Recently, our nation mourned the loss of Carrie Fisher, known best for her role as the brave and beautiful Princess Leia of the Star Wars Hollywood movie franchise, and maybe almost as well known for maintaining a sense of humor in her ongoing fight against depression. Those who kept apprised of Fisher’s funeral arrangements will know of her request to have her ashes placed in an urn designed to resemble a giant Prozac pill. Fisher made no secret of her reliance on and gratitude for the part the pill played in helping the troubled star fight her emotional demons.
While some find relief in medication, others may prefer a more natural route or simply want to supplement their prescription medicine with other treatments. Here are some tips that can help you feel better the natural way.
1. Start a Routine
One way depression can affect you is by decomposing the structure in your life. One day seems to turn into the next with little distinguishable difference. Ian Cook, MD and director of the Depression Research and Clinic Program at UCLA, advises his patients to set a daily schedule to help get back on track.
2. Set Goals
Depression often goes hand and hand with feelings of powerlessness. Lack of accomplishment can lower your self-esteem. Setting small goals for yourself may encourage you to do more. Cook advises starting small. “Make your goal something you can succeed at, like doing the dishes every other day.”
Exercise boosts those natural happy chemicals in your body called endorphins; and the results can have immediate as well as long term effects. According to Cook, regular exercise can even cause the brain to rewire itself in a positive way. Even walking a few times a week can make a difference.
4. Sleep Well
Lack of sleep can be a vicious cycle. Depressing thoughts can make it hard to sleep and getting too little sleep can lead to more depression. Try to improve sleep habits by keeping a regular sleep schedule and taking distractions like the computer and TV out of the bedroom.
5. Eat Well
Although there is no “feel good” diet, it’s always a good idea to be mindful of what you eat, especially if you tend to overeat when you’re depressed. Cook says there is evidence that food containing omega-3 acids, like tuna and salmon, and folic acids, like avocado and spinach can be beneficial in warding off depression.
Cook says, ” There’s promising evidence for certain supplements for depression. Folic acid, SAMe, and fish oil all may be effective in fighting depression. However, more research needs to be done in this area and you should always check with a doctor before starting a supplemental regimen.
7. Try Something New
Changing things up may be a good way to get out of a depressive rut. Cook explains, “When we challenge ourselves to do something different, there are chemical changes in our brain. Trying something new alters the levels of dopamine, which is associated with pleasure, enjoyment and learning.” Pick up a book, or sign up for a class that interests you.
8. Have Fun
The obvious way to fight depression? Enjoy yourself! And, in case you’ve forgotten how to do that, Cook says, it’s “just a symptom of depression” and you need to fight it off. Try to plan things you used to enjoy, like going out with friends. Who knows? Life may start to feel fun again!
How do you keep the doldrums away? Let us know! We love to hear it!