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Natural Ways to Fight Depression

Natural Ways to Fight Depression

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), some 350 million people suffer from depression all over the world, making it a problem of truly global proportions.  Depression comes with an array of difficult signs and symptoms, including feelings of hopelessness or despair, physical pain, fatigue, problems with eating and sleeping and sometimes even thoughts or attempts at suicide.

The good news is, however, that along with medication and counselling, there are a lot of natural lifestyle choices you can make to help support your journey back to good mental health. Most of them are so simple that they might surprise you!

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    Regular Exercise

    This can be a difficult lifestyle choice to make because of the fatigue that depression can bring with it, but if you can manage it, regular and gentle exercise can support your emotional health. This is because physical activity release endorphins, natural “feel good” hormones that can help raise your mood levels naturally. Regular exercise can also combat stress, with frequently goes along with depression.

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      Stress Management

      Stress — and in the inability to cope with stress — is often an underlying cause of depression or can at least make the problem worse.  So taking up a stress-busting exercise like yoga or tai chi or learning how to meditate can help to deal with these feelings of anxiety and make them easier to cope with in healthy ways.

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        A Healthy Diet

        Many people with depression will tend to either over- or under-eat, leading to problems with weight.  However, a healthy, balanced diet with good portions of foods throughout the day can help you cope with depression by keeping your blood sugars balanced and your energy level steady; it will also help you to get the vitamins and minerals you need to keep your nervous system (including your brain) healthy.

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          Natural Supplements

          There are also plenty of herbs and supplements out there that can also help you conquer your depression.  One of them is fish oil supplements; it has been found that the omega-3 fatty acids in the oil support the health and balance of the nervous system. Another one is St. John’s Wort, which is thought to help depression by increasing levels of serotonin, a “feel good” hormone in the brain. However, you should talk to your doctor before beginning any supplement to make sure it will not react with medications you are already taking.

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            Social Time

            One of the hardest parts of depression is how lonely and isolated it can make you feel. So even if you don’t always feel like it, get out and socialize and allow the support and love of your friends and family to get you through the tough times.  Support groups, friends, people from your church or other place of worship can all play a role in giving you the emotional strength you need as you work to get well.

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              Sleep

              If you are fighting a battle with depression, the importance of getting a good night’s sleep (ideally between 7 and 8 hours a night) cannot be over-emphasized. Sleep deprivation can make feelings of depression — as well as stress and anxiety — much worse and can put a strain on your nervous system and brain. However, make sure not to oversleep, which can be a struggle for some people who suffer from depression.

              The takeaway here is that if you are battling depression, you are not alone — and you can also be empowered to make the lifestyle changes that will help you overcome with problem.  A healthy, balanced diet, sleep, stress management, supplements and the support of friends and loved ones can all combine to make your journey more successful and to complement your medications and counselling.

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              Brian Wu

              Health Writer, Author

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              Last Updated on February 25, 2020

              Face Adversity with a Smile

              Face Adversity with a Smile

              I told my friend Graham that I often cycle the two miles from my house to the town centre but unfortunately there is a big hill on the route. He replied, ‘You mean fortunately.’ He explained that I should be glad of the extra exercise that the hill provided.

              My attitude to the hill has now changed. I used to grumble as I approached it but now I tell myself the following. This hill will exercise my heart and lungs. It will help me to lose weight and get fit. It will mean that I live longer. This hill is my friend. Finally as I wend my way up the incline I console myself with the thought of all those silly people who pay money to go to a gym and sit on stationery exercise bicycles when I can get the same value for free. I have a smug smile of satisfaction as I reach the top of the hill.

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              Problems are there to be faced and overcome. We cannot achieve anything with an easy life. Helen Keller was the first deaf and blind person to gain a University degree. Her activism and writing proved inspirational. She wrote, “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

              One of the main determinants of success in life is our attitude towards adversity. From time to time we all face hardships, problems, accidents, afflictions and difficulties. Some are of our making but many confront us through no fault of our own. Whilst we cannot choose the adversity we can choose our attitude towards it.

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              Douglas Bader was 21 when in 1931 he had both legs amputated following a flying accident. He was determined to fly again and went on to become one of the leading flying aces in the Battle of Britain with 22 aerial victories over the Germans. He was an inspiration to others during the war. He said, “Don’t listen to anyone who tells you that you can’t do this or that. That’s nonsense. Make up your mind, you’ll never use crutches or a stick, then have a go at everything. Go to school, join in all the games you can. Go anywhere you want to. But never, never let them persuade you that things are too difficult or impossible.”

              How can you change your attitude towards the adversity that you face? Try these steps:

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              1. Confront the problem. Do not avoid it.
              2. Deliberately take a positive attitude and write down some benefits or advantages of the situation.
              3. Visualise how you will feel when you overcome this obstacle.
              4. Develop an action plan for how to tackle it.
              5. Smile and get cracking.

              The biographies of great people are littered with examples of how they took these kinds of steps to overcome the difficulties they faced. The common thread is that they did not become defeatist or depressed. They chose their attitude. They opted to be positive. They took on the challenge. They won.

              Featured photo credit: Jamie Brown via unsplash.com

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