Depression is a very common problem, with some estimates stating that one in four Americans will experience a major bout at least once in their life. In some cases, depression develops during a low period in one’s life, such as the loss of a loved one, the end of a long relationship, or the loss of a job. But other times, depression can seemingly come out of nowhere. Now that antidepressants have been in use for a number of years, many people are recognizing that depression is not so easily “solved.” Often, there are mental patterns, experiences, and other hurdles that need to be addressed through therapy or counseling, and dealt with over time, to truly heal from depression.
But there may be other factors at play, as well. Dr. Steven Ilardi, associate professor of clinical psychology at the University of Kansas says that our lifestyles may be predisposing us to depression. We have not evolved to be as socially isolated and physically inactive as many of us are, says Ilardi. In a recent feature for CBS News, Ilardi laid out a series of what he calls “depression traps”: ten lifestyle factors that he believes either directly contribute to, or at least make people vulnerable to, depression.
Some of Ilardi’s advice has to do with diet. With too much reliance on sugars and refined carbohydrates, he says, we not only provide ‘bad’ fuel to the body and brain, but also are missing out on Omega-3’s and essential vitamins known to keep our brains running in tiptop shape. Another group of unhelpful lifestyle factors addresses physical habits. A lack of exercise deprives us of endorphins and the chance to feel more connected with our bodies. A lack of time outdoors deprives us of healthy sun exposure and time to clear our heads. A lack of adequate sleep doesn’t give our bodies or minds the time they need to fully process and recover from the day. Finally, social and personal habits that may put people at higher risk for depression. Reacting to stress by pulling away from others only increases the stress’s impact. Spending time around people who bring us down can reinforce or even trigger depressive thoughts. And Trap #10: “Failing to Get Help” in the form of therapy or counseling when you know something doesn’t feel right.
© Copyright 2010 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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