According to the Department of Psychiatry at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, of the estimated 17.5 million Americans who are affected by some form of depression, 9.2 million have major or clinical depression and two-thirds do not seek proper treatment (www.psychiatry.wustl.edu/depression/depression_facts.htm). Depression is a major culprit in the factor of “lost years of healthy life”. In addition to the risk of suicide, which is the tenth leading cause of death among American people who suffer from depression often suffer from poor diet.
Recovery and PreventionNo one recovers from depression overnight. American actress Patty Duke summed up recovering from depression nicely when she shared, “My recovery from manic depression has been an evolution, not a sudden miracle.” Sadly there are some who never fully recover from depression. However just because others never recover does not mean all hope is completely lost. There are steps that you can take steps to help prevent depression from returning, or perhaps even occurring at all. Here are some healthy ways that you can prevent depression in your life.
- Brain Training - Spending time on activities like completing puzzles such as sudoku and crosswords can boost your cognitive abilities. Solving problems in the games not only provides you with the chance to increase your mental agility, but also helps promote feelings of accomplishments and self-worth.
- Avoid Stress - Avoid taking on too much. When you are overwhelmed with things to do and people who rely on you, then you are more likely to feel stressed out which is a precursor for anxiety, a form of depression. If you already suffer from depression, stress could worsen the symptoms.
- Visit Your Family Doctor - Regular visits to your family doctor increase your chances of maintaining good health. The mind is connected to the body, and when your body is in prime physical condition then you have a better chance at preventing feelings of depression.
- Continue with Therapy - Even after you stop feeling depressed, continuing with therapy can help prevent future episodes of depression. Your therapist may recognize symptoms or patterns that you could overlook. They may also be able to prescribe prescriptions or other therapies as needed to prevent a relapse into depression.
- Quit the Blame Game - If you constantly look at your past and berate yourself for mistakes, then it is time to stop. Forgiveness comes from within, and the first positive step you can take towards a healthy future is to forgive yourself for anything that happened in your past.
- Avoid Drugs and Alcohol - Illegal drugs and alcoholic beverages lead to lower amounts of serotonin and dopamine, two important neurotransmitters that act as natural mood lifters. While some people can manage to have a drink socially, others avoid it completely. Talk to your therapist about what’s best for you.
- Exercise - Regular exercise is a natural depression fighter. Exercise helps boost cardio which gives you more energy. It also produces endorphins that function as a natural antidepressant that lifts bad moods and other dark feelings.
- Get Enough Sleep - As with diet and exercise, poor sleep habits can also lead to depression. Getting sufficient rest offers a natural way for your body to recharge for whatever lies ahead. When your body and mind are too tired to function, then it makes it easier to fall into a depressed state.
- Healthy Diet - A diet that is low in fat but rich in omega-3s is not only important for lessening the risk of things like heart disease, but is also essential to opitmal cognitive function. Cut the caffeine and replace sugary snacks with fruits, vegetables, and nuts for even more benefits.