Tips to Ease Depression
Many studies have demonstrated that a 10 minute, brisk walk three
times per day for 4 days per week, for 10 days, or a 40-minute
exercise session 4 times per week (10 min. warm up, 30 min. exercise,
10 min. cool down) for 6 weeks is equal in effectiveness to taking
antidepressant medication. It doesn't matter what your level
of fitness, whether you walk, jog, or run. The important thing
seems to be movement. We were made to move; ancient humans moved much of the day, and cognitive psychologists have found that the movement of the head helps regulate neurotransmitters! Exercise has been shown to increase deep
sleep, reduce stress reactivity, reduce depression, increase
pain tolerance, and increase self-esteem.
- Get more light. Sunglasses inhibit the effect of the sun on
your retinas, which the brain needs to regulate its circadian
rhythm and to produce serotonin (a neurotransmitter). Being inside
provides only 800 lux (when 10,000 are needed). Many people with
depression are effected by the reduced light of fall and winter.
If that is true for you, consult your psychologist about the
possibility of obtaining a light box; Alaskan Northern Lights makes one such box.
- Pay attention to your diet. Half of depressed people respond to the addition
of omega-3 fatty acids into their diet (fish oil, nut oil, flaxseed
oil). If you find yourself feeling lethargic during the day,
a quick fix (which lasts 10 minutes to 90 minutes) is to eat
protein without carbohydrates (protein powder, eggs, lean meat,
nuts). If you find yourself feeling agitated, a quick fix (lasts
up to 4 hours) is to eat complex carbohydrates without protein
(fruit, vegetables--potatoes work very well)--not sugary treats,
which will cause a very brief spike in energy, followed by a
prolonged crash, which can make depression feel worse.
- Stop using caffeine. It takes caffeine 4-8 hours to leave your system
(doubled if you are using antidepressants). Caffeine interferes
with deep sleep (see below), causes agitation, disrupts your
circadian rhythm, causes a brief spike in energy, followed by
a prolonged 'down,' which makes depression worse. Caffiene content
of various foods: 12 oz. coffee (125-150 mg); 12 oz. tea (50
mg); 12 oz. caffeinated soda (50 mg); hot chocolate or chocolate
candy bar (15-20 mg); Midol (132 mg); Excedrin (65 mg); Excedrin
Extra Strength (100 mg); Anacin (32 mg). It takes only 250
mg. of caffiene to severely impact your ability to reach deep
- Stop drinking alcohol. The single most common substance people use
which affects their sleep is alcohol. Although people feel it
makes it easier to fall asleep, alcohol abolishes deep sleep.
Instead of entering deep sleep, you begin to wake up and find
it difficult to fall back asleep. Regular use of alcohol in the
evening therefore makes depression worse and makes it virtually
impossible to rise out of depression. (Tranquilizers, including
sleeping pills, and stimulants such as weight-loss pills, nicotine,
and some decongestants, also affect deep sleep).
- Sleep better. This
is the #1 most important thing to pay attention to when depressed! Researchers have now concluded that lack of sleep is the biggest predictor variable of depression. We travel through four stages of sleep every night. The brain
needs stages three and four to produce neurotransmitters. If
you aren't getting to those stages, you will become physiologically
depressed, and you will be unable to rise out of depression.
Guard your sleep! Sleep tips can be found under 'books' and 'excerpts
from The Creative Dreamer's Journal and Workbook.' Some people also find it helpful
to take melatonin (1/2 mg at 6:00 pm sublingually--under the
tongue), especially if they are suffering from hot flashes, since
melatonin lowers body temperature at night.
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