Even with 16 million other people struggling with depression, the disorder has a sinister way of making you feel completely isolated. Part of this is because not all cases of depression are created equal. While some forms of depression are mild and relatively manageable, others are so severe that they affect one’s ability to make it through the day.
These variations are part of what makes depression so difficult to treat; depression requires treatment that’s personalized to your unique disorder and what your mind and body will respond to best. Anti-depressants are one part of depression treatment, but natural depression-fighting activities are also needed to help you manage your symptoms and live a happier life.
Anti-Depressant Drugs: Why They’re Only Part of the Solution
While anti-depressants are the best line of defense against major depressive disorder, their mileage may vary. Three of the most common anti-depressant drugs currently prescribed include:
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs): These are the most common anti-depressants, increasing the levels of the serotonin neurotransmitter in your brain responsible for helping you feel happy.
- Selective serotonin noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors (SSNRIs): These drugs increase both serotonin and norepinephrine levels. Norepinephrine is another neurotransmitter that can affect mood.
- Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCAs): These drugs increase serotonin and norepinephrine levels, similar to SSRIs and SSNRIs. However, these anti-depressants also block acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter linked to increased anxiety and depression.
As you can see from just these three antidepressants, there are many factors that can be triggering depression and it takes trial and error to determine the best drug for you.
Anti-depressants can also become less effective over time. For 33 percent of individuals taking an anti-depressant, symptoms will occur in what is termed “breakthrough depression.” Other factors can stop anti-depressant drugs from working, too, including substance abuse, interactions with other medications and new life stressors.
Fortunately, anti-depressants aren’t the only piece of the puzzle in solving depression. There are natural ways to cope with depression that can build on the relief you’ve received from anti-depressants.
5 Activities to Manage Depression Symptoms
Adding these activities to your daily schedule can give your mind the natural boost it needs to fight depression symptoms:
1. Healthy Amounts of Sleep Each Night. Sleep deprivation can negatively impact neurotransmitter and hormone production in the brain, impairing your ability to ward off negative thought patterns and regulate your emotions properly. While depression oftentimes leads to insomnia, a lack of regular sleep can make your depression symptoms worse. If anti-depressants help you sleep, be sure to get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night and go to sleep and wake up at the same times each day. This consistency will aid your cognitive functioning and emotional well-being.
2. Time Spent Outdoors. A 2015 study found that people who spent 90 minutes walking through natural outdoor environments had lower activity levels in the pre-frontal cortex – the part of the brain responsible for thinking about negative emotions, or rumination. Spending time outdoors where you can be in nature and breathe in the fresh are is not only good for your physical health but is also necessary to subdue depression symptoms.
3. Daily Exercise. One of the very best anti-depressants around is exercise. It doesn’t matter if you like to run, play sports or dance. As long as you’re moving and getting your heart rate up, the physical activity will release dopamine neurotransmitters in your brain to help boost your mood and keep you feeling good.
4. Healthy Eating. What you put in your body has a direct effect on your mental health and the depression symptoms you experience. While healthy eating can’t solve major depressive disorder on its own, the right foods can have a positive impact on your mood and mental well-being. In following with the pro-recovery diet, make sure you eat plenty of fresh vegetables, fruits and whole grains while cutting back on processed foods and sugars. Vitamins and nutritional supplements, like those that include omega-3 fatty acids, are also beneficial to your diet and can help you manage depression symptoms.
5. Therapy. Finally, another key way to manage depression is by participating in therapy from a credible depression treatment program. Therapy gives you a chance to talk to a licensed and experienced therapist who can empathize with your situation and help you process what you’re thinking and feeling. Therapists like the ones at The Raleigh House can teach you coping strategies and help you determine other ways to best manage your depression symptoms.
*Speak with your doctor about the best forms of treatment for your major depressive disorder.
Get Major Depressive Disorder Treatment at The Raleigh House
The Raleigh House has over 10 years of experience providing mental health and addiction treatment to people just like you. Through our east to west approach, we combine evidence-based treatments and experiential therapies like equine therapy and rock climbing to help you work through your disorder and develop healthy coping skills to manage your depression once you’re out of treatment.
If you’re ready to break free from depression and live a happier, healthier life, we can help. Contact us today to learn more about our treatment approach to depression.