Depression affects an estimated 14.6 million American citizens. It is typically described as a chemical imbalance in the brain that requires outside assistance, in the same way a heart with an irregular beat requires a pacemaker. As a corollary, many Americans resort to anti-depressants to treat their “mental disorder.”
The problem is, doctors do not have a biological understanding of the mind the same way they have a biological understanding of the heart. Consequently, anti-depressants produce more side effects than cures, which, in turn, requires more drugs to counter balance. In many cases, these side effects actually worsen depression. In other cases, anti-depressants merely numb, rather than treat the underlying problem. It’s a rabbit hole down Big Pharma Avenue.
Depression is so widely defined that nearly everyone qualifies as clinically depressed. This isn’t to say depression is a myth. We all experience blue spells from time to time. But just because you are experiencing a blue spell doesn’t mean you need a blue pill. Here are a few ways to, as the American actress Judy Garland used to sing, “forget your troubles, come on get happy.”
Exercise: Exercise is extremely important when it comes to uplifting your mood. In animal studies, exercise increases the secretion of happy feeling chemicals like serotonin. Some forward thinking agencies have even gone so far as to prescribe exercise, rather than anti-depressants, as a treatment for mild depression.
Charity work: Depressed people are fixated on their problems. Charity work is a great way to see your problems in a new light, from the point of view of the universe. Instead of focusing on your problems, your attention is focused on the problems of other people. Plus, charity work helps you get out of the house, make social connections and feel good in general. Studies have shown that volunteering gives people a deep sense of happiness.
Eat healthy: Depression is believed to be a chemical imbalance. This so-called chemical imbalance may be a product of a poor nutrition. In other words, a depressed mind is a mind deprived of vitamins. To ensure that you are getting your daily vitamin intake, make sure to eat a well-rounded diet consisting of whole foods, mostly plants, consumed in moderation.
Multivitamins are another way to ensure you get your daily vitamin intake. Don’t make multivitamins your primary source of vitamins, however. The bulk of your daily vitamin intake should come from food. Also avoid depressants, like alcohol, which can exacerbate the symptoms of depression.
Get enough sleep: Sleep is essential to human well-being, along with food, water and shelter. Whenever humans are deprived of sleep, it drastically alter ours mood, mostly for the worse. Too little sleep can actually worsen depression. If you’re not getting a standard eight hours of sleep, change your routine. Consider removing distractions in your bedroom that prevent you from getting enough sleep, like your television and computer.
Set goals: Depressed people often feel hopeless. It becomes the focal point of their attention. If you’re depressed, it’s important to keep your mind focused on something other than how depressed you are. This can be achieved by making goals. Goals give you something to look forward to and combat the feeling of hopelessness. Your goals can start out small, such as promising yourself you will run every other day, and build up from there. Depressed thoughts occupy less mental space the more goals you have in mind.
There are instances when depression becomes so severe that outside help is needed. In most cases, however, depression is relatively mild and can be mitigated by some simple lifestyle changes. Even medical doctors who prescribe anti-depressants will recommend you take note of the listed suggestions. With these nuggets of wisdom in mind, you can keep depression out of mind.