Last updated on November 28th, 2023.
5 Ways to Manage Depression
Feeling blue over the last few days? Not finding any way out of the gloomy world of depression? You are not alone. Depression is a state of mind that everyone goes through at least once in a lifetime.
Failures in life, the death of loved ones, serious illnesses or other personal problems cause depression in millions of people. While some depressive disorders are serious enough to warrant therapy to overcome them, the common depressions can be managed by doing some simple things on your own.
Here are 5 most effective ways to manage depression in your life.
Exercising for 15-20 minutes or going for a brisk walk for about half an hour will do wonders in improving your mood making you feel better. The reason behind this is the release of the hormone serotonin. This hormone gets released with increased flow of oxygen in the blood, which is an effect of the physical activities like walking or exercising. Walking also helps in releasing oxytocin, which is the hormone released during lovemaking or bonding and is known to free the mind of worries and anxieties.
Set small goals
A major impact of depression is the loss of confidence in one’s self. People who are depressed may feel that they cannot accomplish anything in life and are nothing more than failures.
This negative self-image can be mitigated by taking on responsibilities and setting small goals which can be achieved. With these small accomplishments, the depressing thoughts will slowly fade away. Setting goals like doing the laundry or cooking a meal are good enough to begin with. As you start meeting these goals, confidence levels start building up again and you would find depression taking a back seat gradually.
Switch to a healthy diet
While there is no evidence that those hamburgers and hotdogs play any role in making one depressed, there is ample evidence that eating healthy foods can lift one out of a state of depression. Foods containing folic acid (avocado and spinach) and omega-3 fatty acids (tuna or salmon) are good anti-depressants and regular consumption of these can help to a great extent in fighting depression.
Combat the negative thoughts
This might sound difficult at the beginning, but at some point of time, you need to confront the negative thoughts. Running away from them would pull you deep in the dungeons of depression.
You need to think what is causing the depression and what’s the best that you can do to get out of the slump you’re in. Many times, self-analysis can eliminate negative thoughts which in turn will boost your low morale. If you feel that you are a failure, you need to ask what makes you think so. Finding an answer to this would open the floodgates of solutions to prove your worth and succeed in life once again.
Take prescription medicines
If you feel that doing any of the common things is not helping you come out of depression, you would need to consult a psychotherapist for help. Taking prescribed doses of antidepressant pills will certainly help you come out of the depression. However, as these medications have certain side effects like loss of libido or weight gain, one should refrain from taking them as much as possible.
Being Aware Of the Signs and Symptoms of Depression
The first signs of depression start showing within two weeks of feeling sad and miserable for most people. People suffering from depression usually start by losing interest in day-to-day activities and some or most of the early depression signs mentioned below.
Changes in Behavior
Behavior is greatly affected when a person is depressed and this shows in his/her behavioral changes such as:
- Withdrawal from close friends and family members
- Not stepping out of the house anymore
- Not paying attention to completing work at school/office
- Growing dependence on sedatives and alcohol
- Not being able to concentrate
- Not engaging in fun activities
These are easily noticeable to friends and family members. In case someone in the family or friends circle is showing such behavioral changes immediate action must be taken in order to get the patient out of depression.
How Thoughts Are Affected
The following thoughts commonly occur in people suffering from depression:
- That the person is a total failure
- That the person is at fault
- That nothing good happens to the person
- That the person is of no worth
- That people around him/her are better off without the person
- That life is not worth living
These initial signs trigger depression and can lead the person into taking drastic steps and they may even develop suicidal tendencies.
Symptoms of depression
The symptoms of depression are different for each individual, but some symptoms are common. One must note that such symptoms may vary from individual to individual and the prominence of the symptoms will depend on how deeply the person is affected by depression.
- Change in Weight and Appetite:
The person may gain or lose weight significantly and the will also show a dramatic change in appetite. The body weight will change by over 5 per cent within a month.
- Change in Sleep Pattern
The person will either be oversleeping or will suffer from insomnia, especially staying awake till early morning.
- Evident Anger
The person will also show symptoms of being agitated all the time, at times he/she may even be violent or restless. The person will have low tolerance level and short temper, and anything/anyone will get on his/her nerves.
- Physical Fatigue
Depression may also cause the person to feel sluggish and drained out physically. The entire body will feel heavy with exhaustion in completing even small tasks.
- Pain That Cannot Be Explained
The person will complain of pain in the back, headaches, muscular pain and pain in the stomach-none of which can be explained medically.
Depression symptoms for every gender and age also vary and include the following:
- When women are depressed
Women will show signs of feeling guilty, overeating, excessive sleep and weight gain. Women who are depressed also get affected by hormonal factors at the time of pregnancy, menstruation and menopause.
- When men are depressed
Men will not try to acknowledge hopelessness and self-loathing feelings. They will however, complain about physical problems like sleep issues, irritability, fatigue and losing interest in hobbies or work. Aggression, substance abuse and reckless behavior are common in men dealing with depression.
- When teenagers are depressed
Agitation and irritability are most noticeable in teens. They don’t show symptoms of sadness. Teens may also complain about physical problems like stomach aches and headaches.
If one or more signs or symptoms of depression are noticeable, it is best to support the person by talking to them and getting to the root of their problems. If that does not work, one should immediately opt for medical assistance before things get out of hand.
Understanding the Causes of depression
Depression is a psychological disorder which is common, especially in this day and age. Millions of people all around the world suffer from this problem and they feel sad, helpless, worthless, pessimistic and guilty during the time of depression.
Approximately 19 million Americans suffer from depression at some point in their lives. With this high incidence rate, it is necessary that we should all know the causes of depression so that proper precautions can be applied earlier to prevent it from developing.
Despite many studies being conducted, no one has been able to pinpoint an exact cause of depression. There are risk factors that have been linked with the onset of depression and these are the ones we should be aware of.
Some theories state that chemical changes that occur in the brain are one of the most common causes of depression. These chemicals which are known as the neurotransmitters are responsible for carrying signals to and from the nerves and brain.
When there is an imbalance in the production of these chemicals, depression occurs.
One’s family history is also a factor because depression could be hereditary. People with relatives who have been stricken with depression have higher chances of developing the condition themselves. There is a possibility that depression can run in families for generations.
Stress and trauma are two of the leading factors that cause depression. This happens especially to people who have low emotional intelligence. Also, those who can’t easily cope with problems are at higher risk.
Common problems that can lead to stress and depression are relationship break-ups, financial problems, death of a loved one, losing one’s job, etc. People who bottle up their emotions and keep their problems to themselves are also at risk of depression compared to those who open up their problems to friends or family members.
People with a pessimistic disposition and who always think negatively are at higher risk for developing depression. The same applies to those who have low self-esteem.
Psychological disorders such as schizophrenia, eating disorders, substance abuse and anxiety often develop depression as a result because of the chemical imbalances in the brain.
There are some medical conditions that are known to contribute to depression, such as cancer, HIV, and heart disease. This is mainly because these conditions can cause stress and physical weakness in the affected person. In some cases, medications that are used to treat physical conditions can cause depression as a side effect. This especially applies medications that act directly on the chemicals in the brain.
So far, these are the known risk factors and causes of depression. It is vital that if you are suffering from these symptoms that you seek treatment at once. This condition is a very serious illness but can be treated with proper and early treatment.
When choosing a method of treatment, choose one that is safe doesn’t have harsh side effects. With the right treatment, you can decrease the impact that depression has on you and you can live a rewarding life.
Discover How Your Diet Helps to Prevent Depression
There are two very popular sayings. “We are what we eat” and “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Unequivocally, the food that we eat or don’t eat has a significant effect on our body when it comes to depression and anxiety.
In the article below you will find ways to control depression by avoiding, reducing or controlling the foods that boosts depression. Depression affects our work life and sometimes also our nervous system. Eating vitamin B foods will help in reducing the depression and gives a calming effect.
The following things can serve an ideal food structure to your diet:
Consume meat, seafood, poultry and items made from soybeans such as eggs, cheese, and tofu. These foods should make up thirty percent of your diet.
Make sure thirty percent of your diet includes potatoes, asparagus, broccoli, peanuts, watermelon, legumes, and oranges.
The remaining forty percent should comprise of whole grains, wheat, rice, oatmeal, and bread.
Get complete sleep.
The food items mentioned above will help in balancing your body and reducing depression. You should get plenty of sleep as well. An irregular sleep pattern leads to many problems in our daily life and depression is one of them.
Lack of sleep negatively affects your emotional health and disturbs you physically and this may trigger depression to high level. So get proper food and also get plenty of sleep. Your body needs proper sleep to rejuvenate and recuperate during night so that you are fresh and can function all the day.
Channel your views and thoughts
You should only think about things that brings you happiness and joy. Try to channel your thoughts to think about positive things like good and inspiring people, places that you like, events you would like to attend and so on. (If you’d like to dive deeper into the study of positivity check out our article on What is Positive Psychology)
Given below are three foods that you should avoid consuming because they’ll affect your depression adversely.
Alcohol affects your sleep patterns and while it may seem to make your problems disappear temporarily, when you become sober, you’ll feel worse. If you cannot avoid alcohol completely you should cut it down gradually until zero.
The consumption of caffeine is one more trigger to depression. It is known as a stimulant and increases heart rate. Just like alcohol avoiding caffeine may incite depression and you may get the ‘shakes’ or feel irritable.
For people who love coffee try having decaffeinated coffee. Gradually with time, try reducing the strength of your coffee and the frequency of consumption. This also applies to other caffeinated drinks like tea, cola and chocolates.
The most important thing that you should avoid is sugar. Sugar consists of negligible nutrients and is fully loaded with calories. Now you may be wondering, “How is sugar related to depression?”
To answer your question, sugar creates hyperactivity in individuals. This will cause emotional imbalances that may lead to depression. Sugar also triggers mood swings. The sugar from the carbohydrates and starch which we eat when digested leads to fermentation and then is broken down to alcohol. This alcohol that is formed is no different from the alcohol that you purchase from liquor store.
Just by following the tips in this article and cleaning up your diet, you’ll help to reduce your depression and keep it at bay.
Does Exercise Help Ease Depression?
When you are suffering from depression, exercise seems like the last thing on your mind. However, if you can just motivate yourself to get started, it can create a huge difference. Exercise helps to prevent various health conditions such as diabetes, arthritis and high blood pressure. Research on depression indicates that the physical and psychological benefits of exercise can improve mood and reduce anxiety.
How Does Exercise Help Depression?
The links between depression, anxiety and exercise are not crystal clear. However, working out and other forms of physical exercise have been shown to ease the symptoms of depression and leave you feeling better. Working out regularly can help to reduce depression in the following ways.
- Confidence booster
Meeting exercise challenges and goals, regardless of how big or small they are, can improve your self-confidence. Getting in shape can also improve your physical appearance while leaving you feeling good.
- Keep worries away
Physical activity and exercise, is a positive form of distraction. It can keep away the cycle of negative thoughts, which feed depression and anxiety. In addition to that, every time you feel low, just hit the gym and you will feel reinvigorated.
- It provides a platform for social interaction
Exercising may give you an opportunity to meet and socialize with others. As you do your morning jog or head to the gym, chances are very high that others will join you. Exchanging a simple greeting or even a smile can lift your spirits.
- Healthy way of coping
People cope with depression in different ways. Some will abuse drugs and drown their sorrows in alcohol. This just worsens the problem. Alcohol is not a long-term solution to anything. The depression will be back as soon as you are sober. On the other hand, physical activity and exercise will help you to cope with the depression in a healthy way.
Which exercises are recommended?
Most people believe that structured exercises are the only option. However, any form of physical activity, including light walking can boost your mood. Exercise and physical activity are different but they both have long-lasting health benefits.
Exercising does not mean running laps round the gym. There is a wide range of exercises that can improve your mood, without stretching yourself too much. Although lifting weights, running, playing basketball and yoga (wondering can you lose weight doing yoga? check out that article to find out!) can get your heart pumping and ease your depression, simple activities like gardening, washing your car and walking around your home can also help.
Any physical activity that gets you out of the house can help to improve your mood. Remember that you don’t have to do all the exercises in a single day. Just spread them out throughout the week. Incorporate smaller activities into your daily schedule. For example, instead of using the elevator, take the stairs. Park further from your workplace so that you can walk a longer distance. If you live close to your workplace, just walk.
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Doing a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise per day, for at least 3 times per week can improve your mood and significantly reduce your depression symptoms. The health benefits of physical activity and exercise will only last if you stick to a schedule for a long time. Once you choose an exercise you love, you will never feel pushed to exercise.