Battling the Blues
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"In the study, even those who
settled for 20 minutes of stretching three times a week experienced a 30% drop
in symptoms [of depression]."
It just kind of sets
in one day. You don't really want to get out of bed. Then, food doesn't taste
as good as it usually doesor maybe you feel like eating more than usual.
Nothing makes you happy. You don't really want to talk to anyone, even your
Every year, 19
million American adults deal with depression, and it's not surprising. Given
how much more complex and frustrating the world gets every day, coping can be
Of course, if it
gets really bad, you're going to want to talk to your doctor. Medication and
psychiatric treatment may be the best options, but for little cases of the
blues, a sweaty workout and a big salad may be better answers than Xanax and a
shrink's couch. In fact, even in some serious cases of clinical depression,
healthy diet and regular exercise play a major role in recovery.
In a study appearing
in the January 2005 issue of the American Journal of Preventive
Medicine, researchers from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical
Center learned that 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise, three to five
times a week, halved mild to moderate depression symptoms. The results rivaled
other commonly used therapies such as cognitive behavior therapy and use of the
In the study, even
those who settled for 20 minutes of stretching three times a week experienced a
30% drop in symptoms.
Another study from
Duke University Medical Center in 2000 showed that participants who had
recovered from depression had a much less likely chance of relapse if they
maintained an exercise regimen.
There are all kinds
of reasons why exercise can help ward off the blues. It's a great way to
channel stress and break life's daily tensions. It's great for self-esteem, and
when you exercise, you tire yourself out, so you sleep better. It doesn't
matter what you do, as long as you're doing it.
A healthy diet can
also play a major role. It will help you maintain a healthy weight, which can
help with self-esteem. Furthermore, it's important to break the vicious cycle
of "comfort foods"as vicious a crutch as drinking, drugs, or any other.
But keep in mind
that it's also important to get enough to eat. A January 2000 study published
in the British Journal of Psychiatry showed that large calorie deficits
can cause women with a history of serious depression to relapse. When you
low-cal it, you don't get enough of a chemical called tryptophan, which is
important in the creation of serotonin. Normally, the body fixes this with a
hormone adjustment, but this doesn't always happen in formally depressed women.
The answer is to eat healthy and keep that calorie deficit small. Slow and
steady wins the race. If signs of depression reemerge, call your doctor.
Living right may
fight the blues, but don't wait until your next bout of sadness to buy some
whole grains and throw on those running shoes. Prevention is often the best
cure. You may be one of those 19 million Americans who suffer from depression,
but that doesn't mean you have to take it lying down.