Depression can be a debilitating condition when not treated properly. But while biology does play a role in depression, there are actions and behaviors that can contribute to depression or make it worse. Here are 6 examples of habits that may exacerbate depression symptoms.
Lack of Exercise
Being a couch potato may increase your risk of developing depression. Any exercise – even moderately brisk walks – has been found to be at least as effective as antidepressant medications in boosting mood. At least 40 minutes of walking or another aerobic activity three times a week helps to fights depression. This is because the physical activity helps the body to produce serotonin and dopamine.
No Time Outside
Spending too much time inside can contribute to depression as well. Sunlight is a natural mood booster, triggering the production of serotonin while reducing anxiety. As a side benefit, it resets the body’s clock, helping it keep a normal sleep schedule. When someone cannot get enough natural light, spending 30 minutes in front of a bright light box can ease the “winter blues”. This helps your body produce Vitamin D, too, though vitamin supplements are an option.
An Unhealthy Diet
They say you are what you eat, and your brain is part of your body. An unhealthy diet will therefore affect your mind, for better or for worse. If you don’t eat enough foods containing omega-3 fats, you are at greater risk of developing depression. In contrast, eating freshwater fish and seafood provides these vital nutrients. Supplements are another option. It is a good idea not to consume stimulants like coffee after mid-day so that they don’t interfere with your sleep schedule.
Poor Sleeping Habits
If you aren’t getting enough sleep at night, it drags on your energy levels and contributes to a risk of developing depression. The lack of sleep makes people more likely to feel paranoid and agitated, laying the foundation for depression. Poor performance at work due to lack of sleep can cause stress and that alone contributes to depression.
You need at least seven to eight hours of sleep. The quality of sleep matters, as well. Make sure you limit screen time in the hours before you fall asleep. Turn off the TV, laptop and smartphone at least an hour or two before bed. Reading in bed can also interfere with your ability to get a good night’s sleep, so turn off the overhead lights.
Isolation is a guaranteed way to become depressed. Humans are social creatures by nature. Avoiding friends and family is one of the worst things you can do to yourself, hurting your mind and body. In contrast, those with a strong network of friends and family experience reduced stress levels and consequently their risk for depression.
Ruminating or negative thinking is a major cause of depression. This is when you constantly think negative thoughts about things like rejection, loss and failure. One solution is redirecting one’s attention to something more positive and practicing acceptance instead of regret. Another is spending quality time with positive people.
If this isn’t sufficient, you should consider seeking professional help from resources like the ELEOS PC for instance. Their counselors aid patients in developing new skills and assist those dealing with stressful life situations from relationship struggles to satisfying careers to difficult transitions.
If you change some of the bad habits discussed above, you could significantly improve your mood and alleviate some of the symptoms of depression. However, there are times when only professional help can help.