Most experts agree that many people may suffer from depression at some point in their lives . This is not surprising with the pace of life in today’s society and the influence of the culture of Western societies, which tend to reward attractive or successful individuals (for example, at work).
Moreover, this situation has increased with the economic crisis, which has led to situations of vulnerability for many individuals. When talking about economic slowdown it is inevitable to refer to the person’s emotional state. In fact, even its terminology in the economic downturn is often related to concepts of mood: an example might be “The Great Depression” resulting from the crash of ’29.
Different causes of depression
There is no single, definitive idea about the causes of mood disorders: biological, educational or psychosocial factors usually interact in the appearance of this pathology . There are several types of depression: major depression, dysthymia, seasonal affective disorder, etc. Therefore, this phenomenon has been approached from different points of view, giving rise to different explanatory models that affect biological, psychological or social aspects.
In general, there seems to be a certain consensus in affirming that there is a greater or lesser predisposition to suffer from a depressive disorder in the face of some triggers (situations, events, etc.) of greater or lesser magnitude, which could appear at a certain moment in the course of life. For example, rejection or financial difficulties may be sufficient reason to emotionally destabilize an individual, but his interpretation of the facts seems to be key in the development of this disorder.
The 12 Tips to Prevent Depression
Therefore, education can help many people to interpret positively the different negative situations that can arise throughout life, acting as a protective factor . And despite the fact that in some serious cases it is necessary to see a specialist so that he or she can help overcome the disorder as soon as possible, it is possible to acquire a series of habits to prevent the appearance of this pathology:
1. Improves emotional intelligence (EI)
Managing emotions intelligently is considered fundamental to one’s physical and psychological adaptation. Emotional intelligence is understood as a set of skills that allow us to perceive, value and express emotions, access them, understand them and, finally, regulate them. Emotional experience can be lived in two different ways: direct experience and reflection on the experience.
There is a lot of research that concludes that emotional intelligence is a useful indicator to assess the emotional well-being and psychological adjustment of people . In fact, high scores in emotional intelligence are associated with a more optimistic interpretation of the events that occur, greater satisfaction with life and greater psychological health.
The relationship between emotional intelligence and depression was initially thought to be indirect. However, subsequent research has shown that a low level of IQ directly influences depression scores . Attending courses or seminars on emotional intelligence can help improve this ability and therefore prevent depression.
You have probably heard this before, but we will repeat it: physical exercise brings you many benefits, both physical and psychological. To prevent depression, physical exercise is positive, because promotes the release of endorphins , chemical substances that produce a feeling of happiness and euphoria.
In addition, both cardiovascular exercise and anaerobic resistance work (e.g. working with weights) will bring benefits to your physical and mental health. Finally, exercising can also improve your self-image, and this can help improve your self-esteem. Exercising three times a week, in 45-minute sessions, can be enough to prevent mood disorders.
3.Eat healthy and balanced
Diet won’t cure depression, but it can help us feel better. Healthy and balanced eating improves health and mental well-being , as it has an impact on general health and therefore on mental health. Some studies state that the Mediterranean diet is ideal for preventing depression. This is because it is a diet rich in folate and B vitamins which are essential in the metabolic pathways for methionine, homocysteine and for s-adenosyl methionine (SAMe), which are involved in the biosynthesis of neurotransmitters that affect mood, such as dopamine and serotonin.
Other research claims that eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids (such as sardines, trout, or nuts) reduces the symptoms of depression. In addition, eating foods rich in tryptophan helps prevent depression. Finally, it is necessary to avoid “trans” fatty foods (such as industrial baked goods) , as they encourage depressive symptoms. They participate in body weight gain and make individuals more unhappy.
4.Have an active social life and practice your hobbies
Having an active social life has been shown to be effective in preventing depression. R oosing good friends, going to events and practicing the hobbies we like are positive for having a fuller life .
Therefore, it is necessary not to isolate oneself and go out to have a good time. Supporting your close friends and family, that is, people who care about you, is a protective factor against depression. Besides, if they are fun, they will show you a good time and transport you to a positive and pleasant mood.
Besides, practicing our hobbies gives our lives meaning. Finding those activities that motivate us and make us be in a state of flow will provide us with incredible moments. In fact, a study conducted in Japan showed that those people who practiced physical exercise regularly, ate a healthy diet and enjoyed their hobbies, were happier and less likely to suffer from depression.
5.Stop comparing yourself to others and stop thinking about what others think about you
Continually comparing yourself with others can have negative consequences for your self-esteem. The world we live in demands that we be perfect in everything and at all times, even in an irrational way. But not only is comparing oneself with others negative, but it is common to be aware of liking others all the time .
We all like to be liked and accepted by others, but many spend too much time and energy trying to please others. The psychological wear and tear of comparing oneself with others and thinking about pleasing everyone is unhealthy and produces unnecessary stress.
6.Live in the present
Living in the present takes care of your emotional health and your state of mind. This seems easy to do, but we are usually with the body in the present but the mind in the past or the future . Learning to live in the present helps you to improve your well-being and protects you from depression. This is one of the principles of Mindfulness therapy.
To learn more about the benefits of Mindfulness, we invite you to read our article:
“Mindfulness: 8 benefits of full care”
7.Set realistic goals
Even if you eat healthy, play sports and live in the present, nothing will motivate you more than having a purpose in life or goals to achieve . Research by Blue Zones concluded that those who had a purpose in life lived up to seven more years.
However, setting irrational goals has a negative effect on your well-being. Therefore, it is necessary that the goals you set for yourself are realistic. Finally, don’t forget that not only will long-term goals have a positive effect, but you also need to have short-term goals to stay motivated during the process, something we often forget.
8.Accept yourself and forgive yourself
Learning to forgive and accept yourself is an important aspect of preventing depression. That is to say, that it is necessary to forgive ourselves for the mistakes we have made or for the things we have not done as we should have . The past cannot be changed, but the perception we have about the past can.
Accepting and forgiving oneself is a choice of one’s own, which also implies facing up to our past and our present, learning to live with what we cannot change and assuming a positive attitude towards life. This is not an easy task, but it is possible.
9.Learn to live with uncertainty
Since our youth we have been educated to have a quiet and perfect life, but the reality is not always like that, especially in these times. For example, just over a decade ago it was common to have a job for life. Today, having a stable job has become rare in many professions.
Therefore, today we are here, but tomorrow… who knows . Having a flexible mentality is much more adaptive than having a rigid mentality, and learning to live with uncertainty and with a positive attitude towards change, makes you much more prepared for today’s reality.
10.Take care of your stress level
Stress is very common in the pace of life we lead, but when stress is continuous, things can get worse and lead to depression . In fact, many studies state that one of the symptoms that can occur in Burnout Syndrome is depression.
Treating stress as early as possible can be beneficial in preventing a worsening and future onset of depression. In addition, it has been shown that poor time management can lead to various disorders, such as depression or anxiety.
11.Avoid alcohol and drugs
Alcohol is a legally and socially accepted drug that can seem harmless. The reality is that, consumed frequently, it can cause serious health problems . Other drugs such as marijuana, which are also classified as soft drugs, can cause depressive disorders.
But not only is the prolonged use of these substances harmful, but going on drugs or drinking can lead you to commit actions that you may later regret . Therefore, you should not use illegal drugs, but if you are going to drink alcohol, do so in moderation.
12.Get enough sleep
Good sleep hygiene positively affects your emotional well-being . Disrupting circadian rhythms is associated with depression, and re-synchronising them using melatonin supplements has been shown to have an antidepressant effect. If your work schedule allows, try to develop habits that will help you sleep better.
For example, follow a schedule that allows you to go to sleep at about the same time and avoid exciting substances from mid-afternoon onwards.