How To Avoid Depression In Uncertain Times

How to avoid depression

We all sometimes feel sad and melancholy, but these feelings are usually temporary and disappear after a few days.There are few techniques to avoid depression. Only those who have experienced depression can understand how stressful depression can be. 

When we suffer from a depressive disorder, we are almost permanently melancholy, angry, and frustrated. It creates a deep, constant sadness in us that affects our ability to be with others, to work, or to cope with everyday life.  

With the current COVID 19 situation in 2020, most people are stuck at home. This might be due to several reasons including job loss and quarantine measures. Here is the graph showing the jobless claims from CNBC

Since we are facing economic crisis and surge in unemployment rates, its pretty obvious that majority of people will be drawn towards depression.

However, if we can look at some of the good aspects of our life, most of us can survive this downfall.

Before you read these tips, something very important in advance:

If you have the feeling that your depressive moods cannot be managed with the help of these recommendations, you should and should seek professional help. 

Contacting a psychologist does not make you weak, it shows that you want to change something and can help you manage your depression. In some cases, drug therapy is also recommended. 

Nevertheless, the following tips can be helpful in any case and support you in improving your mood together with professional help.

1. Do something you enjoy

Think about the activities that give you pleasure. How long have you been devoting time to your hobbies?

Building positive activity is one of the components of the most famous cognitive therapies for treating depression. This behavioral structure is introduced at the beginning of therapy. As the patient builds up positive behaviors step by step, i.e. things that give him pleasure, the number of positive amplifiers increases. This makes the person concerned feel rewarded, which can have a positive effect on the mood.

How to prevent depression:  Every person likes different activities. If there are pets, music, or the sun under your eyes, check out the suggestions below.

  • Spending time with your pets when you feel down is positive. Petting your pet lowers your blood pressure, which translates into a feeling of relaxation. Also, hormones such as oxytocin are increasingly released, which favors personal bonds. The organism also releases serotonin and phenylethylamine, two neurotransmitters that counteract the development of depressive symptoms.
  • Do you like to sunbathe? If so, I have good news for you. It has been proven that the sun can help counter depression. Sun exposure helps regulate the state of mind. With less light, more depressive phenomena occur. This is due to corticosterone levels, a hormone that has a lot to do with fear. The light affects your brain areas that are responsible for mood and cognitive functions.
  • We have all experienced that we felt better after listening to a certain song. The magazine Nursing published an article that music increases the feeling of having energy. Listening to music for an hour helps reduce chronic pain by 21% and depressive mood by 25%.

2. Love Nature And Surroundings

Sometimes we are too lazy to call or write to friends or family members, and we find it difficult to pick ourselves up. However, contact with related parties can have a positive impact on our mood. 

There is some advice on keeping in touch with people close to you, even or especially when we are feeling bad.

A study published by PLOS ONE showed that a lack of social support, especially from the partner and family, are important risk factors for the development of depression. 

The same study showed that the number of interactions does not influence the development of depression.

How to counter depression: Quality is more important than quantity when it comes to social relationships.

  • Trying to keep in touch is not a sign of weakness. Our health needs to communicate with others.
  • It is fundamental to seek everyday support from the people you trust and with whom you feel safe. If you cannot share your emotions and thoughts with others, writing a diary can be of great help.
  • Try to meet people face to face wherever possible and leave the virtual communication aside. Go out for a meal with a friend or go for a walk.
  • Take part in social activities even if you do not feel like it. Join a club or take courses and meet people.

3. Avoid negative thoughts

Negative thinking has a detrimental effect on our mood. Sometimes, according to Aaron Beck, we make mistakes or experience cognitive distortions when we analyze reality.

How to prevent depression:  It has been proven that the way you think about things and draw conclusions has a major impact on our wellbeing. People with depression often have negative attitudes. 

This is why it is useful to pay attention to these forms of cognitive bias when trying to avoid depression.

  • Arbitrary conclusions:  The process of concluding without supporting evidence or with contradicting evidence. For example,  A new colleague is introduced to you and the following thought comes over you:  “Sure she thinks I have nothing to say here”. But when asked about your thoughts, you realize that there is no real basis for them to assume you have nothing to say.
  • Selective abstraction. The evaluation of experience based only on a detail taken out of context and ignoring other, more important elements of the situation. For example, Your boss comments positively on your success and the work you have done. In a moment of conversation, he asks you not to copy all the letters, then you decide to think:  “He is not satisfied with my work”.
  • Over-generalization. The process of drawing a conclusion or general rule from one or more isolated facts and applying them to both situations that are related to the matter and those that are unrelated. For example,  Your wife is mad at the kids because they don’t dress quickly enough, so you stiffen to think: ” I have to be a bad father, otherwise my kids would have more discipline”.
  • Maximize and minimize. Failed to evaluate the size or importance of an event by increasing or decreasing the importance. For example,  Your house suffers damage from a storm, you estimate the repair costs at thousands of euros, but in the end, it only costs around € 50.
  • Personalization. The tendency to relate external events to themselves without a firm foundation for this connection. For example:  Imagine that you are employed as an assistant doctor in a hospital and find a sign on the wall that reads the following:  “All patients who are assigned to an assistant doctor have to go to one later Specialist to be examined ”. You get sad while reading because you think:  “The boss doesn’t trust my work”.
  • Absolute and dichotomous thinking. A tendency to classify all experiences in one or two opposite categories (black or white), and to describe yourself in the most negative categories. For example,  A basketball player thinks  “I’m a flop”  and depresses if he scores less than 8 points in a game, but if he scores 8 or more points, he thinks  “I’m a great player”  and is happy.

4. Split Big goals into small ones

If we have a goal that as such takes on great proportions and requires insane efforts, it is better to define small sub-goals. This strategy is also useful in order not to procrastinate.

Our self-image is strengthened, which in turn is positively related to self-esteem. Breaking down a big goal into small sub-goals is a good way to counter depressive tendencies.

 Action planning is connected with the division of long-term goals into small steps. Many cognitive psychologists often use this method with depressed patients. One of the most famous therapies is D’Zurilla and Neso’s problem-solving therapy. This therapy consists of adapting the scientific method to everyday problems. 

The steps to be implemented that the therapy proposes are as follows: orientation to the problem, definition, and formulation of the problem, creation of alternative solutions, decision-making, implementation, and verification of the solution.

And because prevention is beneficial, this strategy can be very useful to prevent everyday depressive symptoms.

How to fight depression:  An idea for implementing this tip could be to work out a work plan gradually and to achieve small goals daily that will ultimately lead you to your main goal. This will make it easier for you and you will not always feel that your goal is out of reach.

5. Be Realistic, Not Whimsical

Our perception of everyday events can influence our mood. We all have pessimistic and optimistic friends, but what about the realists? Being realistic is sometimes a utopia because we cannot avoid judging reality subjectively. Abrahamson explores the relationship between attribution style and the likelihood of developing depression. The attribution style refers to our way of judging the causes of the events that happen in our lives. This attribution can be internal or external, global or specific, and stable or unstable. People who are prone to depression write negative events or failures internally (the reason is the person and not the environment),

How to prevent depression:  So it is of great help to think realistically to prevent depression. That is, to think that there is not just one reason for an event and to consider the diversity and complexity of what is happening. Not all failures or negative events depend on us, and they will not occur again and again in every situation in our lives, nor will they last forever.

6. Eat Healthy

In general, people tend to eat very high-calorie foods when they experience symptoms related to depression: sadness, apathy, weak will, anhedonia, insomnia, etc. Still, the idea of ​​preventing depression from appearing through diet is not so spread.

How to prevent depressive moods:  Foods that are rich in vitamin B (including oats, sunflower seeds, green peppers, whole grain rice, and spinach) and Omega 3 (including walnuts and salmon) seem to contribute to mood regulation. Food such as eggs, dairy products, nuts and dried fruit, plants, fruit, and whole-grain cereals are rich in tryptophan and counteract depressive moods. The phenylethylamine contained in cocoa also helps to lighten the mood.

If you are a wine lover, I have good news for you. According to work by the University of Navarre, moderate wine consumption reduces the risk of chronic sadness.

“The least number of depressive disorders were observed among those who consumed two to seven glasses of wine a week, probably because resveratrol and other phenolic components of the grape in these small doses have a protective effect on certain areas of the brain.”

Now we’re going to talk about those foods  that are harmful if you have depression. Excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages changes the neuronal activity and changes from a euphoric state to an inhibited state that contributes to the appearance of depression. 

Other foods to avoid are white flour and refined sugar because their composition lowers serotonin levels.

7. Exercise Frequently

You indeed feel better after exercising, isn’t it? This is because physical activity favors the neurotransmitter system. The effects of sport help prevent illnesses such as stress, anxiety, and depression.

Exhaustion often leads to anhedonia or an inability to enjoy; weak will or lack of motivation or energy to do something or move.

This is how to avoid depression:  every moderate exercise of about 30 minutes can help to alleviate depressive symptoms. The exercises do not have to lead to exhaustion, even simple physical activity can improve mood.

It is recommended to be active and to move the body. Nevertheless, it is advisable to seek advice from a doctor before starting any new sport. Aerobic and highly intensive exercises are discouraged for some people. Yoga and other exercises with less energy or consumption, such as tai chi, could be a good alternative.

According to Guy Falkner from the University of Toronto, moderate exercise not only helps alleviate occasional mood lows, but it also helps prevent the appearance of depression

It can be seen from the data recorded in people of different ages that those who did physical activity such as walking or mowing the lawn between 20 and 30 minutes a day were less likely to experience depression.

8. Relax to avoid depression

The idea that it is useful to relax to avoid anxiety is very common. Being relaxed to combat the appearance of depression is also of great benefit.

How to prevent depression:  Practicing meditation can have positive effects on your mood. Half an hour of meditation a day is enough to achieve positive effects, like Dr. Mandhav Goyal confirmed by Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore. According to this expert, the benefit of meditation is to train the mind to improve the perception of reality.

Abusive work situations create fear and can also lead to depressive moods. 

If we pursue a stressful task for many hours (up to 60% of the weekly hours) every day, we are on the threshold of what is called LHO (long hours overworked) in English. Takahashi Amagasa from Kyoto University has shown that this situation increases the risk of depression 15 times.

9. Sleep well and feel happy

After a good night’s sleep, we all feel better. In sleep, the brain finds the best time to heal itself and prepare for the next day. A good night’s sleep is fundamental to memory and learning and is also a mood regulator.

How to fight depression:  Make schedules and try not to go through the night. A study published by the University of Columbia in Sleep magazine identified the importance of sleep and its relationship to the fight against depression. 

Adolescents who go to bed earlier are less likely to develop depression, according to this study. Those who slept five hours or less were 71% more likely to develop depression.

10. Take care of others

So far, all behavioral suggestions have been based on personal care. Nevertheless, caring for other people is also important to live a contented life. People who care for other people are less likely to develop depression.

People who focus excessively on themselves tend to develop a sort of brooding style that makes empathy difficult. Helping other people improves their self-image and draws attention away from their problems, which has a positive effect on their mood.

This is how to avoid depression: volunteering for social causes can be a good way to put this tip into practice. Participation does not have to be particularly large or complex. In every place, there are facilities or things where help is constantly needed.

About the Author Sophia

Sophia have studied at Medical University in Michigan and have good experience in the field of human behavior and psychiatry. She is also working as a researcher in well know medical industry.

Leave a Comment: