There comes a point when most of us realise: life sometimes isn’t much fun. It may have been an eye-opening adventure in our youth, our teens, even our 20s, but, as time passes, the glee of living gets harder to sustain.
Most of us cope just fine with this. With age, exuberance and excitement get replaced by a more subtle but deeper joy. We have families and friends we love, meaningful jobs, hobbies and holidays that provide real pleasure, accumulated wisdom that gives us a sense of value. But for millions of people, the path of life occasionally leads to depression.
The point here is not to give you a diagnosis or treatment – that’s for professionals to do. But even if you are taking medication for depression, the following lifestyle tactics may increase the drug’s effectiveness. If you’re simply feeling low, the tips may give you the boost you need to pull you up without the need for prescription drugs.
1. 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.
2. 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. Pregnant women are advised to eat one 150-g serve per week of orange roughy (sea perch) or catfish and no other fish that week, or one serve a fortnight of shark (flake) or billfish (swordfish/broadbill and marlin) and no other fish that fortnight, or two to three serves per week of any other fish. Another way to get your omega-3s is from ground linseeds. Sprinkle them on sweet and savoury foods.
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