Nutrition and Exercise as Another Option for Depression

Mental health is a topic that, in today’s world, does not receive nearly as much focus as it should. In 2015 there were 788 000 people that took their own lives. Some of them might not be due to depression, but none of them should have happened.

On the Thursday morning of the 20th of July, the world was shocked by the loss of another star – Chester Bennington. The issue of mental health is real and looking at it solely from the perspective of therapy and medication might not be enough.

depression

RIP CHESTER 

This article is not to reject the use of medication, as it does serve it’s purpose. But for those that do not receive the help they need solely through people and medication, this article might help provide another alternative for treatment.

Science has provided us with many recommendations, through extensive trials for the treatment of depression with nutritional and exercise approaches. Here are some of the best findings:

Factors that could protect against suicide

Before the recommendation of nutrition and training for depressive symptoms, it might be important to talk about a vital study in the American Journal of Psychiatry. They found that the 3 major things that were different between suicidal depressed patients and non-suicidal depressed patients were these:

  • Responsibility to family
  • Moral objections against suicide
  • Fear of suicide

It is a scary thing to talk about, but we must address this. They found that suicidal patients had a skewed perception of the actual stress of a situation in their lives. This provides us with tools like: explaining the true complications of a situation to someone, reminding them of those who love them often and sometimes doing small things for them. To you it may be small, but a suicidal individual will always see a task or situation more dire than it truly is.

Nutrition and depression

But the true goal is to completely avoid getting to that point. With certain nutritional strategies, this may be possible.

depression

In the British Journal of Psychiatry they posted a study that involved 3486 people. Most of these individuals had depressive symptoms. To test the efficiency of diet on depression, they made one group eat a complete whole food diet including many fruits and vegetables and the other group ate mostly processed foods.

There was a significant difference in the development and even regression of their depressive symptoms. The whole food group had scored significantly more positive.

This lends us the idea that eating:

  • Grass fed beef
  • Broccoli
  • Spinach
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Free range chicken
  • Olive oil
  • Fish
  • Rice
  • etc

And avoiding take out, canned or packaged food, soda and most of the foods that we’re surrounded with on a daily basis can help with our mental health.

Here’s a short video on some effective supplements for cognitive health:

Exercise and it’s massive anti-depressive properties

Exercise has been found to have equal, if not better results, to treating depression. Incorporating exercise into our lifestyle could play a key role to our mental health.

In the Polish psychiatric journal Psychiatria Polska there is a study posted where they did an overall analysis of the effects of exercise on the mental health of humans.

The meta-analyses of correlational and experimental studies reveal positive effects of exercise, in healthy people and in clinical populations (also in patients with emotional disorders) regardless of gender and age.

Along with their positive findings, they actually recommend the optimal training regime for the improvement of depression. The exercise plan that seems to work best is as follows:

  • 15 to 30 min
  • 3 times a week
  • RHYTHMIC, MODERATE INTENSITY
  • Cycling
  • Swimming
  • Jogging
  • Walking

The mechanism by which exercise improves depression is attributed to it’s hypotheses about endorphin and mono-amine. But nevertheless, it has been found that even after one training session there were improvements.

Some other factors

There are many sources of case studies on Youtube and other social media platforms of people transforming their mental health through exercise and nutrition. Among other things, they commonly suggest:

  • cutting down on caffeine
  • Aiming to maintain a steady sleep schedule
  • Drinking enough water

The workings of depression is complicated and regular treatment might not be enough. Exercise and nutrition may provide us with the sense of purpose that Viktor Frankl wrote about or it may be our biology cleaning itself up. It is, however, a factor that we should not overlook.

I leave you with this:

I waited patiently for the Lord and he inclined to me, and heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps.

Ps. 40:1-2

 

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