Depression is a complex condition that psychologists and researchers are still working to understand. The good news, though, is that there are several options for how to fight depression. Whether you want to try natural remedies before trying medications or your medication could use a boost, try these tips.
Movement helps your boost the brain’s dopamine levels to make endorphins. These feel-good chemicals have long-term benefits to fight depression. You need to exercise regularly to make the most of these happy endorphins.
Don’t worry you don’t need to run marathons to feel good. You should exercise at least 30 minutes five times a week. You can choose something you enjoy like walking, dance classes, aerobics, swimming, or playing tennis.
Be sure you do something you enjoy so you can stick with it. Get a workout partner for even more encouragement.
2. Improve Your Diet
Your diet has a direct impact on your health and mood. You should reduce the amount of sweets you eat. These sweets will make you feel good for a short period of time but will then make your mood worsen as the blood sugar drops.
Another two things you should avoid are alcohol and caffeine. Caffeine will boost your energy for short term, and alcohol relaxes you short term. With short term fixes, you can worsen anxiety, depression, mood swings, and your sleep cycle.
Let’s talk about things you should eat. You should get vitamin B6 that helps produce the serotonin and dopamine, which are both “feel good” chemicals.
Magnesium is also good for serotonin production. You can get magnesium in nuts, whole grains, green vegetables, and legumes.
Other things you need in your diet include:
- Healthy fats (coconut oil, avocados)
- Omega-3 fatty acids (salmon, herring, mackerel)
- Protein (you need a high protein diet)
It’s important to try to get rid of processed foods in your diet. That prepackaged food is not good for you. You should try to eat more whole, natural food.
Want to have a treat? It’s okay to treat yourself occasionally. Remember it’s about moderation.
3. Take the Right Supplements
There are so many supplements out there that it can be rather overwhelming to figure out which ones to take. Be sure you talk to your physician before you start taking any supplements to discuss side effects.
Here are some supplements to consider:
- 5-HTP 50-300 mg up to three times/day
- St. John’s Wort 300mg three times/day
- SAMe 200mg on an empty stomach twice/day
- L-Theanine 100-600mg daily
- Fish oil (DHA/EPA) 1-3 g/day with food
If you feel extra tired or have any other side effects, you should update your dosage. Ask your physician what is the right dosage for your age and health condition.
4. Identify Any Underlying Conditions
Sometimes a person may have an underlying condition that makes the depression feel worse. For example, if you have any conditions like nutrient deficiencies, hypothyroidism, Crohn’s disease, or adrenal fatigue, these conditions can make you depressed.
If you try to fight depression with no luck, you should go see a functional or integrative doctor to see if there is an underlying problem. You should get a complete blood count, check your thyroid, a metabolic profile, and any other test the doctor recommends.
Hormone imbalances can also cause mood problems. Talk to your doctor about any other changes you notice in your body to see if something is off balance.
5. Light Therapy
It’s not uncommon for people to get depression in the winter when the days are short and dark. You can combat seasonal affective disorder with light therapy. You sit by a brightly lit box to recreate outdoor light.
This therapy will start with smaller daily sessions about 15 minutes long and can increase up to two hours a day. This therapy doesn’t cure depression, but it can help ease the symptoms especially in the winter.
Light therapy can be expensive. Check with your health insurance. It may be covered if your doctor recommends light therapy for treatment.
Try taking brisk walks in the morning to get regular exposure to outdoor light. It can help your sleep/wake cycle even when it is cold outside.
6. Talk to Someone
Sometimes the best way to feel better is to talk it out with someone you trust. You can see a therapist, life coach, or psychiatrist just to express your feelings.
You can tell the doctor you would rather not take anti-depressants. He or she may offer you some ways to cope with your depression, anxiety, and stress.
Be sure you do your research and ask for referrals. You want to find a professional that helps you feel better, not worse.
7. Reduce Stress
Depression is a type of stress disorder. Our bodies can’t manage the stress properly. Take time to check for stressful situations in your life. Look at your stress inventory, and see what you can change.
You need to find some ways to help deal with this stress. You can take yoga, deep breathing, prayer, massages, and meditation to deal with stress. Experiment with various coping mechanisms and see what helps.
How to Fight Depression Final Thoughts
Remember that depression is an illness. You aren’t flawed if you suffer from depression.
Take time to figure out the things you enjoy and find ways to manage your stress. Improve your diet. Get out and exercise.
There are many ways you can fight depression to feel better. Sometimes you may need additional help and that’s okay. If you or a loved one suffer from depression, you should not take it lightly.
Talk to your doctor to come up with the best course of action for you. Not everyone is the same, so what works for Sally may not work for you.
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