There are many things you can do to protect your mental health but what about staying away from things that can make it worse? According to Deborah Serani, Psy.D, a clinical psychologist, “There are many things a person who lives with depression needs to be mindful of for better well-being.” Here are six things that can make depression worse – and what you can do to minimize them.
Stress: Stress increases the hormone cortisol. “Cortisol keeps us in an ‘emergency ready’ state, with states of arousal and irritability that tax our already fatigued body and mind,” Serani said. To minimize stress, try delegating projects, dividing tasks, and learning to say no.
Sleep: Too little or too much sleep can have an effect on depression symptoms. “Making sure the architecture of your sleep cycle is predictable and sound will help keep depression symptoms from worsening,” Serani said. Keep consistent with sleep schedules, waking up and going to sleep at the same time each night.
Food: Several studies have linked depression to foods with trans unsaturated fatty acids, foods high in sugar or simple carbohydrates, as well as alcohol and caffeine can make you irritable.
Toxic People: Toxic people do not grasp how depression actually affects your life, so avoid these individuals all together. “Part of living with depression requires you to learn how to reframe negative thoughts into positive ones, so having people in your life that are affirmative, nurturing and accepting of who you are will help ground you in a better healing environment,” Serani said.
Media: “I know that my depressive symptoms worsen if I’m exposed to horrifying news, startling stories or dramatic films,” Serani said. News stories that are upsetting or disturbing can exacerbate depression. Serani suggests limiting what medium you use and choose one you are most comfortable with.
Anniversary Reactions: On or around the anniversary date of a past traumatic event, the person may begin to feel the same feelings that were felt at the time. These events include anything from a loved one’s passing to a stressful doctor’s appointment, Serani said. She suggested readers “take a look at the dates on the calendar to raise awareness of any emotional days that may be coming up.” Knowing these days are coming up can prepare you.