AustinPUG Health

AustinPUG Health

What with the recession, the lack of secure full-time jobs, and the standard of living dropping, as well as the fact that we live in a fast-paced, cut-throat society where the over-riding ethos is ‘every man for himself’, is it any wonder that depression is on the increase?

Smile Help Depression ID 98 Help Yourself To Happiness   Volunteering And Other Ways To Help Depression

Img: help depression, source

The figures

The actual numbers of those with depression is hard to quantify, but MIND estimate that around ten per cent of the population of the UK suffers from it. In the course of a year one in four of us will suffer from some kind of mental health problem, and one in five people over the age of sixty suffers from depression. The UK sadly has the highest self-harm rate in Europe (Mental Health Foundation).

The usual solutions

So what steps can you take to combat the black cloud of gloom when it descends? There is therapy of course (e.g. counselling, psychoanalysis), and anti-depressants can offer a short-term solution, but are not ideal in the long term as they can be addictive, plus they only treat the symptom and not the cause.  There are self-help groups too, but while it can help to meet other people with  similar problems to your own, research has shown that taking positive steps to improve your life can set you on the road to recovery much quicker.

Helping yourself to happiness

So what can you do?

Exercise has been shown to have a positive mood-enhancing effect; and regular exercise even more so. Try swimming, cycling, dancing yoga or Pilates.

Fresh air and sunlight – one factor in depression can be our indoor lifestyle. The body needs sunlight and the nutrients it provides (vitamin D). Try going for a short walk every day, or if you can sit outside for a short while, or do some gardening. Walk to the shop instead of using the car.

Healthy eating – eating plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables and oily fish can help to elevate your mood.  Choose home cooked food – processed food is full of sugar (can temporarily lift mood, but this is usually followed by a slump), saturated fats (bad for the heart) and salt (too much salt can raise your blood pressure).

Volunteeringa study by the Institute of Psychiatry has shown that volunteering can significantly improve a depression patient’s mental health.  Although it is not a magic cure for depression, Joanna Murray from the Institute of Psychiatry?s Health Service and Population Research Department who led the research said:

“Volunteering gave structure to their lives, something to get out of bed for. People learned new skills and enjoyed helping others. Most importantly, they made friends, started going out, even went on holiday together…Being part of a social network makes people feel valued. They have access to emotional support and practical help if they need it, and this access may help people recover from illness and stay well. What’s more, being able to help others – as a volunteer or a friend – helps boost self-esteem and wellbeing,”

How to win

It has long been shown that helping others can make us happier, so combine this with the other things that can give you a boost, and you can only be on a winning streak.

About the Author: Sam Wright is a freelance writer with an interest in charities and volunteering. He believes that for volunteering, England the best to start is an internet search.


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