This is the second part of a 3-part series of blog posts on depression. This post looks at lifestyle changes that can help ease depression symptoms. Many of these changes are put into practice at Cliffside Malibu in our depression treatment center.
- Exercise. You don’t have to be an Olympic athlete to get regular exercise to help your depression. Exercise can be as or more effective at treating depression as medication. Not only does exercise boost serotonin, endorphins, and other feel-good brain chemicals, it triggers the growth of new brain cells and connections. Even better, the side effects are all positive, unlike some side effects of some medications. Start small if you have to. Even a half-hour daily walk can make a big difference. For maximum results, aim for 30 to 60 minutes of aerobic activity on most days.
- Nutrition. Eating well is important for both your physical and mental health. Eating small, well-balanced meals throughout the day will help you keep your energy up and minimize mood swings. You may even find a new or renewed interest in cooking or exploring farmer’s markets for fresh and new ingredients.
- Sleep. When you don’t get enough sleep, your depression symptoms will be worse. Sleep deprivation not only makes us all irritable, it also makes us moody, sad and just plain tired. Aim for somewhere between 7 to 9 hours each night. If you’re sleeping too much, set an alarm and force yourself to get out of bed.
- Social support. As written in the first part of this series, depression can be very lonely. Keep in regular contact with friends and family, or consider joining a class or group. Volunteering is a wonderful way to get social support and help others while also helping yourself. Yes, it’s hard to maintain these connections, but it is worth the effort.
- Stress reduction. Make changes in your life to help manage and reduce stress. Work on the parts of your life that cause you the most stress. Get professional help. That might take the form of financial advising, relationship counseling or learning another new skill – whatever resources you need, call on those who can help you.
There are many Malibu depression treatment specialists out there who can help you find hope and relief from your depression.