Depression is the feeling of hopelessness, the inability to function in a normal, and a deep sadness that just won’t let go.
But the immobilizing effects of depression can be treated before professional help is needed. Mental health professionals all agree on several ways to help.
Exercise. When you’re depressed, just getting out of bed can seem like a daunting task, let alone working out! But exercise is a powerful depression fighter—and one of the most important tools in your recovery arsenal. Research shows that regular exercise can be as effective as medication for relieving depression symptoms. It also helps prevent relapse once you’re well.
Improve diet. Research continues to find clear links between diet and mental health. In fact, there have been so many studies that have shown improving nutrition can prevent and treat mental illness that nutritional psychiatry has become mainstream. But before you make any major changes to your diet or begin taking vitamins or supplements, talk with your physician.
Get enough sleep. Depression can make it hard to get enough shut-eye, and too little sleep can make depression worse. What can you do? Start by making some changes to your lifestyle. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day. Try not to nap. Take all the distractions out of your bedroom -- no computer and no TV. In time, you may find your sleep improves.
Eliminate negative thoughts. Accept that you can’t control everything, and no one is perfect. Be proud of the things you can accomplish and try to replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
Get out in the sun. “Sunlight can help boost serotonin levels and improve your mood. Whenever possible, get outside during daylight hours and expose yourself to the sun for at least 15 minutes a day. Remove sunglasses (but never stare directly at the sun) and use sunscreen as needed.
Here are several additional tips:
Take a walk on your lunch break, have your coffee outside, enjoy an al fresco meal, or spend time gardening.
Double up on the benefits of sunlight by exercising outside. Try hiking, walking in a local park, or playing golf or tennis with a friend.
Increase the amount of natural light in your home and workplace by opening blinds and drapes and sitting near windows.
If you live somewhere with little winter sunshine, try using a light therapy box.
If all else fails and depression doesn’t improve, mental health experts recommend seeing a professional. Depression can be treated.