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How can you prevent depression?

Life is full of psychological and emotional challenges, so it’s not always possible to prevent depression.

28 June 2016

Even though depression is highly treatable, some forms may not be preventable. Studies show, however, that depression can be eased and sometimes prevented with good health habits. These involve a balance of physical, psychological and spiritual factors. Eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, taking time out for fun and relaxation, and spending time with friends and loved ones, can work together to prevent a depressed mood.

The link between diet and depression

There is increasing evidence that changes in your diet can help prevent depression occurring, or if you are depressed, can help in the treatment of your depression.

For example, in a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health in September 2015, researchers from the Medical College of Qingdao University in China reported that people who consumed the most fish had a 17 percent lower risk of depression than those who ate the least amount of fish. 

For more on this study, read here

In 2015, US researchers also found that a diet high in refined carbohydrates could be a risk factor for the development of depression in post-menopausal women. This study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition examined the dietary glycaemic index (GI), glycaemic load, types of carbohydrates consumed and depression in more than 70 000 postmenopausal women who participated in the National Institute of Health’s Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study between 1994 and 1998.

The researchers found that higher GI values and the consumption of added sugars and refined carbohydrates were associated with an increased risk of new cases of depression in post-menopausal women. The study also found that greater consumption of dietary fibre, whole grains, vegetables and fruit (in whole form, not juice) was associated with a decreased risk of depression. This, according to the researchers, suggests that dietary interventions could serve as treatments and preventive measures for depression.

See here for more on this study. 

Speak to your doctor or dietician for more information on the link between diet and depression.

More guidelines to help prevent depression

These guidelines are also useful in preventing depression completely as well as frequent bouts of depression:

  • Take medication as directed
  • Don’t reduce or stop your medication without discussing it with your doctor first
  • Engage in activities and hobbies you enjoy
  • Avoid smoking, illegal drugs and alcohol
  • Explore various problem-solving ways to tackle stress and anxiety
  • Try to focus your thoughts in a positive way
  • Consult your doctor if you feel your depression symptoms are worsening
  • Exercise regularly as this increases the mood-boosting brain chemical serotonin
  • Learn relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation
  • Join a self-help group — it can help you to feel less isolated.

Read More: Depression Super Section