Healthy Choices

Depression Is Common, but Treatable

One in five women and one in nine men will have depression symptoms at some point in their lives. Typical symptoms include feelings of hopelessness, loss of interest in things they once enjoyed, withdrawal from social activity, changes in eating and/or sleeping patterns and suicidal thoughts.

These symptoms may occur due to actual physical changes in the brain, including shrinking of the part of the brain that is key to memory and concentration. Depression also appears to trigger the output of a stress hormone (cortisol) that can damage neuron connecting pathways.

If you have symptoms of stress or depression, get medical help. Depression is treatable with:

Talk therapy (using cognitive therapy and problem solving therapy).

Medications (antidepressants) that help repair neuron pathways to help people feel better again.

A combination of talk therapy and medication is usually more effective than one treatment alone and recommended for long-term success.

Other important therapeutic options (and good preventive actions) involve a healthy lifestyle, including:

Nutritious meals made with unrefined foods (e.g., whole grains), healthy fats (e.g., omega-3 fats found in flax meal and fish oils), and highly colored fruits and vegetables (e.g., berries, citrus and spinach, which are high in antioxidants and phytochemicals that help promote brain health).

Regular exercise, such as brisk walking 30+ minutes daily.

Mentally stimulating activities, such as reading, problem-solving and playing a musical instrument.

An active social life, such as hiking or camping with friends or attending church socials.

These are all positive actions you can take daily to keep your brain healthy and working well.

Source: Duke Medicine, HealthNews, June 2009.

Featured in: October 2009


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