World Mental Health Day Today: Here’s How You Fight Depression, Says Science

World Mental Health Day Today: Here’s How You Fight Depression, Says Science

October 10 is World Mental Health Day, a perfect reminder that good health includes physical and mental wellbeing. We list some tips on how we can all take steps each day to boost our mood and look after ourselves mentally.

Is the loss of a loved one taking a toll on your health or are you often feeling guilty and miserable because of your own actions?

The feeling of being deprived, losing hard-earned money on the stock markets, constant health issues, moving to a new city, retirement and several such stressful life events can leave a person vulnerable to depression.

“As per WHO estimates, nearly five crore Indians are suffering from depression and over 300 million people are living with it globally. The figures show an increase of more than 18% in cases of depression as compared with the last decade and account for over two-thirds of global suicides in low- and middle-income countries like India,” says Mahesh Jayaraman, co-founder of health platform

While there are numerous ways to deal with depression, most often, people resort to prescription antidepressants, and, in some severe cases, Electroconvulsive Therapy.

Managing depression or coping with depression symptoms can be quite challenging and can take a toll on your body as a whole. That’s why one needs to explore safe, alternative coping strategies to reverse depression without having to resort to antidepressants.

This World Mental Health Day, here are four scientific ways to deal with depression.

Eat a Balanced Diet, Rich in High Quality Fats: A balanced and nutritious diet helps promote good health and works effectively on the body to fight depression. The brain tends to rely on a combination of complex carbohydrates, essential fatty acids, especially Omega 3 and Omega 6, vitamins and water to function efficiently.

While good fats- monounsaturated and polyunsaturated – are known to enhance mental health, trans-fats and saturated fats are bad and can adversely affect brain health. The low supply of essential nutrients could seriously hamper the body’s production of amino acids, which are key drivers of psychological health.

Incorporate nutrient-dense animal fats in your daily diet, to provide your body with Vitamin A, arachidonic acid, Omega 3 fatty acids, Vitamin D and Vitamin K. These nutrients will not only prevent or mitigate depression and anxiety but lead to improved concentration levels, enhanced moods and will result in better focus.

Conduct Thyroid Function Tests: Abnormal thyroid hormone levels can result in mood swings, anxiety, irritability, fatigue, insomnia and depression. Most of the times, patients with hypothyroidism report these symptoms, but receive diagnosis of major depression, general anxiety or bipolar disorder.

They are prescribed with antidepressants, mood stabilizers, sedatives, or all three, leaving the underlying illness untreated. As per research, a sizeable number of patients with depression may have early hypothyroidism, the cases of about half of which are detected only by thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) testing.

Therefore, if you are detected with hypothyroidism and depression, then dietary supplements that support thyroid function and natural desiccated thyroid hormone can come to your rescue. Remember, as thyroid function improves, depression goes away naturally.

Consume adequate B Vitamins: Often, low levels of Vitamin B12 and other B vitamins and folate can trigger depression. These vitamins play an important role in producing brain chemicals that affect mood and other brain functions.

Several studies have found that patients with mental disorders are nutrition deficient and lack omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. Vitamin B12 deficiency can result in compelling mental health problems.

Lack of this vitamin can impair cognitive function and negatively affect the brain in several ways. Therefore, the first step is to ensure that your body is getting an adequate amount of B12 from your diet. Vitamin B12 is found in abundance in animal products such as fish, lean meat, poultry, eggs, and grass fed dairy products like milk and cheese. Fortified breakfast cereals also are a good source of B12 and other B vitamins.

Practice Yoga and Meditation: Yoga and meditation can be two most effective ways to fight depression and its symptoms. Yoga and meditation have demonstrated therapeutic effectiveness on many patients dealing with depression, mental and emotional problems.

Regular practice of yoga and meditation can combat depression and help in improving overall well-being. Instead of popping prescription antidepressants that can have serious side effects, especially after prolonged use, practice yoga and meditation as a treatment for depression, and, as an effective alternative to medication that can have serious side-effects.

Get some exercise: Many recent studies have shown that exercise can be an effective way of helping to prevent and combat depression. One of the largest and most extensive studies of its kind, published earlier this month, found that even just one hour a week of physical activity could be enough to reap the benefits.

After following 33,908 Norwegian adults for more than 11 years, the team found that those who reported doing no exercise at all at the start of the study showed a 44% increased chance of developing depression compared to those who were exercising one to two hours a week, and that 12% of cases of depression could have been prevented if participants undertook just one hour of physical activity each week.

Prioritise sleep: UK research found that treating insomnia with online cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) could in turn help treat mental health problems such as anxiety, depression and paranoia.

The team found that by using the psychological treatment to improve sleep, they could also improve mental health, with a lack of sleep often linked to a higher risk of depression. The team added that the results suggest that helping people get more shut-eye could be “an important first step in tackling many psychological and emotional problems.”

Donate some time to volunteer: Helping others has been found to have both physical and mental health benefits, with a 2013 review of 40 academic papers by the UK’s University of Exeter finding that volunteers rated their levels of depression as lower and their levels of well-being and life satisfaction as higher than non-volunteers.

A 2016 study also found that those who valued time over money reported being happier, with using spare time on more meaningful activities such as volunteering for a charity also increasing happiness.

Spend some time in nature: A New Zealand study found a link between mental health and a view of the sea or ocean, with an increased visibility of blue space significantly associated with lower levels of psychological distress.

Many previous studies have also shown how access to nature and green spaces can benefit health, with a 2015 study of US adults findings that men in particular and those age 65 and above sleep better when they have access to nature, with better sleep linked to a lower risk of depression. Natural terrain playgrounds which incorporate trees and grass can also help relieve stress in children, with another study suggesting that living near high levels of greenery could reduce levels of aggression in teenagers.

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