Depression connects to every part of our life and our body. Unlike other chronic diseases and disorders that may be isolated to one area of the body, depressions, and other mental illnesses, have a way of touching everything from our central nervous system and organ function to our relationships with others. In order to manage depression, our bodies, mind, and soul play different but equally important roles. Here are a few ways to check-in and learn more about areas you might need to spend a bit more time studying.
- Social Studies – It is common for those suffering from depression to isolate from social engagements, conversations, and activities, choosing instead to be alone, which unfortunately fuels depression and ruins relationships. Do you find yourself canceling on friends at the last minute? Avoiding co-workers in the hallway or sitting silently and aloof in meetings? Do you look for ways to avoid interaction with your family members or closest friends? These actions reflect a need for improvement. If you’re making efforts to make it out of the house to attend at least one social event a week, you’re doing your best to engage in conversations with co-workers, or initiating connections with family and friends, give yourself an A. Depression makes these things difficult, but give yourself credit for even the smallest improvements in engaging in social activities.
- Human Nutrition – This is a topic that is often ignored or undetected in those with depression. Have your eating habits changed drastically – either eating more than usual or not enough? Any sudden weight gain or loss? Is your alcohol consumption more than usual? Be sure to take this subject seriously. Good nutrition is important to keep your body’s immune system, brain function, and muscles healthy and strong in order to avoid any illness that might exacerbate symptoms of depression. A balanced diet of fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and sources of fiber are important. For those with depression, alcohol should be avoided.
- Physical Education (PE) – It’s amazing what a brisk 15 minute walk can do for your mood. Studies from the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH) and numerous other sources have shown the positive effects exercise has on mental illness. This doesn’t mean you have to sign up for a marathon or swim 45 laps every day. Start small. A walk around the block, parking further away from the store than usual, or meeting a buddy for a walk at the park are all activities that earn an A in managing depression.
- Philosophy/Advisor – Meditation, church, yoga, or even a break from electronics all add up to giving your brain an opportunity to refocus, reflect, and bring you back to a place of calm. Also, think of your appointments with your therapist as a time when you can let things go and wash away the negativity depression brings. Fresh starts and positive reflections are great ways to keep depression from hindering your abilities to succeed and live a happy and healthy life.