourself weekly.
Self-compassion – Self-compassion is about how you treat yourself and love yourself. Envision how you would talk to a friend who is feeling low. What would you say to them? What suggestions would you make to them? Would you offer them a hug? This is how you then would want to treat yourself with kindness, love, nurturance, gentleness and grace.
Self-talk – Our inner voice can be very busy and sometimes or often critical. Bring awareness to how you talk to yourself. Do you call yourself negative names? Change it to endearing names when you talk to yourself – “Hey honey it’s okay you can learn from this.” Do you shame yourself? “I am not good enough” or “I am a bad person.” Change your core beliefs to “I am good enough” and “I am a loving person.” The first step is to bring awareness by noticing how your inner voice is showing up. Next, change the inner voice to a loving inner voice.
Water – Drink plenty of water daily. Your body is 60% water and your brain is about 75-85% water. Dehydration can affect your mood from decreased energy in your brain.
Connection – Neuroscience researchers discovered that our brains are actually wired for connection. Depression can lead us to want to isolate. However, it is best to connect to others and reach out. Call a close family member or friend. Make plans to go out with someone close for an hour activity. Our society is becoming more and more disconnected with automated services. Even going to a store and talking to your checkout clerk is connecting with another person. Be intentional about reaching out and starting conversations with people. It is also important to have a strong support system, write down who your support people are in your life.
When to seek Help
It is important to seek professional help if your symptoms are lasting more than 2 weeks. People tend to wait too long to seek help. Your medical doctor is a good place to start for help to check if there are any medical reasons for your depressive symptoms. If you are taking medications prescribed for depression it is important to be working with a mental health therapist as part of your coordination of care. Find a therapist you feel comfortable with and able to share your story with them.
If you are having suicidal thoughts please seek help. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255)
I hope you found this article helpful. Reach out if you would like further resources.