Few things are most discouraging than feeling sad and “down” when everyone else seems to be having great time. Whether you’re simply having a few days of the blues or you’ve been feeling moody and under the weather for months, depression can be devastating, affecting your relationships, your job, and your life.
Feelings of depression are incredibly common. It’s twice as common in women, although women are more likely than men to be able to pull themselves out of depression over time. You can’t stop depression entirely. After all, life doesn’t always go smoothly, and there are going to be days when you won’t want to get out of bed in the morning.
Doctors have found that it’s often not the depression itself that’s the biggest problem but now you respond to it. By tackling depression head on – by staying active, eating right, and doing your best to keep a positive mental attitude – it’s often possible to keep it under control or even prevent it entirely.
Get plenty of B vitamins . Researchers have found that people who don’t get enough B vitamins, especially vitamin B12, are particularly prone to depression. This can be real problem in the elderly, since doctors estimate that about one in ten people over age sixty may have mood problems caused by low levels of this vital nutrient. The B vitamin helps your body metabolize amino acids, which can help increase the levels of the “feel-good” chemicals in the brain.
You can get a lot of B vitamins simply by eating a well-rounded, nutritious diet that includes a lot of grains, fruits, and vegetable and that is low in sugars and fats. In addition, doctors often recommend taking a B-complex multivitamin, especially if your age forty or older.
Take the herbal route . Researchers have now found that a number of herbs, such as St. John’s Wort (basant), chamomile (babunah), and kava, can help change your natural chemistry, making you less prone to depression. In fact, doctors have found that St. John’s Wort may be as effective as some prescription drugs for treating depression.
The easiest way to use herbs is to buy them in dried, bulk form at natural food stores and brew them up to make a tea. Herbal supplements are also very effective, although you’ll want to talk to your doctor to find out what dose will be most effective for you.
Be as active as possible. Regular exercise has been shown to be one of the most powerful anti-depression remedies there are. When you exercise, your body produces large amounts of endorphins, natural chemicals that relieve your feelings of sadness and boost feelings of comfort and well-being. It doesn’t take a lot of exercise to release these chemicals. Taking a walk several times a week, riding a bike, or swimming for twenty to thirty minutes may be all it takes to flood your body with these mood-lifters. Most people find that within a week or two of starting an exercise routine they feel happier and more energetic and sleep better.
Keep in touch with your friends . It’s hard to be social when you’re feeling down. But spending time with friends is one of the best ways to beat depression. Even if you’re just meeting people after work or going to the movies, regular social interactions will help you feel like you’re not alone, and this is crucial when you’re trying to beat the blues.
Write it down . Keeping a journal is an excellent way to stay in touch with your feelings. It can give you a better sense of things that are dragging you down – as well as lifting you up. Sometimes just expressing your emotions will help you feel a whole lot better.
Accept compromise . Many of the people who are depressed engage in what doctors call “all-or-nothing” thinking, believing that everything must go absolutely perfectly. This type of thinking can make you feel as though you’re always failing. It’s important to recognize that life is almost never all-or-nothing – that there are many shades of gray in everything we do. The more you put things in context, the less likely you’ll be to get depressed when things don’t go entirely your way. Of course, this is easy to say but some times hard to do.
Take inventory of the medicine chest . Many of the prescription drugs, including some that are taken for high blood pressure, glaucoma, and heart problems, can cause depression in some people. When your mood just doesn’t seem to be getting better, make a list of all the medications you’re taking and call your doctor. There may be a chemical reason that you’re feeling low, and changing medications may be all you need to improve your mood again.