We all feel blue from time to time, which is normal depending on the circumstances we encounter. But do you feel sad most times than not? If so, you may be depressed.
Depression or major depressive disorder is a serious mood disorder that affects your daily activities (sleep, eat, energy, or work), as well as how you feel and think. Some symptoms include:
- Persistent sadness
- Feelings of hopelessness, or pessimism
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
- Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
- Decreased energy or fatigue
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
- Disruption of sleep, constant awakening or oversleeping
- Appetite and/or weight changes
- Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempt
If you have a combination of these symptoms of just a few of them most of the day, nearly every day, for at least two weeks, you should seek out help. Psychotherapy (cognitive behavioral, interpersonal, group, and family therapies) provide great help, as well as psycho-education and support groups. And sometimes, pharmacotherapy (medications) is needed.
However, you must simultaneously address your lifestyle in order to deal with your emotional issues. Even if you know it or not, your emotions, thoughts, actions, and your body are interconnected. You must take a holistic approach!
LIFESTYLE CHANGES TO ADDRESS DEPRESSIVE MOODS
Evaluate and Change Your Thoughts
Your emotions are the result of your thoughts. Generally, depressed people have a negative view of themselves, the world, and the future. If you think that you are not good enough, that your life is pointless, and that your situation will never change, you will feel sad, hopeless, and helpless. And these negative thoughts provoke negative emotions. Conversely, positive emotions like joy, pride, and love follow hopeful positive thoughts.
Take a moment to fully assess yourself and your situation. Try to observe yourself and your circumstances from a detached perspective. Take each negative thought, deconstruct it, and reframe it realistically. Remember, your perception is subjective and can be changed.
Be in Motion
Our bodies were made to keep in motion, not to vegetate, which is why movement has numerous positive effects. Exercise helps release endorphins, which are responsible for feelings of well-being and are even analgesic, helping you deal with pain.
Have a Serotonin-Promoting Diet
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter mostly found in the gastrointestinal track that contributes to a positive mood, as well as the regulation of sleep, appetite, and some cognitive functions. There are many foods that help elevate serotonin levels naturally:
- healthy fats (coconut oil, nuts and seeds, and fish high in omega-3 fatty acids like wild salmon, sardines, and anchovies)
- foods high in probiotics
- foods high in tryptophan (an amino acid found in egg whites, spirulina, turkey, and cheese)
- antioxidant-high foods (raw vegetables and fruits)
Plus, do not skip meals in order to keep your blood sugar stable and reduce mood swings.
Eliminate Products that Contribute to Depressive and Anxious States
Just like there are foods and products that boost your mood, there are others that affect it negatively. Avoid the regular consumption of refined sugar, processed foods, hydrogenated oils, soda, foods high in sodium, artificial sweeteners, and alcohol. Caffeine can also be detrimental for some people.
There are certain supplements that promote a healthy positive mood (DISCLAIMER: As with other major lifestyle changes, it is advisable to check with you primary care physician since supplements can interact with other medications)
- Fish Oil (1000-3000 mg/day with food): high in omega-3 fatty acids and optimal for brain health. Make sure to get high quality fish oil supplements, which will delivered all desired nutrients without the unpleasant aftertaste or “fish burps”
- B-Complex Vitamins: help your body conserve the amino acid tryptophan as it is converted into serotonin
- 5-HTP or 5-hydroxytryptophan (50-300 mg up to 3x day): an amino acid that is converted into serotonin in the body. Take a fat-soluble version, generally in a spray form, that’s better absorbed and doesn’t upset the digestive system
- Vitamin D (2,000 IU to 10,000 IU daily): known for its positive effect on teeth and bones since it promotes calcium absorption. It also helps to fend off depression
- St. John’s Wort (300mg 3x day): It is a great mood elevator with a strong antiviral activity that can promote healing and repair of wounds. Increase your dose slowly if you don’t experience changes after a week – up to a max of 600mg 3x day. Be mindful that it may interact with birth control pills and antidepressants
- SAMe (200mg 2x day on an empty stomach): used for depression, reduce the pain of osteoarthritis. infertility, liver problems, premenstrual disorders, and musculoskeletal conditions. It is anti-inflammatory and analgesic. Increase the dose every two weeks to a maximum dose of 600mg twice daily.
- L-Theanine (100-600mg daily): amino acid found in green tea leaves used for depression and anxiety.
Sunbathing can be therapeutic since it increases vitamin D levels and boosts your mood.
Cope with stress in a heathy manner in order to avoid the accumulation of overwhelming emotions.
Depressive moods can be pervasive and devastating, not only for those affected but their family as well. Antidepressants are sometimes needed in order to deal with all the symptoms. However, changes in the diet, activity level, thought patterns, and ways of coping with life must take place to make deep and long lasting mood changes.
To a Fitter Healthier You,
The Fitness Wellness Mentor
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