When you’re caught it the downward spiral of depression, it can seem like you’ll never get out.
What could be worse than that?
Going to your doctor for help with your depression and leaving with a prescription that then causes you to go through nausea, weight gain, fatigue, constipation, irritability, anxiety and sexual problems.
Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be that way. There are natural things you can do to overcome your depression and get back to your old self again without popping those side-effect laden pills.
In fact, a new study has shown that eating a certain diet — one that’s often prescribed for stroke and heart attack sufferers — can significantly help.
Dashing to a depression-free life
The Rush University Medical Center in Chicago is known for their cutting edge scientific studies to improve the lives of patients around the world and this study is one more notch on their belt.
The researchers evaluated almost 1,000 people for an average of six-and-a-half years. As you can see, this was no flash-in-the-pan study!
They monitored them for symptoms of depression and looked at how closely the participants followed diets like the DASH (Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension) diet, the Mediterranean diet and the traditional Western diet to determine which diets were best and worst for depression.
Here’s what they found…
People who followed the DASH diet most closely were less likely to develop depression than people in the group that did not follow the diet closely.
In fact, the odds of becoming depressed over time were 11 percent lower among the top group of DASH adherers versus the lowest group.
On the other hand, the more closely people followed a Western diet — you know, high in saturated fats and red meats and low in fruits and vegetables — the more likely they were to develop depression.
In other words, if you eat the average American diet, you’re much more likely to be stuck in the black hole of depression than if you eat a healthy diet packed with fruits and vegetables.
Overcoming depression naturally
So, what is the DASH diet, what do you eat (and not eat) and what else should you do to overcome your depression?
Here’s the answer…
DASH is a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and low fat or nonfat dairy. It also includes whole grains, lean meats, fish and poultry, nuts and beans to round out your nutrient intake. Basically, it’s an Americanized version of the Mediterranean diet.
To follow the DASH diet each day on a 2,000 calorie diet, you eat:
- 7 – 8 servings of grain products (with at least 3 being whole grain)
- 4 – 5 servings of fruits
- 4 – 5 servings of vegetables
- 2 – 3 servings of low or non-fat dairy foods
- 2 or less servings of lean meats, fish and poultry
You also want to add in four to five servings of nuts, seeds and legumes each week and limit sugar and other sweets.
On top of following the DASH diet to reduce your depression symptoms, you should also add in a few more known depression-busters.
#1 – Get moving
Exercise causes your body to produce “happy” brain chemicals like serotonin and dopamine. So, get out there and get moving regularly. Take a walk, work in your garden or join a class at your local gym.
#2 – Use the power of touch
Studies have shown that touch therapy – like holding hands, getting a massage or having a reflexology session can decrease stress hormones that contribute to depression. Whether you choose to have a professional session or just sweet talk your significant other into a regular massage, the power of touch can bring big benefits.
#3 – Light it up
The winter months are known for bringing on depression thanks to the fact that you’re stuck indoors without exposure to natural light. So, bring a little more light into your world to chase away the darkness of depression. Get outside more or if you’re not ready to brave the elements yet, invest in a sunlamp (a 300 watt bulb within three feet of you for 20 minutes three times a day).
- Coping With Side Effects of Depression Treatment — WebMD
- Diet shown to reduce stroke risk may also reduce risk of depression — American Academy of Neurology
- What Is the DASH Diet? — dashdiet.org
- How the power of touch reduces pain and even fights disease — The Independent