Feeling down in the dumps lately? Don’t worry! There is nothing wrong about feeling ‘blue’ (aka worried, distraught or depressed) at certain points of time in your life. The death of a dear one, examination blues or failure to get a decent job can make most of us depressed at times.
However, the warning bell would start ringing when you are not able to come out of the depressed state even weeks after the incident or situation that caused it. Some individuals tend to even forget what depressed them in the first place, but remain depressed nonetheless. And if you find yourself falling into a pit out of which you feel you can never get out, chances are you are suffering from what is called ‘clinical depression’.
Common Causes for Depression
The causes for depression may vary from individual to individual. And understanding the basic cause for the depression plays a very important role in treating the condition effectively.
Accordingly, some of the more common causes for depression in individuals include stress, genetic traits, hormonal imbalances, physical or emotional trauma, neurotransmitter issues and side effects of certain medications.
Types of Depression
In contrast to the notion that there is just one form of depression, the condition can be divided into several categories, including chronic depression (or) Dysthymia, Atypical depression, postpartum depression, bipolar depression, seasonal depression and psychotic depression.
Symptoms of Depression
Depression can cause a series of mild to serious symptoms in individuals. Some of the more common symptoms of the condition include a constant feeling of sadness, loss of interest in normal activities, loss of libido, sudden frustration, insomnia, fatigue, loss of appetite, restlessness, decreased concentration, slowed body movements, memory problems, frequent (and sudden) crying spells and physical issues like headaches and back pain.
In certain cases of severe depression, an individual would also start developing suicidal thoughts and try to enact the same.
Excellent Home Remedies to Combat Depression
Depression is a serious condition that can manifest into potentially life threatening issues if not treated in time. It is always considered wise to check with a doctor for possible medications to treat the condition. Certain home remedies like the ones given below can also help reduce the severity of the condition and soothe the mind in the process.
Coffee has always been an excellent mood relaxant, provided you take it in moderate quantities. A cup of hot coffee in the morning can kick start your day with positive energy and can prevent headaches, irritation and other mood spoilers that can make you slip into depression. Studies have even established the efficacy of coffee in controlling depression in individuals.
Moderation is the key here and it is considered wise to limit the intake of coffee or any caffeinated beverages to just two cups a day. Anything above than that would contribute to anxiousness, a condition that can lead to depression as well.
Folic acid deficiencies can lead to depression in many cases. Low levels of folic acid in the body can lead to low levels of serotonin, the feel good hormone that helps relax the mind. A dip in the serotonin levels would therefore lead to depression along with other issues like stress and anxiety.
Spinach is a very good natural source of folic acid and can replenish the levels of this B vitamin in your body. A ¾ cup of spinach every day (cooked) can provide your body with up to 200 mcg of folic acid which in turn can keep the serotonin levels balanced, and your mood active.
Garlic is known to be an instant mood elevator and can be used by individuals suffering from depression on a regular basis. You can either eat a few cloves of raw garlic or can add them to the foods that you cook for desirable results.
Brazil nuts contain high amounts of a trace mineral called Selenium that elevates the mood and helps treat anxiety, stress and depression in individuals. Low levels of selenium in the body is often related to depression in individuals. Eating Brazil nuts can therefore help treat depression and prevent recurrences.
In addition to eating Brazil nuts, you can opt for other foods rich in selenium, including oysters, tuna and sunflower seeds.
Vitamin B6 deficiency can cause the serotonin (the feel good hormone we talked about earlier) levels in the body to decline. This in turn can lead to several mind related ailments, including depression.
Increasing the intake of Vitamin B6 can help treat depression to an extent. And what better way to do that than opt for chicken which is a rich natural source of Vitamin B6? So stock up your refrigerator with chicken and bite into a piece (cooked of course) if you are feeling depressed. You can also drink chicken soup for effective results.
A relaxing body massage would go a long way in relieving stress and conditions caused by it, including depression! In addition to loosening stiff joints and relaxing the muscles, a massage would soothe the mind to a great extent.
Use a blend of essential and natural plant and vegetable oils to get the best benefit of the massage. Accordingly, you can opt for a blend that contains essential oils like eucalyptus oil, tea tree oil, sandalwood oil, lavender oil, peppermint oil etc. and natural plant/vegetable oils like almond oil to get desirable results.
Deep breathing exercises and meditation can help alleviate depression and its symptoms by relaxing the mind and shifting its focus away from the thoughts that contribute to the condition. Opt for at least 15-20 minutes of deep breathing exercises every day and combine them with at least 20 minutes of meditation to make your body and mind feel better instantly.
Dietary Considerations for Depression
Depression can also be controlled to an extent with the foods that you eat and the nutrients that you intake on a daily basis.
Low levels of carbohydrates in the system has often been linked to depression in individuals. So make sure you get your share of carbohydrates by eating vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans that can increase the serotonin levels in your body and improve your mood.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Most of the Omega 3 Fatty acids we consume can be found in the brain which happens to be the richest source of the nutrient in the system. Omega 3 fatty acids are necessary for overall brain health function, and a deficiency in the nutrient can trigger several disorders, including depression.
Increase the amount of Omega 3 fatty acids you consume daily by opting for foods like fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, cod, sardines, flounder and pollock), soy products, flax seed and it oil, legumes, dairy products, eggs and walnuts etc.
Caffeine and Alcoholic Beverages
High amounts of caffeine and alcohol can actually do the opposite and intensify depression. Both these beverages may provide intermittent relief from the condition, but would aggravate it (and its symptoms) to a great extent with regular use.
Exercises for Depression
Remaining inactive for continuous intervals can lead to depression or intensify an existing condition. Regular exercises can do more than just strengthen your body. Working out for at least 30 minutes every day can stimulate the increased production of endorphins, another set of feel good hormones that can help alleviate your mood and treat depression.
Opt for any form of exercise that suits you best. Some of the more frequently recommended exercises for depression include walking, cycling, swimming, weight lifting, skipping and aerobics. The point here is to work up a sweat to get the best result out of the exercises that you do.