Depression is all too common in modern society, and most of us are familiar with feelings of stress as we go about our daily lives. The statistics are alarming: major depressive disorder affects 14.8 million American adults and is the leading cause of disability for people ages 15 to 44.
Disheartening, yes, but not in light of the fact that depression is not a terminal illness. It is treatable. Unfortunately, many people allow it to go on for far too long, or even worse, ignore it altogether. The big tragedy is that only two out of three sufferers will seek medical advice. This is a very dangerous proposition, as two-thirds of all suicides are due to depression, accounting for 30,000 of the reported suicides in the U.S. every year.
Okay, so these ideas alone may not cure your depression, but they are simple things you can try today.
1. Hang Up Tranquil Pictures: Maybe it’s time to feng shui your office space to get that vacation relaxation high. Researchers from the Sheffield Cognition and Neuroimaging Laboratory studied the effect of visual scenery on the perception of tranquility. Their research suggests that natural scenes have a more positive impact on the brain than industrial imagery.
2. Volunteer: Want to boost your mood without diet, exercise or pills? Perhaps, you should consider volunteering. There are numerous scientific studies that prove that altruism may be a key component to overall happiness and health. Indeed, volunteering boosts your mood. MRI tests prove that people that volunteer get a “helper’s” high. “Doing good” does good for your brain, too. By focusing your energy and time helping someone else, you may just help yourself.
3. Try Yoga: Scientists are now giving serious attention to an idea that yogis have known for centuries: that yoga has a positive effect on your mood. Although it’s an ancient mind-body practice, the future of yoga may be in treating mood disorders. For this small study, scientists at the Boston University School of Medicine measured yoga’s effect on depression and anxiety versus walking with a brain imaging study. They found that compared to walking, yoga provides a greater improvement in mood, as well as a decrease in anxiety.
4. Get a Dog: Nearly 40 percent of households in the United States own at least one dog. There is a reason for all of this puppy love: our four-legged friends just may serve as a natural antidepressant. Dog owners, especially single adults and women, are less likely to experience feelings of depression thanks to their relationships with their canines.
5. Stop the Procrastination Cycle: Depression leads to procrastination, which leads to depression which leads to…you get the idea. Remember that low self-confidence is a feeling, not a fact. It’s a symptom of depression, not a realistic assessment of your capacities. Spend just five minutes taking a first step on your project. A time limit may reduce the feeling of dread that you will have to do more than you have energy for.
6. Go Outside: Those stuck indoors all day have even more reason to get outside: recent research shows that outdoor activity helps to ward off depression as well as improve your general mental health. The positive effects of exercise have been thoroughly documented over the years. Researchers at the University of Essex investigated whether working out in nature, which they refer to as “green exercise,” would increase the benefits. Green exercise will perk up your life “by reducing stress levels, enhancing mood and improving self-esteem.
Check out this article on the 8 Surprising Causes of Depression.