In the United States, major depression is one of the most common mental health disorders. An estimated 16.1 million adults over age 18 had at least one major depressive episode in 2015, according to a recent study. This represents 6.7 percent of the total U.S. population.
If you or a loved one is dealing with major depression, you know that this disorder can have wide-ranging symptoms. However, there are also a range of treatments and management techniques. Here are 8 ways to help you stand up to depression:
1. Stay active
Regular exercise can raise levels of brain neurotransmitters like serotonin, noradrenaline, dopamine and endorphins. Because major depression can cause a decrease in these brain chemicals, exercise can boost them back to a more regular level.
You don’t have to hit the gym, either. Taking a short walk outside or riding a stationary bike can also give your brain a kick.
2. Be mindful
Engaging in mindfulness meditation practice can help improve symptoms of anxiety and depression, according to a 2014 analysis. Try starting with just five or ten minutes of meditation a day to see if the technique works for you.
3. Go outside
Just getting sunlight will increase vitamin D levels in the body, which can boost your mood. According to a Stanford study, taking a 90-minute walk can improve mental health and reduce the risk of depression. Other medical studies have shown that spending time outdoors in nature can decrease stress and lower your blood pressure.
4. Connect with friends
When people are feeling depressed, they tend to shut themselves away and isolate themselves from family and friends. Unfortunately, isolation can increase feelings of loneliness and depression – and make you feel worse. Here are a few simple ways to be more social:
• Meet face-to-face. “Face time” is better than just texting or talking on the phone.
• Try volunteering. Giving back is an effective and productive way to brighten your mood.
• Reconnect with others. Try reaching out to an old friend or loved one you haven’t spoken with recently.
• Schedule a weekly coffee date. Making it a regular, recurring event will make it more likely that you’ll keep at it. Plus, you’ll always have something to look forward to.
5. Do things you like (even if you don’t feel like it)
One of the most insidious aspects of depression is the way that it drains the pleasure out of activities that you used to enjoy. Fight back and break the cycle by persevering. Consider:
• Working outside in the garden
• Writing, making art and playing music (studies have shown these can boost your mood)
• Reading books
• Playing sports or watching them in person
• Visiting places you enjoy, like a museum, the beach or an art gallery
6. Get enough sleep
One of the best ways to improve your mood is to get eight hours of sleep each night. Missing sleep can lead to all kinds of problems, such as reduced work performance and a decline in mood and brain function – both of which can increase the symptoms of depression.
Practice good “sleep hygiene,” too. Maintain a regular sleep routine, avoid drinking caffeine or eating heavy foods close to bedtime, and make sure your bedroom is cool and comfortable.
7. Eat well
Even if you don’t feel like eating, it’s important that you don’t skip meals. Going without a meal can negatively affect your brain and body. In addition, make sure that you get your vitamins, especially vitamin B, which can help minimize depression symptoms. Some studies have also linked diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids to improved mood.
8. Seek out a therapist
You shouldn’t face major depression alone. If you’re facing serious symptoms, your best bet it to seek the help of a medical professional.
For a more involved, personalized advice and information about therapy sessions, along with treatment options contact Balance Treatment Center.
Balance programs include a fully licensed primary mental health residential center located in Calabasas and intensive outpatient programs in both Calabasas and San Luis Obispo. The team at Balance believes it’s important to open a dialogue and engage with family members of those suffering. By working together with other professionals in the industry to share innovations and collaborate on ideas, Balance continues the work to end the stigma of mental illness.
For more information, visit them online at BalanceTreatment.com or give them a call at (855) 414-8100.
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