From time to time, many of us will experience the doldrums of depression. This can be due to a number of factors including the death of a loved one or pet, work and financial burdens among other factors. Usually, we are able to process these feelings, deal with them in a healthy manner and these thoughts pass. However, there are some people who may deal with depression more intensely and for prolonged periods of time.
Major depression is a common and debilitating condition that affects approximately 17.3 adults in the United States aged 18 and older. While major depressive episodes can affect any age group, it is most common in adults aged 18-25. Additionally, the prevalence of major depression is higher in females in comparison to males. While professional help is available, many people are afraid to seek help for their depression due to stigma. As a result, many turn to substances in order to cope which can increase the risk of substance abuse in addition to depression.
Whether you are suffering from the case of the blahs or if you were struggling with chronic depression, there are healthy ways you can explore to minimize its effects. The following are six easy and healthy ways you can fight depression.
Regular exercise is a great and healthy way to fight depression. Not only does exercise help you get physically fit, it improves mood and boosts your mental fitness. Exercise releases dopamine which is known as the “happy hormone”. When you experience the rush of dopamine, you feel relaxed and happy. Engaging in exercise can be as simple as taking a short walk around the neighborhood, riding your bike or engaging in more physically demanding activities like
weight training or CrossFit.
Another great way to combat depression is through proper nutrition. Instead of indulging in fast food and copious amounts of caffeine, try eating more green and leafy vegetables like spinach and broccoli. The fiber content of these vegetables helps flush out toxins from your body and leaves you feeling cleaner and lighter. You can also fiber-rich fruits like apples, oranges, and bananas which are loaded with vitamins and minerals to boost your energy. You may also want to increase your intake of healthy fats such as omega-3.
A huge factor in the formation of depression is the disengagement of the self from the environment. With the prevalence of technology, the internet, and social media, there can be feelings of disconnection even though it feels there are bonds. When we don’t engage others or do activities that engage the brain and social interaction we can feel isolated—and isolation often leads to depression.
To combat these feelings, be sure you engage in meaningful activity. Find a hobby that you enjoy, learn to paint or play a musical instrument, do yoga or invite friends for coffee or dinner. Engaging your brain in these ways helps you feel more connected to the world around you.
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Get Some Sun
Getting more exposure to sunlight is a great way to minimize the effects of depression. Daylight serves as a regulator for your body’s internal clock. If you don’t get adequate sunlight, your body’s internal circadian rhythms are affected. Circadian rhythms regulate your energy levels, sleep, appetite and hormone levels. If your circadian rhythms are out of sync, your body and brain is out of sync.
Natural sunlight is 100 times brighter than indoor lighting. If you receive just 30 minutes of sunlight a day, your body and brain are able to sync itself. You can even reap the benefits of sunlight even on cloudy days where the light emitted is still a few times brighter than indoor lighting.
Bonding and connecting with others is important in minimizing the effects of depression. When we talk and connect with others, it releases greater amounts of the hormone progesterone. This hormone helps reduce the stress and anxiety that is associated with depression. Therefore, it is important to maintain that strengthen those relationships that mean the most to us.
The Importance of Sleep
The ability to get a good night’s sleep is absolutely crucial in maintaining optimal mental health. A good night’s sleep helps reset and recharge the brain and body. Irregular sleep patterns or insomnia will deplete your mental and physical energy. If possible, get 7-8 hours of restful sleep each night. It is important that you prepare your body for sleep during the day. Eliminate caffeine intake by early afternoon and avoid eating a couple of hours before bedtime.
You also need to prepare your room for sleep. If possible, buy soft glow light bulbs for your light fixtures and avoid using your iPhone or iPad before bed. You should also darken your room as much as possible with blackout curtains or use an eye mask if possible. If you are able, set your room temperature between 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit.
Depression is Not Normal!
While it is normal to have a low moment in life, depression is not a part of it. That’s why we recommend learning from our in-house specialists because they know how to help you experience long-term recovery. Our addiction therapists, nutrition and fitness specialists, and staff can recommend an individualized treatment program that would deal with your substance abuse or dependence as well as your depression. It may include ocean-based therapy, holistic therapies that restore your health and wholeness while treating addiction, and other programs.