Those who struggle with major depression have a mood disorder that affects their mental health and their physical health. The symptoms of major depression are sadness, becoming withdrawn, isolation, inability to concentrate, weight loss or gain, self-hate, loss of interest in activities, nervousness, thoughts of suicide, and more.
Along with therapy and sometimes medication, there’s a lot you can do on your own to fight back. Changing your behavior — your physical activity, lifestyle, and even your way of thinking — are all natural depression treatments.
These tips can help you feel better — starting right now:
1. Get in a routine: If you’re depressed, you need a routine, says Ian Cook, MD. He’s a psychiatrist and director of the Depression Research and Clinic Program at UCLA. Depression can strip away the structure from your life. One day melts into the next. Setting a gentle daily schedule can help you get back on track.
2. Getting Regular Sleep: Sleep deprivation or insomnia are major symptoms of many depressive mood disorders. By setting a designated amount of time to sleep every night, our bodies like with food, learn to expect when these events occur and if we provide it to them then our bodies perform at their best. A regular and healthy amount of sleep means 7-8 hours every night. Too much sleep is also harmful as our bodies may become hungry causing more feelings of exhaustion. Therefore, set a regular time to go to bed and to get up so you can feed your body and not feel tired. Read: Healthy sleeping tips for better and energetic life
3. Exercise: Take a 15- to 30-minute brisk walk every day — or dance, jog, or bike if you prefer. People who are depressed may not feel much like being active. But make yourself do it anyway (ask a friend to exercise with you if you need to be motivated). Once you get in the exercise habit, it won’t take long to notice a difference in your mood.
In addition to getting aerobic exercise, some yoga poses can help relieve feelings of depression. Try downward-facing dog or legs-up-the-wall pose (you can find these poses on yoga websites). Two other aspects of yoga — breathing exercises and meditation — can also help people with depression feel better.
4. Eat healthy: There is no magic diet that fixes depression. It’s a good idea to watch what you eat, though. If depression tends to make you overeat, getting in control of your eating will help you feel better.
Although nothing is definitive, Cook says there’s evidence that foods with omega-3 fatty acids (such as salmon and tuna) and folic acid (such as spinach and avocado) could help ease depression.
5. Notice good things: Depression affects a person’s thoughts, making everything seem dismal, negative, and hopeless. If depression has you noticing only the negative, make an effort to notice the good things in life. Try to notice one thing, then try to think of one more. Consider your strengths, gifts, or blessings. Most of all, don’t forget to be patient with yourself. Depression takes time to heal.
6. Challenge negative thoughts: In your fight against depression, a lot of the work is mental — changing how you think. When you’re depressed, you leap to the worst possible conclusions.
The next time you’re feeling terrible about yourself, use logic as a natural depression treatment. You might feel like no one likes you, but is there real evidence for that? You might feel like the most worthless person on the planet, but is that really likely? It takes practice, but in time you can beat back those negative thoughts before they get out of control.
7. Have fun & Try something new: If you’re depressed, make time for things you enjoy. What if nothing seems fun anymore? “That’s just a symptom of depression,” Cook says. You have to keep trying anyway.
“When we challenge ourselves to do something different, there are chemical changes in the brain,” Cook says. “Trying something new alters the levels of [the brain chemical] dopamine, which is associated with pleasure, enjoyment, and learning.”