Depression is a complex mental health issue that affects more than 264 million people around the world. It is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain that can be triggered by a range of causes, including a major life event like grief as a result of the loss of a loved one, or it can be triggered by things like stress.
Whilst depression is a chemical imbalance and – strictly speaking – doesn’t necessarily need a specific cause, there are certain lifestyle factors that can influence a person’s likelihood of developing depression.
This means there are steps you can take which have been proven to reduce your chances of developing depression. Here are six of them.
There’s a reason doctors recommend exercise to people who are depressed, and it’s because when you exercise, your brain releases positive chemicals called endorphins. These are what make you happy. Endorphins also reduce the risk of the stress and act as nature’s very own painkiller.
This is why runners experience something called a runners high, and why many people feel elated after engaging in a workout.
Another natural way you can reduce your risk of suffering with depression is by eating a healthy and varied diet. Not only will this reduce your risk of developing physical health conditions like heart disease and diabetes, but it will also keep your brain healthy and happy. B-complex vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids are among the best at reducing the risk of depression. That means lots of whole grains and fish!
The impact of lack of sleep on your body can be catastrophic in so many ways, especially when it comes to your mental health. Getting 7-8 hours of good quality sleep every night is recommended, but that’s often easier said than done.
There are ways you can coax yourself into a peaceful slumber, including avoiding blue light from technology directly before bed, and making sure you have a comfy place to sleep and the ability to implement a good routine. If you’re suffering from insomnia or find it hard to get to sleep, speak to a doctor. People who have insomnia are 10x more likely to develop depression.
Most people enjoy a tipple every now and then and there’s nothing wrong with that, but alcohol is a depressant which means excessive consumption puts you at a greater risk of developing depression. The same goes for drugs. This is because alcohol and drugs change the chemicals in the brain and over time this can have a negative effect.
Learning to be confident and improve your self-esteem is far easier said than done, but it can have massive effects on how you feel and your mood. Those with low self-esteem are more likely to suffer with depression and anxiety. Boosting self-esteem isn’t easy, but it’s not all linked to looks.
If you’re not confident with your appearance, try and boost your self-esteem through other ways, like donating to charity. Volunteering or sponsorships are good places to start. Muslims donate Sadaqah (click here to find out what is sadaqah) which leads to higher levels of self-esteem. After all, who doesn’t like the warm feeling of donating to charity?
For a lot of people, depression and low mood is exasperated by negative social relations. If there are people in your life who are a negative influence and do nothing to improve your mood, cut them out and move on.
This is a lot harder than it seems, but reducing negative energy can greatly impact your likelihood of experiencing mental health issues like depression.
These six methods will by no means guarantee that you won’t experience depression, but they have been linked to reducing the risk.