Whether we like it or not, depression has become one of the most common diseases of today’s society. We all have moments in which we feel more sad or more pessimistic than usual, but when negative emotions begin to overwhelm us, it is clear that we are confronted with the symptoms of depression.
This in most cases also requires a medical consultation. However, there are some methods that can help us defeat depression without having to resort to medical treatment.
Treating depression without medication
“Be Happy!” – this excitement may seem incomprehensible to a person suffering from depression, but it is precisely this redirection of attention to positive feelings that has the ability to heal a person of depression. Treating depression without drugs, but with autosuggestion can have surprising effects both at the psychic and physical levels. It has been known for many years that thoughts can influence blood flow in the brain as well as the level of serotonin (a neurotransmitter responsible for the interaction between neurons). A low level of serotonin is associated with sadness, and the opposite with a state of happiness. Thus, even if it is hard to believe, positive thoughts can help us overcome the less good moments in our lives.
Another way to treat depression without medication is to expose the body to daylight in nature, perform moderate exercise and frequent walks. Such activities have positive effects on mental health. Moreover, simply exposure to sunlight and light helps us improve our psychological and emotional tone.
Keep a diet
Another way to treat depression without drugs is to consume foods containing tryptophan, an essential amino acid in enzyme biosynthesis and able to increase serotonin levels in the brain. With this amino acid we can treat insomnia, anxiety, and depression. It is very important to note that foods containing tryptophan, such as milk, cheese, fish, peanuts or bananas, can’t increase the level of serotonin alone in the brain, and it is necessary for the person to consume carbohydrates after meal. Only that way, tryptophan amino acid increases the level of serotonin in the brain.
Short bursts of vigorous exercise naturally increase BDNF, a compound that increases the production of new neurons and neuronal connectivity. This is likely just one of the ways exercise reduces stress and improves depressive symptoms. And if high-intensity intervals aren’t for you, there’s plenty of evidence that running and lifting can help alleviate anxiety and depressive symptoms. Some forward-thinking doctors are even prescribing exercise instead of antidepressants, taking into account the poor risk-to-benefit in patients with mild depression. In other words, exercise is more effective and safer, at least for people with mild depression.
Meditation and mindfulness
This might sound annoyingly simple. But new clinical applications of mindfulness-based cognitive therapies (MBCT) for depressed patients are showing really promising results.
Studies out of the University of Exeter are finding that daily 30-minute mindfulness meditation sessions are better than drugs or counseling alone for depression. Three-quarters of patients in one study felt good enough to stop taking antidepressants after four months with no other intervention besides MBCT.
The science is young, but mindfulness and meditation studies are showing promising results alleviating symptoms like pain, stress, anxiety, depression, and disordered eating.
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