General lifestyle treatments for depression

Major depression is one of the major leading causes of disability in developed countries according to the Surgeon General. Just as it takes lifestyle changes to lose weight and keep it off, lifestyle changes can work in treating depression.

Some of the lifestyle changes needed are bright light therapy, avoid negative thinking, and and regular, restful sleep. We will discuss more later this week.

Bright light therapy: Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a common condition in the northern latitudes. People have identical symptoms to depression which are solved when exposed to bright light (2000-10,000 lux) for at least 30 min a day. This can be done by using a special bright light such as a Hap-E light or by being outdoors at least 30 min a day. It is essential that the eyes be exposed to the sunlight for this amount of time. This exposure can also help people with insomnia sleep better at night.

Avoid negative thinking: Researchers have found in studies that negative thinking has more strongly affected the outcome of depression, anxiety, perceived stress than any other factor. As soon as conscious awareness of n unconstructive negative though is realized, a positve thought should immediately replace it.

If a person will try for 14 days to work on replacing negative thoughts with positive ones, it will improve their outlook. Anytime they catch a negative thought, they start over with the 14 days count. They try to go 14 days without a negative thought. By the time they accomplish this, it will be a habit. Their outlook will change.

Regular, restful sleep: People need 7-8 hours of sleep a night. A lack of that amount can lead to depression. Insomnia also contributes to memory impairment and lack of concentration. To get a good night’s rest, be sure to get enough physical exercise during the day (although not less than 2 hrs before bedtime), get at least 30 min of sunshine, keep to a regular sleep schedule, avoid smoking, caffeine, and alcohol which interferes with natural brain chemistry. Also, try to avoid eating before sleeping so that the stomach can be at rest at bedtime. The evening meal should be eaten 3-4 hours before bedtime so digestion will usually be completed, and superior, more effective rest will be experienced.

Those are some tips to get you started. These are not to take the place of a Dr’s advice. Lifestyle changes can work hand in hand with a Dr and counselor so that recovery can come quicker. I will cover more points later in the week.