Ways to NATURALLY lift your mood with Depression
Unfortunately, it is predicted that as many as 1 in 6 adults experience a common mental health problem, such as anxiety or depression, and as many as 1 in 5 adults have even considered taking their own life at some point.
Depression is one of the most common mental health conditions, along with anxiety, and is much more than simply feeling unhappy or fed up for a few days. Most people will go through periods where they might feel down or out of sorts, but this does not mean that you are depressed. You will consistently feel sad for weeks or even months, as opposed to just a few days. It is important to remember that depression is not a trivial thing; it is a real illness and is not something you can simply snap out of. There is light at the end of the tunnel though, and with a good support system around you, and with the right treatment, depression can be managed.
What causes depression?
The truth is that there is no single cause of depression. It can happen to anyone, at any age and can happen for a number of different reasons.
For many, an upsetting and stressful life event can be the cause of depression. Bereavement, divorce, illness, redundancy, and job or money worries are really common causes.
For many, people talk about a ‘downward spiral’ that led them to feel depressed. This is where a number of upsetting or stressful events have all happened, leading you to feel low. For example, if you’re relationship breaks down, you are likely to feel sad and low about it, which could lead to you stopping seeing your friends and family, and you might start drinking more alcohol. It can be spiralling events like this that can make you feel bad, and trigger depression.
Studies have also suggested that you are also much more likely to get depression if you are older, and is more common in people who live in difficult social and economic circumstances. We discuss some of the more common triggers in more detail below.
Stressful events can cause depression, as some people can take a while to come to terms with certain events that can cause a lot of upset. This will increase your risk of depression, as you are more likely to cut off people close to you, as you attempt to deal with the problems by yourself.
Certain personality traits can also make you more vulnerable to depression as well. Low self-esteem and being overly critical are all traits that can make depression more likely. It could be that there are certain genes that you have inherited from your parents or early life experiences. Family history can play a part as well. If a close relative, like a parent or sibling, has been diagnosed with depression, you are more likely to develop it.
A lot of women are particularly vulnerable to depression after giving birth. This is often due to the hormones, and physical changes that you have gone through, as well as the increased responsibility that you have with a new life to take care of. These experiences can all lead to postnatal depression.
Finally, alcohol and drugs, and illness can also cause a spiral into depression. Certain drugs, such as cannabis can increase your chances of getting depression, and since alcohol is a depressant in itself, it is obvious that it will only make things worse. A major, or life-threatening illness can all increase your chances of becoming depressed as well.
How can you tell if you are depressed?
Like we said, there is no set reason that people get depression, so it really comes as no surprise that it can affect people in different ways, and present itself with a huge range of symptoms.
These can range from feelings of unhappiness and hopelessness that do not overtime and losing interest in the things that you would normally enjoy doing, or even feeling tearful for no reason.
There are varying degrees of depression, with symptoms ranging from mild to severe. Mild symptoms might cause you to feel persistently low in spirit, whilst severe depression could actually make you feel suicidal.
It is so important that you seek help from your GP if you think you might be at all depressed. A lot of people make the mistake of waiting for a long time before they seek help because they are embarrassed or feel that they will not be taken seriously at all. However; the sooner you seek help from your doctor, the sooner you can get the right help you need, and be on the road to recovery.
Symptoms of depression
Symptoms of depression are often incredibly complex and will be different in everybody. Despite two people suffering from the same condition, they can have completely different symptoms; however, the bottom line is normally the same – you feel sad, hopeless, and lose interest in things that you used to enjoy. These feelings will normally stay for weeks, or even months, and can become bad enough that they will interfere with your work, social life and your family life.
Some psychological symptoms can include; a continuous low mood and sadness; feelings of hopelessness and helplessness; having low self-esteem; feeling tearful, often for no reason; having huge feelings of guilt; feeling irritable and intolerant of people around you; having little or no motivation or even interest in things; finding it difficult to make decisions, even simple ones; not getting enjoyment from your life anymore; feeling anxious or worried; and having suicidal thoughts or thoughts about harming yourself.
Depression can also have physical symptoms as well, which can include; moving or speaking more slowly than usual; changes in your appetite or even your weight; constipation; aches and pains that you cannot explain; a complete lack of energy to do anything; low sex drive; changes to your menstrual cycle; a disturbed sleep, whether this is trouble falling asleep or difficulty waking up in the morning to start your day.
There are also some social symptoms of the condition as well, which can include; not doing well at work, particularly if you used to; avoiding contact you’re your friends, and finding excuses to get out of any social activities that you have planned; completely neglecting your hobbies and interests; having difficulties in your home and family life.
Like we have said, there are many different levels of depression, and often it can come on incredibly gradually, so people do not actually realise that anything is wrong, or people will try and manage their own symptoms, without actually taking the time to realise that they are actually unwell. A lot of the time, it will be someone else that will suggest that something is wrong.
When you visit your doctor, your depression will be measured, as to how seriously it is affecting your life. Mild depression is when it has some impact on your daily life; moderate depression, is where it has a significant impact on your daily life; and severe depression is when it makes it almost impossible to get through your daily life, and some will even show psychotic symptoms.
There is not just one type of depression either, and to make it more confusing. Common types of depression include; postnatal depression, which we have spoken about briefly, bipolar disorder, which although it was once known and ‘manic depression’, it is actually where people often have spells of both depression and excessively high moods, hence the manic; and seasonal affective disorder, which is often known as SAD, and is a depression that has a seasonal pattern, which is normally related to the winter months.
Natural mood lifters
Although if you are experiencing any of the symptoms of depression, or you are worried at all about how you are feeling, it is so important that you go and see your GP, as medical intervention might be required, and it is so important to get the right treatment plan that will give you the best chance of recovering fully; there are some natural mood lifters that you can try. Again, we stress though that this should not be in place of seeing a medical professional.
One of the most important things that you can do is not to blame yourself for the way of depression. There is a lot of stigma that is attached to depression, and this coupled with feelings of guilt and inadequacy, will only get in the way of your recovery. Instead, you should try and take a practical and proactive approach, and most importantly, have patience with yourself.
Although it is often a much easier thing to say rather than do, it is really important to try and look on the positive side of things. Instead of focusing on the negative, try and look for the positive side of the situation. For example, instead of getting miserable on a rainy day, instead, consider the fact that it will be beneficial for the garden. A more optimistic view will allow you to more easily take on anything that life throws at you.
Although one of the signs of depression is interrupted sleep, it is so important to try and get a good nights sleep. Although the amount of sleep that everyone needs is different between person to person, medical experts recommend that those who have been diagnosed with depression should get enough sleep and try and maintain a regular sleep cycle to aid your recovery.
Try and go outside as much as you can. The sun can have really positive effects on your mood, and therefore by brightening up your bedroom in the morning, letting in all of the natural light, it will instantly make you feel happier all day. You can get light lamps, which increase in intensity slowly, but even just being outside will help to boost your mood as well.
Find a friend who has a pet, and go and play with them every day. Studies have shown that when non-pet owners play with a dog for even just a few minutes every day, the brain chemicals serotonin and oxytocin, which are both mood lifters actually rose. If you cannot do this, why not consider lending a few hours to volunteer at your local animal shelter, where you can play with as many dogs as you want.
Finally; however fake it is, just try and remember to smile. A study looked at two groups of participants, where one was told to smile, and the other group was told to frown. After, the two groups were then shown cartoons, and it was found that the ones who smiled found those who had smiled actually found the show funnier than the group who were told to frown. So, even a fake smile will activate happiness centres in the brain, which will make you feel much happier and better in the long run.