03 September 2011

8 tips to manage the blues

You have seen your doctor and are on antidepressants. Things are going OK, but they could be going great. We show you how with eight lifestyle guidelines.

The good news is that depression is highly treatable. Between 80 to 90% of all depressed people respond to medication and psychotherapy and experience some relief from depression symptoms.

  • Discontinue unhealthy sleep habits. Don't lie in bed for long periods if you cannot fall asleep. Your brain quickly associates your bed with lying awake and not being able to sleep. Break this habit by getting out of bed if no sleep occurs after about 10 minutes (do not watch the clock, but rather estimate the time). Carry out a non-interesting activity such as reading a boring book, until drowsiness returns and then go back to bed. Repeat this pattern until sleep takes place.
  • Follow the same routine at night before trying to sleep. Your mind and body will connect this routine with sleeping.
  • Don't take any stimulants, such as coffee, before going to bed. Also steer clear of alcohol, as it doesn't lead to a good night's sleep.
  • Don’t eat a huge meal close to bedtime.
  • Your couch potato days are over. Get a bit of exercise and you will not only fall asleep more easily, but also sleep better.
  • Take a warm bath before bedtime.
  • Keep a notebook next to your bed and write down any worries that you may have before trying to sleep.
  • Daytime naps will make it more difficult for you to sleep at night.
  • Make sure that your bedroom is comfortable and dark and quiet.
  • Wake up the same time each day.

2. Get Active: Exercise
Exercise gets those endorphins into your bloodstream. These are the feel-good hormones. But when you feel depressed, really depressed, it's difficult to motivate yourself to brush your teeth, let alone go for a walk or a run. But don't get caught in this vicious cycle of feeling unmotivated and wanting to camp on the couch – it will make you feel more depressed. Once you've broken this cycle by exercising a little bit every day, you won't believe the difference. Begin gradually (even 10 minutes will be OK as a start) and slowly increase the intensity and amount of time spent exercising.

  • If you are overweight, lose weight.
  • Eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables daily (a portion size is a fist size).
  • Complex carbohydrates (wholewheat grains) should form the basis of every meal. These include porridge, wholewheat bread, brown rice, pasta and jacket potatoes.
  • Eat plant and animal protein foods (fish, meat, eggs poultry), but avoid excessive saturated fat intake. Do not eat red meat more than once or twice a week. Replace it with fish.
  • Limit your fat intake to less than six teaspoons per day.
  • Make sure that you drink at least six glasses of water per day

  • all types of fish and seafood, but particularly fatty fish such as salmon and snoek
  • fish oils (tuna, cod liver and salmon oils)
  • plant oils (flaxseed, canola, walnut, soya oils)
  • food fortified with omega-3 (eggs, milk and bread – check the label)
  • salmon oil supplements

  • rather eat five to six smaller meals per day than two to three big ones.
  • rather eat carbohydrates with a low glycaemic index (GI) than with a high GI.
  • *rather eat wholewheat pasta than white or wholewheat bread, rather Basmati rice or couscous than white or brown rice, rather fruit than sweets, rather oats porridge or bran cereals than other cereals.


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