How to Stop Depression: What’s Good for the Body…

For many of us, learning how to stop depression means cultivating a positive, healthy lifestyle.

how to stop depression

How important is exercise for our psyche? It "improves mental health by reducing anxiety, depression, and negative mood and by improving self-esteem and cognitive function," according to the U.S. National Library of Exercise. It has also been found to "alleviate symptoms such as low self-esteem and social withdrawal."

© Martin Novak |

Wondering how to stop depression, and how to prevent yourself from falling into feelings of hopelessness? One solution proven in studies to help: exercise. Research reveals that what’s good for the body is also good for the mind. When you go for a run or a swim, your brain releases brain chemicals such as norepinephrine and endorphins—both of which can boost mood. (If you’ve ever heard the expression “runner’s high,” it refers to the feeling runners get from these chemicals).

Working out regularly will also help you look your best, which can have a big impact on your self-esteem. It also can keep your mind off what’s troubling you.

Preliminary research also finds that exercise might be as effective for relieving depression as antidepressants—and that its benefits may be long-term. So if you’re determined to find out how to stop depression, start here.

How to Stop Depression: Create an Exercise Plan

As many of us can attest, planning to exercise and actually doing it are different. So it’s important to resolve to get started, and remember that any exercise will do. As such, choose a type of exercise you enjoy, whether it’s dancing, going for a brisk walk with a friend, or pumping iron. For seniors, tai chi—often called “moving meditation”—appears to be particularly effective at battling the blues. The keys: a) Work hard enough to break a sweat, and b) do it regularly.

If you’re too busy to spend an hour at the gym each day, sneak 10- to 15-minute bursts of exercise into your day here and there. Even housework and gardening count as exercise. Just be sure to get in a total of 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity on most, if not all, days of the week.

(See also our post “Exercise: The Perfect ‘Natural Antidepressant.'”)

how to stop depression

Tai chi exercise is an ideal way to keep joints and muscles flexible.

How to Stop Depression: Diet Strategies

When setting out to overcome depression, consider diet changes, too. Foods like fish, nuts, and seeds, which are high in omega-3 fatty acids, may help ward off depression. That might be why people who eat a Mediterranean diet (in which olive oil, nuts, and fish are staples) are less likely to develop depression than people who eat other kinds of foods.

how to stop depression

Celery sticks and carrots make up the perfect go-to snack.

Processed and sugary foods are high in simple carbs and trans fats, which may boost energy transiently but ultimately can drain your energy and make you feel even more down in the dumps.

Yet, often these are the very foods we crave when we’re depressed. If you’ve ever grabbed a chocolate bar when you were feeling down, you’re not alone. Research shows that both women and men tend to eat more chocolate when they’re depressed. But when you crave junk food, try to reach for a carrot or celery stick instead of a candy bar.

For further reading on how to fend off depression, see these University Health News posts:

Originally published in May 2016 and updated.

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Alison Palkhivala

Alison Palkhivala is an award-winning writer and journalist specializing in lifestyle, nutrition, health, and medicine. She has authored the Belvoir special report Overcoming Depression and the University Health News book … Read More

View all posts by Alison Palkhivala

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