Depression: The First 5 Steps to Avoid It

The Womens Mentoring Foundation has had a very busy few weeks during the lockdown and around it. We’ve attended and spoken at events, and contributed to supporting communities through mental, emotional and social challenges.

The online interactive workshop on depression covered mental, emotional and social issues, how to reduce stigma through education, and addressed pandemic burnout

Depression is an extremely common experience, which can be hard to escape from once an episode has begun. Research has found all sorts of ways that the chances of developing depression can be reduced – from social connection, through to building resilience by taking up a hobby. Here are the first of a few science-backed methods for lowering the risk of depression that I would like to share with you (learnt from the EAP sites):

  1. Social connection
    Social connection is the strongest protective factor against depression. People who feel able to tell others about their problems and who visit more often with friends and family have a markedly lower risk of becoming depressed.
  1. Build resilience
    Recalling positive memories helps to build resilience against depression. Reminiscing about happy events and having a store of these to draw on is one way of building up resilience. Similarly, getting nostalgic has been found to help fight loneliness and may also protect mental health. Thinking back to better times, even if they are tinged with some sadness, helps people cope with challenging times.
  1. Regulate your mood naturally
    Being able to naturally regulate mood is one of the best weapons against depression. Mood regulation means choosing activities that increase mood, like exercise. Do dull activities like housework when spirits are higher. Some of the best ways of improving mood are being in nature, taking part in sport, engaging with culture, chatting and playing. Other mood enhancing activities include listening to music, eating, helping others and childcare.
  1. Eating healthy
    Eating more fruits and vegetables lowers the risk of depression. Reducing fat intake and increasing levels of omega-3 are also linked to a lower risk of depression. The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of fruits and vegetables may account for their beneficial effect. Vitamins and minerals in fruit and vegetables may also help to lower the markers of inflammation, such as C-reactive protein. Similarly, adding more fibre to the diet decreases depression risk.
  2. Stop obsessing about failures
    Excessive negative thinking about unfulfilled dreams linked to depression and anxiety. When people repeatedly compare a mental vision of their ideal self with the failure to reach it, this can produce psychological distress. Aspirations can be damaging as well as motivating depending on how the mind deals with them and what results life happens to serve up. Thinking obsessively about a perceived failure is psychological damaging.

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