As many as one in four people may experience depression at some time in their life.
With symptoms ranging from low mood and lack of pleasure in day-to-day activities to feelings of worthlessness and thoughts of self harm, it can be an overwhelming and debilitating experience. Rather than being a life-sentence, depression can largely be managed by addressing the physical, emotional, spiritual and medical causes.
Given the strong connection between physical and mental health, looking after the body can often help heal the mind:
- Exercise regularly – most days of the week, getting the heart pumping
- Sleep sufficiently – 7-8 hours nightly, at regular times
- Drink plenty of water – 6-8 glasses daily
- Eat a diet high in ‘anti-depressant’ nutrients – eg tryptophan, selenium, omega 3, folate and B vitamins
- Spend time in the sun, improve breathing, limit intake of high cholesterol and high sugar foods, eliminate alcohol, cigarettes and coffee
Emotional trauma, complicated grief or significant stressors can contribute to the onset of depression. Work with a trusted professional to:
- Manage family conflict
- Learn to cope with grief and loss
- Challenge negative, unrealistic and unhelpful thoughts and expectations
- Maintain strong family and social connections
While spiritual belief can be a great source of strength, for some, spiritual issues can be a source of angst, discouragement and negativity. A pastor or counsellor may help to:
- Address excessive guilt over past decisions
- Encourage forgiveness of self or others
- Understand God’s grace and forgiveness
- Find encouragement in God’s unfailing promises
Depression can be the result of chemical imbalances, or be too severe to be managed through practical interventions. This is especially true when there are serious thoughts of self-harm or suicide. A doctor or psychiatrist should be consulted and may prescribe medication to help restore mood and brain function.
Contributed by Wanda Bierschbach