While depression is very real, and is something that people go through at various levels and to varying degrees. It is something that can be overcome with the right foods and attitude. I have lived alone all my adult years, and loneliness is something I have through at various stages of my life; sometimes there are times one gets depressed, but there is a way out.
What is depression?
Depression is an aberration in an average person’s mind and moods; defined as feelings of severe despondency and dejection. In India, it has been estimated that by 2020, the burden of depression will increase to 5.7% of the total burden of disease and it would be the second leading cause of disability-adjusted life years (DALYs), second only to ischemic heart disease. It is more common in women, younger people, those from poor economic backgrounds, and those with poor nutrition, those who are divorced/widowed, those who are unemployed, and it increases with the elderly (Sandeep Grover, AlakanandaDutt and AjitAvasthi, Anoverview of Indian research in depressionIndian Journal of Psychiatry, January 2010).
- Mood swings: ranging from anger, frustration, anxiousness, restlessness and sadness
- Lethargy: lack of any will to move, exercise and get out of bed sometimes, losing interest in most activities that require a physical effort
- Compromised cognitive abilities: lack of focus, erratic thinking and communication
- Affected sleep patterns: sleep patterns may get affected leading to insomnia, or sleeping a lot and for long hours
- Decline in overall well-being: lack of energy, chronic fatigue, lack of appetite
- Unexplained behavior patterns: talking incessantly or not talking at all, attention-seeking behavior or even obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Weight loss or weight gain
What can you do to combat depression?
While you can take to medication, as a holistic health practitioner I don’t think this is wise in the long-run. Sometimes medication is absolutely necessary. Especially, if one is dealing with schizophrenia, bipolar disease, and many psychotic disorders. However, starting by making sure your diet is addressed by a healthcare practitioner and you address your attitude and lifestyle is a good place to begin the journey of healing.You can start by removing toxins that affect the mind and the brain and including anti-depression foods. Start by making a diet for depression.
- Remove dairy, sugar, white refined flour, artificial sweeteners, processed and refined foods, refined oils, table salt, colas, sodas, coffee and Indian tea (caffeine), alcohol from your diet.
- Add whole grains, vegetables (consume 5-7 cups a day), lentils, whole beans, some animal protein or lean protein (if you are a non-vegetarian) fruit, nuts, seeds, good fats and fermented foods (Just remember 95% of serotonin is made in the gut and gut bacteria are fed by a fibre-rich diet and fermented foods).
- Include exercise: sweating it out helps in getting you the necessary endorphins to boost your moods.
- Meditate: gets your serotonin (the feel-good neurotransmitter) up and makes you happy.
- Be kind and hug a lot: This will get your ‘oxytocin’ increased again making you feel good.
Here are some additional tips for you on cultivating some habits to combat depression –
- LIVE IN THE ‘MOMENT’ easier said than done, but coming back to the breath (below your nose and above the upper lip, really helps – watch my youtube video on a short meditation)
- DO ONE THING a day that really makes you HAPPY: listen to music, engage in play (kids/dogs/pets) – daily relaxation.
- LISTEN TO YOUR BODY: Eat right, exercise, sleep and meditate (or plug into something larger)
- GET OUT: I usually go to me terrace and sit in the sun, but a few people also go down in my building.
- MAKE TIME TO CATCH UP WITH FRIENDS: I find myself having very meaningful conversations with my friends all over the world.
- PRACTICE GRATITUDE: Focus on all the good things that are happening to you, and give thanks for them.
- DON’T RESIST IT – I am alone and I accept it, then I am not looking at filling up the void with things (be they food or negative thoughts). So, in a sense I am not reacting to the loneliness, but actually embracing it.
- INVEST IN GOOD FRIENDS & FAMILY – This helps me to satisfy my need for a social connect. I have nurtured good friendships and made sure I invested in them and still do.
- BRING CONSCIOUSNESS INTO YOUR LIFE – I take it moment-to-moment. This tool helps to keep you grounded. ECKHART TOLLE writes about the “Power of Now.’ This take you away from a mind that is coloured by conditioning, judgement, boredom, and negativity.
- FOCUS ON ANOTHER PERSON/PET – Take an interest in something outside yourself, like another person (perhaps going through a hard time) or even your pet. This takes you away from being obsessed with the fact that you are alone.
- BE PERSISTENT – In seeking out friends, relatives, and others. One of my friends always says to me ‘I never give up’ calling or staying in-touch. This is true. Don’t feel bad if they don’t answer, but keep trying them (get out of your own ego).