Have a Psychiatric Evaluation and Psychotherapy, If Needed
If you feel overwhelmed by stress or are experiencing symptoms of depression, see your doctor for a physical exam and mental health evaluation. You may be referred for further evaluation or counseling, if appropriate.
Develop a Strong Social and Spiritual Support System
A network of supportive relationships is beneficial for the prevention and treatment of depression. Supportive relationships serve as a buffer against stress, which can sometimes trigger depression.
Strong religiousness is associated with a reduced risk of depression. Spiritual faith in the context of organized religion can have a buffering effect on depression. In a group setting, it can provide the additional benefit of social support.
Reduce Your Stress
A variety of relaxation techniques can help you cope with stressors that may contribute to depression. Examples include meditation, deep breathing, progressive relaxation, yoga, and biofeedback. These techniques help you pay attention to tension in your body and release it with exercises that help quiet your mind and relax your muscles. You can also reduce stress by getting adequate sleep, rest, and recreation.
Regular exercise helps you relieve stress and may help prevent or reduce depression. Aerobic exercise and yoga have been found to be particularly beneficial for reducing stress and improving mood. Aerobic exercise can raise the levels of brain chemicals that affect mood, such as endorphins, adrenaline, serotonin, and dopamine. Other benefits of exercise include: weight loss (if necessary), increased muscle tone, and higher self-esteem. Yoga provides the benefits of stretching and deep relaxation.
Get Treatment for Alcohol and Drug Abuse
Alcohol and drugs may contribute to depression. If you can discontinue use of such substances on your own, do so. If you think you may have a substance abuse disorder, seek professional treatment.
Eat a healthful diet, that is low in fat, high in fiber, and rich in vitamins and minerals. Specific dietary factors that may be beneficial in depression are the B-complex vitamins (found in whole grains) and omega-3 fatty acids (found in cold-water fish, fish oil, and flax seeds).
Get the Necessary Amount of Sleep
Get a reasonable amount of sleep (around 8 hours) nightly. If you are suffering from insomnia, seek treatment, since chronic insomnia is thought to be a risk factor for depression.
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Carson RC, Butcher JN, Mineka S.
Abnormal Psychology and Modern Life. 11th ed. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon; 2000.
Logan AC. Omega-3 fatty acids and major depression: a primer for the mental health professional.
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Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a