Our body is an interconnected whole. All systems of the body interact with one another.
One insight of the scientific community from nutrition to neuroscience is the brain-gut connection. Johns Hopkins University explains how the digestive system’s microbiome breaks down enzymes and how those digestive processes affect your mind. In addition, it is well known that “runner’s high”- a pleasant feeling associated with exercise- is caused by well-understood hormones and neurotransmitters.
With all of the emerging research regarding how diet and exercise affect the mental health of all of us, those suffering from mental illnesses, trauma, and stress might be wondering how these concepts link together and what this means for us. How do diet and exercise affect mental health? In particular, how do diet and exercise interact with depression? And are they effective methods to help manage some of the symptoms of depression?
Diet and Depression – a Cause of Depression
Harvard research focused on how diet impacts mood and depression. They found that eating an unhealthy diet led to a significant increase in the risk of developing depression. Studies show that an unhealthy diet increases the risk of heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes and also moderate depression. Further, these researchers found that a healthy diet had an impact on mood as well. Diets low in processed foods and high in lean meats with high quantities of omega-3 fatty acids were beneficial for depression and anxiety. The researchers specifically returned time and time to the Mediterranean diet, which has many of the qualities mentioned above along with high quantities of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Depression and Diet – an Effect of Depression
The researchers also found that those suffering from depression were more likely to eat unhealthy foods. This effectively makes a poor diet a symptom of depression. We know that those suffering from major depressive episodes are more likely to engage in other unhealthy behaviors like substance abuse. Therefore, the side effects of depression often seriously compromise the health of the depressed individual.
Exercise and Depression
In similar research done by Harvard, researchers observed the links between exercise and how it helps treat depression. In these studies, the researchers found exercise to be, in some cases, equivalent in effect to antidepressant medication. Prozac, Zoloft, Lexapro, and other antidepressant drugs operate by allowing neurotransmitters such as serotonin to be absorbed at a greater rate by the brain. On the other hand, exercise releases endorphins and other “feel-good” chemicals, which in turn can help mitigate the symptoms of depression and anxiety. Additionally, the brain function of the subjects was improved by the exercise, which in turn helps regulate mood.
Drugs vs. Diet and Exercise
Though there is no research that shows low serotonin leads to depression, antidepressant drugs can sometimes be an effective treatment for depression, by helping in indirect ways not yet understood by science. The results are particularly good when combined with therapy. However, antidepressants have side effects like any drug that can cause further unwanted issues. Furthermore, many of these drugs are expensive.
One of the implications of the idea that diet and exercise can be as effective as drugs in treating depression is that we can use them as a treatment option. We can even use them as an alternative if we’ve found that diet and exercise can be excellent alternative treatment methods when you take antidepressant medications in the past or do not want to take antidepressant medications.
It is essential to talk to your doctor before starting or discontinuing any medication, particularly medication that affects mental states and mood regulation.
Diet and Exercise as Part of Treatment
Diet and exercise can reduce the symptoms of depression- even with similar levels of effectiveness to antidepressant medication. Diet and exercise, in effect, are natural antidepressants. Similarly, anyone can implement these things in their life- at least in small ways. Making healthier choices with food and beginning to exercise may reduce your symptoms or be an essential part of an already existing treatment plan.
You can engage in multiple different treatment methods simultaneously alongside engaging with diet and exercise. For example, one can seek depression counseling as a treatment method alongside using diet and exercise to treat depression. In addition, it can be a significant first step to start managing your depression symptoms.
Where to Start?
Depression can have symptoms such as reduced sleep, energy, and appetite. These symptoms can have a knock-on effect of making it quite challenging to get to work exercising. With even more symptoms like decreased motivation, depression can make it challenging to exercise. Seeking help with getting exercise and diet is a good start. Here at Clearly Better Counseling, we specifically approach diet and exercise from a mental health perspective. We use scientifically-backed treatment methods like TEAM-CBT. Further, we have developed in-depth programs to help you treat your depression.
Whenever you get to work with Clearly Better Counseling, we help you develop an individualized plan to work with your needs precisely. We help with those symptoms mentioned above of depression and assist you in getting started with diet and exercise. Our team will work with you to produce meal plans that are delicious and nutritious. In addition, the team will help you develop an exercise program that works for you as an individual.
Clearly Better Counseling Depression Treatment – Diet and Exercise are Essential
Depression has several causes and symptoms. Depression is an incredibly complex condition that requires individualized treatment. We at Clearly Better will help treat you through a combination of methods. We will take your physical and mental health, as well as the connection between them, thoughtfully and help treat you not as a collection of issues but as a complete human. We offer treatments, including therapy and counseling.. We will help treat all of these very common symptoms as a whole. Sleep is another important health concern that will assist with depression.
The One-Month Sprint to Confidence and Connection
Working with Clearly Better Counseling will get you science-based, individualized solutions. Signing up for our evidence-based four-week program will help you integrate exercise and diet into your life to help treat your depression. This program’s features include dietary plans such as the MEET (Mood Enhancing Eating Technique) Eater’s Method of dieting, the Bedrock Sleeping Framework, Free Healthy Home Design Consultation, and other essential tools for recovery. The program additionally offers talk therapy elements, including three hours of coaching and/or counseling per week, depending on your individualized needs, as well as the Behavior and Change Lab. These methods for treating depression are backed by scientific evidence linking diet, exercise, and mental health together and will help you reclaim your life from depression. We accept only very few people per month so you have our full, undivided attention.
Seeing as diet and exercise are as effective as antidepressant drugs, you may want to consider using them as a supplement or as a healthy start to your treatment for depression. You do not have to suffer alone. Clearly, Better Counseling’s four-week program has the resources necessary to get you the help you need to integrate diet and exercise and more traditional therapy methods to assist you in overcoming your depression and transitioning your life to a better place.