Depressed? How to tell, and mood-lifting lifestyle tips

Signs & Symptoms for Depression

  • You have an ongoing sense of hopelessness or feel helpless
  • You are always tired You’ve experienced changes in your sleeping (e.g. insomnia or sleeping too much) and eating patterns (severe weight loss/weight gain)
  • You have difficulty concentrating or remembering things
  • You no longer enjoy usual pastimes, events, or friends and have lost interest You thoughts are always dark and negative – about yourself or events and people in your life
  • You get upset or angry much easier than usual You find yourself abusing alcohol or other drug, or participate in reckless behavior

Causes & Risk Factors For Depression

  • Loneliness
  • Lack of social support
  • Recent stressful life experiences
  • Family history of depression
  • Marital or relationship problems
  • Financial strain
  • Early childhood trauma or abuse
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Unemployment or underemployment
  • Health problems or chronic pain

What can I do to prevent / reverse depression?

Diet: Women are also much more prone to excessive sleep, excessive eating, and weight gain when depressed. That’s a troubling trifecta. And diets that include meat (high in omega 6s, cholesterol, and saturated fats) are all known to cause inflammation in the gut and the brain, which is what leads to depression. High carbs (bread, pasta, desserts) and foods containing trans fats are also not good for your body. So eating cleaner and healthier can help improve your mood, which will decrease your chance of over eating (especially those carbs, ladies) and gaining weight – which could start the cycle all over again. Plant-based diets (no meat, chicken, eggs, or fish) have been proven to completely alter mood variation in people. Higher omega-3 intake is also recommended (read further here). Also, avoiding high sugar/carbohydrate foods, high saturated and/or trans fat foods, and eating a lower cholesterol diet (little to no animal-based products, including butter) is extremely beneficial. Fruits and veggies, ladies!

Socialize: When we feel depressed, we begin to feel worthless about ourselves, and our first instinct is to curl up into a ball and retreat from the world. Worst thing you could do. Best cure for that is to pick a local organization and volunteer. Making a difference in someone else’s life simply makes us feel good!

Sunshine: As is a correlation during fall and the onset of Seasonal Effective Disorder, getting little to no sunshine can adversely affect our moods. If you live in an area where getting outside isn’t ideal, supplementing with Vitamin D or eating foods enriched with Vitamin D cab help (learn more about Vitamin D here).

Sleep: Getting plenty of rest, 6-8 hours a day, is key. Not only can chronic sleep deprivation lead to weight gain and possible obesity, but that can then open you up to other physical ailments including depression, high blood pressure, heart attack/heart failure, stroke, and diabetes. Learn more about sleep and your health here.

Exercise: If you are feeling trapped or helpless, get up and move! Make your body feel alive again! Dance it out, take a walk, go to the gym, do yoga. Any little bit helps get those endorphins going.

Meditation: While exercise can get the blood moving again, meditation helps you to relax. If you are going through a stressful time, not allowing yourself any opportunities to slow down and process that stress can easily lead to depression. Learn more about meditation in my blog article here.

Talk to someone: Whether dealing with grief from a loss of a loved one or of a relationship, or loss of a job, we women are comforted by talking about our feelings to others. Seek out positive, supportive people who can help you through your journey. Avoid or minimize contact with people who make you feel bad about yourself.

Think positively, with gratitude: It’s absolutely impossible to feel bad about your life when you find yourself being grateful and thinking positively about it. You can start by writing a gratitude journal. Personally, I try to start out my day by writing five positive statements about my day thus far, and posting them on Facebook. Try it! Your positive statements or things you are grateful for can be as simple as “I am drinking tea…I like tea.” True story, I wrote that one day. This puts you in a receptive, positive and grateful frame of mind that can affect the rest of your day.

Find your center: Over time, we become so bogged down in the expectations of others and what our friends/family/society tells us will make us happy, that we lose sight of our central purpose in life. Believe it or not, this knowing of our true purpose is very clear to us as children, but we lose it as we grow older. When we are young, we still believe anything is possible. As we age, we are told otherwise, and our creative dreams start to fade. Rediscover your centering purpose by trying out this simple exercise here.

Or you could treat it with mushrooms or LSD, as these doctors did: Hey – no judgement here!

Resources & Recommended Reading

Depression Signs & Symptoms

Online depression screening

Improving Mood Through Diet

Plant-Based Diets for Improved Mood & Productivity

The Depression Cure by Stephen S. Ilardi. Check out a sample of the book here.


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