The best solution for depression, of course, is prevention. You may ask ‘how can I prevent depression?’ The answer is just think about health in general; what applies to physical health can also apply to mental health. To keep physically healthy the body needs a good environment, nutritious food, water, exercise, fresh air and sunlight. When you take care of these basics from the start then good physical health will be maintained.
When it comes to mental health, the same principles apply: A good environment, nutritious food, water, exercise, fresh air and sunlight. Without all of these in good proportion your body cannot produce the necessary neurochemicals to regulate mood.
You may have read or heard that depression is caused by a lack of serotonin or some other chemical imbalance. This may be true in some cases, because adverse life events or developmental hindrances can in some cases cause deficiency or imbalance of certain neurochemicals. The good news is that the neurochemistry can be re-balanced using detoxification, proper nutrition, psychotherapy, hypnotherapy and by following the basic principles mentioned above.
It has been proved that a good social environment, pleasant social interactions and good conversations can stimulate specific genes or gene sequences that produce the neurochemicals that will elevate mood. This explains why a productive session with your counselor or therapist can leave you feeling better than before the session.
2. The Importance of Nutrition
If you are going through a depressed state it is more important to eat healthy foods than at other times. I suggest fresh fruit, lightly cooked vegetables, and a good serve of fish, chicken or lean steak.
In Potatoes Not Prozac, Kathleen Des Maisons PhD, an addiction and nutrition expert, recommends eating 3 main meals a day, and consuming mainly complex carbohydrates such as vegetables, whole grain foods and cereals. Grain should be sprouted.
She also advocates reducing or eliminating refined sugars (including alcohol) and restricting protein consumption to a serve no larger than your fist.
Furthermore she claims that many people, who are prone to addictive disorders as well as depression, are also sugar sensitive. Their body chemistry reacts in extreme ways to sugar and refined carbohydrates.
Sugar and refined carbohydrates change not only blood sugar levels, but also the levels of serotonin and beta-endorphins in the brain, creating feelings of exhaustion, hopelessness and despair.
In his book The Great Australian Diet, Dr John Tickell discusses the eating habits of some of the most vital and longest living people in the world, the people of Okinawa, Japan.
Along with other Eastern cultures, the Okinawan diet is very high in vegetables/fruits/grains (85%)and fish (10%). Meat/poultry/dairy is a distant third (5%).
Although it is very hard to make direct comparisons because of cultural and healthcare delivery systems, the proportion of people living with depression is much lower in Okinawa than in Australia and other Western countries.
3. Exercise as a Treatment for Depression:
From MIND-BRAIN-GENE, TOWARD PSYCHOTHERAPY INTEGRATION, a book by JOHN B. ARDEN
An Alameda County study of 8,023 people tracked them for 26 years and found that those who didn’t exercise were 1.5 times more likely to be depressed.
A Finnish study of 3,403 people found that those that exercised 2 to 3 times a week were less depressed, angry, stressed, and cynical.
A Dutch study of 19,288 twins and their families showed that those that exercised were less anxious, depressed, and neurotic and more socially outgoing.
A Columbia University study of 8,908 found the same inverse relationship between exercise and depression.
An Ohio State study found that 45 minutes of walking per day, 5 days a week (heart rate at 60-70% of maximum) lowered scores on the Beck Depression Inventory from 14.81 to 3.27, compared to no change for controls who were depressed non-walkers.
A University of Wisconsin study found that exercise in the form of jogging was as effective as psychotherapy for moderate depression. After one year 90% of the exercise group were no longer depressed but 50% of the psychotherapy group were depressed.
A Duke University study found that exercise was as effective as Zoloft. At 6-month follow up, exercise was 50% more effective in preventing relapse. Combining exercise and Zoloft added no benefit regarding relapse (Babyak et al., 2000)
A National Institute of Mental Health panel concluded that long term exercise reduces moderate depression.
4. Expose Yourself to a Little Sunshine Every Day
Lack of sunshine can make depression worse because it can lead to deficiency of Vitamin D. Make sure you’re getting enough. Take a short walk outdoors, have your coffee outside, enjoy an al fresco meal, people-watch on a park bench, or sit out in the garden.