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Depression Rx: Lifestyle, Lifestyle, Lifestyle!

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More and more studies are revealing that if you’re an adolescent girl, you’re at greater risk for being depressed than if you are an adolescent boy.

A sampling:

• Pre-adolescent boys and girls have about the same low level of depression. But when they reach puberty, depression in girls increases well above that for boys.

• Poor social relationships is a key reason depression is higher for adolescent girls than boys.

• Another related factor is low self-esteem. Poor social support combined with low self-esteem increase the chances of getting depressed when faced with stressful situations or negative life events.

Causes demystified
It often takes more than one stressful event or situation to trigger depression. Examples include a history of physical, emotional or substance abuse; traumatic life events; hormonal changes; or a family history of depression. A culumation of unresolved issues is usually the underlying cause of depression. Because depression is caused by a combination of factors, a combination of approaches for relieving it is the most effective solution.

Change lifestyle, decrease depression
The most powerful step you can take to diminish depression is to make changes in your lifestyle. There are four key lifestyle components that are linked to preventing, diminishing, and even overcoming depression and other major ailments.

They are:

Diet. Consume a nutrient-dense diet that consists mostly of fresh whole fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, with fewer nuts and seeds, and small portions of low-fat dairy, and lean fish, poultry, or meat, and you’re taking a strong step toward overcoming depression. EmpowHer writer and expert, Deborah Kesten, MPH, writes more about defeating depression with diet in her article, “Depression Rx: Make the Food-Mood Connection.”

Stress. This most neglected aspect of lifesyle warrants your full attention if you want to reduce depression. If you are over-busy, over-challenged, and over-worked, you need to find a balance, a time-out where you can relax, focus, listen, and let the issues settle so that you can see the horizon. We know these approaches, such as as yoga, meditation, Chi Gong, Tai Chi, deep relaxation, journaling, prayer, and positive affirmations, are all effective stress management tools. Choose the technique with which you most resonate, then, to reap the rewards, integrate it into your daily schedule.

Social support. Studies show that problems in relationships, such as too many demands, criticism, tension, and disagreements, are strongly linked with risk for major depression. Conversely, emotionally supportive social relationships are substantially more protective against major depression for women than for men. Find someone to whom you can listen with compassion, and a person who can do the same for you. Pets and plants can also give and receive support.

Exercise. A plethora of studies reveal that regular movement and motion through aerobics and weights release feel-good hormones that can ward off or alleviate depression.

In ensuing articles, I will give you practical lifestyle-based suggestions that empower you to replace depression with skills and insights that cultivate emotional well-being. In the meantime, consider which of the four lifestyle components is most problematic for you. Once you identify the area in your life that is most challenging, you’re taking the first step toward turning it around.

Larry Scherwitz, PhD, and Deborah Kesten, MPH, are international lifestyle and health researchers and Certified Wellness and Cardiac coaches. They also are the award-winning authors of Feeding the Body, Nourishing the Soul, The Healing Secrets of Food, and The Enlightened Diet. Call them at 415.810.7874, or visit them at www.Enlightened-Diet.com to take their FREE What’s Your Eating Style? Quiz, and to learn more about their Whole Person Nutrition Program for wellness, weight loss, heart-health, coaching, and books.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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