Psychiatrists who are trained in psychopharmacology would simply rely on psychiatric medications to treat depression and other ailments. Medications for them is a be-all and end-all option for patients with mood disorders.
Of course they work, and they work fast. But there are other ways, significant ways at that, that may help enhance mood and well-being; and combat depression in the process.
Here are recommended ways to enhance mood and combat depression:
1. Limit the time you spend on Facebook and other social media channels.
A recent cover article in The Atlantic magazine asked, “Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?” and guess what it found out?
Facebook, when used casually to stay in touch with friends and family, is generally a useful distraction. Studies, however, find that when Facebook is used to keep constant tabs on others or to promote a certain self-image, it can lead to an unconscious need to compare ourselves to everyone in our social network. This frequently leads to jealousy, insecurity, misplaced feelings of superiority or alternatively, feelings of inadequacy.
This is not unique to Facebook. Other social media sites like Instagram and Twitter are also similar culprits.
It is recommended that we limit our time on social media sites like Facebook and Instagram among others. Aside from the fact that these sites siphon our time, they also put our mental health in danger.
2. Stop living someone else’s life.
Depression kicks in when we realize we are not living the life we want, when we are not living our own dreams, and that we are instead trying to please other people.
Remember that your life is yours. You are the sole master of your destiny. You are the creator of your fate and you are its destroyer, as well.
If you need to set boundaries or disengage with certain negative influences in your life, so be it.
Developing the courage to follow our own personal lodestar has a way of lifting our spirits and reducing feelings of being trapped and “stuck,” two of the leading causes of depression and anxiety.
3. Keep a journal or diary.
Writing is a therapeutic exercise. The mere act of writing down your thoughts and feelings at the end of each day can serve as a useful outlet.
There are thoughts you will find uncomfortable when expressed verbally that you can fully express in writing; plus, with the benefit of confidentiality because you are expressing yourself to a journal or diary.
Often we simply feel better and less stressed after systematically sorting through our emotions on the written page.
Moreover, keeping a private diary or a written record of your thoughts can be one of the most effective ways of dealing with mood disorders. It serves as a record of how your mood fluctuates or plateaus over a period of time. You can also be very aware of the triggers that lead to sudden mood changes and perhaps learn more about avoiding, mitigating, or handling these triggers. In brief, a record of your thoughts, feelings, and emotions will help you understand yourself better.
In fact, there is an entire field of psychotherapy called Journal Therapy, developed by Dr. Ira Progoff, which specializes in helping patients write their way to better mental health.
4. Stop comparing yourself to others.
Comparing ourselves to other people is one of the fastest ways to worsen depression and anxiety. Oftentimes, we compare ourselves to the ideal person we want to be or believe we ought to be.
At times, comparison can motivate us to work even harder or to make ourselves better. Unfortunately, there is a thin line between an attainable inspiration, and one that is not — one that makes us we feel inadequate and “less than.”
This is unnecessary and a tremendous waste of time and energy. Try to focus on yourself, your own betterment, and your own life. Don’t obsess about other people.
5. Don’t skip your vitamins.
Believe it or not, your nourishment plays a vital role in your mood, feelings, and emotion. Doctors recommend you take enough fish oil and B vitamins when you have depression or anxiety.
Study after study has shown that taking a high quality fish oil supplement containing both the potent omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA can help with symptoms of depression and anxiety and even bipolar disorder.
In addition, the entire range of B vitamins, including vitamins B12, B6, and folate, may also be helpful in regulating mood.
6. Socialize. Talk to the people around you.
Most depressed patients feel lonely, alone, and unloved. They can go days or sometimes even weeks without having a conversation with another human being. They end up being isolated.
This degree of isolation exponentially worsens mood. The mere act of talking to another person, of opening your mouth and letting words come out, can lift mood instantly.
If you feeling depressed or feels like getting there, talk to a friend. Talk to anyone. Talk to the cashier at the department store. Start a conversation with the cab driver! Compliment someone on their outfit or new haircut. Smile at a stranger.
Notice how you feel better instantly.
7. Set a goal and work towards it.
Set any goal, big or small. And start working towards it. Remember that a life spent wandering aimlessly and without purpose creates a sense of unease and frustration, contributing significantly to feelings of depression and anxiety.
Even a goal as simple as “I want to lose four pounds in two months” is a great way to bust out of the blues. If you dedicate yourself to something that has personal significance to you, your life will have more direction and focus.
Pick achievable goals that are easy to bite off and chew, and watch your mood lift over time.
8. Try to be more spiritual.
Odd? Perhaps, but this works. Even hardcore atheists and agnostics find reading books on spirituality or astronomy a great help in seeing a big, cosmic, and universal picture and ultimately helps regain a sense of comfort and mastery in our own lives.
Pondering the big questions of life and coming to terms with the enormity and complexity of the universe may help us take our little old selves a little less seriously. Does that make sense? It does, right?
9. You need a quiet time. Get enough of it.
People who take time out for themselves on a daily or weekly basis, whether through yoga, meditation, reading a good book, daily prayer, or even a warm bath, often feel calmer and more at peace with themselves and the world.
Go for that much-needed vacation you been longing for. You need it. You need some quiet time. You need to reflect and see the big picture. You need a break from the toxicity of the routine which has become your life. A quiet time can instantly transform your state of mind and help you retain control over your life.
10. Your happiness is an inside job. You have to work for it.
Happiness is a state of mind that takes practice, effort, and vigilance. You have to be willing to take a hard look at your life, cut out bad habits and people, and make changes in your own internal expectations and behavior.
You may find happiness in people, things, and habits. But at the end of the day, it’s an inside job. Do not attach happiness to people or things. It’s a state of feeling, not a gift from some people or something.
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WebMD (2017). 10 Natural Depression Treatments. [online] WebMD. Available at: http://www.webmd.com/depression/features/natural-treatments#1 [Accessed 14 Jun. 2017].
HuffPost. (2012). 10 Natural Ways To Improve Depression And Anxiety. [online] Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sheenie-ambardar-md/emotional-health_b_1542521.html [Accessed 14 Jun. 2017].
HuffPost. (2013). 6 Truths About Depression and How to Overcome It. [online] Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lisa-firestone/depression-help_b_4018957.html [Accessed 14 Jun. 2017].