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8 Effective Ways That Can Help Fight Depression (Without Drugs)

8 Effective Ways That Can Help Fight Depression (Without Drugs)

When you look around our societies today, almost everyone is on antidepressants or knows someone who is. People who are depressed suffer from dominating sadness, a blue mood, emotional numbness, empty feelings, anxiety, hopelessness, loss of self-worth, indecision, or some combination of these. When you’re depressed, it often feels like nothing in the world can make you feel better.

Antidepressant medications help to manage depression, but these drugs often only treat the symptoms of depression and not necessarily the causes. Sometimes you may need to do more than take a pill to lift your mood and beat depression to feel good about yourself again.

Here are eight ways that may help fight depression (without medications) so you can enjoy life again.

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1. Share what you’re going through with people you love and trust.

Don’t feel embarrassed confiding in a friend or voicing your struggles. Talking about your problems or worries is not a self-centered or self-pitying endeavor; it’s an act of courage. It can be the best thing you do for yourself to lighten the burden and begin the process of regaining your happiness. The people you talk to don’t have to be able to fix you, they just need to be good listeners. Sometimes all we need is a listening ear.

2. Keep a “thought log.”

Whenever you experience negative thoughts or sudden burst of sadness, jot down the thoughts and what triggered them as clearly and succinctly as possible. The act of writing down your worries is calming and therapeutic. Review your log when you are up to it. Read it with an open mind. Consider if the negative feelings were truly warranted. Question if there’s another way to view the situation. Worries and doubts oftentimes dissolve under scrutiny. If that happens, that’s great. However, if the worries are based on genuine risks, take additional measures to manage them.

3. Redirect your focus to the positive.

Of course, this is easier said than done when you have depression. That said, studies show that when people pay more attention to the positive it leads to improved moods due to a corresponding increase in their serotonin levels. An imbalance in serotonin levels may influence mood in a way that leads to depression. One technique that can help to redirect attention to the positive is meditation. Meditation has been shown to increase dopamine levels, serotonin levels, and boost feelings of happiness. Use meditation to “turn on” a state of happiness that can replace sadness. You can also try Heart Math training, which has been shown to strengthen the part of the brain responsible for turning on the “happy state.”

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4. Go outside more.

The importance of regulated sunshine and light exposure for lifting moods (as well as energy levels) is huge. Light increases your productivity and happiness. Studies show bright light exposure may also help increase serotonin levels in the brain and alleviate depression symptoms. Aim for at least 15 minutes of sunlight a day to lift your mood. If you live somewhere with little winter sunshine, think about installing some halogen bulbs in your work area or getting a wakeup light.

5. Practice relaxation techniques.

As already hinted, daily relaxation practices bring real benefits to people with depression. They increase dopamine levels, which reduces stress and increases feelings of happiness and well-being. A daily relaxation practice can help relieve symptoms of depression. Apart from meditation, try relaxation practices like yoga or tai chi to calm your mind and increase your energy. You may add a motivational element to some practices by repeating a mantra or a word or phrase of self-affirmation as you move.

6. Get the right kinds of exercise.

A review of many of the available studies concluded that exercise is extremely effective for improving both mood and depressive symptoms. So much so, some government agencies are prescribing exercise instead of antidepressants, explaining that “the risk–benefit ratio is poor for antidepressant use in patients with mild depression.” So get exercising. Aim for about 30 minutes of exercise per day. You don’t have to sweat strenuously. You’re not training for the Boston Marathon. Exercises that are continuous and rhythmic (rather than intermittent) are good choices. This gives you lots of options like walking, swimming and stationery biking.

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7. Change the types and amounts of food you eat.

This is possibly the most effective way to fight depression and improve mood. Studies show that consuming a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids, clean saturated fats, and moderate amounts of animal protein can give your body what it needs to improve mood. Some of the proteins in whey or milk serum can actually improve mood after just a few hours. In cases of light to moderate depression, tryptophan can also help to improve mood. Even in healthy individuals who are slightly more irritable than usual, small amounts of tryptophan can make them less irritable and more agreeable.

8. Adopt a pet.

Nothing can replace the joy and pleasure of human-to-human connection, but pets can bring a lot of joy and companionship into life. They help you feel less lonely and isolated. Caring for a pet can also take your mind off your own troubles, forcing you to get up and about more. Let’s face it, if you get a dog you’ll have to walk them sooner or later. All of these examples are powerful antidotes to depression.

Bottom line:

If you find your depression is getting worse, seek help from a physician as soon as possible. If you know someone who seems to be showing symptoms of depression, encourage them to see a doctor.

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Depression is an illness (not just a mood) that can be treated. You can feel better!

Featured photo credit: Sad and depressed young woman via shutterstock.com

More by this author

David K. William

David is a publisher and entrepreneur. He is also the founding editor of Web Writer Spotlight.

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

1. Breathe

The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

  • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
  • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
  • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

2. Loosen up

After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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3. Chew slowly

Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

4. Let go

Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

It’s not. Promise.

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Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

5. Enjoy the journey

Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

6. Look at the big picture

The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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Will this matter to me…

  • Next week?
  • Next month?
  • Next year?
  • In 10 years?

Hint: No, it won’t.

I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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8. Practice patience every day

Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

  • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
  • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
  • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

Final thoughts

Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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