Everyday Changes That Can Improve Depression Symptoms

By Kelly Burch 10/09/18

Experts offer a few tips on how to manage symptoms of depression.

young girl looking out a window

Depression is a serious disease that can require treatment with therapy and pharmaceuticals, but mental health professionals also say that making lifestyle changes can help alleviate symptoms. 

Considering that depression rates have increased 33% in five years, it seems that more people than ever are paying attention to their mental health and prioritizing their wellbeing.

Here are some changes that you can implement today in order to help control your symptoms of depression. 

Focus on gut health

Understanding how our microbiome works is the next frontier in medicine and it affects much more than just your gut health. 

“There’s been an explosion of interest in the connections between the microbiome and the brain,” Emeran Mayer, a gastroenterologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, told The Atlantic

Your gut contains large amounts of the same neurotransmitters that keep communication running smoothly in your brain, including GABA, dopamine and serotonin. That’s why Alison Stone, a New York-based therapist told Well and Good that the gut is basically the “second brain.” 

Avoiding sugar, processed food and alcohol can help reduce inflammation and improve gut health, which in turn can reduce symptoms of depression.

“In addition to affecting our dopamine and GABA production [‘happy chemicals’ needed for healthy brain functioning] it’s estimated that the gut is responsible for up to 90% of the body’s serotonin production,” Stone said. “Since inflammation has been linked to depression, following an anti-inflammatory diet is an important step in creating a happy, healthy gut.”

Socialize in person, not online

While social media has been linked to feeling down, getting together with friends in person will boost your mental wellbeing, especially during the cold winter months when people tend to hibernate inside. 

“I cannot emphasize the importance of human connection enough, especially now that we’re living in a world where technology has replaced many face-to-face interactions and altered the way we belong to communities,” Stone said.

Meet a friend for a walk, attend a meeting or catch up over coffee. Research shows these social relationships will improve your health. 

Care for your physical health with exercise and sleep

Sleep and exercise are some of the most basic ingredients for healthy living, but too often they’re overlooked. This can have consequences for both physical and mental health. If revamping your sleep and exercise schedules feels overwhelming, start small. 

“Even 15-20 minutes of moderate walking per day is better than nothing,” Stone said. 

That small amount of physical activity, coupled with a bit more sleep, will help improve your mood. 

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Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.