7 Natural Ways To Fight Depression

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By Addah Arcilla | August 26, 2014 11:45 AM EST

Being depressed can make us feel helpless and totally discouraged, as if nothing in the world could ever make us feel better about the world or ourselves. Depression is a treacherous disorder because its very symptoms prevent you from taking action or seeking the help that you need towards recovery. Lack of energy, feelings of worthlessness and loss of interest or excitability are just some of the symptoms that make it difficult to get out of depression.

For anyone who's in this state, it's important to remember that you are not alone and that depression can be treated effectively. Aside from therapy and medication, there are other ways you can do to conquer your depression.

Here are 7 natural ways you can do to fight depression.

  1. Don't isolate yourself. Engage in supportive relationships.

You don't have to fight depression on your own. Getting the support that you need plays a big role in sustaining your effort in beating depression.

Clinical psychologist Lisa Firestone, co-author of "Conquer Your Critical Inner Voice: A Revolutionary Program to Counter Negative Thoughts and Live Free from Imagined Limitations," told Psychology Today that depression makes people think that it's embarrassing to talk about one's problems.  "You may hear thoughts telling you to be alone, keep quiet and not to bother people with your problems," said Firestone.

She said that this is a self-criticizing thought that should not be paid attention to. Reaching out and talking about your problems to friends and family does not make you weak or self-centered; reaching out does not make you a burden. Opening up to a trusted friend or family member can lighten your burden, which begins the process of healing and recovery. Familial support is essential.

2. Challenge and overcome your negative thoughts.

A lot of the fight against depression begins with changing the way we think. Depression comes with negative and self-defeating thoughts that affect the way we see ourselves, our view of the situations that we encounter and our beliefs about the future.

Firestone explained that it's important for people with depression to not listen to their destructive self-criticizing voice when it says to give up pursuing a goal, or to keep away from other people. "Instead, when you notice these thoughts and attitudes starting to intensify and take precedence over your more realistic, positive ways of thinking, it is essential to identify them as an alien point of view," she explained further.

One way to challenge these negative thoughts is to think outside yourself and ask if you would say what you're thinking about yourself to someone who's going through the same struggles. If not, then you don't deserve these thoughts either. Give yourself less harsh and realistic thoughts.

3. Keep to a structured routine.

Depression can easily crumble your life's structure. It's important to establish a daily routine and stick to it even if you don't feel like doing it. WebMD recommends establishing simple routines like getting out of bed at the same time, or eating your meals at the same hour every day. Keeping to a routine helps give you a sense of regularity even if you feel otherwise.

4. Do the things that you used to enjoy. 

According to Firestone, depression is a hard emotional state to endure because it strips you off the desire to do the things that you love as well as things that make you feel better about yourself. She advised people with depression not to allow themselves to be in this lethargic state.

"Though easier said than done, the times you feel most like slumping on the coach are the moments you should force yourself to take a walk, cook a meal, or call a friend, said Firestone. "Act against the critical inner voice that tells you nothing will help."

Call a friend, go dancing, bake some cookies, or soak up under the sun in the park. Your depression may not lift immediately, but soon enough you'll be surprised at the gradual change in you as you make time for activities that you enjoy.

5. Stay active.

Exercising or any physical activity may be the least thing that you want to do when you're feeling down. However, this is the most impoortant thing you'd want to do. Research has proven that exercise is an effective tool for overcoming depression.

According to WebMD, exercise helps ease depression by reducing the body's stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol, and stimulates the production of endorphins, the body's natural mood elevators. Exercise also wards off depressive feelings by boosting self-esteem, improving sleep and increasing energy levels.  

6. Eat healthy.

There is no diet that could fix depression, but what you eat can have a direct effect on how you feel. An ideal balanced diet consists of complex carbohydrates, lean protein, fruits and vegetables. Helpguide.org lists down some of the foods to avoid or include when planning a mood boosting diet:

  • Minimize sugar intake or refined carbohydrates, such as cakes, pasta and French fries to avoid crashes in mood and energy.
  • Boost your B vitamins. Deficiencies in vitamin B12, B6 and B9 (folate) are linked to depression, according to Mayo Clinic. These vitamins play a role in producing chemicals that affect our mood. To make sure you're getting enough B vitamins, you can take a B-complex supplement or eat foods such as lean meat, fish, poultry, eggs and low-fat and fat-free milk.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids, particularly docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), are said to be beneficial to depression. Its best sources are fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring, anchovies and tuna. 

7. Seek a therapist.

If you feel you're not getting better or your depression is getting worse, seek professional help. According to Firestone, talking about how you're feeling is a powerful way to combat depression.

"If you feel bad, don't let anyone tell you it's no big deal or that you'll just get over it," explained Firestone. "There's nothing shameful about recognizing you have a problem you alone cannot seem to resolve and to seek the help of a therapist."

Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but a brave act. Talking to a therapist can help you identify the source of your pain and alleviate it.

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