The Most Common Mistakes Made When Dealing with or Living With Depression
I confess, I’m lucky enough to have lived a life free from depression – so far – so I don’t claim for one minute to know what it feels like. I also know I can stand in your shoes, but I’ll remain myself in your shoes. Some of the points below will feel harsh when you feel so consumed living with depression. However, based on my experience of working with people who struggle through depression, the books I’ve read and the courses I’ve been on, I stand by them as valid points that might make a difference to your life if depression prevents you from living your best life. The below four points are the most distinct mistakes many people I speak to make when trying to deal with depression.
Eating non nutritious foods whilst you are living with depression
Your brain connects to your gut to a greater extent than is commonly recognised. Your gut contains around 500 million neurons – brain cells – that connect to your brain via your nervous system. When you eat, you swallow the food right down onto those neurons. Living with depression is a mental health problem, your gut is a primary consideration. In the same way your brain sends messages to your stomach (butterflies in your tummy, for example), your stomach sends messages to your brain. When things are amiss in your gut, the brain hears about it quickly. In my blog post here, you can read more about how what you eat contributes to your mental health, and the foods you could consider cutting out.
Many people lack awareness of this brain gut connection, or they don’t believe it will make the difference. The nutrition your body needs is specific, but easy to follow once you get the info. My blog post here will give you an idea of the types of food your body needs every day. When you cut out processed foods, possibly gluten, dairy and sugar too, you will notice a difference in your overall health – including your mental health.
Staying home and not getting sunshine / exercise
Depression causes most people to feel lethargic and exhausted. Depression commonly affects sleep, so you may find yourself unable to sleep and more tired than ever, or sleeping all the time because you feel so tired. Naturally, this makes you want to hibernate at home. One big problem with this is the lack of sunlight. You need the sun for vitamin D and to set your body clock. According to the National Diet and Nutrition Survey, 16% of adults in the UK have a vitamin D deficiency.
Vitamin D primarily helps your body take in calcium and phosphorus, which you need for your bones. A lack of vitamin D is also linked to cancer, inflammation, and immune health. Also, and important for you – studies show that people with depression have lower levels of vitamin D.
It is a challenge, but try to take yourself outside for as long as possible each day. Sunrise is a brilliant time to get some sun on your skin, because it also resets your body clock, which is longer than 24 hours. The sun at any time of day will help you top up your vitamin D and brighten your mood.
Seeking a magic pill to stop living with depression
Your doctor can prescribe you with antidepressants, of which there are many types. However, they are not necessarily the magic pill you seek. Antidepressants work wonderfully for some people, for others they do not work or there are negative side effects. A therapist will help you, giving you space to share how you feel, muddle through the difficult times, and help you with techniques that might boost your mood. However, there isn’t one magic pill. You need a combination of medical support, therapists, and healthy lifestyle changes to move away from depression.
Waiting for motivation / until you desire it rather than using discipline
This is key. Many people wait for motivation to help them make positive changes. Reading this article demonstrates you have motivation, seemingly you want to make the changes. If you wait until you feel like doing something, you will likely never do it. Lifestyle changes take discipline.
People who make things look easy do not always crave the healthier option, but focus on the bigger picture. They think about how they’ll feel at the end, for example, or how they will feel the day after a nutritious dinner Vs a sugary, processed meal. They create plans and book things in advance. When they wake up in the morning and look in their diary, they see the exercise they planned for that day and do it without negotiation. When they make dinner, they look at their meal plan and make the nutritious dinner they planned, without consideration.
I appreciate this appears to separate the mind body connection when I ordinarily advocate strengthening it by considering your feelings. However, society disrupts some of our natural tendencies. For example, certain foods have addictive properties. Food manufacturers use this to make their products moorish. Like all addictive substances, they make you want more. If this type of food is normal for you, it is harder to make a change through desire alone. When you use discipline, you will break the chain of addiction, resetting your body and reigniting the natural desire for nutritious foods.