Being depressed can make you feel helpless. You’re not. Along with therapy
and sometimes medication, there’s a lot you can do on your own to fight back.
Changing your behavior — your physical activity, lifestyle, and even your
way of thinking — are all natural depression treatments.
These tips can help you feel better — starting right now.
1. Get in a routine.
If you’re depressed, you
need a routine, says Ian Cook, MD. He’s a psychiatrist and director
of the Depression Research and Clinic Program at UCLA.
Depression can strip away the structure from your life. One day melts
into the next. Setting a gentle daily schedule can help you get back on track.
When you’re depressed, you may feel like
you can’t accomplish anything. That makes you feel worse about yourself. To push back, set daily goals for yourself.
“Start very small,” Cook says. “Make your goal something that
you can succeed at, like doing the dishes every other day.”
As you start to feel better, you can add more challenging daily goals.
It temporarily boosts feel-good
chemicals called endorphins. It may also have long-term benefits for people
with depression. Regular exercise seems to encourage
the brain to rewire itself in positive ways, Cook says.
How much exercise do you need? You don’t need to run marathons to get a
benefit. Just walking a few times a week can help.
4. Eat healthy.
There is no magic diet that
fixes depression. It’s a good idea to watch what you eat, though. If
depression tends to make you overeat, getting in control of your eating will
help you feel better.
Although nothing is definitive, Cook says there’s evidence that foods with
omega-3 fatty acids (such as salmon and tuna) and folic acid (such as
spinach and avocado) could help ease depression.
5. Get enough sleep.
Depression can make it
hard to get enough shut-eye, and too little sleep can make depression
What can you do? Start by making some changes to your lifestyle. Go to bed
and get up at the same time every day. Try not to nap. Take all the
distractions out of your bedroom — no computer and no TV. In time, you may find your sleep improves.