Prevention & Remedy: Anxiety and Depression – Part 2

Treatment: Anxiety and depression can be treated: a) Life style changes, b) Types of therapy, and c) Active medication by Health Care Provider. Here we focus on easy one of life style changes and briefly touch on therapies and leave the medication with health care providers.

Life Style Changes [3] are simple but powerful tools in treating depression and anxiety; and they are an essential component of an integrated approach to treatment. In some cases, lifestyle changes alone can lift depression or relieve anxiety, so start with them right away. But if one is suffering from moderate to severe depression or anxiety, better to seek professional help right away.

– Exercise: Numerous well-designed studies have found exercise to be effective in elevating mood and reducing symptoms of depression. As for anxiety, many research studies have also found an improvement in anxiety symptoms with increased physical activity.
Exercise stimulates the body to produce serotonin and endorphins, which are chemicals in the brain (neurotransmitters) that alleviate depression. But that only partially explains the positive impacts of exercise on depression.

Participating in an exercise program can increase self-esteem, self-confidence, and sense of empowerment, as well as improve social connection and enhance relationships. All of these things have a positive impact on a depressed or anxious individual.
– Diet: What we eat and when we eat are important factors in our day to day well-being. The brain is one of the most metabolically active parts of the body and needs a steady stream of nutrients to function. A poor diet may not provide the nutrients necessary to produce neurotransmitters and may provoke symptoms of anxiety or depression. The science of Functional Medicine provides specific guidelines on foods for brain health.
In addition to eating a healthy diet that provides adequate nutrients, it is also important to make sure our gut is healthy so we can absorb those nutrients. This means paying attention to the health of our intestinal flora—the bacteria that break down foods. Taking supplemental probiotics with two or more live cultures (for example Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium) and eating fermented foods, such as yogurt and miso, help support a healthy digestive system.

– Sweetened beverages, such as sweetened tea, soda, and fruit punch may also contribute to depression. A recent study found that people who drink four or more cups or cans of soda every day are 30% more likely to be depressed than people who did not drink soda. The same study reported that those who drank unsweetened coffee each day (either regular or decaf) reported less depression than non-coffee drinkers. Because other studies show that long-term use of caffeine has been linked with anxiety, decaffeinated coffee may be the best choice for some.

Minimizing refined sugars and caffeine is currently an easy and logical recommendation. If one is a regular caffeine user, cutting back gradually will be best tolerated.

– Alcohol: Depressed populations have more problems with alcohol use even though alcohol itself is a depressant. Alcohol use may be a way that individuals ‘self-medicate,’ trying to numb the pain of their depression. People suffering from depression should stop drinking alcohol. If alcohol abuse underlies the depression, it is critical that it be addressed directly.

– Poor sleep has a strong effect on mood, in part because the neurotransmitters needed to support mood are replenished with sleep. Thus we need restorative sleep to maintain a balanced brain and mental health.

People who don’t get adequate sleep, in length or quality, each night are more likely to develop major depression than those who sleep through the night. In addition, research shows that sleep-deprived people have a much stronger tendency to classify neutral images as “negative,” so that even everyday items can seem more menacing and contribute to anxiety.

Getting the amount of good quality sleep is a priority. Everyday sleeping same time and getting up same time, may stimulate body to be in sleep mood or get a sleep disorder test.