Tips for recovering from depression

If you have had depression, you know how hopeless you can feel.  It is important to get professional treatment. However there are things that you can do to ease the symptoms of depression. Exercise, changing your diet, and even playing with your pet can improve your mood.
Let your pet nuzzle your blues away
Sometimes your pet really can be your best friend and that is good therapy. When you play with your pet, you take your mind off your problems. Also when you take care of your pet you are fulfilling a commitment to something outside yourself. Caring for others can be very therapeutic.
Eat smart to lift mind and body
There is a connection between mind and body. Although no specific diet works for depression, a healthy diet can be part of an overall treatment plan. Build your diet around plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to help build your physical and emotional health.
Choose foods to boost your moods
Some studies suggest Omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin B12 may ease the mood changes that are part of depression. Fatty fish like salmon and tuna contain omega 3 fatty acids. So do flaxseed, nuts, soybeans, and dark green vegetables. Seafood and low fat dairy products are sources of B12. Vegetarians who eat no meat or fish can get B12 in fortified cereals, dairy products, and supplements.
Try low fat carbs for a pick me up
Serotonin is a brain chemical that enhances your sense of wellbeing. Carbohydrates raise the level of serotonin in your brain. Low fat carbs such as popcorn, a baked potato, crackers, or pasta are options. Vegetables, fruit and whole grain options also provide fibre.
Drink less caffeine to improve mood
Do you really need that third cup of coffee? Anxiety can accompany depression. Too much caffeine can make you nervous, jittery or anxious so cutting back on caffeine soft drinks, coffee, tea and chocolate may make a difference in your mood. It can also help you to sleep better at night.
Treat your aches and pains
Feelings of depression can be related to pain. Work with your health care team to treat depression and your pain.
Exercise to change the way you feel
For some people, exercise works as well or even better than antidepressants. And you don’t have to run a marathon. Just take a walk with a friend. As time goes by increase your activity until you exercise most days. Start to increase the intensity as you get more confident, include a class or a weights session at the gym. You will feel better physically and sleep better and night and your mood will improve.
Choose an exercise you enjoy
If you don’t like running you won’t last long trying to train for a marathon. However you are much more likely to stick with a moderate exercise that you enjoy. For instance play a game of golf without the cart, ride a bike, work in the garden, play tennis, go for a swim or attend a class at the gym that you like. The important thing is to pick something you like as you will then look forward to it and feel better when you do it.
Exercise with others for support
Staying connected with other people helps overcome the lethargy, exhaustion, and loneliness of depression. Join an exercise group or exercise with a friend. You will stay connected and also receive the support you need to help you stay on track.
Be sure you get enough sunlight
Do you feel more depressed during darker, colder months? You may have seasonal affective disorder or SAD. SAD is most common in the winter when there is less sunlight. SAD can be treated with light therapy or exposure to artificial sunlight, antidepressants and psychotherapy.
Explore your creativity
Painting, photography, music, knitting, or writing in a journal are all ways to express what you are feeling and to explore these feelings. Being creative can help you to feel better. The goal is not to create a masterpiece just to do something that gives you pleasure. It may better help you to understand how you feel.
Make time for mindful relaxation
Stress and anxiety can increase your depression symptoms and make it harder to recover. Learning to mentally relax can help to restore a sense of calm and control. You might consider a yoga or body balance class or meditation. Or you could simply listen to soothing music while taking a bath.
Become actively involved
Being involved with others can help you regain a sense of purpose. Try volunteering with a charity, or join a discussion group at the library or your church. Meeting new people and doing new things will help you to feel good about yourself.
Keep friends and family in your life
The people who love you want to support you. If you shut them out then they can’t. If you let them in you will feel a lot better. Call a friend and go for a walk. Have a cup of coffee with your partner. You may find that it helps to talk about your feelings. It feels good to have someone listen to you.
Get the healthy sleep that you need
Depression interferes with healthy sleep. Some people with depression sleep too much. Others can not fall asleep easily. As you recover from depression you need to relearn good sleeping habits. Start by going to bed and getting up at the same time each day. Use relaxation techniques to help you fall asleep. Healthy sleep makes you feel better physically and mentally.
Avoid alcohol and drugs
Alcohol and can slow or prevent recovery from depression. They can also make your depression worse and interfere with the medicines you take for depression. If you have a problem with substance abuse, ask for help. You will have a far better chance of recovering from depression.
Continue your treatment
These steps may help you to feel more positive about your life. But alone they are not enough. They will not replace medical treatment or talk therapy. Depression is a serious illness, and it carries a risk of suicide. If you are thinking about suicide seek help immediately. And never stop or change treatment without discussing it with your doctor.

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