Major depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States. For some individuals, major depression can result in severe impairments that interfere with or limit one’s ability to carry out major life activities. (National Institute of Mental Health, 2017) Additional information can be found on the NIMH Health Topics page on Depression.
While medications can (and do) work very well for many people with various levels of depression, there are several other things that you can do to help ease depression. Let’s pick two.. Firstly, keep an eye on how much and often you sleep. In the 2018 article, ‘Yes, You CAN Sleep Too Much—Here’s Why Oversleeping Is A Problem,’ by Dr. Michael Breus, he states, “Most people with depression experience regular sleep disturbances. And sleep problems can make depression more severe and more difficult to treat.” Try your hardest to create a healthy and consistent sleep schedule by going to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning (yes, even weekends). The beginning stages of creating a more consistent sleep schedule can proof to be quite difficult at times, but will progressively get easier as time goes on.
Secondly, eat well! Diet is such a vital component of mental health that it has stirred up an entire field of medicine called Nutritional Psychiatry. Within this field of medicine, there have been several research studies that take a deep dive into the how much your diet affects your mental health. One study from 2017 concluded, “A dietary pattern characterized by a high intake of fruit, vegetables, whole grain, fish, olive oil, low-fat dairy and antioxidants and low intakes of animal foods was apparently associated with a decreased risk of depression. A dietary pattern characterized by a high consumption of red and/or processed meat, refined grains, sweets, high-fat dairy products, butter, potatoes and high-fat gravy, and low intakes of fruits and vegetables is associated with an increased risk of depression.” (Dietary patterns and depression risk: A meta-analysis, 2017)
These two seemingly trivial, but proven, approaches/strategies can truly make a significant impact on your quality of life and overall mental health.
Major Depression. National Institute of Mental Health, November 2017.
Yes, You CAN Sleep Too Much—Here’s Why Oversleeping Is A Problem. The Sleep Doctor, July, 2018.
Dietary patterns and depression risk: A meta-analysis. Psychiatry Research, July 2017.