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5 Ways To Control Seasonal Depression

Depression is a serious condition that needs to be diagnosed and treated by a physician. But even if you are taking medication for depression, the following lifestyle tactics may increase the drug’s effectiveness. If you’re simply low, they may give you the boost you need to pull out of it.

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Depression is a disease that affects millions of Canadians.

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1. Spend Time with Friends

Spend at least 1 hour each week with a close friend. In a British study, when 86 depressed women were paired with a volunteer friend, 65 per cent of the women felt better. In fact, regular social contact worked as effectively as antidepressant medication and psychotherapy. Regular contact with a close friend may boost self-confidence and encourage you to make other positive changes that will help to lift depression, such as starting an exercise program.

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2. Eat More Seafood

If you suffer from seasonal depression, you should eat seafood twice a week or more. A Dutch study found that people who consume diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids, a type of fat found in cold-water fish such as salmon and mackerel, were less likely to suffer from depression than people whose diets were low in this important fat. One reason researchers think the rate of depression has skyrocketed is that we get so few omega-3 fatty acids in our diets. While pregnant women are advised to eat one portion of oily fish a week, they should avoid eating shark, swordfish and marlin or more than 280 g cooked or canned tuna a week because of potentially dangerous mercury levels. Another way to get your omega-3s is from ground flaxseeds. Keep a container in the fridge and sprinkle them on everything from ice cream to yogurt to cheese omelettes.


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3. Play With Pets

When non-pet owners played with a dog for just a few minutes a day as part of a U.S. study, blood levels of the brain chemicals serotonin and oxytocin – both mood elevators – rose. You don’t need to own a dog to experience these feel-good effects (although dogs are great antidotes to the kind of chronic stress that can result in depression). Pet your neighbour’s dog, offer to take it for walks, or volunteer at an animal shelter for some furry one-on-one therapy.



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4. Get More Nutrients

Eat a bowl of fortified breakfast cereal or take a multivitamin every day. This will ensure you consume the recommended amount (400 mcg) of folate, an important B vitamin that may help to lift depression. Folate and other B vitamins help to maintain nerve and blood cells, used in brain reactions and essential for the production and function of a number of mood-boosting brain chemicals. In a Finnish study published in the Journal of Nutrition, participants with the lowest folate consumption were at the highest risk of depression. Another study, published in the Annals of Clinical Psychiatry, found that this vitamin helps to enhance the effectiveness of antidepressant medication. Another good source? Avocados. They’re one of the richest plant sources of B vitamins.



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5. Relax More

Get a 12-minute massage three times a week. It doesn’t have to cost a lot. Whether you pay a professional or ask a partner or friend to rub your back, the result is the same: a natural mood boost. In a study of depressed dialysis patients, participants who received a 12-minute massage three times a week were less depressed than those who didn’t get the soothing rub. Another study of 84 depressed pregnant women found that those who received two 20-minute massages a week from their partners reduced their incidence of depression by 70 per cent. Researchers suspect that massage boosts serotonin levels (which jumped by 17 per cent in the women who received twice-weekly massages) and reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

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