Clinical depression is a real and serious medical issue. It is a brain disorder caused by chemical imbalances and characterized by prolonged periods where the patient suffers from a low and bleak mood. There is an important distinction to make between a natural emotional response of sadness to environmental stimuli and the kind of depression that is caused by chemical imbalances in the brain.
Depression, unlike a natural low mood, needs to be treated first and foremost with appropriate consultation and regular medication. However, there is more to living with depression than just medication. The patient’s lifestyle choices and support system are also important aspects that will help them on their journey.
Here are 9 ways to control and overcome your depression through lifestyle choices:
Write down your Goals
Someone suffering from depression can often be left feeling that their life is lacking in purpose. They may feel lost and unmotivated. A small but concrete way to challenge this is to write down your goals. For a depressive patient, writing down a goal (no matter how silly it seems) will give them a reality check that they may need.
Depression can be severely exacerbated by a lack of sleep and change in the body’s natural sleep cycle. Further, lack of good sleep is only going to tire out the patient more, and this coupled with the natural sluggishness and fatigue that depression brings about, can lead to a truly unhealthy lifestyle.
A good work-out session releases endorphins in the body. These “feel-good chemicals” help reduce stress and anxiety as well as assist in warding off depressive symptoms. An hour of cardio a day may provide one with a regular boost to the psyche.
A certain type of disorder known as seasonal sadness occurs due to the lack of sunlight. It can affect patients during the winter when they feel lower than usual. A morning jog under the sun can give you your daily dose of sunlight and vitamin D.
Hydration is an important part of keeping the body fit, and a healthy mind lives in a healthy body. One can drink 2-3 litres of water and feel a certain refreshing effect as their body hydrates itself.
One of the most important aspects of dealing with depression is the kind of support system the patient has for themselves. During depressive phases, the inclination is to hide away from the world. However, this may only aggravate the problem. Healthy and loving relationships and friendships are an important component in the fight against depression.
A morning routine of deep breathing can do wonders to help the patient deal with depression. Deep breathing ensures that blood is well oxygenated, slows heart rate, and restores blood flow to the brain. It has a calming effect on the nervous system.
Practicing mindfulness and meditation regularly helps the patient understand the patterns of depression and helps them gain insight into negative trains of thought and how to deal with them.
Stabilize blood sugar levels
Depression can often lead to emotional eating habits (with cravings for simple carbs) that can be very difficult to break. Thus a meal routine is an important part of regularizing the life of a depressive patient. Small portions of food should be consumed every three hours in order to avoid the fight or flight state that takes over the mind during periods of low blood sugar.
Depression can be a challenging and disorientating condition, leaving one feeling as if they have no control over their mind. However, the above steps will go some way towards regularizing the patient’s life and putting control back into the hands of the individual.