Fighting Depression One Moment at a Time

Exercise to Change the Way You Feel For decades now, scores of studies have documented the mood improving effects of exercise.  Several studies have shown that exercise works as well or even better than antidepressant medication.  And you don’t have to run a marathon.  Just take a walk with a friend.  As time goes on, increase activity until you exercise on most days.  Then increase the intensity without injuring yourself.  You will feel better emotionally, physically, and you will sleep better at night which in turn boosts your mood.  So the benefits are multifold.  If you have not exercised in a long time, start easy, be consistent, build slowly, and listen to your body.  Also seek your physicians advice.

Choose Foods to Boost Your Mood

Some studies suggest omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B-12 may ease mood changes such as depression.  Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel contain omega-3 fatty acids.  So do flaxseed, nuts, soybeans, and dark green vegetables.  Seafood and low-fat dairy products are good sources of B-12.  Vegetarians who eat no meat or fish can get B12 in fortified cereals, dairy products, and supplements

Let Your Pet Nuzzle the Blues Away

Sometimes your pet really can be your best friend- and that is good therapy.  When you play with your pet, you take your mind off your problems.  Also, when you take care of your pet you’re fulfilling a commitment to something outside yourself.  Caring for others can be very therapeutic.

Drink Less Caffeine - Improve Mood

Do you really need that third cup of coffee?  Anxiety often accompanies depression.  And to much caffeine can make you nervous, jittery, or anxious.  What goes up must come down: every chemical lift has a downside, so this is when we tend to get swept away with negative thinking, irritability, and dark emotions.  So cutting back on soda, coffee, tea, and chocolate may make a difference in your mood.  It can also help you sleep better at night.  High quality sleep is essential to fight depression, and stimulants can interfere with the kind of sleep you need to help your brain keep out of the blues zone.

Remember, you must fight depression, you cannot wait until ‘you are in the mood’ because depression is a mood disorder.  You must set a plan, a schedule, and stick to it despite whatever mood you are in at the time.  This schedule should include the following on a regular basis.  I have use the mnemonic device of – The Ize (pron. Eyes) Have It.

The Ize (pron. Eyes) Have It

Exercise – cardio exercise for 25+ minutes, 6 days a week.  If you have not exercised for awhile, take it slowly, do not injure yourself.

Socialize – with others who will take your mind off your negative perspective, do not spend your time commiserating or ‘venting’, it is not healthy, it is merely practicing your negative thinking habits

Solarize – getting outdoors in sunshine helps increase natural Vitamin D and helps stimulate the pineal gland which are both implicated in mood regulation

Humorize – this is not the time to watch Schindler’s List, watch humorous movies, comedians, and read humorous books or articles, laughter is good medicine.

Empathize – Having compassion for others, and acting on it, can stimulate activity in your own pleasure center in your brain (septal nuclei) – recent studies in neuroimaging are validating what lamas and monks in the far east have known for centuries, compassion brings lasting happiness.

Spiritualize – whatever your path, reconnect with it, many people find solace, meaning, and ego-less self worth via their religion or spiritual path.  Religious and spiritual systems help us make meaning out of our suffering so that we may endure the inevitable hardships of human existence.

Realize you cannot do it alone: you need the support of friends, family, and your therapist