What Kind of Lifestyle Changes Can Improve Depression?

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What Kind of Lifestyle Changes Can Improve Depression?

You’re tired of feeling like a prisoner to your depression and want to do everything you can to break free. The most important step is seeking psychiatric support, but you can also do a lot on your own to battle depression.

At Breakthru Psychiatric Solutions, psychiatrist Dr. Karen Giles has had great success in helping clients overcome depression. From traditional approaches, such as antidepressants and psychotherapies, to innovative modalities that tackle treatment-resistant depression, including transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and ketamine therapy, we have you covered.

As effective as our depression strategies are, lifestyle changes can also improve your symptoms. Let’s take a look.

The power of movement

When you’re in the throes of depression, we understand you may lack the motivation to get up and move, but engaging in physical movement is one of the best lifestyle remedies for regulating your moods.

When you exercise, your brain releases hormones called endorphins. These chemical messengers are also called “feel-good” hormones as they activate certain receptors in your nervous system that promote a feeling of wellness.

There are scores of studies that back up the role that exercise or physical activity can play in both preventing and reducing depression. One overview study reports that exercise and physical activity “can be useful strategies for treating depression, reducing depressive symptoms, improving quality of life, and improving physical health outcomes.”

We’re not suggesting that you run miles every day, but rather, start small and work your way up. For example, get out and walk for just 5-10 minutes or try a few yoga stretches. After this initial start, you’ll quickly realize how much better you feel afterward, at which point you can build to 30 minutes or more.

Eating your way to better mental health

Nutritional therapy is a growing field that helps us to understand more about how your diet can affect your mental health. 

Concentrating on healthy foods that contain vitamins, minerals and nutrients that influence brain function is a great place to start. Key foods to support mental health include those high in: 

  • Omega-3s and omega-6s, such as salmon, tuna, nuts, avocados, and olive oil
  • B vitamins, which can be found in seafood, chicken, eggs, and leafy greens
  • Magnesium, which can be found in leafy greens, beans, whole grains, and nuts

As you start to add in these brain-healthy foods, consider eliminating some of the unnecessary junk food in your diet. Refined carbs, sugars, and fatty foods don’t support your heart or your brain health.

Not only will a shift away from junk food to a healthier diet help with depression, but also every other area of your health.

Manage stress

Under the best of circumstances, chronic stress is an unhealthy state for your body. Being stuck in a fight-or-flight response can lead to inflammation, muscle tension, high blood pressure, and gastrointestinal issues, among other issues. Mentally, chronic stress can make you more vulnerable to depression and exacerbate existing depression.

To address high stress, we highly recommend that you practice some stress-management techniques, such as:

  • Deep-breathing exercises
  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Avoiding the news
  • Limiting social media

Getting back to the first point in our list — physical activity — we want to point out that practices like walking and yoga can improve your symptoms of depression and reduce your stress at the same time.

If you’d like to learn more about how lifestyle changes can reduce your depression or you’d like help tailoring a program, contact us at our office in Sandy Springs, Georgia, by phone or online to schedule a consultation.