With winter over and the struggles of seasonal depression in the rearview, many are ready to embrace a fun and adventurous summer. However, depression is not just something that exclusively takes place during winter months. While it is more likely for someone to go through a depressive state during winter when there is less sunlight and less access to natural vitamin D, depression can occur at any time.
Depression is one of the most common mood disorders in the country and can have serious side effects. Some common signs and symptoms associated with depression include sadness, anxiety and “empty” mood, feelings of hopelessness, irritability, feelings of guilt, loss of interest in hobbies and activities, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, restlessness, weight changes, and thoughts of death and suicide.
Despite how problematic depression and depressive symptoms can be and the health problems that they can lead to, there are some preventative measures that you can take to avoid or lessen the impact of these symptoms. These problems can harm someone’s quality of life, workplace productivity, and cognitive and emotional functioning. If something is not done to tackle these problems it can lead to deadly consequences.
Prevention of Depression
There is a lot more research that needs to be done on the treatment and prevention of depressive disorder and depressive symptoms, however, there is some consensus on things that you can do to help avoid these problems.
For those showing signs of depression or anxiety, exercise can help make a big difference. According to the Mayo Clinic, exercise not only holds a number of physical health benefits but behavioral and mental health benefits as well. Exercise releases endorphins into the body, a natural brain chemical that promotes feelings of euphoria. Exercise can lead to an increase in confidence, more social interaction, and provides people with a healthy coping strategy.
Despite how prevalent, and nearly unavoidable, social media has become, it has been shown that it can have harmful effects and may impact mental health. According to one study, negative interactions and social comparisons on social networking sites were related to higher levels of depression whereas positive interactions were related to lower levels of depression and anxiety. As you can see, the effects that social media can have on you depends on the type of interaction. With that said, limiting overall social media use may be an effective way to prevent depression before it occurs.
Along with physical exercise, choosing and maintaining a healthy diet is a great way to increase physical health and make a positive impact on mental health. According to the Mayo Clinic, several studies have found that people who ate a poor-quality diet that was high in processed meats, chocolates, fried foods, and more unhealthy food, were more likely to report symptoms of depression. With that said, people who ate foods that were rich in vitamins and nutrients like fruit, vegetables, and fish reported less depressive symptoms.
Cognitive Behavioral Interventions
One method that has been widely studied in reducing depressive symptoms is cognitive behavioral preventive interventions. Studies have found an overall mild to moderate effect. These interventions are generally delivered to groups of children who have exhibited signs of depressive symptoms and increased risk of depression. While there is still more that needs to be understood and evaluated on their ability to prevent depressive symptoms of just reduce symptoms, there is some effectiveness to this method.
Avoiding Substance Use
Substance abuse, whether it is drugs or alcohol, is one of the leading causes of depression and vice versa. Depression and substance abuse are two problems that often coexist. A problem known as comorbidity. One way that you can improve depressive symptoms and avoid the issue overall is to regulate your drinking patterns. If you notice someone close to you is struggling with depression and increased alcohol consumption, staging an intervention is one method to help a loved one with a drinking problem.
Overall, depression is a common, yet serious issue that millions around the world suffer from. Due to how common the disorder is, it is important to learn preventative methods and ways to avoid depression. If the issue becomes severe enough, getting professional help through family and counseling is recommended.