Depression’s Grip on Mind and Body: Beyond a Mere Mood Disorder

Experiencing depression affects not just one’s mood but extends to energy, focus, and even immune function, stealing one’s happiness in the process. While managing depression may involve a mental health specialist and perhaps medication, therapists suggest that certain practices can significantly bolster mental health during such times. However, they caution against one particularly detrimental habit that is frequently seen in those who are depressed.

Anna Jackson, a cognitive behavior therapy expert at The Priory, notes that excessive solitude can exacerbate depression. She recommends being around supportive, non-judgmental people, even when it feels difficult. Echoing this, Dr. Suzanne Degges-White points out that isolation can worsen negative self-perceptions and unchecked feelings of despair.

It’s not necessary to attend large gatherings; minor social interactions, such as having coffee with a friend or taking a short walk with them, can suffice. And if socializing outside seems daunting, simply inviting someone over or making a phone call can be beneficial steps toward breaking isolation.

Dr. Degges-White highlights that companionship can interrupt negative thinking and encourage participation in previously enjoyed activities, combating depression-induced lethargy. Another advocate for lifestyle balance is Dr. Krista Jordan, Ph.D., who stresses the importance of sleep, nutrition, and exercise for maintaining serotonin levels, thus supporting a better mood.

Research consistently links a diet abundant in nutrients, regular physical activity, and sufficient rest with increased happiness. Diets such as Mediterranean, ketogenic, and vegetarian, as well as fruit and vegetable consumption, have positive correlations with emotional well-being. Exercise is also proven to reduce depressive symptoms across various age groups.

Dr. Jordan further suggests mindful consumption of information due to its potential to influence mood. Taking a hiatus from negative media content and setting limits on news consumption can reduce overwhelming feelings. She emphasizes self-compassion and advises against self-critique related to one’s emotional state.

Jackson reassures that typically, low moods are transient. She also recommends professional help if depression persists over three weeks or hinders daily functioning. Dr. Degges-White reinforces the importance of therapy, especially if depression impedes work or caregiving responsibilities. Confidential help, including online therapy, is accessible, and reaching out could be a pivotal step. Urgent situations involving suicidal thoughts necessitate immediate contact with the suicide and crisis lifeline at 988.

In conclusion, while depression is complex and daunting, it’s crucial to remember you’re not alone. Taking the initiative to connect with someone, whether a friend, relative, or therapist, can be a stride toward brighter days.

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