It's possible. It won't work all the time and there's no sure-fire way to avoid it - but there are ways to raise the risk of becoming depressed and ways to lessen your chances.
EmpowHer describes depression as "a mental illness characterized by feelings of profound sadness and lack of interest in enjoyable activities. Depression is not the same as a blue mood. It is a persistent low mood that interferes with the ability to function and appreciate things in life. It may cause a wide range of symptoms, both physical and emotional. It can last for weeks, months, or years. People with depression rarely recover without treatment."
Depression can be rooted in a chemical imbalance of the brain but is often environmental. It's normal and natural to be depressed after the death of a loved one, a sudden health diagnosis or losing one's job or home. Medication is not always necessary for this kind of depression because it's perfectly normal. In fact, medicating the natural feelings of sadness due to a traumatic event in one's life can cause a person to be unable to work through the depression without a pill. Talk therapy, emotional support, a good diet and exercise routine.... and time.... is what can heal this kind of depression.
Medication may be necessary under other circumstances. But we must be careful to avoid trying to cure "normal".
There is no one hundred percent way to avoid depression. But there are ways to greatly lesson your risks. Here are some that we recommend:
◦Being aware of your personal risk
◦Having a psychiatric evaluation and psychotherapy if needed
◦Developing social supports
◦Learning stress management techniques
◦Do not abuse or overuse alcohol or drugs
◦Getting adequate sleep, rest, and recreation
Another note to ponder is how depression quickly follows retirement. How retirement is lauded! It's now time to finally rest! Relax! You've earned your right to bum around a little, right? Well, yes and no. We all slow down somewhat with age. We're not doing the same thing in our 60s (nor at the same pace) as we did in our 30s.
But studies have shown that people who retire early are more likely to die early. Work gives people meaning. A place to go, a place to be and something to do. It's fine to slow things down. You HAVE earned the right to rest! But when retiring, a person is much wiser to take on part-time work they enjoy, or throw themselves into volunteering or to start taking that hobby more seriously. Retirement means retiring from one's main career, not one's life. If one doesn't have a solid plan of activity after retirement, the initial relief of not having to get up every morning can quickly morph into feelings of doubt about one's self worth and sense of purpose.
There are also foods that are considered good for lessening the risks of depression: like one would suspect, they are fresh, unprocessed and organic. Organic meats in small amounts, fresh fruits and vegetables, fiber rich grains and plenty of water can help the body cope with the stressors that can contribute to depression. Sugars, caffeine and trans fats should be avoided or used in great moderation. Daily sunshine can also help with mood and physical exercise is important.
And go old school - a problem shared is a problem halved. Simply having someone to talk to, someone to share problems and advice with, can be instrumental in maintaining our mental health. Feelings of isolation and misunderstanding is a key factor in people who battle depression.
Of course, there will be those who, despite their best efforts, suffer from depression. Sometimes all the support in the world cannot prevent this common mental illness. The key is to start a regime to treat depression (physical, emotional/psychological and medical, when necessary) as soon as possible.
Have you beaten depression before it really took hold? Can you tell us how?
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