Depression preventionWe already know that depression is a common disease these days. How then can we defend against her? Are there effective methods for preventing depression? Unfortunately, we do not have access to a magic pill that, when taken daily, will protect us against mental disorders. You need to put some effort into protecting yourself from depression. The good news is, however, that there are often small changes in our daily habits that everyone can make, regardless of their gender, age or place of residence. They usually cost nothing, can even be quite pleasant, and have a huge impact on mental health. A restful sleep or a healthy, fruity snack? They sound better than a doctor’s prescription, right? It turns out that proper sleep hygiene and proper eating habits are just some of the methods to protect yourself against depression. Let’s analyze what other aspects of our life are also important in the prevention of this disease.
A few words about sleep hygieneSleep deprivation leads to a decrease in our daily activities in virtually every area of life. Worse productivity at work, irritation, excessive appetite, unwillingness to talk to loved ones, decreased libido … We experience all this when we are sleepless. The examples listed above are very similar to depression, right?Too little sleep and its poor quality in the long run contribute to an increased risk of affective disorders. Taking care of sleep hygiene is an appropriate preventive measure that can be implemented by all of us today. What does it mean?
- Lie down only when you are tired.
- Use the bedroom only for sleeping and intercourse (not working with a laptop, watching TV …).
- If you can’t fall asleep for 20 minutes, get up and go back to bed when you are tired.
- Lie down and get up at the same time every day.
- Avoid daily naps.
- Avoid stimulants such as coffee, alcohol, cigarettes and other stimulants.
- Exercise regularly, but not late in the evening.
Sport strengthens the body and mindAlmost everyone knows the state of a sudden surge of energy and a smile after physical exertion that we like. It has its physiological basis, because during sports in our body endorphins are released, which are responsible for positive emotions and feelings of happiness. This is the reason why physical activity plays an important role in the treatment of depression, reducing its symptoms and often being exchanged with psychotherapy and pharmacology. Is it also an element of depression prevention? Scientific studies show that yes. It doesn’t have to be a competitive sport – even a short walk or bike ride to work reduces the risk of getting sick. As demonstrated by scientists from Taiwan, 15 minutes of continuous physical activity of medium intensity, three times a week, has preventive action. The key is to choose the kind of physical activity that really gives you pleasure, and it will not prove to be another onerous duty. If you like group sports, do not hesitate – joint exercises will strengthen social contacts, which is also a method of preventing depression, as mentioned below.
Technology and its impact on the prevention of depressionRisk factors for depression often include isolation and a lack of social contact. Unfortunately, this is a phenomenon we face more and more often, often without even realizing it. After all, we are in constant contact with friends on Facebook, we get notifications and comments, we respond to friends’ posts … Sometimes we have enough of constant phone vibrations informing about new messages. However, it is worth considering whether emoji and like are actually something that creates strong social bonds? If one day a global internet failure happened, who would we arrange a coffee and conversation with? The potential culprit in this matter can be called rapidly growing technology and paradoxically named social media, which often have nothing to do with real contacts. We owe a lot of good technology, but also a lot of bad things in the context of our mental health. According to research, excessive use of social media is associated with a higher risk of depression, especially in the age group of young adults. So when we meet with loved ones, it is worth putting down the phone and enjoying the moment.
Lifestyle medicineDepression is a disease, there is no doubt about it. And like other chronic conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure, lifestyle medicine plays a huge role in its prevention. It concerns important, though often neglected on a daily basis aspects – diet, physical activity, or coping with addictions and stress. Scientists from all over the world were primarily interested in the relationship between eating habits and the occurrence of mental illnesses. Researchers checked the effect of diet on the frequency of depression among various groups, including women (including young mothers), students and adolescents. Specialist studies show that proper eating habits have a large neuroprotective effect. In other words, eating healthy, we protect our nerve cells. In turn, by introducing to the menu excess products of the type of “fast food”, processed, rich in saturated fat, as well as burning and not moving much, we increase the daily exposure of neurons to stress and inflammatory factors, which disrupts their function. Mediterranean diet, containing a lot of fruit, vegetables, fish, whole grains and healthy fats, contributes to reducing the risk of depressive episodes.
Suicide prevention – worth to know and rememberAccording to WHO statistics, in developed countries the percentage of suicides caused by mental disorders, including depression, can reach up to 90%. What preventive measures can be implemented to reduce this number? An interesting study was conducted by scientists from Barcelona. They decided to use social media for early detection of depression and suicidal tendencies. It turns out that many people suffering from mental illness experience social isolation and social media become the only safe platform for expressing their thoughts. The screen creates a secure barrier that allows users to talk more than they would in a live conversation. Researchers are working on models that, by analyzing posts, may be useful in early detection of suicidal thoughts. However, pushing the Internet aside, how can we actually help someone in a crisis? First of all, if you are reading this article and you are the one who is suffering from depression and suicidal thoughts, remember that they are a symptom of a disease that can be treated. You don’t have to be ashamed of them, share them today with someone you trust – family, friend, therapist. If, on the other hand, you are on the other side and are afraid that someone from your loved ones may think about suicide, do not underestimate the problem. Talk to him honestly, listen, express your fears and encourage professional help. Convince yourself that the life of a loved one is important to you and remind you that there are high chances to cure depression, but suicide is a path without a return. If you need it, don’t hesitate to seek professional medical support.
The introduction of clear guidelines for the prevention of depression is still a challenge due to the complicated and not fully understood mechanisms of the disease. The aspects mentioned above – physical activity, healthy sleep, proper eating habits, limiting the use of social media – certainly have an impact on our mental health. Researchers suggest that education about preventive measures should be addressed with special care to children and adolescents. This is the age group in which depression and other affective disorders often have their origin. However, each of us, regardless of age, is able to implement minor changes that will help protect against depression. It is worth taking care of your mental health from today.