5 Ways to Stop Feeling So Depressed

5 Ways to Stop Feeling So Depressed

Did you know that Abraham Lincoln suffered from depression? Historians discovered that our 16th president actually considered suicide and couldn’t even get out of bed on some days. Does this sound like you or someone you love? You may take heart in knowing that as Lincoln aged, he learned to use laughter to help overcome his dark moods. He found that when he told jokes and laughed, it helped him keep the bad feelings at bay. It turns out that new science shows Lincoln was right. Laughter alters neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin, which can help people with depressed moods. And like Lincoln, you can take advantage of simple ways to push sadness and negativity away. 

Simple Ways to Push Sadness and Negativity Away

1. Eliminate foods that drag you down.

Although the term “nutritional psychiatry” is only recently becoming more common as experts in the psychiatry field realize the power of food on mental health, the team of neuropsychiatrists at Amen Clinics has been incorporating food and diet recommendations in treatment plans for over 30 years. One patient at Amen Clinics named Jeff, 53, had spent years suffering from depression as well as other issues. After attempting suicide, he went to several healthcare professionals and was put on a variety of medications, but they weren’t helping. On the advice of his Amen Clinics physician, he eventually eliminated potential allergens—such as gluten, soy, corn, dairy, sugar, and MSG–from his diet.

When he added the foods back one by one, he realized that one of them was triggering his suicidal thoughts. When he ate corn—popcorn, tortilla chips, corn chips—he almost immediately got an image of putting a gun in his mouth and pulling the trigger, something that had not happened since before he went on the diet. By kicking corn out of his life, he greatly improved his moods.

Beat the Blues: To fight depression, do an elimination diet for 3 weeks, eliminating sugary food, gluten, dairy, corn, soy, and other categories of potentially allergenic foods. Then add these back one at a time and be alert for reactions to them, which would indicate that you should permanently avoid that food. In general, it’s advisable to keep the sugar out of your diet on a permanent basis.

 2. Eat foods that boost your moods.

On the flip side, getting your diet right can help you feel better. For example, omega-3 fatty acids—found in foods like wild salmon or in nutritional supplements— have been found to reduce symptoms of depression. Similarly, over a decade of studies—including a randomized controlled trial in the Journal of Affective Disorders—have found that a saffron extract is as effective as antidepressant medication in treating people with mild to moderate depression.

Beat the Blues: Consider brain health nutrition coaching to improve your diet and focus on eating mood foods that promote more positive feelings.

3. Start every day by saying, “Today is going to be a great day” and end every day with “What went well today?”

Where you direct your attention matters. Your mind makes happen what it visualizes. When you start the day by saying “Today is going to be a great day,” your brain will find the reasons it will be a great day. This is a simple way to start training your brain to focus on things that are going right in your life rather than on things that are going wrong in your life. It also sets a positive tone for the remainder of the day.

At the end of the day, ask yourself, “What went well today?” This helps you end the day on a positive note. Research in The American Psychologist has shown that people who did this exercise were happier and less depressed at 1-month and 6-month follow-ups than at the study’s outset. Right before bed, write down 3 things that went well that day; then ask yourself, “Why did this happen?” In a 2017 study in BMJ Open, this simple exercise was found to help people in stressful jobs develop more positive emotions.

Beat the Blues: Practice starting and ending your day with these strategies, which will take only about 3 minutes out of your day.

4. Check for biological issues.

Did you know that there are many biological issues—such as hormonal imbalances and blood flow problems—that can cause mood issues? One of the most common hidden causes of depression is a past traumatic brain injury. Evidence in Frontiers in Psychiatry shows that head trauma increases the risk of depression. At Amen Clinics, brain SPECT imaging shows that 40% of patients have experienced a significant head injury.

Beat the Blues: Seeing an integrative (or functional) medicine physician for a complete evaluation that includes lab work is one of the keys to determining the root cause of your depression. With this important information, you are more likely to find the right treatment for your specific needs. Taking care of underlying physical issues can decrease depression symptoms.  

5. Tailor interventions to your depression type.

Things that help one person feel less depressed may not work for someone else. To find what works best for you, you need to know which type of depression you have. The brain imaging work at Amen Clinics shows that depression is not a simple or single disorder. Giving everyone with depression the same treatment plan will never work.

Beat the Blues: Get to know the 7 types of depression. When you know your type, you are much more likely to find the targeted solutions that will work for your specific needs.

Depression, as well as anxiety, bipolar disorder, and other mental and cognitive issues can’t wait. During these uncertain times, your mental well-being is more important than ever and waiting until life gets back to “normal” is likely to make your symptoms worsen over time.

At Amen Clinics, we’re here for you. We offer in-clinic brain scanning and appointments, as well as mental telehealth, remote clinical evaluations, and video therapy for adults, children, and couples. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 888-288-9834. If all our specialists are busy helping others, you can also schedule a time to talk.

8 Comments

  1. Hi – could you advise if a SPECT scan involves any radiation? I’ve been considering coming to see your clinic for an assessment but am hesitant about this. Unfortunately with my headache history, I have had many CTs of my head and have been advised to avoid further radiation.

    Thank you.

    Comment by Elizabeth Dixon — May 20, 2019 @ 4:08 AM

  2. I Just recently read, heard of brain imaging, SPECT.
    I have been treated for bi-polar depression since 1997, dealt with it since 1954. Treated with medication and therapy over 20 years. I am 83. I have moved to and have a new psychiatrist.
    I will ask him about brain imaging.

    Comment by ESTHER DIEZ — May 20, 2019 @ 5:29 AM

  3. I recently saw your podcast on pseudo- dementia. I believe my mother is suffering from this. She has suffered from depression and anxiety for years! She had a CT and was told she had normal brain volume loss for her age. She also had some vasticular disease (she stopped smoking six months ago after 60 years). I just assumed she had vascular dementia. Once I got her taking her lexopro again and i was seeing her 2x daily she had about a 2 wk period of time where she was normal. Then she ran out of meds and couldn’t get established with a new doc for a month.
    At the time i was unemployed and could spend the time with her. Because of her suspicious thoughts that are born out of her anxiety it has been very challenging to get her the help she needs like a caregiver for companionship.
    She IS back on her lexopro but, it doesnt seem to be enough to help her. She really needs the combination of meds and companionship.
    She is a retired psych nurse and I would like some materials to share with her so she can participate in her own care and come to the conclusion that she needs to explore the psuedo- dementia further.

    Comment by Deirdre Chandler — May 20, 2019 @ 8:10 AM

  4. Doctor why is it that there are very few articles on OCD while it’s a very debilitating disorder ?

    Also which of your medicines are good for OCD ?

    Doctor it would be much easier for us to purchase your medicines if you make them available on Amazon.in. I’m from India and it’s very difficult for me to purchase your medicines.

    Moreover if we purchase the first lot in small quantities to see if it suits us then we can purchase the next lot in a large quantity.
    Ritcha

    Comment by Ritcha — May 20, 2019 @ 2:52 PM

  5. I have bad anxiety and have always suffered from depression. I also have a family that is full of mental illness. I have always gone to counseling and the 12 step program. Now that I am older everything is worse than ever before. I don’t know what to ask because everything is going badly.

    Comment by Heather — May 20, 2019 @ 10:13 PM

  6. Hi I am in South Africa, where can I do the SPECT scan?

    Comment by Gayle — May 23, 2019 @ 8:57 PM

  7. Do you have non-fee based informational meetings?

    I have heard of your services from Club New Life, and am a sustaining member.

    Paula

    Comment by Paula Green — May 31, 2019 @ 6:52 AM

  8. I’m not a doctor, but I was a smoker. Smoking cigarettes in the harmful effects from that is a terrible thing, however we are addicted to the nicotine, and nicotine is becoming known as a neurotrophic it helps focus in the words . I’m not sure if this is wise advise , but I noticed that by taking nicotine I am still focused and I don’t have the depression and fogginess. Yes it’s addicting but it’s pretty late in the game for your mom and if it relieves systems …. well that’s a decision you have to make but I thought I would put this out here. Nicotine does not cause cancer .

    Comment by Tony — July 15, 2019 @ 5:24 AM

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