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Alleviate Depression

Q. I deal with depression on a daily basis and I’m not sure why I feel so negative.  I just don’t feel like doing anything and nothing really interests me anymore.  Do you have any recommendations on how I can be more positive about life and get out of this funk?
A. Depression is a very tough mental health condition to control and manage on a daily basis, but for the majority that has mild (severe depression – seek professional help) forms of depression can be managed by incorporating some life style change habits.  There are many life factors that can depress 1 of 3 elements that make up a person (body, mind and spirit).  I can say with conviction if you can work to improve one of the 3 elements that make up your encompassing being, you can improve a depressed state. 
By learning how to manage depression your demeanor will become more positive, you’ll feel better and out word appearance will begin to improve!  Listed below are some activity  recommendations that “can and will” improve wellbeing while thwarting physical and mental depression.  You’ll note in the recommendations I don’t list TV, or movie activities as a healthy lifestyle habit.
This is because if you watch something as opposed to putting yourself into an actual physical activity… you stimulate the release of the brain’s natural feel good chemicals endorphins, serotonin and dopamine.  Not that a little movie watching is a bad thing.  It can actually be relaxing.  It’s when the habit becomes a sedentary and frequent one, it’s time to change that habit.     
What’s the difference between a book and a movie?  Movies require no brain work, the viewing process simply takes images in and we respond emotionally to what we see.  
Books on the other hand stimulate the imagination and provide information that makes us think and process it.  Which is a cognitive brain function skillset and keeps the brain sharp.  In my opinion, reading a good book is relaxing and contributes to cognitive skills development, stimulates the imagination and motivates one to think differently.  Or in ways that may incentivize the body to move.
However, too much reading like movie viewing can also create a bad sedentary habit.  Both movie viewing and reading a good book, or a good relaxing walk or meditation have been said to decrease anxiety levels and depression.
It is the activity habits we participate in daily which requires balance of time spent on sedentary versus exercise activities performed each day.  When sedentary habits increase, the contribution to the encompassing being becomes depressed for lack of released feel good brain chemicals and body movement.   Likewise, when exercise activities increase the contribution to the encompassing being experiences a greater sense of wellbeing, spirit is heightened and we feel well and energetic.
How to mitigate the depression bug,  
  1. Find an activity that you enjoy.  For example, walking, nutritious cooking, reading, draw, paint, home improvement, gardening, interior design, gym membership, aerobics class, cycling class, travel abroad, fishing, hiking, camping, etc.  Each one of these types of activities provides an interactive personal experience to further know oneself and find other experiences outside of your comfort zone.
  2. Incorporate a healthy diet into your lifestyle.  For example, ensure you get plenty of fresh fish, meat, poultry, vegetables, fruits and fiber.  Supplement your diet with a good daily supplement if your schedule simply will not allow you to consume 3 to 4 servings of fruits and vegetables a day.  Also if your over 45 years of age, or older, you should seriously consider supplementing your diet with other nutrients that we no longer receive from our foods, due to poor crop rotation farming practices, pesticides, herbicides and steroids now found in our foods [organic farms produce live stock and all other natural foods without these poor farming practises].
  3. See your primary physician.  Ask for a referral to speak with a mental health consultant. This does not mean you are crazy!   Pychologists and psychiatrists simply have much more information and tools to offer.  Although I promote natural foods & supplements to deal with depression, I also realize there are other “short term” benefits that can be derived through use of pharmaceuticals.  I believe the goal should be to find a “natural long term” solution(s) to deal with depression as opposed to long term pharmaceutical use.
  4. Stay in touch with family and close friends.  The worst thing you could possibly do is to isolate yourself.  I understand you may feel like you don’t have a friend in the world.  This simply is not true!  Don’t try to deal with depression on your own.  Find someone you can talk to.  Family and friends are your best source of support.  If you can not find this support in your own family, or close circle of friends, call a depression hot line, seek other public health, or mental health service centers and churches in your area, see your physician.  You simply must discuss your depression issues with someone if you can not help yourself.  To go it alone is very difficult and needs not to be this way.
  5. Find the meaning of life.  This is very perplexing, personal and is as old as time itself.  I believe the meaning of life is a personal experience for each individual and where each one of us is scripted to fulfill a role in this life time and beyond.  To not understand your purpose in life and spiritual passage to the next journey is depressing within itself. 
  6. Choose book topics to expand your understanding of life after death and reason you were put here on this earth.  Read biblical studies and prophecy, historical philosophers, current spiritual scholars, study scripture, afterlife experiences, personal conversations with God, etc.  Don’t limit yourself to any one religion as God is universal.  With a little effort, you will quickly define your purpose here on this planet which will provide a positive and uplifting experience for you.

Author: Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, USA Medical Services Officer, CPT, RET. 2008 Copyright. All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Publishing, www.mirrorathlete.org Sign up for your Free Monthly Health eNewsletter.