The world is a scary place, with domestic and international terrorism events, mass shootings, unrest and volatility. Many people have decided to stay close to home – no more venturing out for the activities they once enjoyed in such public venues like sports stadiums, or even fireworks shows. Others have stopped crossing exotic locales off their bucket list, as they fear traveling to foreign countries.
While many of us can accept that this is the world in which we live now, still others have their own personal demons, so today’s current events only exacerbate an underlying condition like depression. While some people strive to keep a disorder like depression to themselves, others elect to see a doctor for psychotherapy, and/or take medication to help them keep their life in balance. Unfortunately, medication is not always the answer for one who has symptoms of depression, and, it is important that the medication be tailored specifically to them, and the medicine-taking regimen be strictly adhered to. For example, going off the medication on a whim or under-dosing of the prescribed meds might cause emotional problems; on the other hand, overdosing is equally problematic. We are all too aware of the statistics on drug-induced accidents, violence, or even suicide, as a result of prescription drug-taking gone horribly wrong.
If you, or a loved one suffer from symptoms of depression, there are some helpful tips that may help to get someone back on track naturally, without the use of prescription medications. Of course, if you are under a doctor’s care for depression, be sure to discuss these alternatives with your doctor.
Beat depression naturally
Some depression sufferers find it hard to get out of bed in the morning, let alone put one foot after the other. But, did you know that undertaking an exercise regimen, and moving your body, will help to release endorphins, endocannabinoids and neurotransmitters, all of which are feel-good brain chemicals which act like natural anti-depressants to ease depression? You have probably heard of the expression “a runner’s high” which merely describes that feeling of euphoria induced by distance running. It is a phenomenon known to all runners, not just Olympic athletes, or Boston Marathon participants – it is felt by the weekend runner too, and is described as an elevated state of mind. Reducing those immune system chemicals that tend to worsen depression, plus the increased body temperature from engaging in strength exercise, all contribute to a calming effect.
But, please note that you don’t have to be a marathon- runner or weekend warrior, to enjoy that natural high. Research on anxiety, depression and exercise demonstrates that the psychological and physical benefits of any exercise will help to reduce anxiety and improve mood, and, sustaining an exercise regimen will help keep anxiety and depression at bay, once you’re feeling better.
Remember that exercise and physical activities are great ways to ease anxiety or symptoms of depression, but, do not use them as a substitute for your doctor’s visits, or instead of your medication.
Other natural factors in reducing depression
Monitoring what you eat is very important in reducing or eliminating depression. First of all, never skip any meals, keeping your blood sugar at a stable level reduces mood swings. If you are taking the anti-depressant Prozac, its purpose is to increase the serotonin levels in the brain. But, you can increase those levels naturally by eating certain foods. If you eat a serotonin-enhancing diet it can mimic Prozac’s benefits.
Serotonin enhancing foods
- Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids (such as wild salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel, and anchovies);
- Foods containing folic acid (such as spinach and avocado)
- Healthy fats like coconut oil.
You will want to avoid caffeine which can reduce serotonins, since you are striving to boost your serotonin level. Additionally, try to eat a high-protein diet, especially proteins high in tryptophan, like free-range turkey.
Get enough sleep, while depression often makes it difficult to get enough sleep, too little sleep can make depression worse. If you’ve undertaken an exercise regimen, as suggested above, that additional movement and exercise in your day will help to alleviate sleeping difficulties, as you’ll be more tired. The key is also to develop a daily routine or regimen, because adhering to a structured agenda in the day, lends itself to a schedule where sleep is factored in. Eliminate taking naps during the day and trying to get to bed at the same time daily helps depressed people have less problems falling asleep. One of the first signs of depression is the inability to sleep, or insomnia, while about 15% of persons who suffer with depression either oversleep or sleep too much. Lack of sleep is a factor in contributing to depression.
Hopefully these tips to tackle depression naturally through exercise, diet and sleep will be of some benefit to you or a loved one.