Like many ailments, depression is not specific to any given population or community. One’s socioeconomic bracket, gender, race or age won’t provide protection from the debilitating impact of depression and anxiety. However, what you eat, how much you move and the air quality around you may have more to do with your mood than you think.
According to Mental Health America:
- Women experience depression at approximately twice the rate of men.
- About one in every eight women can expect to develop clinical depression.
- Depression occurs more frequently in women aged 25 to 44.
- Depression in women is often misdiagnosed.
- Less than half of women experiencing clinical depression will ever seek help.
Dr. Kelly Brogan, author of A Mind of Your Own: The Truth about Depression and How Women Can Heal Their Bodies to Reclaim Their Lives, writes that most mental illness symptoms are due to lifestyle choices and misdiagnosed medical conditions related to the “gut and thyroid.” A psychiatrist, Brogan no longer prescribes the typical mental health medicines. Instead, Brogan examines the patient’s medical and personal histories for a proper diagnosis.
Believing it is everyone’s birthright to “feel physically vibrant and emotionally balanced,” Brogan leads patients through changes in their diets and environments.
These changes include increasing healthy fats, decreasing sugar, gluten and dairy, and taking natural supplements like Vitamin B. In addition to these changes is addressing sleep hygiene and decreasing exposure to environmental toxins. Taking Dr. Brogan’s lead, let’s look at some ways we can make changes to improve our mood and emotional state.
Vitamins and Minerals
In addition to getting a good night’s sleep, there are certain supplements that have been reported to relieve depressive symptoms. A trip to your physician will let you know if you are deficient in any vitamin or mineral. Below are some of the more common ones:
- Fish oils rich in Omega-3’s
- Vitamins B-6, and B-12
- Vitamin D
Remember hearing about positive and negative ions in your Chemistry class? Odorless, tasteless, and invisible to the naked eye, negative ions can have a great impact on our mood. Negative ions are naturally created in environments where there is adequate air circulation, sunlight and moving water. This may explain why many feel relaxed by a stream, hiking up a mountain or at the beach.
As early as 1900, researchers documented the positive effects of negative ions. It was said that high concentrations of negative ions in the air can have an antidepressant effect in as little at 30 minutes. Can’t get to the beach or a moving stream? Well, try these:
- Reduce time spent on cell phones or in front of computers or TV’s (they produce positive ions)
- Take longer showers (the splashing water creates negative ions)
- Burn beeswax candles (cleans air and emits negative ions)
- Drink alkaline ionized water (mixed with Vitamin C — triples the antioxidant benefit)
- Take walks after a rainstorm
- Keep live plants in the home
You just read about the benefit of walking after a rainstorm, but let’s not overlook another helpful effect walking can have on our mood. Most know that intense exercise helps the body create chemicals called endorphins. Endorphins are one of the three hormones called, “The Happy Hormones,” (dopamine and serotonin are the other two). What you may not know is that consistently engaging in low-intensity exercise helps to re-wire and change brain function. Exercise aids in creating the neurotrophic proteins needed for nerve cell growth, causing new nerve connections. The trick is to override the symptoms such as excessive or poor sleep and isolation and find an activity we enjoy and will stick with over a period of time. Remember, any changes to your diet or exercise should be discussed with your doctor. Do not stop taking any mental health medications you are currently prescribed before seeking the advice of your provider.
Oh, and let’s not forget how important it is to take deeps breaths.
Intentional, deep breaths are not only relaxing, it helps the body detox and improve mental clarity. Clear thinking is vital when combating the negative impact of depression and anxiety.
Now, let’s practice: Slowly, take a deep breathe through your nose; hold. Now, release the air slower through your mouth. Repeat for about 10 minutes.
Comment Below: What can you do today that will positively affect your mental health?
- Brogan, Kelly. (2016) A Mind of Your Own: The Truth about Depression and How Women Can Heal Their Bodies to Reclaim Their Lives. Harper Wave. New York, New York.
- Everyday Health
- Mental Health America
- Life Ionizers
- Harvard Health