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Unlocking Happiness: Practical Strategies for Managing Depression in 2024

Updated: May 9

Mastering Depression: Your 2024 Ultimate guide to Thriving

Lets talk about depression first. The simple truth is that people experience depression differently hence why symptoms often vary among various population, age groups and sexes. For example, one person might feel very low in mood and be unable to muster the energy to leave the house, while the other person might feel agitated and restless.

One person might feel deeply sad and break into tears easily, while the other might snap irritably at the least provocation. One picks at their food, while the other eats constantly. The two people might both say they feel sad, but the quality of their moods could be very different in depth and darkness.  

What are the known causes of depression so far? Are you aware that your mood, your perceptions, and the way you experience life all arise from within your brain, therefore, for you to understand depression we need to do a brief study of the human brain.

Before you were born, various factors affect how your brain would be formed right from when you were a foetus and continuing all throughout your life. Some of this factors involve Nature - which is the genetic makeup of your brain and its functioning, and Nurture - which are all the environmental influences you experience from when you were born and through out your life.

Both factors can sometimes interacts in ways which can lead to mood problems and alter your brain chemistry and may even lead to subtle changes in your brain structure.

Research findings has continued to reveal that stress plays a big role in depression. As we all know, stress is an inevitable part of life due to various reasons like relationship falling apart, losing a job, losing a loved one or a loved one falling ill and so on.

What happens when we are stressed?

Stress triggers a chain of chemical reactions and responses in our body and if a stress is short-lived, our body usually returns to normal but in situations where the stress is chronic/constant, our body gets stuck in overdrive which meant these changes in our body and brain can be long-lasting. 

Evidence from various research has continued to suggest a clear link between childhood trauma and increased levels of stress hormones, as well as changes in gene regulation and also the brain structure and these may account for the development of depression. 

Strains in family and marital relationships, or persistent problems in any important relationship due to misunderstandings, family fallouts, negative attitudes or behaviours in any important relationship have a similar impact on our system which can make our brain and body stuck in overdrive.

When depression sets in, our activity levels often plummet. Yet, it's during these moments of reduced activity that we miss out on opportunities for positivity, fun and fulfilment. And the more we continue to avoid positive situations to experience positivity and fulfilment which are essential components of well being, the lower our mood becomes.

Action Plan: How To Help Yourself

Getting regular exercise has been shown to enhance our well-being and research has shown that this can improve mood in people with mild to moderate depression and further evidence has also suggested that it may even play a supporting role in treating severe depression.

How does exercise ease depression?

Exercise improves blood flow to our brain which means more oxygen and glucose travels to our brain thereby charging up the neurons in our brain. The neurons are cells in our brain which are responsible for transmitting information between different regions of the brain.

Diet - Evidence has continued to link the relationship between poor diet and the increasing risk of depression. A particular study found that the that consumers of fast food, compared to those who eat little or none, are 51% more likely to develop depression.

How does diet ease depression?

Are you aware of the new blooming field of nutritional psychiatry? This new field of psychiatry focuses on the relationship between the food we eat and our mood and most especially how our diet affects the billions of bacteria that lives in our gut.

Findings from some key studies - Evidence pulled from some studies suggest that diet rich in fish, fruits, olive oil, vegetables, nuts and beans were linked to a lower risk of depression.

Eating Whole food - Opting out of packaged or processed foods is advisable since they often contain high levels of food preservatives and additives, which can disrupt the balance of healthy bacteria in our gut.

Increase intake of Fruits and Vegetables - Avoid ready made juices with added sugars or additives. Consider frozen fruits without sugars or additives instead.

Add Probiotic and Fermented Food to your diet - Include food such as plain yoghurt without added sugar can help maintain a healthy gut.

Consider Dietary Supplement - If you are already taking an antidepressant, evidence suggests that supplements such as omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D can boost the effectiveness of antidepressant drugs.

Mindfulness Meditation - A method of regulating your attention by focusing on your breathing, a phrase or an image. When you practice mindfulness, you learn to focus on here and now. Medication has a distinct effect on the brain and it appears to calm the stress response part of the brain.

Expressive writing - also known as journaling is a practice involving the written exploration of our thoughts and emotions stemming from challenging life experiences. It is a proven method for organising our inner world. Several studies suggest that individuals who engage in expressive writing immediately following a traumatic event might experience heightened distress. This could be attributed to the reinforcement of the experience rather than reflective processing. Consequently, experts recommend that clinicians and their patients postpone the use of this technique until at least one or two months have passed since the traumatic event

Join in activities - try not to isolate yourself from others. Depending on your personal preferences, joining a club, taking a class, having a meal with an understanding friend, or going to a movie, ball game, or concert may help lift your mood. 

Hold off on making big decisions - about moving homes, changing jobs, getting married, or seeking a divorce - until your depression has eased or is under control. 

Speak to your GP

Your Friends and family - often your support network would want to help. Let them. 

Get in touch with Sky99 today!

For a robust and personalised mental health support package with our inhouse experienced mental health practitioners.

WhatsApp: 07585 922017

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