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Tips To Decrease Depression Symptoms From Dr. Henry Emmons

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Dr. Emmons shares three tips to decrease symptoms of depression.

Dr. Emmons:
Let me start by giving some pretty simple tips and things that everyone can do, that you can do relatively simply and that make a very big difference with depression.

The first thing, and if I could tell people to do just one thing for depression and for anxiety it would be this - exercise.

We all know it. We all know it’s good for us and it truly is. It is so good for the brain as well as the rest of the body, and it is as helpful if not more helpful than medication for most kinds of depression, for all but the most serious kinds of depression.

So exercising and I agree with the guidelines that the government has given recently for how much exercise and how often.

I think about 30 minutes, three to five days a week. People who have a little less energy, lower energy, benefit by doing more, so more on the higher end and a little more vigorous exercise.

People who have more anxiety, it’s fine for the exercise to be kind of mild, gentle, anything as simple as walking or any kind of rhythmic movement. So, exercise being really number one.

Second thing, very simple is to take omega-3s and to use fish oil or if you are vegan or just don’t like the idea of fish oil, a reasonable substitute is flax, flaxseed or flax oil.

And I think for fish oil 2000 milligrams a day and for flaxseeds, two tablespoons a day ground up or a tablespoon a day of oil.

And then the third thing which is not always so simple to do but it’s easy to understand and that is to get more sleep.

Sleep is the crucial variable when it comes to recovery and also triggering of an illness.

So people who have, for example, who have a genetic predisposition to depression or anxiety, if they go for a period of time of sleeping poorly or not sleeping enough, it’s the most common immediate trigger for their illness.

So getting in the neighborhood of 7 to 9 hours, our bodies probably really need eight to nine hours of sleep a night, and trying to keep the timing of the sleep really consistent so that you are getting up at roughly the same time every day.

About Dr. Henry Emmons, M.D.:
Dr. Henry Emmons, M.D., is a psychiatrist who integrates mind-body and natural therapies, mindfulness and allied Buddhist therapeutics, and psychotherapeutic caring and insight in his clinical work. Dr. Emmons obtained his medical degree from the University of Iowa College of Medicine and did his residency in psychiatry at the University of Rochester Medical Center, where he was Chief Resident. He practices general and holistic psychiatry and consults with several colleges and organizations nationally. Dr. Emmons is the author of “The Chemistry of Joy: A Three Step Program for Overcoming Depression Through Western Science and Eastern Wisdom.”

Visit Dr. Emmons at his website

Add a Comment5 Comments

I have suffered from severe clinical chronic depression for about 55 years now. I have tried almost every medication on the market. I've been through counseling, and I've been through 40+- shock treatments and too many hospitalizations to count. I've tried exercise but other illnesses keep me from doing very much of that. Is there a particular combination of medications that seem to be more effective than others. Do doctors combine different classes of drugs that seem to be more effective? I am getting desperate. I am now 68 years old, just lost my father, moved in with a roommate who is very controlling, moved to another state and have no friends I can confide in. I just started seeing a LCSW and I think she is going to be helpful. But I've been through enough CBT and it has not been effective on a long term basis. I would say that a very small percentage of my life has experienced any kind of happiness at all. Anyone out there with some suggestions? Thank you. bbnrse

August 2, 2012 - 7:10pm
EmpowHER Guest

I fully agree with Dr. Emmons number one tip on geting exercise, especially if it is outdoors. I began running long distance when I began my divorce. The "high" from running the first year really helped cleanse my system. But now I dont get that high even after 90 minutes of running. I also tried to expand my social network, which when I am with my friends or other people, helps. I am however going through a strong bout of depression again. I see my kids less now - their father finally moved into his own home, & we share custody. I ended a 1 yr relationship with a man 2 months ago that I still have feelings for & now I have a lot of more empty time on my hands which I REALLY try to fill with friends, outdoor running & biking. but I just cant shake this. I have a fantastic job that I wish I could sink myself into when I am not with kids, friends, outdoors, but I just lack the motivation. I am not sure what to do at this point. I have a fairly healthy diet, fish oil, whole foods, Any advice?

January 30, 2011 - 11:44am
Expert HERWriter Guide Blogger (reply to Anonymous)

Anon - You've mentioned going through some major life transitions with your children and their father, as well as with your last long-term relationship. You said you have "empty time" on your hands that you are trying to "fill" with other things. You have concerns about your level of motivation for your job. It sounds like it might help to work with a trained professional counselor to sort out your feelings about all of these transitions and where you are now in your life, as well as where you want to go. It can be hard when we are in the middle of our own "stuff" to figure out the right balance, and - as much as we may like them - our friends are not always the best resources for dealing with the concerns that come with major life changes. You may also want to consider having a complete physical if you haven't had one in a while just to make sure that you're completely healthy.

You have a lot going for you, and are doing a lot of good things that will help with depression, but having some outside help and support to gain more focus on your "new" life and your future direction may help alleviate some of the anxieties that are leading to seeking ways to "fill time" and fill up your life. Hope that helps and good luck to you!

January 30, 2011 - 2:26pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Pat Elliott)

Thank you, I agree with not really using my friends as therapists. I try not to go into all the details of everything with them because- 1) I tend to be more private &- 2) They dont need feel like they should privide answers to me.They are not trained & will be biased. I would like to find a counselor, I just dont know where to begin. On your other receommnedation, I have had a complete physical, CBC etc, I am good in that area- thank goodness,

January 30, 2011 - 3:36pm
Expert HERWriter Guide Blogger (reply to Anonymous)

Psych Central has a lot of good info, and they also have a feature where you can do a search for a local therapist. http://psychcentral.com/
Good luck, and I'm glad to hear your physical went well!!!!!

January 31, 2011 - 5:26pm
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