Creative Eldering – Depression Avoidance Strategies
Have you been down and blue, moody and hopeless? Are you thinking that nothing is going your way? Are you holding on to the lyrics of that old blues tune “Born under a Bad Sign” by Albert King? The refrain of his hit song is “Born under a bad sign. Been down since I began to crawl. If it wasn’t for bad luck you know I wouldn’t have no luck at all.” Not to discredit Albert King for his artistic endeavors, soulful lamentations, and writing this hit in 1967, which has been adopted by numerous big-name blues and rock bands in practically every decade since then, but please do not adapt these lyrics into the background of your daily “mind speak” or “self-talk.”
If you know or suspect that you are suffering from a Major Depressive Disorder or Clinical Depression, seek professional help and continue searching for solutions for your situation. This article is not designed to address Major Depressive Disorders. Many of the tips in this article may be helpful and should be evaluated by your primary treating doctor.
If you have periodic episodes of “the blues”, feel a little down, feel disappointed, experience frustration, or feel that you don’t have enough happiness in your life, read about some lifestyle and self-help tips to lift your spirits. Listening to lighthearted, happy, or joyful music can be beneficial in uplifting your mood. Experiment and listen to a variety of music to find genres or specific songs that leave you feeling better after the experience.
One of the most surprising tips I can share with you is that for milder cases of depression (feeling down intermittently or feeling down for less than two weeks consistently) researchers recently have found that attitudinal and behavioral choices have a much more profound effect than was imagined in the past.
Yes, these researchers found that people who were already in a “funk” typically made lifestyle choices to include food, beverage, addictive substances, music, and relationship or situational choices that they truly knew would contribute to perpetuating their poor mood. Your take away point from this is to proactively determine what your best lifestyle choices are and to fervently work to adhere to them. Write these mood-boosting choices on your message board, or on paper that you can post prominently in your kitchen and other places where you can easily find your reinforcing reminders. You may choose to put some of these tips on your electronic devices and screens. Frequent reinforcement with the positive reminders can be very effective in helping you create a better mood for yourself.
Recent research has shown that getting sufficient sleep, meaning good sleep habits and good sleep hygiene, is conducive to a better mood and less incidence of a down feeling or mild depression. Disturbed or insufficient sleep sets the stage for interfering with cognitive function the next day. This brings a greater risk of accidents and making mistakes, and even increased forgetfulness. Having “one of those days” plays into feeling down and even feeling down on oneself. I suggest not ascribing to “Murphy’s Law”, or at least un-invite Murphy from your daily process.
Avoiding lifestyle choices that interfere with best sleep include avoiding caffeine (particularly after noon or 2 PM), limiting or avoiding alcohol intake in the evening, and avoiding the use of other addictive substances. This is because they over stimulate the nervous system and interfere with the “wind-down” necessary before sleep.
Simple nutritional supplements that may help with sleep and mood include the amino acids L-Theanine and L-Tryptophan. Other nutritional supplements that can promote sleep and boost your good mood are melatonin, omega-3 oils, B vitamins, and the herbs Chamomile and Rhodiola Rosea. You should check with your holistic practitioner to evaluate which of these are appropriate for your situation and to guide you in dosage.
Selecting a diet lush with sugar, pastries, sodas, candy bars, and junk foods is guaranteed to give you a “sugar high” which inevitably will be followed by a “sugar low”. When the blood sugar runs low the mood will plummet and you will project crabbiness and irritability toward anyone within 100-foot radius of your self-induced Bad-Food-Bad-Mood. Avoiding these consequences should be obvious, but adhering to your principle of avoiding sugar, sodas, and junk foods takes commitment and inner strength. Developing that inner strength has more merit than you probably considered. The highs and lows caused by sugar and poor diet are harmful to your neurotransmitters and your brain chemistry, as well as your arteries and your heart.
The most surprising good mood spoiler for some is that many over-the-counter and pharmaceutical drugs cause depression. More than 200 drugs are found to have depression as a side effect. Today with so many people taking numerous medications an unforeseen problem is that many people are taking two, three, or more medications that cause depression and combining these together can worsen the depression. Over-the-counter meds that contribute to depression include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories, antacids, and allergy medications. Frequently used prescription medications that often cause depression include almost every opioid, painkiller, anti-inflammatory, sleeping pill, immunosuppressant, steroid, anticonvulsant, and beta blocker. There is not room here to list the 200-plus medications individually, but this information should be a frightening eye-opener to most readers. And, in a category all their own, antidepressants of every shape and color are absolutely verified to have a potential side effect of depression. That is counterintuitive medicine and it doesn’t make sense.
NEVER STOP one of these prescription medications abruptly or without medical guidance. The boomerang effect of worsening the depression after abrupt withdrawal is seriously dangerous. If you are on one of these medications, you may want to do further research and consult with your prescribing doctor to see if the medication can be weaned carefully and gently as you incorporate other proactive lifestyle measures to balance your body and your moods naturally. To learn more about the natural approach to depression read the “Feel Good – Be Happy” segment on pages 303 through 309 in YOUR AGING BODY CAN TALK, second edition.