A Guide to Six Habits That Can Prevent Depression

Amy Hendel Health Guide
  • Do you suffer from depression?  Even mild, infrequent depression can be debilitating and really diminish your quality of life.  In cases of mild, moderate or severe depression, therapy and/or medication may be needed.  But there are habits you can embrace and develop that can help you diminish the frequency of experiencing depression, or even reduce the risk of developing depression.


    Get active, get fit:

    We know that exercise can impact health in a variety of ways.  Daily moderate to intense exercise can help you lose weight, improve your heart health, reduce the risk of diabetes, improve certain types of arthritis, lower blood pressure.  We also know that when you exercise you produce endorphins, which are chemicals that can improve your mood, reduce anxiety and specifically improve depression.  You don't have to run a marathon, but you do need to commit to a minimum of thirty minutes of moderate exercise, 3-5 days/week.  The more time you spend exercising (within reason), the better.  Weight training can also be used to improve mood.

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    Find an outlet, find a hobby

    It is so important to find things you are passionate about in order to feel connected to life, and in order to feel engaged, especially when you are feeling challenged or upset.  Enjoying an activity that is independent of others can be very empowering and personally enriching.  It can validate you, particularly when you feel down and embattled.  Choose knitting, fishing, a new exercise modality, volunteering, building a model, even gardening; a personal hobby or pursuit can be truly uplifting.


    Stay connected, with friends and therapy:

    Typically when you are depressed you wall yourself off from others.  Those very people - family, friends and coworkers - would be incredibly supportive and empathic, if you allow them to be.  Additionally, it's very important to identify when you are depressed and to seek professional help.  Shrugging off depressive feelings and not seeking help, can mean extending the duration of depression, or increasing the level of depression.  A therapist can provide sympathy, coping skills and a reality check, while helping you manage your situation.


    Care for your health:

    Get adequate nutrition and sleep.  Make sure you get timely physical checkups and treat any conditions.  Do not overeat, but do not miss meals either.  Consider taking a vitamin supplement with all of the B vitamins.


    Avoid alcohol:

    Using alcohol to cope with your depression can actually exacerbate the condition.  Alcohol is a mood altering depressant, and you will be at risk of developing alcohol abuse.


    Stay organized and plan:

    Depression can sometimes be brought on by unexpected situations and uncertainty.  So maintaining a sense of order can help you feel in control.  It can also help you cope with a sudden and disruptive disappointment.

Published On: May 19, 2009