We detail below 7 best ways to prevent depression naturally. Depression can make you feel sad and helpless. Along with therapy and medication, there is a lot more you can do to not only treat depression but also even prevent it altogether.
Annually, over 17 million adults in the United States have at least one major depressive episode. Although treatment is effective in most cases, many people with depression do not even seek treatment.
Symptoms of Depression
Everyone feels a little bit down in the dumps now and then. It’s only natural. But if you’re feeling “blue” more frequently or for longer periods than usual, you might be dealing with depression. A major depressive episode is defined as experiencing five or more of the following symptoms every day (or most days) for two weeks or more:
- Feelings of sadness or hopelessness
- Frustration and irritability
- Sleep problems (i.e., sleeping too much or too little; sleeping mainly during the day)
- Loss of interest in hobbies or activities that usually provide pleasure
- Excessive guilt
- Unrealistically low self-image
- Extreme tiredness and lack of energy
- Neglect of self-care (i.e., not showering anymore)
- Trouble concentrating
- Increased or decreased appetite
- Weight gain or weight loss
- Unexplained physical symptoms such as headache and backache
- Suicidal thoughts, plans or behaviors — including self-harm
7 Best Natural Ways to Prevent Depression
Follow a Routine by Making a Schedule
When you are depressed, it can be hard to motivate yourself to do much of anything. Depression can strip away the structure from your life. One day melts into the next. Making a gentle daily schedule and forcing yourself to do “one or two things every day” can get you back on track. This can mean sticking to your daily exercise schedule, following a healthy eating plan and sleeping on a regular schedule.
The disease robs you of your motivation and your energy. So sometimes you may have to force yourself into action. So, following a routine by making a schedule is one of the best ways to prevent depression naturally.
When you are depressed, you may feel like you can hardly accomplish anything. That can leave you feeling worse. To fight back, set small daily goals for yourself. Start small with something you can accomplish. And when you achieve it, give yourself credit for accomplishing that small goal. Then you can go on to add more complex goals as you start feeling better.
However, make sure you do not set unreasonable or unworkable goals. A goal is workable if it’s:
- Something you can control (i.e., it doesn’t depend on others)
- Manageable (i.e., not overwhelming)
- Measurable (i.e., you know whether or not it is done or getting done)
This is one of the engaging and best ways to prevent depression naturally.
Get Enough Sleep
Disturbed or insufficient sleep can definitely put you in a bad mood. But sleep disturbances have also been linked to depression. Managing your sleep cycle helps keep your energy levels stable and helps your mind work through the stressors of the day through dreaming.
Whether you’re dealing with major depression or just looking to boost your mood, improving your sleep hygiene is an important first step. Go to bed and get up at the same time each day. Try not to nap during the daytime. Remove all the distractions from your bedroom, such as TV and computer. In time, you will find that your sleep improves.
This is one of the easy and best ways to prevent depression naturally.
Cut back on sugar intake. Anyone will be depressed if they frequently binge on carbs, junk food, and energy drinks. There is a highly significant correlation between sugar consumption and depression rates. Remember the virtue of moderation. Make sure to eat regular meals and snacks, including a good source of protein at every meal.
Eat healthy fats, such as omega-3. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (like those found in salmon, tuna, trout, and sardines) are a type of fat needed for normal brain function. They reduce symptoms of depression. Our bodies cannot make omega-3 fatty acids, so they must be obtained through diet. Eating fish three times a week can increase your omega-3 fatty acids without the aid of supplements. Flaxseeds and walnuts are also great sources of omega-3s.
Folic acid. It is found in spinach and avocado. It can help ease depression.
Avoid alcohol. Alcohol can worsen insomnia, anxiety, mood swings, and depression.
Vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 is needed to produce the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine, which are necessary for regulation of mood. People taking oral contraceptives, hormone replacement therapy, and drugs for tuberculosis are at greater risk for a deficiency of vitamin B6.
Magnesium. Magnesium is needed for serotonin production, the mood-regulating chemical. Most people do not get enough magnesium in their diets. Good sources of magnesium are legumes, green vegetables, nuts, and whole grains.
This is one of the easier and best ways to prevent depression naturally.
Exercise has mood-boosting effects. That does not mean you need to run a marathon to reap the benefits of exercise. Just 15 minutes of exercise a few times a week can improve the symptoms of depression. Even the levels of the stress hormone cortisol are significantly reduced after exercise, which is an additional benefit.
Exercise, particularly aerobic exercise, temporarily boosts feel-good or mood-elevating chemicals called endorphins in the brain. It also has long-term benefits by rewiring the brain in positive ways.
Any kind of movement or physical activity can work. So, choose that form of exercise which you enjoy and are more likely to stick with. It can be going to the gym, joining dance classes, playing tennis, riding a stationary bike, gardening, practicing yoga, or taking a brisk walk outside for 30 minutes at least five days a week.
Meditation or mindfulness can be very calming and centering. Mindfulness is the practice of being aware of the thoughts and feelings in each moment and acknowledging them non-judgmentally. This awareness can reduce stress and help you process and integrate negative thoughts to make them less distressing. Try to live in the present by paying full attention to whatever you do in each moment. As best you can, during activities try not to be in your head with self-judgment. Whenever you notice it, bring yourself gently back to the present moment. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction courses are also available.
Take on Responsibilities
When you are depressed, you tend to not take on responsibilities at home and at work. Don’t. Stay involved. Having responsibilities on a daily basis can help you stick to a lifestyle that counters depression. They make you grounded and give you a sense of accomplishment.
If you do not feel like going full-time to school or work, think about part-time. If even that does not sound appealing, consider volunteering. In short, keep yourself actively engaged.
Thus, the above are natural remedies or natural treatments which are the best ways to prevent depression naturally. They are seen to work quite well in most patients. Try some or all of them to find your way out of depression or prevent depression in the first place.