Hidden Causes of Depression and How to Manage Them
In the U.S., more than 16 million people suffer from depression. There are many causes of depression but some are more apparent than others. In addition, symptoms vary from person to person. Although consulting your doctor should be your first step, there are also things you can do at home to help alleviate these symptoms.
Curious what's affecting your mood and what you can do to improve it? Here are three hidden causes of depression and how you can overcome them:
Seasonal Affective Disorder
Did you know that the amount of sunlight outside can affect your mood? If you begin feeling depressed in the fall or get a case of the "winter blues," you may have a type of depression known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Seasonal Affective Disorder is a common mood disorder that usually appears around the same time every year – often in the fall or winter. It's characterized by oversleeping, cravings for high-carbohydrate foods, weight gain and tiredness or low energy.
This type of depression can be treated with light therapy, while symptoms can also be managed with calming, mind-body techniques – such as yoga, tai chi, meditation and music or art therapy.
Believe it or not, the food you put in your body may affect your mood. A study published in the Indian Journal of Psychiatry found that diets low in carbohydrates, amino acids (found in proteins) and omega-3 fatty acids may contribute to the development of depression. To combat this, ensure you are eating a well-balanced diet. Plus, healthy eating is easier if you have a support system. Try making healthy meals at home with your family and friends!
Depression can also be caused by vitamin deficiencies. If you feel like this may be the cause of your mood, consult with your doctor first, but the solution may be as simple as taking a daily vitamin D. A lack of other vitamins can also contribute to depression, so a balanced diet is especially important.
Though experts are currently unable to agree whether reduced physical activity causes depression or the other way around, people who are depressed often lead sedentary lifestyles.
To avoid this, make a conscious effort to get active which will increase your endorphin levels. Endorphins are often referred to as the "feel-good neurochemical," so the higher your levels are, the less stressed and unhappy you'll feel. Take time to go for a walk or a run, or choose another physical activity that you enjoy and incorporate it into your daily routine. Getting your heart rate up and working up a sweat will produce endorphins that can help prevent sad thoughts and feelings.
Although it may seem overwhelming, managing your depression is possible with the proper support and techniques.