Depression is a mood disorder marked by prolonged feelings of emptiness and despair. More serious than the passing “blues,” depression symptoms often interfere with daily life. While no one is exactly sure what causes depression, most researchers believe that mood disorders are linked to changes in brain chemistry as well as genetics.
If you’ve determined that you’re at risk of this condition, you can take steps towards depression prevention. Although preventing depression isn’t always possible, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and taking steps to improve your mental health can often aid in treatment of depression.
A healthy lifestyle is the best means of preventing depression. A healthy diet is one that’s low in sugar and other refined carbohydrates. High sugar consumption can lead to sugar crashes, which can cause depression-like symptoms such as anxiety, fatigue and irritability. Cut back on caffeine and alcohol, both of which can exacerbate depression symptoms.
Doctors recommend an increased intake of the following vitamins:
- Folic acid
- Trace minerals
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin B12.
People who are deficient in these vitamins are more likely to be depressed.
Preventing depression is easier if you increase your intake of omega-3 oils, which support brain health. You can get omega-3s by eating salmon, cod, sardines, nuts and seeds. If you aren’t getting omega-3 oil in your diet, consider a fish-oil supplement.
Preventing Depression with Exercise
If you’re not already working out regularly, add some exercise to your routine. Exercise releases natural endorphins in the brain that help boost mood. For the best results, combine weight training with cardio exercises like cycling, running and swimming.
Depression prevention requires making an effort to stay active and maintain a social circle. Since depressed individuals tend to withdraw from friends and activities, staying connected may help prevent loneliness and isolation. You can also relieve stress and tension by participating in an enjoyable activity, such as art, sports or cooking for friends.
Treatment of Depression
As previously mentioned, depression prevention isn’t always possible. Consult a doctor or call a depression hotline if you’re experiencing consistent depression symptoms, such as sadness, despair, irritability and sleep problems.
Luckily, the treatment of depression is usually quite simple with antidepressants, therapy or a combination of the two:
- Antidepressants boost low levels of certain chemicals in the brain, which are linked to depression and other mood disorders. Antidepressants are often effective at treating mild to moderate depression.
- Therapy involves talking with a psychologist or qualified therapist, either one-on-one or in a group setting, to identify triggers and other psychological factors of depression. Combined with antidepressants, therapy can be an effective treatment of depression.
Hodsdon, W. (2006). 5 natural ways to prevent depression. Retrieved June 22, 2010, from http://www.thedietchannel.com/5-Natural-Ways-To-Prevent-Depression.htm.
Rayski, A. (2010). Can depression be prevented? Retrieved June 22, 2010, from http://www.everydayhealth.com/depression/preventing/preventing-depression.aspx.