5 Ways To Help Prevent Depression
Although depression is thought to be caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, it is also true that depression can sometimes be alleviated or prevented with a few good health habits.
1. Learn to recognize the signs of depression for you. Symptoms can differ from person to person.
The National Institute of Mental Health identifies a number of common symptoms experienced by people with depression:
- difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
- fatigue and decreased energy
- feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and/or helplessness
- feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
- insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
- irritability, restlessness
- loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
- overeating or appetite loss
- persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment
- persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings
- thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
For me, I find the most prevalent symptoms are:
- impaired concentration, indecisiveness
- insomnia or hypersomnia (excessive sleeping) almost every day
- markedly diminished interest or pleasure in almost all activities nearly every day
- a sense of restlessness — known as psychomotor agitation — or being slowed down — retardation
2. Eat a healthy, balanced diet.
Eating a crappy diet certainly isn’t going to help your moods, so if you can’t get a perfectly balanced diet (and who can while working full-time and raising a family?) then take a good multi-vitamin. I’ve also found that avoiding sugar and processed foods helps me tremendously!
3. Get some regular exercise.
I know, I know. Who can get motivated to exercise when they are depressed? But we’re talking about prevention here. It really does give you a boost.
I literally crave sunshine sometimes – especially after a long period of really crappy weather like we’ve had in Southern California lately! Sunshine is important – especially if you are prone to Seasonal Affective Disorder! Sunlight aids the body in Vitamin D production. Some research shows a relationship between vitamin D deficiency and depression, although no controlled studies have been performed.
5. Schedule, schedule, schedule! It’s important to remember YOURSELF.
In my opinion this is the most important part of trying to prevent depression. If you’re constantly on the go – working, raising kids, being a wife, and all the other things that go along with being a woman you’re less likely to notice the subtle signs and symptoms that depression is creeping in until it’s too late and you find yourself locked in your office crying your eyes out like I did one day last month. I was too busy working 60 hours a week, raising two kids (basically as a single mom since Johnny is gone so often), trying to fit in time for everyone else and none for me. I didn’t have time to slow down and go to my yoga class, to the gym, or even to take a quiet walk by myself. Without that quiet time to myself I didn’t notice that dark cloud creeping up on me. Until it was too late.
Now I’m not saying that all cases of depression can be prevented – not even close. Depression can be brought on by a lot of different things – chemical imbalance, sudden traumatic losses in your life, etc. But a little prevention and taking the time to pay attention to what your body is trying to tell you can mean the difference between getting some medication or ending up in the hospital – or worse.