Depression: Three things that can save your life
Depression is one of the most taboo topics in America and yet, it has doubled over the last two years. It has no face, gender, ethnicity, socio-economic class, and affects 3 out of 12 people. What’s even worse, only 1 out of those 3 people receive help for it.
The textbook definition of depression is the response of the sympathetic nervous system to a stressful event preparing the body to fight or flee, associated with adrenal secretion of epinephrine, and characterized by things like increased heart rate and increased blood levels, to name a few.
With depression increasing from 1 in 10 to 1 in 4 in ages 18-25 over the last two years, this is a prevalent epidemic. I have even been plagued by this soul-sucking condition and it is not easy. Depression is a creeper. It is slow and gradual and it never asks for permission to invade. I experienced everything from dark, discouraging thoughts to complete loss of appetite. However, I am living/breathing proof that it’s not too late to defeat the grip this monster may have on you. There are three factors that, if implemented, can save your life: Food, Lifestyle, and Community.
Since you’re here at Cleangoodeats, we’ll start with our favorite subject: FOOD!
The Western diet or Standard American Diet (otherwise known as S.A.D.) is deficient in a multitude of vitamins and nutrients. Our diets are highly inflammatory, consisting of mainly processed foods, which alters the chemical make up within us. A chemical imbalance is a major trigger of depression, so it’s safe to say that our diets are making us depressed. Good food and nutrition, especially a variety of healthy fats and supplements that contain the nutrients our diets are lacking, can turn all this around.
Our brains need healthy fats to function properly and we make all the healthy fats our brains need with the exception of two. Healthy fats give us energy, they help our bodies build healthy cells, and they protect nerve endings to help the nerves carry messages efficiently. When we’re in a depressed state however, our brains don’t function efficiently.
Some healthy fats you can incorporate into your diet are salmon, mackerel, sardines, avocados, olive and coconut oils, eggs, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts.
Exercise is about more than just making us look good. Exercise works on the lymphatic system, which is the system that helps with immunity. When we exercise, we’re allowing our lymphatic system to cleanse us of all the toxins that are plaguing our bodies. When we don’t exercise, however, those toxins stay in our bodies, causing a toxic overload that goes to our brains and throughout our bodies, causing diseases like heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes to name a few.
Something as simple as walking 25-30 minutes a day/5 days a week or getting in your 10,000 steps can change the way your body functions and removes the excess toxins from your system. If you’re already suffering from depression however, I know that even getting 10 steps out of a day can be challenging but you know what? Those ten steps are okay! Never be afraid or discouraged to begin small because when battling depression, one step is a step in the winning direction.
Adequate rest and relaxation are also essential to a healthy lifestyle. Getting the recommended 6 to 8 hours of sleep a night is always a goal.
In this age of social media, the reality is, we’re not very social at all. The purpose of Facebook was to connect us but today we’re actually more disconnected than ever. One of the main reasons 18-25 year olds suffer from depression is because they lack the coping skills that the older generations acquired. Why is this, you ask? Because building community, (face to face community, not digital community) and connecting with one another in person on a deeper level isn’t something this new generation does very much of. Face to face encounters and having someone in your physical space that you can interact with is one of the main things victims of depression need.
This is a brief discussion of how we can fight depression, and sometimes, all three of these can be done together. The next time you are feeling the urge to curl up under the covers and hide away from the world, invite a friend out for a healthy meal, or accept their invitation to you. You can even meet a group of friends at the gym or in the park for a boot camp/workout session and then grab food afterward! That’s three items checked on your to-do list! Just implementing one of these steps a day can start you on your way to winning the fight against depression.