Life sometimes can feel unbearable, leaving you feeling helpless and hopeless. This is only natural and happens to everyone at some point in life. However, if you’re feeling down for longer periods than usual, you might be dealing with depression. Depression is a common and serious medical disorder that affects your mood, the way you think and act. It is estimated that over 17 million American adults suffer from some form of depression. Mayo Clinic describes the seriousness of depression to range from mild, temporary to severe episodes of persistent sadness and depression.
Symptoms of Depression
People struggling with depression are overcome by feelings of sadness, hopelessness, frustration, and irritability. Other common symptoms include:
• Weight loss/gain
• Lack of energy and extreme tiredness
• Lack of motivation to do anything
• Sleep problems, like insomnia or oversleeping
• Thoughts of suicide
• Lack of interest in previously exciting things
Natural Remedies to Manage Depression
You don’t have to rely on prescription medications to treat and manage symptoms of depression. There are natural ways to help you manage depression naturally. Here are some of them:
Move Your Body
You don’t need to get a gym membership to start exercising. So, long as you get your body moving, any kind of exercise can work. However, it’s important to find something that you love doing and something you can engage in regularly. It could range from taking a 15-minute walk or jog, going for a run, swimming, gardening, attending an aerobics or Zumba class, yoga, riding a bike, and so on. The point is to get your body moving. The good thing about exercise is that it elevates your mood and boosts chemicals in the body that make you feel good.
Don’t Skip a Meal
Nutrition is another crucial factor to consider when dealing with depression. Skipping junk and highly processed foods and opting for healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains will help you stay healthy. Other foods like fatty fish (sardines and salmon) provide essential minerals like omega-3 fatty acids. Eating fish regularly saves you the hassle of taking supplements. If you have to take supplements, be sure to look for the terms EPA and DHA on the package – these are specific compounds that help ease depression. Some supplements and herbal remedies like St. John’s Wort are said to treat depression. Others like SAMe, a dietary supplement used to treat several diseases, can be very powerful and should not be used in combination with medication. When you maintain good nutrition, you’ll keep your blood sugar and energy levels steady, hence helping to manage symptoms of depression like tiredness and moodiness.
Get Sufficient Sleep
Sleep might seem like a basic need, but it’s very important for our bodies. Depression can cause you to lose sleep or oversleep. Try to avoid this by getting into a regular sleep routine. You can achieve this by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. More importantly, avoid distractions during your sleeping time. TV and phones are the leading sources of distractions. Leave your phone in another room and try to switch off your TV and computer at least 30 minutes before sleep to have more restorative sleep.
Sometimes, when depression sets in, you don’t feel like doing anything. Experts recommend that you go outside, even if it’s just taking a walk. Being outside, seeing nature and other people elevates your mood. A study by Harvard Health found that those who walk in nature registered lower activity in the prefrontal cortex, a region of the brain that is active during rumination. Rumination is the repetitive thoughts that focus on negative emotions. When you’re outside, your mind has other things to focus on rather than what you’re feeling. And this is beneficial for combating depression.
Practice Yoga, Meditation, Mindfulness, or Prayer
Yoga involves stretching and breathing exercises that help center the mind. When combined with mindfulness and meditation, it can help manage the symptoms of depression. Meditation or prayer can help calm your brain or develop a way to block feelings of depression. Mindfulness, on the other hand, helps you to be aware of thoughts and feelings in your mind at the moment and acknowledge them. With such an awareness, you can manage stress and process the negative thoughts in a way that makes them less distressing.
Reduce Caffeine Intake
Caffeine is found in products like tea, coffee, soda, and even chocolate. While you don’t have to cut out caffeine intake completely, reducing its consumption will have positive effects on your moods and body. Caffeine is known to interfere with sleep and it’s advisable to avoid taking anything containing caffeine late in the afternoon. If you rely on caffeine, start cutting its intake gradually to avoid dealing with caffeine withdrawal. When you crave coffee, soda, or tea, go for a short run or walk to block the thoughts.
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