6 Simple Ways to Defeat Depression

October 17, 2013

Sometimes when we say “depression” we’re talking about the downer we experience when our teams lose or when our jeans don’t fit the way they used to. That’s everyday depression, and it’s no fun.

Sometimes we mean the loss of energy, optimism, and involvement in life that accompany a major depressive disorder. That’s a serious condition that requires medical treatment.

Whichever kind of depression troubles, there are simple steps you can take to minimize the effects and put you on the road to feeling better.

1 – A Little Prick

Physicians in the western world are starting adopt the World Health Organization’s embrace of acupuncture as an effective treatment for mild to moderate depression.

A recent University of York (UK) study determined that acupuncture improves the effectiveness of antidepressants medication.Immediate results can be dramatic, but a series of treatments over time will likely yield the best outcome. Choosing an acupuncturist is like choosing a physician. Ask around and try a few until you find the right match.

2 – Take a Hike

Get up and move! For nearly 50 years, researchers have repeatedly shown that exercise can be as effective in decreasing mild to moderate depression as drugs and therapy.

With the nasty side effects and unpredictable results of antidepressant medications, exercise is a super alternative. Plus, it has great side effects like improved cardiovascular health, increased muscular strength, elevated mood and weight loss. And, unlike pricey meds and therapy, exercise is essentially free.

Aerobic exercise and weight-training activities have equal antidepressant effects. Assign yourself 30 minutes of physical activity five days a week. Pick something you really like and can easily accomplish.

For the best results, choose a moderate pace because higher intensities can cause negativity.Walking and hiking have the extra punch of being out in nature, which is glorious for busting the big-time blues.

3 – Strike a Pose

The calming qualities of yoga can help you beat stress, which is a major contributor to depression.

A Harvard Medical School newsletter article cites studies that show yoga’s effectiveness against depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Researchers at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., offer yoga to veterans returning from combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.

There are many types of yoga. You can usually get introductory sessions at reduced prices from schools of yoga. Videos work, but having a teacher is better. Some yoga practices emphasize the physical aspects, while others focus on breathing techniques and meditation. Sample them until you find a style that works for you.

4 – Clean Your Plate

Do you like hamburgers and pizza? What about muffins and doughnuts? They don’t like you. A recent study published in Public Health Nutrition concludes that junk food increases the risk of depression by 51 percent.

Even those who only occasionally indulge in the less-than-healthy food show signs of poor mental health, the study found. The more sugar, fat, and processed foods you eat, the greater your risk of depression.

Turn to good mood foods. Asparagus, chickpeas, and oatmeal contain depression-fighting folic acid. Lift your spirits with “fatty” fish such as salmon and sardines. Add hemp seed, grass-fed beef, wild rice, walnuts, winter squashes, flax, and beans to your diet. You’ll live longer and be less depressed.

5 – Go Party


Whether it’s the club scene, an intimate evening with friends, happy hour with co-workers, or a family gathering, socializing is a sure-fire depression beater.

Studies show that maintaining human connections is a sure way to reduce the risk and severity of depression. Strong social ties correlate with happy feelings, good health, and longevity.

Adults who don’t have regular contact with close friends are at increased risk for depressive disorders, social phobias, and generalized anxiety.

So make an effort. Go for a morning walk with neighbors, invite co-workers to check out a new coffee place, or ask the family across the street over for game night. Call distant family members on the phone. Book at least one social activity every weekend. You’ll be glad you did.

6 – Vault Into Volunteering

Volunteering not only helps individuals and your community, it promotes a strong sense of purpose, expands social networks, and reduces the risk and severity of depression. Lending a hand a few hours a week seems to spark a fire of contentment that is not only a mood enhancer; it also contributes to a longer, healthier life.

Whether you are coaching a team at the local youth center, mowing a widow’s lawn, tutoring elementary-school students, or serving on a county commission, volunteering pays you back in serious servings of happiness. Pick an area of expertise and find someone to mentor. You’ve got nothing to lose but the blues.