As a doctor, it is easy for me to promote medicines for mental health illnesses like Depression. Psychiatric medications work, they are advised regularly for a host of conditions, from anxiety, depression to bipolar and insomnia. That said, it is easy to become dependent on medication to enhance your mood and overall well being.
Here are my top recommendations for improving depression and anxiety without medicines:
Kinds of Depression
As a Gastroenterologist, I’ve come across several patients whose symptoms like excessive burping and feeling ‘gassy’ emanate from underlying, yet unrecognized depression. Many of them find themselves irritable and snapping at people for no apparent reason.
Sometimes depression is brought about by a traumatic life event, like a loss in business, death in the family, a pink slip or marital discord. This is called exogenous depression and since it involves an identifiable stressor, it is easier to treat for a doctor. What is more difficult is endogenous depression, where the patient is enveloped by the feeling of hopelessness for no apparent reason.
Here’s How You Can Beat Depression Sans Medicines
1.Get in a routine. If you’re depressed, you need a routine. Structuring your day helps you stay off distractions and feeling of worthlessness. And this routine should restrict your Facebook time. Use social media to stay in the social loop, but remember that seeing carefully filtered perfect pictures of others can make you feel insecure and inadequate.
2. Pick a goal, any goal. When depressed you may feel like you can’t accomplish anything, but something as small as deciding a healthy menu for the whole week can make you feel focused and motivated. So pick something which is easy to chew off and see your spirits rise over time.
There is definite evidence that physical exercise boosts feel-good chemicals called endorphins
and GABA which have a calming effect on mind. Pick up any workout you like, jogging, running or a sport, but be regular with it.
4. Eat well.
Keep regular food timings. Keeping your blood sugar stable reduces mood swings.
There is no magic diet that fixes depression but an overall healthy diet will help, especially because some people in depression tend to overeat.
5. Sleep well.
Try and get enough sleep without the aid of medication. Depression can make it
hard to get enough sound sleep, and too little sleep can make depression worse.
6. Expose yourself to sunlight, which has been shown to boost mood and increase Vitamin D levels.
7. Take on responsibilities even if it appears difficult in the beginning. Don’t give up. Staying involved and doing your bit would not only ground you but also give you a sense of accomplishment.
8. Challenge negative thoughts. When you’re depressed, you tend to think the worst. An effective method is thought substitution and auto suggestion so try hard and replace negativity with optimistic vibes. So hope for a good future, work towards a better job and keep telling yourself how strong you are on the inside.
9. Meditate or try guided imagery. Meditation’s effects on mood are well documented. Settling your mind can lift your mood, in addition to a whole host of other health benefits.
10. Be yourself. Too often, people walk around wearing masks, pretending to be something they are not. Pretense extracts a heavy toll and leaves you depressed. Try and get in touch with your authentic self and see your mood lift. Drop that mask.
11. Talk it out with a close friend or confidant and unburden yourself. It’s okay to let go and cry once a while.
(Dr Ashwini Setya is a Gastroenterologist and Programme Director in Delhi’s Max Super Speciality Hospital. His endeavor is to help people lead a healthy life without medication. He can be reached at email@example.com)