Depression is truly a modern disease. The average depression rate among people who are currently over 60 years old is 10%. The depression rate of people who are currently 45 years old is 20%. This is double the rate of depression of 60 year old. Moreover currently most 25 years old (which would be most of you who are reading this) are at a 25% average depression rate.
If the percentage continues to increase over time, it’s estimated that 1 out of 2 people would have experience depression during the time before they’re 60 at least once. That means half of the human population will experience depression. This is a pressing concern.
The cause of this problem can be due to the enormous changes found in society today. For instance, the current 60 year olds have very contrasting life and experiences compared to the majority of you all. In their time, technology wasn’t as advance as it is now. Meaning they had no access to the internet, smartphones and social media sites such as Facebook or Instagram. This lack of advance technology changes the environment drastically. Hence, increasing depression rates are expected due to the change of society brought by technology advancement. Hence, this abrupt environment change brought upon a good question. As we wonder, what precisely can we do to cure depression?
A professor named Steven Ilardi spent his whole career trying to find the answer to this question. Along with his team, he conducted numerous studies and formed a conclusion. They concluded that there are 6 factors you need to improve on so that you can cure your depression. Most factors all the results of the enormous number of changes that we have underwent in the past few decades.
In the past we humans did TONS of exercise. We were busy all day tending to our crops and hunting for food in the woods. Thus, exercising approximately 4 hours per day on average was the norm. Now, think about how many hours are you spending on exercise per day? Majority of office workers in this modern age barely gets any exercise or none at all. This is a huge contrast in lifestyles. Nonetheless, how can exercise be a key in curing depression?
Researchers compared the leading pharmaceutical drug Zoloft with aerobic exercise. In this case study, a group of unmedicated patients were tasked to brisk walk 30 minutes thrice a week. While another group with the same number of patients stayed on their medication. At the end of the experiment, they would compare its effectiveness. At the end, both physical workout and being on medication prove to be equally effective. However, it was found that the medicated patients who were given Zoloft were 3 times more likely to become depressed again after a 1 year follow up. Thus, showing the long lasting impact and effectiveness of physical exercise.
Another reason why researchers believe that exercise is beneficial, is how it impacts your brain. Once you start exercising, the activity levels of the crucial neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin will start increasing in your brain. This increase is as effective as medication and is more long term. So, is there a need to take all those drugs when you can just exercise and gain the same outcome? Plus, exercising can make your body healthier, while minusing all the side effects from medication.
There is often a split in the supplement community when considering which supplements you should take. Out of all the supplements, there is one that is unanimously accepted. That supplement is that Omega-3 Fatty Acids (generally in the form of Fish Oil) as they are necessary supplement. If Olympic swimmers were probed on which supplement they would take if they only could choose one for the rest of their life, almost all of them answered with Fish Oil. So are Omega-3 Fatty Acids so valuable and in helping depression? To fully comprehend this, you have to look into how our bodies deal with fats.
Omega-6 fats and Omega-3 fats are essential fats for our bodies as we cannot produce them independently. We have to consume to gain the benefits of it. Omega-6 fats are pro-inflammatory whereas Omega-3 fats are anti-inflammatory. Omega-6 fats can be found in seeds and grains, along with animals that eat them or are fed them. Also fast food that is cooked in them. Omega-3, on the contrary, are found in plants, grasses, algae and any animals that eat them. For example fish and free-range animals just to name a few.
The perfect balanced ratio of Omega-6 and Omega-3 is between 1:1 and 3:1. Most of our ancestors were able to maintain this ratio with their natural diets. Researchers looked into the current American diet and found that our ratio is an astonishing 17:1. This means that an average American is greatly on the inflammatory side of the scale. This is definitely not a good thing. As most diseases in the modern world are all under the category of inflammatory diseases. For example such as cancer, allergies and heart disease. Thus, scientists hypothesised that perhaps by adding Omega-3 into your diet you can fight against all those diseases. Various studies were also conducted on it as well. It was concluded that the people who suffered from depression felt better after this change. Other than that, this addition also helped combat various other diseases such as the ones mentioned earlier.
The ideal dose for those with depression to be 1000-2000mg EPA (which is an acid found in Omega-3 fats). It is important to point out when storing fish oil you have to refrigerate them to stop oxidization. As oxidized fish oil is toxic to your body. Also, you need to make sure that the fish oil brand uses a method to purify the oil. This is because most of the fish these days are farm bred which may contain toxins.
Sunlight is extremely important and there are 2 reasons why that is so.
Firstly, it’s widely known that it contains a crucial vitamin called Vitamin D. Vitamin D comes from your skin when it faces exposure to sunlight. It is mostly responsible for factors such as your muscle health, immune system, and bone health. Researchers have also found that a lack of Vitamin D can cause health issues. Such health issues could be diabetes, cancer and specifically mental health issues. The issue with the lack of Vitamin D has become very problematic. As in this day and age, there is an arising number of people consistently spending more time indoors. Over 40% of people these days have a Vitamin D deficiency, which is a LOT of people. Making it very crucial to get more sunlight.
The second reason why sunlight is so necessary which is quite surprising. Sunlight is a million times brighter than any indoors light. Our bodies requires sunlight to set our circadian rhythms right. It is important to set our circadian rhythms right. As it ensures that you feel tired, receive certain hormones and that you feel sleepy, at the right time. All these problems can be seen through studies that has proven there is a direct link to depression. Which meant basically you feeling tired all day but being unable to sleep. However, these are only just some of the common problem that people with depression face.
The problem here is that this internal clock needs to be adjusted all the time. Or else your body will believe it is day time when it’s actually night and your hormones will be everywhere. Therefore, we need bright natural sunlight at least once a day to set our body clocks right. Research indicates that simply walking outdoors when the sun is up high for just 10 minutes is enough to set your circadian rhythm and fight off all these possible side effects.
Having disrupted sleep was one of the most powerful triggers of depression according to many researchers. Researchers discovered that people who are more likely to become depressive, slept at extremely abnormal times that are always changing. Therefore, not having 7 to 8 hours of undisrupted sleep increases the chances of becoming depressive. This indicates that if you’re the kind of person who stays up all night to watch TV shows or play games, you fall into this category. Another major issue you may also face when trying to sleep is that it always takes you ages to actually fall asleep. Additionally, due to this fact, you unable to control how much sleep you are getting. Luckily, researchers have come up with some simple solutions to resolve this.
1) Don’t use your mobile devices like you phone or computer for an hour before you plan to sleep. The reason behind this is that using your devices before bed prevents the production of melatonin (which is the hormone that makes you sleepy).
2) Sleep on your bed. This will help your brain to associate your bed with sleep.
3) Be constantly active by fill your day with activities. In the olden days, our ancestors always had days that were all filled of activities until it’s time to sleep. Thus, they had no problem falling asleep instantly.
Researchers have discovered that the more we ruminate (means thinking about the past) we have a higher risk of getting depression. You may think it’s perfectly normal to think about your past, right? In small quantities, yes it’s still fine. However, with the rise of technology more and more people are spending time alone. The issue with that is that you tend to ruminate way more than it is healthy for you when you’re alone. For example, when you are alone by yourself, you may start to think about something embarrassing like acting silly when you were intoxicated, or regrettable and humiliating moments like getting bullied when you were young. These kinds of thoughts can drive you into depression if they are repeated enough in your mind.
In order to fight this off, researchers suggest that you engage yourself in activities. This includes a many things such as social gathering like sports, clubs or parties. It can also includes solo engaged activities example working on your art or projects or hobbies. The major benefit of finding engaging activities is that they are so exciting that you lack time to think about the past. Additionally, if they are engaging enough, at the end of the day when you go to bed, you won’t have to spend a whole hour rolling in bed thinking about the time when so and so person said something mean to you. This is because you will be too tired to think, thus, your mind will be quiet. Hence, you’ll quickly fall asleep.
The sixth and last factor is likely the most important out of the six which is social connection. Humans are social beings, we group ourselves and do a lot of things together. This made us a durable species as we have the capability of team work and overcoming obstacles together. This means that we humans spend most of our time socializing with other people. However, this is no longer the case in this day and age. It was reported that, half of the Americans have no close friends (referencing to Smith-Lovin, 2006). There are many studies which agree with the idea that having a strong social network is absolutely crucial to lead a healthy life.
A new study by the University of Michigan has discovered that when humans bond with other humans, they release some hormones which helps decrease stress and anxiety. Not only that but they also found out that social isolation can cause your brain to reduce in size. NOW do you see its importance!
One of the main reasons social connection is such a huge predicament these days is due to a lack of person to person interactions. We tend to spend most of our time communicating through social media, but barely spent any time face to face.
Communicating through social media is not enough compared to speaking to someone in person. As the hormones which helps to deepen relationships released during communication is more heighten during real life conversation. Whereas the hormones that are released online social media interactions is as heightened and it cannot amount to real life conversation. Hence making real life interactions and conversation necessary for humans to build long lasting trust and deep bonds. Socializing and making friends does require a lot of practice and calibration. However, these days we can hide behind our screens and communicate through text. This limits the ability to have to use real life interactions and conversation.
After reading through this article, remember these 6 factors and I believe you can fight off your depression. Over time you will be able to see the fruits of your hard work. So, FIGHT ON!!