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Last week I wrote an article about depression and pharmaceutical interventions. There are times that these treatments have been very successful for patients and have allowed them to manage their daily activities. I feel that depression is a mental health condition that is best treated with a combination of treatments, including for some patients both natural or behavioral changes. These more natural options can include nutrition, stress management, behavioral changes, counseling and exercise.
One of the first treatments I always recommend to patients suffering from depression is exercise. As publicized by the Mayo Clinic in New York, there are numerous benefits of exercise including the release of chemicals in the brain called endorphins, that promote good feelings and help lower depression. It acts as a detraction to the negative thoughts that feed additional negative thoughts and depressive feelings.
Exercise classes or walking around the neighborhood can increase positive social interactions with others in your community. Creating and achieving exercise goals builds self-confidence which helps to lower anxiety and depressive states. Increased breathing from exercise can lower anxiety states as well.
Nutrition is also an important component of managing depression. Serotonin is one of the fundamental neurotransmitters associated with depression. Eating foods that have the precursors to increase serotonin in the brain can aid in creating more serotonin levels, which is what some of the medications are created to do in the body. Poor overall nutrition, eating highly processed food, or skipping meals decrease energy levels in the body causing symptoms of lethargy and fatigue. Having low blood sugar levels increases irritability, irritation, and moodiness which are also symptoms in depression. Stress management activities also reduce irritability, moodiness, and anxiety by teaching the patient behaviors that are empowering and allows them to have a sense of control of their environment.
Finally, counseling is often key to teaching patients to have a different perspective on their current depressive situation.