Proven Methods That Help You Fight And Manage Your Depression
Updated September 04, 2018
Knowing is half the battle.
The very fact that you are reading this indicates that you are aware of your depression. You are actively seeking ways to fight and manage it or are wanting to help a loved one who is suffering from this mental condition. This effort to learn more about managing your condition is proof enough that half your battle has already been won.
Conquer the remaining battle by going through and practicing these proven and effective strategies that will help you effectively manage your condition.
- Meditate/Pray:Spending some time each day to collect your thoughts and focus on the present moment helps you mentally prepare for the day and be ready to face the day's challenges.
According to this review and 47 studies analyzed by JAMA Internal Medicine, meditation effectively helps manage stressful conditions like anxiety and depression.
Meditation can be done at your home. Find a place that you are comfortable in. It can be your room, study or patio. Minimize external sounds to lessen distractions. Try not to think about anything and focus on taking deep breaths. It may be hard in the beginning - to not think about anything - but, eventually, you will get the hang of it. Your mind may wander initially. It's OK if that happens. You can get back to meditating immediately. Practicing meditation early in the morning may be more helpful and help you kick out depressing thoughts and have a great start to the day.
Praying is another effective and natural way of dealing with depression. It doesn't matter which religion or belief system you believe in, the very act of surrendering your thoughts to a higher entity helps a person stay positive and not succumb to depression. According to this study, prayer has a positive role in reducing depression and anxiety.
Another study, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, stated: "Our work suggests that people with a moderate to high level of belief in a higher power do significantly better in short-term psychiatric treatment than those without, regardless of their religious affiliation." The belief that you can be helped and that you are not alone in your struggle gives many the reason to stay positive and live their lives purposefully.
2) Diet: Studies and research indicate that the quality of food intake and depression are interrelated. According to this study, lack of certain dietary nutrients is a major cause of mental conditions like depression, schizophrenia, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. This study states that three factors precede depression: poor appetite; skipping meals; and dominant desire for sweets. According to this research, depression can be effectively dealt with the help of proper nutrition. Food rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, selenium, and tryptophan contains essential nutrients that help ward off depression. Explaining this in simpler terms, some foods good for brain health are:
- Algae Oil
- Green Leafy Vegetables
- Whole Grains
- Dairy Products
Making the above-mentioned food a part of your diet and eliminating food containing high sugar content like cakes, donuts, pastries, artificial juices, soda, and alcohol, are proven ways to lessen depression.
3) Sunlight: Exposing yourself to sunlight every day for a minimum of 20 minutes is proven to be extremely beneficial for the body and mind. Sunlight triggers mood-lifting chemicals, called serotonin, to be produced in the brain. According to an article published in BioMed Central, decreased exposure to sunlight increases the probability of cognitive impairment.
Studies have also found that people living in sunnier environments are happier than people living in darker and cloudier environments. Spending some time outdoors on sunnier days can be a big mood booster. On dark, cloudy days, exposing yourself to a light box or bright white light can help minimize mood swings.
4) Spend Time with Positive People: Spending time with people who accept you for who you are and who make you laugh has been found to be very therapeutic and effective in dealing with depression. We all have people in our lives with whom we feel loved and accepted. According to a new study by UCD researchers, funded by the Health Research Board, making an effort to spend time with these people by talking to them greatly helped reduce the symptoms of depression on Talk with them on Skype if they are far away. Go out for coffee or talk with them on the phone.
5) Exercise: Exercise is a great mood booster. Research indicates that the neurotransmitter norepinephrine is stimulated in the brain when the body engages in any form of physical exercise. This neurotransmitter greatly enhances your mood.
According to a study published in 2005, walking for 60 minutes five times a week greatly reduced symptoms of mild to moderate depression. According to a co-authored review of 25 different research articles by George Mammen-a University of Toronto Ph.D. candidate, moderate exercise greatly helped prevent episodes of long-term depression.
6) Spend Time Volunteering: Volunteering your time and talent to a nonprofit organization helps shift the focus from yourself to others, breaking the cycle of negative thoughts. Helping others and performing acts of kindness forces you to place others before yourself; furthermore, it also helps you realize how fortunate and blessed you are in comparison to someone who is less fortunate.
A four-year study conducted by the Carnegie Mellon University stated that adults above 50 years of age who volunteered 200 hours of their time found out that volunteering had a significant impact on their mental health. This made them less prone to increased blood pressure and significant decreases in their psychological well-being.
There are so many organizations that need helping hands out there. It may be organizing a bake sale, volunteering with kids or at a church or raising funds for a charitable cause.
7) Gratitude: One of the major causes of depression can be linked to nurturing feelings of discontentment and being dissatisfied with life. Discontentment makes you overlook the small joys of life. Finding a reason to complain and not being satisfied makes your life shallow and unbearable; thus, this magnifies feelings of depression. Maintaining a gratitude journal, being thankful for small comforts, and thanking people for their help are meaningful ways you can overcome your depression.
The effects of discontentment can be counteracted by performing a small act of gratitude every day. This may sound like nonsense to you, but there are several researches and studies conducted by positive psychologists who state that performing acts of gratitude is extremely beneficial for the brain. According to a Brain-Scanning study in the journal Neuroimage the more you practice acts of gratitude, the more you enjoy its psychological benefits.
8) Do something you love: While depressed, nothing can seem appealing; however, forcing yourself to do something that you once loved can help you overcome your feelings of depression. It could be spending time with family, dancing, singing, cooking or playing a musical instrument.
Every human being is different, and your choice of relaxing activity differs. What works for one may not work for another. So, take some time to think about an activity that brings you much joy. Once you have narrowed down your list, work on acting them out. If you love dancing, enroll yourself in some dance classes. If you like baking, bake cookies for family and friends. If you love singing, try out a choir group.
Acting out your interests is the key to recovering and managing your depression. David Richards, a health services researcher at the University of Exeter in England, employs this reasoning in developing the much talked about Behavioral Application Technique in treating depression.
9) Learn something new: Learning something new causes you to shift your focus outside your world of negativity. Not only do you gain knowledge about a new skill, but you also break the pattern of negativity. Learning new things greatly increases optimism and satisfaction and leads to positive outlook of life.
10) Sleep:Sleep plays a major role in our mental well-being. Have you ever noticed that when you sleep poorly the previous night, you tend to be cranky and irritated all through the next day?
Getting eight hours of proper sleep is very important and significantly reduces depressive and negative thoughts.Dr. Joyce Walseben, a psychiatrist and the former director of Bellevue Hospital's Sleep Disorders Center states, "Sleep loss causes great psychological damage." While we sleep, our body regulates chemicals closely associated with mood and behavior, and lack of sleep inhibits the flow of these chemicals. These chemical changes then lead to manic feelings.
11) Get into a routine: Depression causes an individual to suffer from a negative pattern of thinking. This thinking spills into every aspect of the person's life, causing him or her to believe that life is a wasted cause. People suffering from this condition may not feel motivated to take part in an activity or take care of themselves. Targeting these thought patterns and trying to change your focus from these thoughts help you get out of depression. You can do this by getting into a routine every day. It may be challenging initially, but once you notice the change it is bringing in your thinking, you will feel motivated to continue with it. Also, by following a routine, you can get many things accomplished and experience a sense of achievement, which is very important in combating depression.
12) Overscheduling - A Big No: Do you have too many things to do a short amount of time? Do you feel overwhelmed and depressed because of it? If you are feeling this way, take a close look at your schedule. Overburdening yourself with too many things to do may cause lack of sleep, feelings of stress, binge eating and a depressive outlook on life.
If you are going through the above situation, then one of the best ways you can handle your situation is through "delegation." Delegating and prioritizing your work can help you focus on the things you need the most, causing you to be less overwhelmed and less stressed out, thus, enabling you to manage your depression. A leading stress researcher and chief of neuroendocrine immunology and behavior at the National Institute of Mental Health states, "Like email and email spam, a little stress is good, but too much is bad. You'll need to shut down and reboot."
13) Music: Music, by default, is a natural mood booster. Listening to upbeat and positive music can wipe out the bluest of the blue moods. Finnish researchers conducted a study to observe the effect of music on mental health One of their researchers, Professor Gold, stated the following, "Our trial has shown that music therapy, when added to standard care, including medication, psychotherapy and counseling, helps people improve their levels of depression and anxiety. Music therapy has specific qualities that allow people to express themselves and interact in a nonverbal way - even in situations when they cannot find the words to describe their inner experiences."
14) Nature: Spending time outdoors and breathing in fresh air can do wonders to both your physical as well as mental well-being. Taking a walk outside, gardening or just sipping a cup of tea outdoors can be very refreshing. Being outside causes you to shift your focus from your internal struggle to the scenery, people and natural elements. You are exposed to sunlight, which is a major plus. If you are exercising, you get a great workout and some definite mood boosting.
15) Aromatherapy: Research states that our olfactory response is directly related to the emotional center of our brain. Certain smells and scents tend to have a calming effect on our brain. Lighting some scented candles around the house cane soothing and uplift your mood. Studies have found smelling the pine scent can greatly uplift your mood and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.
16) Swimming: Water is a basic human need. Without it, humans cannot survive. Not drinking enough water also leads to depression studies state. Water is therapeutic for the human body. The simple act of taking a bath can be refreshing and clear your mind when you feel down in the dumps. Also, swimming is an effective hydrotherapy and greatly Enroll in swimming classes.
17) Wake Up Early: Does the morning rush get to you? Do you dread waking up in the mornings? Are morning times the most stressful? Do you feel a trigger of negativity in the morning rush hour? If you answered "yes," try waking up earlier than your usual time. You must think this suggestion makes no sense. After all, who would want to miss some extra minutes of sleep?
Well, waking up early has some great mental benefits. Have you heard the quote, 'Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise'? That is a true saying indeed. Researchers state that waking earlier than the usual time allows you to mentally prepare for the day and enjoy some moments of peace and quiet. Most importantly, it is associated with a sense of optimism and happiness.
18) Practicing Yoga: Practicing yoga exercises greatly improves mood, improves self-esteem and increases tolerance to pain. People suffering from depression have been found to have lower levels of serotonin. According to the Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, the serotonin in our brains plays a major role in mood enhancement and treatment of depression. According to Harvard Health, yoga lowers stress levels of individuals and improves their well-being.
19) Journaling Your thoughts: Penning your thoughts is a great way of expressing negativity and channeling them in a positive way. Writing down your negative thoughts helps you understand why you feel a certain way and what triggered you into thinking such thoughts. Also, releasing negativity helps you get a better understanding of yourself and the obstacles you face.
According to studies in the Journal Behavioral Therapy, writing greatly helps reduce symptoms of depression and improves mood.
20) Therapy: Seeking professional help and lightening your burden, according to studies, is a very effective way to deal with depression. A therapist will help you make informed choices and will give you fair and non-judgmental insights. Some individuals find it easier to talk to a therapist and share their burdens than talking to a relative or friend. In this fast-paced world, where people are caught up in their schedules, it's sometimes hard to find someone at the needed moment to share your problems with. In situations like this, visiting a therapist can help you get a new perspective on your situation and help you deal with your depressive thoughts. That's where betterhelp.com can help you.
Pills are not the only solution to help you deal with depression. Practising the above-mentioned strategies can help you lead a healthy life and overcome your feelings of depression.