My heart goes out to you if you, or someone you love, is struggling with mental illness. The solutions offered below will often help you to overcome your battle in the long run, but in no way are they meant to minimize the complicated puzzle of mental illness, or the extreme toll it can take on family units and in some cases extended circles of friends.
Whether you’re facing depression or another mental condition, these strategies have nothing but positive effects and are generally very inexpensive to implement. Plus, they can be used for both children and adults alike, and work great when implemented with your entire family involved.
- Exercise – If you have depression, or even if you just feel down from time to time, exercise is a MUST. The research is overwhelmingly positive in this area, with studies confirming that physical exercise is at least as good as antidepressants for helping people who are depressed. One of the primary ways it does this is by increasing the level of endorphins, the “feel good” hormones, in your brain.
- Address your stress — Depression is a very serious condition, however it is not a “disease.” Rather, it’s a sign that your body and your life are out of balance. This is so important to remember, because as soon as you start to view depression as an “illness,” you think you need to take a drug to fix it. In reality, all you need to do is return balance to your life, and one of the key ways to doing this is addressing stress.
- Meditation or yoga can help. Sometimes all you need to do is get outside for a walk. But in addition to that, I also recommend using a solid support system composed of friends, family and, if necessary, professional counselors, who can help you work through your emotional stress. The Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is also often effective.
- Eat a healthy diet — Another factor that cannot be overlooked is your diet. Foods have an immense impact on your mood and ability to cope and be happy, and eating whole foods as described in my nutrition plan will best support your mental health. Avoiding fructose, sugar and grains will help normalize your insulin and leptin levels, which is another powerful tool in addressing positive mental health. Support optimal brain functioning with essential fats — I also strongly recommend supplementing your diet with a high-quality, animal-based omega-3 fat, like krill oil. Omega-3 fats are essential for your optimal brain function, and that includes regulating your mood and fighting depression. In fact, the evidence has become so compelling that some experts in the field encourage all mental health professionals to ensure that their patients suffering from depression have an adequate intake of omega-3 fats.
- Get plenty of sunshine – Making sure you’re getting enough sunlight exposure to have healthy vitamin D levels is also a crucial factor in treating depression or keeping it at bay. Vitamin D deficiency is actually more the norm than the exception, and has previously been implicated in both psychiatric and neurological disorders.