Most of us see depression as a phenomenon caused mainly by various negative events we have experienced and unfortunate circumstances that make us feel down and gloomy. However, there are a variety of everyday causes of depression that most people ignore and that actually affect the quality of our lives in a significant way.
So, if you feel unexplained sadness, are overwhelmed with constant negative thoughts, and have a host of other symptoms that indicate that you may be depressed, it is time to check whether you’ve adopted these 10 daily habits that have an adverse effect on the mind.
Smartphones, tablets, televisions, and computers - all of them pass our time pleasantly and allow us to consume information whenever and wherever we wish. However, a study at the University of Michigan, which examined media consumption habits of 318 participants, showed that various media outlets also act as a double-edged sword and may encourage symptoms of depression. The emergence of these symptoms was explained by the fact that multitasking, such as watching TV and reading news on a smartphone simultaneously, overloads the brain with too much information to work properly, leading to exhaustion and ultimately depression.
It’s no secret that our dietary habits have a direct impact on our overall health. But while many choose to focus on negative effects such as being overweight, our food also has the power to change our mood completely. In a study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, participants that ate more processed foods had more symptoms of depression than their counterparts who avoided doing so. Another study found that participants whose diets were low in fish suffered more depression than their counterparts, probably due to lack of omega-3 fatty acids. These acids are commonly associated with regulating levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter in the brain that affects our mood.
Sometimes all we want to do at the end of a hard and busy day is to zone out and watch TV, spend time at a restaurant or engage in a favorite hobby. However, a study at Binghamton University found that the next morning may be grayer than expected when you chose to go to bed later than usual, although you spent that time at rest and relaxation.
The reason for this is that a severe lack of sleep disrupts the functioning of the brain and significantly harms attention, concentration, and memory. Thus, apart from the sense of exhaustion that will accompany you throughout the day, the great effort to maintain normal functioning will only trigger stronger feelings of frustration and anxiety.
It is very possible that the negative criticism and comments from the circle of people closest to you come from their genuine desire to provide you with good advice. However, as in many other cases, even negative and pessimistic feelings should be taken at the right dosage. According to clinical psychologist, Dr. Susan Heitler, spending many hours together with a negative person may change our worldview for the worse, make us identify with the negative thoughts of the other person and compare them to many events in our lives.
This doesn’t mean you have to write off people who are close to you, just try to talk to them about the fact that negative conversations don’t benefit you, and perhaps you will make them see the world in a much more positive way.
Life in the center of the city has many advantages such as proximity to many restaurants, public transportation availability, various public facilities, vibrant nightlife, many employment opportunities and more. However, in a study conducted in 2011 at the Institute of Mental Health at the University of Heidelberg, it was found that the rapid and noisy pace of life that characterizes large cities may also create a great deal of mental stress, manifested in symptoms of anxiety and depression. So, despite your great love for these areas, try to spend a little more time in public parks and gardens close to your home where you can connect to nature and enjoy some peace and quiet.
After a busy day of chores, it is only natural that we feel the need to isolate ourselves and get the peace and quiet we craved throughout the day. In addition, there are quite a few studies that testify to the many benefits of having a little quality time with ourselves because it allows us to solve problems more efficiently and process the vast amount of information we were exposed to throughout the day.
Nevertheless, it is recommended that this habit not be overdone, and clinical psychologist Susan Heitler also warns against the gradual emergence of symptoms of depression and anxiety if one isn’t careful. She says that as part of our coping with the challenges of everyday life, it is important that we strengthen our existing friendships and create new relationships that will enable us to share and express our feelings.
Although we all like to be idle in front of the TV screen from time to time, we also want to know how to set some boundaries and challenge ourselves in a variety of tasks and hobbies. According to Dr. Heitler, doing different tasks, even those that aren’t part of our interests, gives us a sense of meaning, distracts us from negative thoughts and improves our mood significantly. Even having a strict and consistent exercise regimen is an excellent anti-depressant, due to the various chemicals, such as endorphins, released in our brains which promote a sense of calm and tranquility.
Our busy lives can often have us sitting in front of a screen for hours on end, sometimes without even having a short outdoor break. If you notice that you don’t usually go out during the day, this may explain the gloomy mood that overcomes you out of nowhere. Apart from our natural need to get some fresh air and clear our head, sun exposure accelerates the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter in the brain that plays a central role in emotional regulation. In addition, daylight stimulates the production of vitamin D essential to brain health that allows us to stay sharp and logical.
Most of us think that drugs only have physical side effects such as rash, diarrhea, and vomiting. However, you should know that some of the side effects of drugs such as oral contraceptives, anti-epileptic drugs, and corticosteroids may have associated symptoms of depression and anxiety. For example, in a study conducted in 2016 at the University of Copenhagen, researchers corroborated this hypothesis regarding oral contraceptives and found that any drug with hormonal effects led to extreme mood swings among participants. Therefore, even if you can’t avoid the use of certain medications, you should know the various side effects and when they appear, talk to your doctor about it and see where you go from there.
It is no secret that our posture conveys what we feel to the environment, and shows whether we are self-confident, scared, sad and so on. But this is not the end of the story, in a study published in the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, it was found that our posture has a direct effect on us emotionally; Participants who walked with their backs bent, shoulders slumped forward and a slightly bowed head, made their brains feel depressed and, as a result, began to experience symptoms of depression. If you don’t know how to keep yourself upright and strong, the following guide will help you have a healthier and more positive posture simply and easily.
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