Currently, in the United States, approximately 20 million adults have depression. Those who struggle with major depression have a mood disorder that affects their mental health and their physical health. The symptoms of major depression are sadness, becoming withdrawn, isolation, inability to concentrate, weight loss or gain, self-hate, loss of interest in activities, nervousness, thoughts of suicide, and more.
Depression can stem from physiological factors such as an imbalance in serotonin neurotransmitters, an over or underactive thyroid, as well as genetics. Other common symptoms of depression can begin after someone experiences a stressful event, such as death, unemployment, divorce, and legal problems.
Less stressful events can also accumulate and cause depression. Along with a major depression diagnosis, there are also other categories of depression which also have a physiological basis. These include dysthymia, postpartum depression, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, and seasonal affective disorder.
The most important step a person needs to make if they think they are depressed is to be evaluated by a mental health professional. Aside from seeking care from a mental health practitioner, there are numerous ways to treat depression naturally that have been proven to be very effective. Whether you’re searching for a therapist in Delray Beach or anywhere in the country, many mental health professionals are able to help through individual therapy sessions along with online counseling from the comfort of home.
Eating Healthy as a Routine
One important factor that can easily balance a person’s mood is to implement a regular routine of healthy eating. The key words here are eating-healthy and routine. Our bodies depend on us to provide it with proper nutrition for it to function at its very best. Our bodies will, if provided the best sources of nutrients, then regulate our chemical neurotransmitters and other physiological functions that greatly affect our mental state and will improve our mood.
Eating healthy means getting plenty of B vitamins through food sources that have high amounts of protein, reducing and or eliminating sugars, eating whole foods that are plant based, drinking plenty of water and eliminating caffeine. Caffeine causes anxiety which then increases depression. Studies have shown that if a person eliminates caffeine from their diet depression is less likely to worsen and will enable a person to sleep better.
Designating specific times to eat in the form of a healthy eating routine is also a major factor that will help your body regulate hormones and sugar levels to prevent mental and mood crashes. By eating at nearly the same times throughout the day the physical body learns to expect food at certain times and therefore will perform better. Haven’t you ever noticed that when you start to feel hungry your mind often begins to race to cause nervousness? This is a sign that your body is signaling to your mind that it needs nutrition. A healthy eating routine will also help a person get the right amount of sleep.
Getting Regular Sleep
Sleep deprivation or insomnia are major symptoms of many depressive mood disorders. By setting a designated amount of time to sleep every night, our bodies like with food, learn to expect when these events occur and if we provide it to them then our bodies perform at their best. A regular and healthy amount of sleep means 7-8 hours every night. Too much sleep is also harmful as our bodies may become hungry causing more feelings of exhaustion. Therefore, set a regular time to go to bed and to get up so you can feed your body and not feel tired.
Science has proven that getting around 8 hours of sleep per night will help combat and relieve depression. However, starting a habit of getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night does not happen quickly. Our bodies are like robots that continually repeat patterns that it adjusts to. Research has shown that to create or break a habit, especially with how much or how little sleep you are getting, is that it takes approximately 6 weeks for the body to learn a new pattern or habit. One way to assist this process is by getting plenty of exercise. While 8 hours of sleep seems to be ideal, in the end, other studies show that it varies. It’s always best to listen to your body and if you feel like you’ve had a good night’s sleep, then that’s surely the case!
Exercise improves the functioning of our bodies and most importantly our emotions. Depression thrives when a person does not naturally make enough serotonin or endorphins. Exercise builds up these levels and allows for relief from uncomfortable emotions and stress. Using exercise to improve our moods also improves our self-esteem. Exercise not only makes us feel better it gives us a sense of accomplishment.
By setting a goal of exercising several days a week, a person can expect to see other areas of their lives improve as our motivation to do more has improved- because we are exercising. Additionally, exercise can be fun. Taking a class or participating in a sport with others will also enhance feelings of belonging and improve our levels of commitment to their mental health. Both are positive assets that regular exercise can provide.
People who have been diagnosed with depression commonly lack behaviors that include eating healthy foods regularly, sleeping approximately 8 hours a night and not exercising. By improving these three areas of our lives, people struggling with depression will certainly feel better.