Depression is a common affliction that may be improved by lifestyle changes. If you suffer from depression, it is easy to feel like you are alone. In reality, 20 million people in the United States suffer from depression, according to Medline Plus, an online resource of the National Institutes of Health. Depression can affect anyone. Periods of feeling down or blue happen to everyone but if such periods persist for more than two weeks, consider consulting your doctor.
If you suffer regularly from depression, you may come to recognize your triggers. Often a slump into depression can be signaled by interruptions in sleep patterns, changes in appetite or loss of libido. If you are unsure of your triggers, consider keeping a detailed journal. Write in the journal even when your mood is good. Make a note of any change to your regular habits. You may notice a pattern emerging that indicates the start of low periods.
Diet and Exercise
Depressed people can often neglect themselves, leading to a negative cycle. A healthy diet and exercise is essential for maintaining good mental health. Aerobic exercise may help improve mood in mild, moderate and serious depression sufferers, according to a 2000 study in “Pyschosomatic Medicine,” a journal of biobehavioral medicine.
A lack of sunlight can be a factor in the development of depression. Melatonin, a neurotransmitter that helps control sleep, may overproduce in shorter, darker days, causing fatigue, lethargy and low mood. This may cause a certain depression known as seasonal affective disorder or SAD. The American Psychiatric Association recommends taking a walk outside or, in the case of extremely dull weather, investing in a light box if your depression seems to be triggered by seasonal changes.
People with depression may feel isolated by their illness or even seek to isolate themselves. The National Institute of Mental Health recommends doing activities you enjoyed in your better moods and confiding in a friend or family member. Speak to those you can be sure will try to understand — being told to “snap out of it” or sweeping it under the carpet will not help you.
Sleep is an important regulator of mood — too much or too little can cause mood to become low. Stick to a regular bedtime and rising time. If you have difficulty, ask your spouse or a family member to help until you can nail down a routine. Maintaining some semblance of normal daily function can help improve mood.