By Anubhav Srivastava (Register For His Workshop – Super Confidence For Super Success !)
Depression is one of the top mental health related issues troubling our society today. While depression has always plagued people since ancient times, it is only now that it is being even adequate attention as a serious issue. Depression ruins the quality of life of people and makes getting by everyday extremely difficult. In extreme cases it can even make people seriously harm themselves. There have been countless cases of people ending their lives because their depression was not treated well.
Before I begin this article I would like to say that this is not a substitute for any medical advice. This is meant as a general guidance and you should consult a medical professional BEFORE you adopt any of the following strategies or give up any treatment you are already having.
A look at antidepressants
It seems like popping a pill seems to the defacto answer to every problem we have in life. Got high blood pressure, take a pill. Got anxiety, take a pill. Now there is no denying that there are medical conditions and situations in specific conditions where drugs are pill are important and may even be crucial at saving lives, however the truth is they are also starting to be over prescribed for almost every tiny problem on earth. Many of these are problems people have always had in ancient times but they managed to treat them through natural ways. In other words, while pills are important in many situations, not every medical problem needs a pill. In fact over prescription often leads to terrible side effects.
For depression and anxiety related issues, the most common pills that are prescribed these days are Antidepressants. People often think these medicines will be a solution to all their depression/anxiety related problems. However according to an analysis published in PLOS magazine, only people who were experiencing the most severe depression related symptoms showed any improvement which itself was quite minimal.
In fact this is not surprising, many people who use antidepressants will report they did not feel any better after using them. Even those who do respond to treatment mostly report that while they have reduced symptoms, they are still just barely managing to function. Furthermore, in exchange for these reduced symptoms they often get a whole load of side effects that make life even tougher.
It Gets Worse
For pregnant women, antidepressant use has even more implications. A study by JAMA Pediatrics said that SSRIs (Selecive Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) which are the most “popular” antidepressants today significantly raise the risk of autism in the unborn baby especially when taken after first trimester. The study which reviewed data from pregnancies between 198 and 2009 observed that using one antidepressant doubled the risk of autism in the child while using two raised the risk to four times. That is a 300 percent increase just by using two antidepressants during pregnancy.
But wait, there is more. Antidepressant use has been linked to an increased risk in bone fractures. The reason is that the neuro-chemical Serotonin in the brain which these drugs artificially alters is also involved with bony physiology and can result in low bone density thus leading to fractures.
It Gets Worse Still
One of the most dangerous potential side effects of excessive antidepressant usage are violent behavior and suicidal thoughts. A range of self harming activities or even crimes such as murder suicides, road rage, mass shootings etc involved people who were actively taking antidepressants. Now this doesn’t automatically imply that antidepressant use will make you harm yourself or others! But it does show the potential side effects that have been observed.
Now that we have established that antidepressants while sometimes effective have been shown to bring about a range of serious side effects, are you sure you want to use them? If they have been working for you, great, no need to change, but if they have not and are bringing on a range of unwanted side effects OR you want to avoid them all together, let’s take a look at some ways in which the problem of depression can be tackled naturally.
A key thing to remember is that there is a difference between depression that is situational (triggered by a specific event or a series of events) and chronic clinical depression. While both need to be tackled seriously, the former may go with time and the right treatment, but the latter because of its chronic nature may not be completely cured. You may have to learn to manage it your entire life. This is similar to how anxiety generally comes and goes but anxiety disorders are chronic. The good news is that just because something is not completely cured, it doesn’t mean it cannot be treated. There are many natural ways of managing and beating depression naturally, Let’s take a look at the strategies you can use!
As mentioned before, please consult a medical professional before you use any of these methods. If your problem is severe you should definitely get in touch a doctor right now. This article is not a substitute for doctor’s advice, , certainly not for severe cases.
TIPS TO BEAT DEPRESSION NATURALLY
1) Try Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
One of the first and proven ways of beating depression naturally is through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. According to many studies conducted, the overall effectiveness in the improvement of depression was similar for Antidepressants and CBT. Furthemore, CBT worked for a larger percentage of people, the chances of a relapse were lower (unlike medicines where stopping them could dramatically increase the chances of a relapse) and it had no side effects associated with anti -depressants. If you are someone suffering from depression or know some one suffering from depression and want to avoid medicines to treat them, the first method you should use is CBT. You can Google Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Depression for various strategies you can use yourself or to find therapists in your area. CBT can also help you beat fear and anxiety
2) Reduce your sugar intake dramatically.
Sugar while essential to the functioning of the body can harmful in excess quantities. The reason is that refined sugar can cause extreme blood sugar fluctuations in your body. When you eat sugar or any processed foods that later turn to sugar, your blood sugar shoots up which gives you a high, but that also leads to an insulin increase which quickly tries to reduce the levels. This will then lead to “crash” and lead to mood swings, irritability and make your depression worse. Instead of sugar and high energy foods, switch to complex carbohydrates that release energy slowly which lead to stable blood sugar levels for a longer time and help you manage depression naturally.
3) Eat probiotic foods
Probiotic foods or foods that increase the presence of healthy bacteria in the gut. The US national institute of mental health actually did a study on the microbiome-brain connection or how microbes in the gut influence our brain. They found that the presence of certain microbes and the absence of other ones was directly correlated with the presence or an absence of a particular mental condition. So this is not just new age mumbo jumbo, it does hold some merit!
4) Get Vitamin B12.
Vitamin B12 deficiency can contribute to depression. According to Mayoclinic.org Vitamin B12 plays a role in producing the brain neurochemicals such as serotonin and dopamine that ultimately affect mood. So adding a Vitamin B12 supplement or getting it from your diet can help with depression. Fish, Eggs and Low Fat milk are considered good sources of Vitamin B12.
5) Improve your Vitamin D levels.
Ever noticed how depression is so much worse when during winters when you don’t get much sun exposure or when you keep staying indoors it just gets worse and worse? The reason is that Vitamin D is directly linked to your mood and adequate sun exposure helps your body produce the Vitamin D it needs to keep your mood up. Getting Vitamin D is simple, get regular sun exposure and your body will automatically produce it. If for some reasons you are not getting enough sun exposure, adding a supplement might help. I am aware that even supplements are technically “pills” but at least they are giving your body stuff that it actually needs to function, not artificial chemicals to mess with its functioning.
6) Get Omega 3 Fats in you diet.
The Brain itself is largely composed of Omega 3 fat! Adding more to your diet is important for mental health and to improve your brain function. You get Omega 3 fats through fish or through fish oil supplements. Dr. Andrew Stoll collected a lot of evidence of how Omega 3 fats in your diet can help you improve your depression in a book called the Omega 3 connection.
Regular exercise boosts endorphin levels or “happy chemicals” in the body and elevates your mood tremendously. If you cannot work out everyday at a high intensity, just switch to a moderate one and do it fewer days of the week but do it regularly. Some exercise is definitely better than no exercise. It will help you lose weight, make you feel better and look better. Looking better will make you feel even better!
Meditation will be your key ally to beat depression. A study published by The Lancet found that meditation, especially mindfulness based meditation (an ancient Buddhist meditation that focuses on the present moment) lead to a sustained decrease in depression related symptoms. The study said that meditation was as effective as the drugs but without the side effects. However do keep in mind that because clinical depression is chronic, you cannot expect meditation to keep working to treat the symptoms if you stop doing it. So keep it up all your life!
Imagine a Cellphone on a very low battery, how long can it function? Or imagine a car running on very low fuel. Sleep is to you body what electricity is to a phone or what fuel is to a car. You absolutely need it to function. Sleep repairs your body physically. Lack of sleep can make you irritable, moody, depressed and fat! While depression itself is not caused by a lack of sleep, a lack of sleep can worsen it greatly. Now I am not going to tell you that you should always sleep 7 plus hours a day because everyone’s sleep requirements are different. But if you are finding it hard to concentrate, feel like your eyes are burning then you are probably not getting enough sleep. Start sleeping more and you will see many of your symptoms resolve on their own.
10) Hang out with friends
Humans are social beings. While you may think you are avoiding social interaction because of our depression, a lack of social interaction will itself worsen depression. A study was conducted in England where 86 women who were asked to hang out with friends regularly almost 65 percent reported tremendous improvement. Hanging out with friends, Family or other loved ones will keep you distracted and also give you many mood uplifting moments. This can work almost as good as medication and even CBT. So hang out with people close to you regularly or join social interactions It will boost your self esteem tremendously and help you beat depression naturally!
11) Get a pet or be around animals
Animals help reduce stress! A study conducted to see animals effects on stress found that even when non pet owners played with them for some time in the day, the feel good chemicals such as oxytocin and serotonin both rose. If you can adopt a pet, there is nothing like it for taking care of it will make you think beyond yourself and having them around will make you extremely happy. But even if it is not possible for you to adopt one, go play with your friends pets or volunteer at a shelter, just doing the same regularly will fill you with joy and help you manage your depression to a great extent. In fact with them around, you will probably even forget you have depression!
These tips above will serve as a great guide for you to be able to manage your depression. If you don’t have clinical depression these tips will help you overcome your blues for good, fast! If you actually suffer from a depressive disorder these tips can still help you lower the symptoms so much that they almost become non existent. But they key thing is to keep following them. Depression is a lifelong disorder and thus the antidotes also have to be lifelong. So resolve to fight and keep the enemy at bay. Reclaim your life and enjoy it too the fullest!
The author of this article, Anubhav Srivastava is an author, motivational speaker and the director of Carve Your Destiny, a first of its kind inspirational documentary featuring some of the most famous personalities from diverse fields, who teach the viewers how they too can make all of their dreams come true. The movie itself has been seen on Youtube by close to 800,000 people. Anubhav has also been featured in numerous International and India Media outlets such as BBC , The Times of India, Hindustan Times, Rediff.com, Leicester Mercury and many others.
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