Depression can be a crippling mental health disorder that can erase your happiness, steal your will, and cause physical symptoms to manifest that impact your health negatively. Depression can be caused by genetics or life stressors, but can occur seemingly randomly. Knowing the causes does not help much when facing a depressive episode, but having some insight on how depression affects you can help you to look after yourself during an episode. Self-care can help you focus on the task at hand and may even give you incentive to seek further help for your depression.
Exercise causes the brain to release dopamine, which is the chemical that induces pleasure in the nervous system. Those who exercise are more easily able to overcome addiction, fight anxiety, and beat depression. In addition, exercise lowers blood pressure and reduces the risk for diseases like diabetes and heart disease. The physical effects of exercise influence the mental state through the reduction of inflammation, lowering levels of unhealthy chemicals in the body, and improving heart rate, stamina, and sleep quality.
In the midst of a depressive episode, you may experience a total lack of interest in any and all activities. Lying in bed and sleeping may seem like ideal activities to endure the effects of depression. Personal hygiene may be last on the list of tasks to face when you feel like giving up. However, a warm shower or bath, brushing your teeth, and putting on fresh clothes can improve your entire outlook. Besides feeling like a “new person” you may relate the outward cleansing to an inward cleanse. The tasks involved in maintaining good hygiene can help you focus on something other than your own thoughts, relieving symptoms at least temporarily.
Whole, nutrient-rich foods containing Omega-3 fatty acids, amino acids, and B vitamins have shown the most promise in reducing mental health symptoms. Processed, packaged foods with a long shelf-life contain little to no nutrient content. Processed foods comprise the majority of the diet of most humans in developed countries and contribute to a large percentage of health problems from obesity to heart disease. Fresh, wholesome foods straight from the earth contain the most nutrient-dense solution to healing the mind, body, and soul.
Studies have shown that a poor balance of bacteria in the gut, in which the “bad” bacteria are more plentiful than “good” bacteria, can lead to mental health problems. The imbalance of bacteria systems in the gut has been linked to a poor immune system and can affect one’s mental state if left untreated. Probiotics can help to reverse the imbalance and improve healthy flora within the gut to improve mental and physical health. Vitamins can help to maintain healthy levels of vital nutrients when food consumption is poor or less frequent during an episode of depression. Vitamins are inextricably linked to health because they support bodily systems and promote well-being.
Meditation has been used for many years as a way of tuning into the mind and body. The process of meditation typically focuses on breathing techniques that help to detach mentally from negative thoughts. The detachment allows feelings of sadness and despair to come and go without rumination. Over-thinking is one of the biggest triggers to depressive thought patterns. Focusing the mind on a single task – in this case the breathing process – helps alleviate the need to think about problems and pressures and opens the mind to release feelings of powerlessness and uncertainty.
If you feel that you need additional support or guidance during your times of depression, there are resources that can provide you with the services you need to cope. These types of services are often free and confidential, allowing you to reach out without fear of extra stressors such as payment arrangements, insurance co-pays, or revealing your identity. Seeking help should not be viewed as a weakness; rather, strength is what propels many people with depression to get help during their darkest times.
If you or someone you know is showing signs of depression or a possible mental health issue, it is important to seek help from a qualified professional. Our Resource Specialist can help you find expert mental health resources to recover in your community. Contact us now for more information on this free service to our users.
Author Bio: Marcus regularly blogs at psysci.co, a psychology and science blog that examines the latest research and explains how findings can impact and improve people’s lives.
The opinions and views expressed in this guest blog do not necessarily reflect those of www.rtor.org or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc.