HABITS THAT WORSEN DEPRESSION

Thankfully MDD can be treated with counseling, medication, or a combination of the two, While MDD stands for Major depressive disorder.

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Inactivity:

The essential feature of a major depressive episode is a period of at least two weeks in which there is either a depressed mood or a lack of pleasure in nearly all activities. This can make it difficult to find the energy to do much of anything.

Depression can negatively impact employment, school, relationships, and other important areas of functioning. Depression can make it difficult to get going in the morning.

While depression might make you feel like staying in bed all day is the only doable option, studies show that moderate exercise (walking 20-40 minutes, 3 times per week) is effective in decreasing depression and improves long-term outcomes for depressed people.

Moderate exercise boosts the “feel good” neurochemicals dopamine and serotonin.

 

Poor Sleep Habits:

Sleep disturbance is actually one of the symptoms of depression, and it can set a negative sleep cycle in motion. Sleep disturbance can take the form of either insomnia (difficulty falling asleep) and staying asleep, or sleeping too much.

To complicate matters, chronic sleep deprivation is also a trigger of depression. It may be hard to wrap your head around but yes, sleep disturbance is both a symptom and a trigger of depression. One study of adolescents found that reduced quantity of sleep increases the risk of depression, which in turn increases the risk of reduced sleep. It can feel like a never-ending cycle.

Set up good sleep habits to help stop the negative sleep cycle associated with sleep deprivation and depression. Keep sleep and wake times consistent, shut off all electronics a few hours prior to bedtime, and remove all screens from the bedroom. Getting regular exercise is a good way to tire you out so a good way to break the vicious lack-of-sleep cycle is to incorporate movement into your day.

Social Isolation:

When life is overwhelming, it’s natural to turn inward. You may feel embarrassed and unwilling to reach out for social support during times when getting out the door in the morning feels like an impossible chore, but do it anyway. Meaningful social support is exactly what you need right now.

Research shows that social support moderates genetic and environmental vulnerabilities for mental illness by providing coping strategies and building up resilience to stress.

Eating a Poor Diet:

Believe it or not, the food you eat can negatively impact your mood. A study in The American Journal of Psychiatry found a link between diets high in processed foods, refined grains, sugary products, and beer and increased rates of depression and anxiety among women.

Many people reach for “comfort” foods when struggling with difficult emotions, and one of the symptoms of depression includes changes in eating habits resulting in significant weight loss or weight gain. Food really can impact your mental health.

Get clarity around what you eat in a day by tracking your eating habits or journaling about your appetites, food choices, and emotional responses to food. Once you start swapping out processed food for whole food (stick to the perimeter of the grocery store), you WILL notice a difference.

Rumination:

People with depression are prone to rumination, or dwelling on negative thoughts. Negative thoughts about rejection, loss, failure, and other sources of stress can make bad feelings worse and over time create a false and damaging narrative. Dwelling on difficult problems compulsively exacerbates symptoms of depression. The best bet for ending rumination is to seek professional help.

Cognitive behavioral therapy can help you identify negative thought patterns and learn to replace them with positive thoughts and adaptive coping strategies. In the meantime, when you notice your mind wandering to the list of reasons why you’re a good-for-nothing person (or a variation of that), divert your attention to a positive distraction. Something that absorbs your attention for longer than 5 minutes can be helpful. Read a book or that long online article you’ve been meaning to get to.

 

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