Here are 11 tips for managing depression. Even if you don’t suffer from depression, consider adding one of these into your regular routine to fortify your behavioral health.
Studies show individuals with family, community, and/or church support fare better through mental illness struggles. Group therapy may be a beneficial method of building social skills.
Light to moderate exercise for 20 minutes daily for most days has a positive impact on brain health. Walking 5 miles a week has shown to avoid cognitive decline.
Taking up meditation, or Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, has been proven to help improve depressive symptoms.
Sleep is very important to healthy brain functioning. Make sure you are getting adequate sleep and talk to your doctor if you are not.
In depression, memory of bad days will often overshadow good days. Keeping a daily log of mood and healthy habits may help identify patterns as well as recall of good days/moments had.
Light boxes have shown to be beneficial for people with seasonal affective disorder. Typically, the blue wavelength at 10,000 Lux has shown to be most effective. 20 minutes a day of indirect light may prove beneficial.
Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil are essential fatty acids–needed in diet as they are not produced in the body. Plant-based omega-3 often do not convert well to DHA and EPA found in fish. These are essential components of cell membranes in the body, particularly brain, eyes, and heart. Doses between 2,000 mg and 4,000 mg has often shown to have an antidepressant effect in research trials.
Low levels have been implicated in mood disorders. Checking blood levels of this may help decide if supplementation is necessary.
Folic Acid and MTHFR: Individuals with depression have a higher risk of poor conversion of folic acid to its active form L-methylfolate. This is done by the methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase enzyme (MTHFR). L-methylfolate facilitates neurotransmitter (dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine) production in the brain. Genetic tests through an oral swab can assess this enzyme.
Thought distortions can be amplified and interpersonal relationships may be strained during bouts of severe mood disorders. Therapy provides time and space to address and correct these. Cognitive Behavior Therapy, in particular, has shown in many studies to help reduce depressive burden.
PGT has demonstrated in research to help guide more effective medication choices. PGT, also done by an oral swab, examines how the liver digests medications which helps deduce what doses will likely result in proper blood levels. It will not determine which medications work. Included in this testing, one can also assess the serotonin transporter gene which may help assess if SSRI medications will have delayed or blunted effect.
Founder and Clinical Director
Dr. Reuben Sutter is the founder and Medical Director for Sage Neuroscience Center. He is board-certified in general adult psychiatry and addiction medicine. He is also the past president of the psychiatric Medical Association of New Mexico. His practice focus includes severe mental illness, substance use disorders, and treatment-resistant depression. He supervises the Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation service.
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