Several lifestyle factors are crucial in the management of depression; here are some of the most useful:
Stop smoking! There are many therapies you can use to help you quit, but the most important is for YOU to make the decision to quit. All attempts to quit smoking will fail unless YOU have committed yourself whole-heartedly, 100% to quitting because YOU want to.
Once you make that decision, there are several things you can do to help the body rid itself of the toxins that make you want to smoke. One that has worked very well for many of our clients is the 3-Day Liver Detoxification. This will help your body eliminate the physiological need for nicotine and jump start you on the road to being smoke-free.
Individuals with depression must avoid alcohol. Alcohol is a brain depressant. It also increases adrenal hormone output, interferes with many brain cell processes, and disrupts normal sleep cycles. Alcohol ingestion also leads to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). The resultant drop in blood sugar produces a craving for sugar because it can quickly elevate blood sugar. Unfortunately, increased sugar consumption ultimately aggravates the hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia aggravates the mental and emotional problems of the drinker and can increase the need/urge to smoke or use tobacco, creating a vicious cycle that can be hard to stop.
Ditch Soda and Caffeine
Caffeine, especially when it is consumed with refined sugar has a strong association with depression. Many people that use caffeine do so for the increase in mental focus and to combat fatigue. This is understandable, especially if you are also struggling to get good quality sleep. However, using caffeine regularly also sets up a pattern that causes further neurotransmitter depletion, making the underlying problem worse. Yes, you will most likely be pretty grumpy and/or irritable when you come off caffeine and you might not feel the greatest; but that is simply a sign that your body is detoxing from the negative effects of caffeine withdrawal. If needed during this time, use green tea (there are lots of flavors to choose from; if you are a coffee drinking, look for Earl Grey Green Tea) to get you a little caffeine boost.
Exercise and Depression
Regular exercise may be the most powerful antidepressant available. Various community and clinical studies have clearly indicated that exercise has profound anti-depressive effects. These studies have shown that increased participation in exercise, sports, and physical activities is strongly associated with decreased symptoms of anxiety (restlessness, tension, etc.), depression (feelings that life is not worthwhile, low spirits, etc.), and malaise (feeling rundown, insomnia, etc.).
Getting enough natural light can be an important adjunctive therapy to help ease, eliminate and prevent depression. Bright lights stimulate the production of serotonin within hours, helping to balance neurotransmitters and decrease symptoms of depression. Several studies have shown that there is a positive correlation between hours of sunlight exposure and serotonin synthesis in the brain and bright light has been shown to be beneficial for the treatment of both seasonal and non-seasonal depression, as well as other depressive disorders. Thus, getting sufficient light on a daily basis could be another key to helping you balance your neurotransmitter levels and elevate your mood.
Stress is one of the major causes of neurotransmitter imbalance, and is a very common trigger for depression. Therefore, establishing a regular stress management routine can dramatically reduce the frequency and severity of depression. Experiment with a variety of different stress reduction techniques until you find the right mix for you.
Counseling is often an integral part of getting beyond depression; in fact, it can be a crucial part of the healing process. For whatever reason, many people view counseling as a sign that they cannot handle the pressures of the world (when they perceive that everyone else is handling them adequately). This could not be further from the truth! Talking to an unbiased person about what is happening inside you can be one of the most enlightening and freeing experiences you can have. Humans are a social animal; we need to talk and communicate with others to survive and thrive. Counseling will help you get out from underneath the cloud that seems to follow you and let your sun shine through!
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Research has shown a link between obesity and depression. Findings published in the journal of Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, indicate that people who are obese may be more likely to become depressed. In addition, according to this study, people who are depressed are more likely to become obese. The link between obesity and depression appears to be the result of physiological changes that occur in the immune system, hormones and neurotransmitters with either depression or obesity. If you have a weight problem, would like to lose weight and/or find out exactly why weight loss may have been difficult for you in the past, please visit www.optimalbodybalance.com.