In the ongoing battle to treat depression, there are as many treatment plans as there are doctors. No one plan works for everyone but there are things you can do to help your treatment be more successful. Choosing a proper diet and getting plenty of exercise are close to the top of the list.
An aspect of depression
While it goes without saying that the body is a living organism, it seems to be one of the few that many people often ignore. Oh they clean it and feed it but they never really pay attention to it. No group is more guilty of this that those suffering from depression.
Overview of depression and treatment
A few of the symptoms of depression include sleeping too much or not enough, weight gain or loss, lack of interest in personal hygiene. These are all things that need to be addressed in and of themselves to help with the entire treatment plan. Surprisingly, altering your diet can do just that. It will require nothing more than paying attention to your body.
What is addressing “diet”
For starters, I’m not speaking of “diet” as in a restrictive plan for weight loss. Weight loss isn’t the goal here. Instead good mental health is what we are aiming for in the end. We want to take some of the stress off the mind by treating the body well. We also want to boost the production of endorphins, just a little, through exercise. Not a lot, and absolutely nothing that you don’t enjoy.
Commonsense about food
Researchers have spent millions of dollars and worked for decades to tell most of us what we already knew: Food effects mood. No kidding! I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have favorite “comfort” foods that they eat when they are sick or upset. There are also foods that make us happy due to their link to positive experiences, holiday dinners and such. The key is to find what foods you not only like to eat but make your body feel good. There is a difference.
Bodysense and food
Many of us are familiar with the phrase “I love it but it doesn’t love me!” in regards to food. We’ve all eaten more than we needed at holiday meals and regretted it for a few hours afterwards. So the key here it to identify those foods that don’t agree with you avoid them whenever possible. Obviously, your body doesn’t like them which is why it reacts the way it does. This is an example of listening to what your body wants.
How to choose the food for you
So what should you eat? Whatever you want, that makes you feel physically good. Now many diet experts are going to suggest that you eat lots of fruits and vegetables along with whole grains. That’s great if you like those foods. But if you don’t, now isn’t the time to force yourself to embark on a new lifestyle. This is just the first step. To find the foods that you enjoy and that your body doesn’t have an adverse reaction to when you eat. This is important because it is my experience that people will not eat food that they don’t like. The next step is to decide how what you are eating is affecting your overall treatment plan. This isn’t a difficult process and it doesn’t require anything more than listening to what your body is telling you. Keep a food journal. Note what you eat, why and how it makes you feel, both physically and mentally. Look for patterns.
Food and drug awareness
Researchers have also started linking certain foods in drug interactions, instead of just listing other medications. There are hard facts behind this and makes sense if you start thinking about what is in your food. If you are taking any medication that normally has no adverse reaction and then suddenly does, you can look into your food journal to see what might have triggered the reaction. This is very important to note. Make sure you mention it to your doctor as well. Sometimes the fix is as simple as not eating a certain food for an hour or so on either side of taking your medication. The better your medication works, the better you will feel. This will also help you to feel more in control of both your life and your treatment plan. You are doing something to help yourself.
Weight and depression
A bit about dieting to lose weight. Yes, being overweight can help trigger depression, for any number of reasons. Obesity, in and of itself, can cause internal depression simply because the body cannot cope with the excess weight. Generally, however, this is clinical obesity of 150lbs over the highest healthy weight for your body. Being 50lbs over weight will trigger external depression. External depression is generally easier to cure. Lose the weight and it goes away. This is episodic depression rather than clinical depression. If you want and need to lose weight, the food journal will certainly help. Look for high calorie patterns. Do you go for chips and soda about 4pm? Take a brisk walk for a few minutes instead. You can probably trim of the calories quickly if you have it written down.
Exercise and depression
I mentioned exercise. Our bodies were designed to move. They actually like to exercise. Those suffering from depression tend to get less exercise than the general public. The best exercise in the world is walking. Take a walk. Get a friend to go with you or take a pet. If you live in an unsafe area or the weather is poor, walk in a mall. You don’t have to buy any expensive gear or be in great shape. Just move your body from one place to another. Of course if there is some other exercise you like to do, do it! Anything to get your body moving for as little as 15 minutes a day will do wonders for your outlook.
Sleep, diet and depression
Our bodies also require rest. Sleep is a necessity. Just because you spent 10 hours in bed doesn’t mean you are well rested or that your sleep was restorative. Those suffering from depression often get plenty of sleep but very little rest. Keep an eye on your diet for foods that disrupt developing a healthy, restorative sleep cycle. A portion of your journal could also be devoted to noting how long you slept and how you felt on waking. Your doctor will want to know if any medication you are taking is disrupting your sleep pattern.
Your journal is the key
Finally, use your journal as a means to an end. The goal is good mental health. The first step is to regain control. So take control of diet, exercise and sleep. Control what you can. Help your doctor help you on your way back to a happier and healthier life.