Have you ever wondered if there were ways to prevent depression? Maybe you suffer from bouts of it, maybe it’s something that runs in your family, and you do not want to go through it after seeing how much suffering it can cause.
The good news is that there are ways to prevent depression. The difficult news is that these are things that you have probably heard experts say before but you probably didn’t pay much attention to it.
It’s alright, it is never too late to start. Most of the practices and habits mentioned in this article are things that you can do on your own and do not necessarily require medication. That being said, if you think you’re in the need of medication please consult your doctor, and if you are already taking medication, do not stop taking it unless your doctor approves of it.
This article is for educational purposes only and does not replace any medical or professional advice on the topic of depression. If you need help please seek a medical or mental health professional.
Here are 7 things and habits you can start doing in order to prevent or lessen the symptoms of depression within you.
One of the biggest things with depression is the negative thoughts and patterns that people who suffer from it tend to have. This is why medical professionals have started treating depression patients with mindfulness-based cognitive therapy or MBCT. In this therapy, the goal is for the patient to become aware and start changing their negative thoughts into positive ones.
Changing your negative thoughts into positive ones will prevent you from going into a downward spiral that may be hard to get out of. In addition to transmuting emotions, MBCT also helps you learn how to let the emotions flow in and out without suppressing them.
An MBCT specialized website stated that mindfulness is a way to pierce through the veils of losing touch with what gives you pleasure, preventing critical strategies of the mind that try to analyze the negative emotions but only bring you down, preventing suppression of emotions, and thinking that you are isolated.
“Mindfulness practice helps you see the patterns of the mind and learn how to recognize when your mood is beginning to go down. This means you can ‘nip it in the bud’ much earlier than before”, says the MBCT website.
Seeing as this practice is widely used by professionals to manage and prevent depression, practicing mindfulness on your own will probably help you in your own journey to prevent depression especially if you have a family history of it.
2- Find ways to handle stress
Experts have found a connection between stress and depression. This connection goes both ways making it a “bidirectional” relationship, meaning that stress can cause depression and depression causes stress.
According to a WebMD article, when a significant stressor (divorce, accident, death, abuse, etc) hits your life and you keep on adding stress the outcome of that is often depression. Too much stress sends the psyche out of equilibrium because the body is only equipped to handle stress for small amounts of time. If the stress is prolonged the body doesn’t know what to do with it or how to lower it.
Finding healthy ways to manage your stress whether that is a hobby, sport, games, or time with family and friends, will help you keep a balance within your body by not overloading it.
3- Improve your self-esteem
Self-esteem is a big part of depression. Although the correlation between self-esteem and depression has not been clearly identified, some studies suggest that self-esteem is related to a perception of oneself and social support.
A 2019 study on the relationship between levels of self-esteem and the development of depression in young adults with mild depressive symptoms, found that the lack of emotional support and poor-quality relationships could lead people into depression.
“This result suggests that a lack of social support may decrease resilience and lead to depression in young adults with high self-esteem”, the study stated, “These findings are consistent with past research that reported a strong association between low resilience and probable depression, where psychological resilience was strongly linked to social support”.
Even though the study had a small sample size (113 students), the authors are confident that the findings are significant and that there should be a more thorough investigation on this subject.
How we view ourselves and find the right social support matter when it comes to depression. A few things you could do to improve these are to go to therapy, spend more time with friends and family, go to where you are appreciated and loved, and work on your own self-worth.
4- Lifestyle changes & Nutrition
Sleep, diet, and exercise have all been attributed to either contributing to depression or healing it to some degree.
In an article, Medical News Today cites research that shows that “physical activity can act as an antidepressant, and experts encourage doctors to include it as a treatment” and describe it as “an underutilized treatment for depression”. Saying that “it can boost both physical and mental well-being”.
Nutrition-wise, the article states that “A healthful diet may help prevent depression and boost mental well-being.”
“Fresh fruits and vegetables provide antioxidants”, says the article, “These help protect the body from oxidative stress and cell damage”. Processed foods on the other hand can damage the gut and increase the risk of depression, according to Medical News Today.
When it comes to sleep, researchers have found a link between it and depression. Basically saying that the less sleep you get, the higher the risk of depression. In turn, depression reduces the hours and quality of sleep, making it difficult to achieve. This then turns into a cycle that can be difficult to break.
To make it easier to sleep, Medical News Today recommends making sure to not consume alcohol before sleep, making sure that the room is dark and quiet, getting up and going to sleep at the same time, avoiding heavy meals before bed, taking all electronics out of the room, exercise, have a healthy diet, etc.
5- Go outside
Hiking, taking a walk, grounding, and spending time with nature has been proven to lower stress levels and improve many ailments including depression.
Finding times to go outside and enjoy nature may help you with your depression overall, including sleep.
6- Avoid alcohol and recreational drugs
Alcohol is a depressant substance. This means that it depresses or lowers certain chemicals in your body and brain. Constant use of alcohol can make your depression worse or create depression through addiction.
Similarly, if the use of recreational drugs is not monitored to be a healthy use, they can also worsen or cause depression.
It is recommended that these substances be avoided if you have depression or monitored so that they do not create a depression in you.
7- Work through your problems
One large part of depression is the suppression or dulling of emotions. In order to prevent or help with your depression, it is recommended that you get therapy, journal, and express yourself in any way possible.
Due to the nature of depression, some therapists suggest focusing on your negative emotions first, learning their triggers, and seeing how they affect you. As the healing journey continues, you would start focusing on your positive emotions as well.
You may be even asked to start noting the good things that happen around you or even keep a gratitude journal. Doing that will start teaching your mind to focus on the positives more instead of the negatives.
Your mental and emotional states are of great importance when it comes to depression so working through your problems should take priority in order for your health to get better.
Do you agree with this list? Let us know in the comments below. Don’t forget to check out our Youtube channel for more about psychology and mental health.
8 Ways To Prevent And Combat Depression. (n.d.). Think A Plus. https://thinkaplus.com/8-ways-to-prevent-and-combat-depression/
Choi, Y. (2019, October). The relationship between levels of self-esteem and the. . . : Medicine. LWW. https://journals.lww.com/md-journal/fulltext/2019/10180/the_relationship_between_levels_of_self_esteem_and.34.aspx
Cooper, J. (2021, July 16). The Link Between Stress and Depression. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/depression/features/stress-depression
How does mindfulness help reduce downward mood spirals? (2021, January 6). MBCT.Com. https://www.mbct.com/how-does-mindfulness-help-reduce-downward-mood-spirals/
Sacks, E. (2008, June 9). Preventing Depression. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/depression/understanding-depression-prevention
Seymour, T. (2020, September 30). What to know about avoiding depression. Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320502#outlook