We have been hearing a lot about depression these days. Depression may cause a persistent feeling of isolation and sadness. A person under depression may feel as if life is not worth living. Depression may affect your behavior and may cause various physical and emotional problems in various domains, viz. emotional, occupational and familial.
One cannot simply snap out of depression. But the good part is many coping skills can make you feel better and yield good benefits in the long run. Mastering these skills not only helps in preventive depression but can help during a depressive episode.
But before learning these skills, it is essential to understand how depression affects our brains.
Many factors can contribute to depression, including but not limited to:
● Inflammation in the brain
● Abnormal functioning of neurotransmitters
●Disturbed connections between neuronal pathways. These pathways are essential for the brain to communicate mood regulations.
The neuronal connections work through neural circuits. These neural circuits communicate through neurotransmitters. In a depressed person, this communication system does not work efficiently.
The best way to cope with depression is by doing things that improve regenerate neuronal connections and reduce brain inflammation.
These positive skills may help bolster the neuronal connections in your brain. Some of these skills give immediate relief, while others take time to show their effect. Depression may be a chronic condition. Thus it is always worth putting time and effort into coping with it.
Whatever our age is, our body loves an active lifestyle. Exercise is beneficial for both body and mind. A regular exercise regimen can:
o Relieves stress
o Improves sleep quality
o Enhances mood
o Improves focus and mental clarity
o Releases happy hormones (endorphins)
Depressed people may feel low energy levels. The idea of hitting a gym and losing some sweat may not entice them. But exercise creates a ripple effect. You start feeling more energetic and feel good about your body as soon as you exercise regularly.
Meditation is an ancient science. It is the art of controlling your thoughts and teaches your mind to be more alert and calm. Regular meditation can help you let go of things you cannot control. The effects of meditation are subtle but long- lasting. Some of the clinically proven benefits of meditation are:
o A sense of self-awareness and interconnectedness
o Control over anxious and negative thoughts
o Improved mood and sleep quality
o A feeling of self-discovery
Nature can be a remedy for most conditions. Bring yourself closer to nature. Walk barefoot, swim in a pond, take a nap on the grass and rekindle your relationship with mother nature. Go for your favorite outdoor activities. Enjoy occasional sun basking. All these things can help you in coping with depression.
An optimal supply of nutrients is necessary to combat depression. Inflammation in the brain can be a cause of depression. Thus, eliminate pro-inflammatory foods from your diet. Some common examples of pro-inflammatory foods are: Adding healthy food containing antioxidants would be beneficial. Food containing antioxidants and vitamins:
o Green leafy vegetables, fresh fruits
o Fresh fruits
o Germinated seeds and cereals
Eliminating pro-inflammatory foods not only decreases depression but can result in clear thinking and more stable moods.
Our ancestors always emphasized the relationship between gut health and brain health. The gut is like a second brain comprising more than 200 million cells. It has its enteric nervous system (ENS).
When ENS has inflammation, it sends distress signals to the central nervous system resulting in depression. When you have healthy microbes in the gut, the ENS sends positive signals to the brain. So, focus on a less processed diet and eat probiotics.
Dumping your thoughts in a journal can be the most effective way to relieve depression. The negative thoughts and pent-up pains may cause energy blockages. Journaling helps in clearing these blockages. Some of the tips for effective journaling to ease out your feelings are:
o Start writing as soon as you feel distressed.
o Write your thoughts in a minimum of three pages and force yourself to pen down
o Let your feelings flow naturally to relieve your mind from the stress.
Our thoughts are programmable, a reflection of the information we consume from the media or the people around us. If we are in continuous contact with negative people or consuming negative media, our minds soak up that information and become anxious.
Avoiding these people and the media can help us a lot. Also, try to feed positive thoughts repeatedly into your mind. Writing or spelling out your affirmations can change your mindset and give you a positive intent.
Depression can cause irregular sleep and in turn increase severity of depression. You may either have insomnia or a tendency to oversleep. Sometimes it can be sleeping all day and staying awake the whole night.
Healthy sleep is a natural detox. A restorative sleep cycle can help in keeping our bodies and minds healthy. Creating a sleep routine and a calm ambiance in the bedroom can help with a sound sleep.
In this era of technology, we cannot imagine our lives without mobiles. Everything seems so connected now. But the scary part is the time we are spending on our mobiles. For most of us, it is more than 4 hours a day. And we are not counting the time we spend on laptops and televisions. The blue light coming from the devices can perturb the internal circadian rhythm. Your mind will feel much better if not continuously stimulated by this light from devices. You can take a few steps to moderate your screen time, such as:
o Replace your screen time with more meaningful activities like reading, strolling,
or playing sports.
o Leave your phone while going out for a walk.
o Avoid using your phone while standing in a queue or waiting for something.
Magnesium can be an elixir for your brain health and works against depression. It improves sleep quality, elevates mood, and has an anti-inflammatory effect. Start adding magnesium-rich foods to your diet. Some common examples of magnesium-rich food are:
o Pumpkin seed
o Pumpkin seeds in the shell (Delete)
Depression is a common psychiatric condition. It affects your feelings, thoughts, and actions. You may feel a loss of interest in the activities you once loved. It may hamper your ability to work efficiently at work and home. But depression is treatable. With these coping techniques, you can see immediate benefits. Though, it is advisable to talk to a therapist if these coping techniques are not working for you.
These coping skills may be beneficial in alleviating severity of depression. Though it is advisable to consult a psychiatrist or mental health specialist in addition to practicing these strategies.