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8 ways to prevent depression

Here is how you can save yourself from the clutches of depression effectively.

Many of us confuse a feeling of blue with chronic depression. While it is fine to feel low once in a while when stress takes a toll on you, chronic depression is a completely different ball game. It is a feeling of dejection, loneliness, helplessness that sets in a person due to an altered brain chemistry or function. Depression is a severe mental condition that needs medical intervention and doesn't go away with simple mood lifting activities. However, there is a lot that can be done to prevent depression or a relapse of it. Here goes the list:

#1 Make exercise a habit

If you are leading a sedentary lifestyle with limited or no physical activity, then it is no one s fault if you suffer from bouts of depression. This is because sweating out after a good workout or brisk walking in the park not only helps you burn calories but keeps your brain alive and active. In fact, exercise acts as a natural antidepressant by increasing your oxygen intake. A study pointed out that people who performed aerobic and non-aerobic exercises thrice a week for eight weeks at a stretch showed significant decrease in their depression scores irrespective of their choice of activity. Hence choose what suits you best -- jogging, walking, gym or aerobics and save yourself from falling prey to a mental illness. Know how exercising for 30 to 40 minutes a day can keep depression at bay.

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#2 Get enough sleep

A study published in the journal Sleep in 2005 states that insomniacs are 10 times more likely to suffer from depression as compared to their well-rested counterparts. Further studies indicate that disturbances in the circadian rhythm are responsible in triggering major mental illness by altering the chemical patterns in the brain. Though sleep deprivation is also thought to alter symptoms of depression, but its effect is short lived. Hence it is important to get at least eight hours of shut eye in the night to help the brain rest and rejuvenate. Moreover, melatonin secreted at night helps to balance the sleep-wake cycles that works towards preventing an onset of depression. Here are 12 amazing facts about sleep that you should be aware off.

#3 Cut down on sugar consumption

How sugar triggers depression is not yet known clearly. However there are certain studies that indicate excess sugar consumption increases one s chances to suffer from depression later in life. In fact, excessive sugar consumption is thought to directly impact the brain and lead to major depression. Another probable explanation given is that sugar consumption can also lead to oxidative stress that can hamper the brain s chemistry and set one up for depression. Here are nine things that excess sugar does to your body.

#4 Say no to alcohol

While occasional drinking or having a glass of wine a day can have its own set of health benefits. It is wise to stay away from alcohol if you have suffered from episodes of depression before or experience early signs of it. Since alcohol is known to be a mood-altering depressant drug, it can make a depressed person depend on it solely and lead to alcoholism. Know what the side effect of consuming excess alcohol.

#5 Eat foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids

What you eat go a long way to influence your brain. It is seen that reduced dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids is related to mood swings and other mental disorders. However, the studies aren t conclusive of the fact and are underway. But many trials have shown that providing patients suffering from depression with omega-3 supplements reduced their symptoms of depression to a great extent. So it makes sense to include foods like fish, nuts and eggs that are rich in omega-3 to save you from the clutches of depression. Also, according to a 2009 study in the Archives of General Psychiatry a Mediterranean-style diet, rich in veggies, fruits, nuts, whole grains, and fish, is linked to a lower risk of developing depression. Know why you need omega 3 fatty acids in your diet.

#6 Manage your stress levels effectively

If you feel too stressed out with your work, family or while managing your finances take conscious steps to reduce your stress levels. This is because stress is known to alter mood and lead to certain changes in the brain that could lead to mental disorders or depression. Here are five natural remedies to beat stress.

#7 Meditate regularly

Many studies indicate that meditation have a calmer effect on the brain. In fact non-directive meditation is thought to be more effective than focused meditation. The reason being, non-directive meditation significantly increases activity in the areas of the brain associated with emotions and memories that helps one to curb symptoms of depression and help to adapt well with the stress and strains of life.

#8 Go for counselling

If you feel that the blues are getting to you and coming in the way of leading a peaceful life, don t hesitate to get some professional help. The sooner your problem is diagnosed the better it is. If you don't wish to reach out for a support group right at the start, try confiding about your feelings to your loved ones or a trusted friend. This is because communicating about your troubles and connecting with people helps your brain to deal better with the situations and work for better solutions subconsciously.

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References

Martinsen, E. W., Hoffart, A., & Solberg, . (1989). Comparing aerobic with nonaerobic forms of exercise in the treatment of clinical depression: a randomized trial. Comprehensive Psychiatry, 30(4), 324-331.

Psychiatr Scand Suppl. 2013;(444):16-23. doi: 10.1111/acps.12175. Review. Erratum in: Acta Psychiatr Scand Suppl. 2014 Sep;130(3):240. PubMed PMID: 23909693.

Westover, A. N. and Marangell, L. B. (2002), A cross-national relationship between sugar consumption and major depression?. Depress. Anxiety, 16: 118 120. doi: 10.1002/da.10054

1: Ross BM, Seguin J, Sieswerda LE. Omega-3 fatty acids as treatments for mental illness: which disorder and which fatty acid? Lipids Health Dis. 2007 Sep18;6:21. Review. PubMed PMID: 17877810; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2071911.

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