6 Habits That Can Fight Depression Symptoms

Psychological studies support these six fascinating ways of fighting depressive symptoms.

Psychological studies support these six fascinating ways of fighting depressive symptoms.

1. Change how you see the future

It’s often assumed that it’s depression that causes a pessimistic view of the future.

But it could be the other way around, a study finds.

Being pessimistic about the future may actually cause depression.

There are three ways in which thinking about the future may cause depression:

  • Poor generation of possible futures.
  • Poor evaluation of possible future.
  • Negative beliefs about the future.

Depression also likely feeds back into more negative views of the future, creating a vicious circle.

Try to address the way you think about the future — is there a way to be a little more optimistic about it?

2. Eat a Mediterranean diet

A Mediterranean diet including fruits, vegetables and legumes can prevent depression, a large study finds.

People only had to make relatively small changes to see the benefits.

Depression could be partly down to a lack of essential nutrients.

The benefits of the diet are likely related to higher levels of omega 3 and other essential nutrients.

3. Socialise face-to-face

Regular face-to-face communication reduces the risk of depression in older adults by half, a study finds.

In comparison, socialising by phone or email does not have the same beneficial effect.

Dr Alan Teo, who led the study, said:

“Research has long-supported the idea that strong social bonds strengthen people’s mental health.

But this is the first look at the role that the type of communication with loved ones and friends plays in safeguarding people from depression.

We found that all forms of socialization aren’t equal.

Phone calls and digital communication, with friends or family members, do not have the same power as face-to-face social interactions in helping to stave off depression.”

4. Identify with a group

It has long been known that social connections are vital for a person who is experiencing depression.

Research finds that it’s not just social groups which help those with depression, crucially it’s identifying with that group which helps alleviate depression.

The conclusions come from an Australian study of patients both at risk and diagnosed with depression who had joined a number of local groups.

These patients who strongly identified with the groups they’d joined — whether at the hospital for group therapy or in their hobbies — said they felt supported because they were ‘in it together’.

5. Give up Facebook for a week…or longer

Comparing yourself to other people on Facebook has been linked to depressive symptoms, a study finds.

While the social network can be a useful way of connecting with others, there may be psychological dangers.

Mai-Ly Steers, the study’s first author, said:

“One danger is that Facebook often gives us information about our friends that we are not normally privy to, which gives us even more opportunities to socially compare.

You can’t really control the impulse to compare because you never know what your friends are going to post.

In addition, most of our Facebook friends tend to post about the good things that occur in their lives, while leaving out the bad.

If we’re comparing ourselves to our friends’ ‘highlight reels,’ this may lead us to think their lives are better than they actually are and conversely, make us feel worse about our own lives.”

6. Ask Socratic questions

A technique called ‘Socratic questioning’ can help depressed people recover, a study finds.

Socratic questioning is used by many therapists to help patients explore new perspectives on themselves and the world.

Socratic questioning differs from ‘normal’ questioning by focusing on fundamental issues and concerns.

For example, if a patient feels their life is a failure because of a divorce, the therapist might ask:

  • Is everyone who experienced divorce a failure?
  • Can you think of anyone for whom that is not true?
  • How does being divorced seem to translate into being a failure as a person for you?
  • What evidence is there that you have succeeded, and thus not been a “total failure?”


Study Reveals If Depression is Contagious Between Friends

How both happiness and depression spread through social networks.

How both happiness and depression spread through social networks.

Depression does not spread between friends, a study finds.

Indeed, friends can provide a protective effect against depression.

Professor Frances Griffiths, one of the study’s authors, said:

“Depression is a major public health concern worldwide.

But the good news is we’ve found that a healthy mood amongst friends is linked with a significantly reduced risk of developing and increased chance of recovering from depression.

Our results offer implications for improving adolescent mood.

In particular they suggest the hypothesis that encouraging friendship networks between adolescents could reduce both the incidence and prevalence of depression among teenagers.”

Strong social network

The study followed over 2,000 adolescents attending high school in the US.

Researchers looked at how their moods changed in comparison to other students who were in their social network.

They found that when someone’s friends were in a healthy mood, it provided a protective effect against depression.

In fact, it halved the probability of someone developing depression.

Or if they became depressed, being in a happy group doubled the chance of recovery.

Mr Edward Hill, the study’s first author, said:

“In the context of depression, this is a very large effect size.

Changing risk by a factor of two is unusual.

Our results suggest that promotion of any friendship between adolescents can reduce depression since having depressed friends does not put them at risk, but having healthy friends is both protective and curative.”

Dr Thomas House, another of the study’s authors, said:

“It could be that having a stronger social network is an effective way to treat depression.

More work needs to be done but it may be that we could significantly reduce the burden of depression through cheap, low-risk social interventions.

As a society, if we enable friendships to develop among adolescents (for example providing youth clubs) each adolescent is more likely to have enough friends with healthy mood to have a protective effect.

This would reduce the prevalence of depression.”

Parent and child

In contrast with friends, though, depression is contagious between children and parents, perhaps because the relationship is that much closer.

Depressed children can make their parents depressed and treating the child helps the parents recover.

Similarly, depressed parents can make their children depressed.

Clearly there is a genetic component to this, but one study has found that depression is passed down from father to child even when the child is adopted.

The research was published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B (Hill et al., 2015).

6 Radical Ways To Treat Depression

Virtual reality, sleep deprivation, hallucinogens and more radical ways to treat depression.

Virtual reality, sleep deprivation, hallucinogens and more radical ways to treat depression.

Depression treatments usually involve talking therapies and SSRI antidepressants.

However, research has pointed to some radical new treatments.

Click the links for more on each study:

1. Virtual reality

Immersive virtual reality therapy could soon be helping people with depression, a study suggests.

The virtual reality therapy helped people to be less critical and more compassionate towards themselves.

This helped reduce their depression symptoms.

While wearing virtual reality headsets, people in the study comforted a virtual child who was crying.

As they did so, it appeared to respond positively to the compassion.

Then the virtual reality system gave them the impression they were in the position of the child.

2. Magic mushrooms

Psilocybin — a hallucinogen from ‘magic’ mushrooms — can help reduce the symptoms of severe depression, a new study finds.

Psilocybin is also currently being tested for alcoholism, smoking cessation, and in people with advanced cancer.

The small study gave psilocybin to 12 people with treatment-resistant depression.

The hallucinogen was found to be well-tolerated and safe to use.

Along with supportive therapy, the psilocybin helped half the participants to feel better up to three months later.

3. Sleep deprivation

Sleep deprivation can rapidly reduce the symptoms of depression, 30 years of research suggests.

Around half of people with depression who are sleep deprived under controlled, inpatient conditions feel better quickly.

Many see improvements in just 24 hours, in comparison to the weeks it can take for antidepressants to start working.

‘Wake therapy’, as it is sometimes called, involves staying awake all night and the next day.

Around 50% of people find their depression improves — until they sleep again.

4. Brain training

Learning to control your own brain waves could be an effective treatment for severe depression, research finds.

The small pilot study found that a technique called neurofeedback helped severely depressed people whose depression had proved very hard to treat.

Neurofeedback involves patients concentrating on a readout of their own brain waves.

Over time, people can learn to control and change them.

5. Ayahuasca

Ayahuasca — a psychedelic drug traditionally used in South America — may help treat depression and alcoholism, new research suggests.

The survey of over 96,000 people around the world found that ayahuasca users reported higher well-being and lower problems with alcohol abuse.

Ayahuasca contains dimethyltryptamine (DMT), which is a powerful psychedelic that acts over a short period.

In the 60s it was known as the ‘businessman’s trip’ because its effects last between 5 and 15 minutes, instead of the hours resulting from LSD or magic mushrooms.

6. Herbs

The herb roseroot could be an effective alternative to antidepressants, a recent study finds.

Compared with a modern SSRI, roseroot has fewer side effects and similar antidepressant effects, finds a clinical trial.

The recent study tested oral R. rosea extract against sertraline, an SSRI antidepressant and compared these with a placebo.

57 people with mild to moderate depression were included in the trial.

The results showed that the roseroot extract had a similar effect on the symptoms to the antidepressant.


Probiotics For Depression: This Bacteria Is Found In Yoghurt

The probiotic for depression buffered the body against the damaging effects of stress.

The probiotic for depression buffered the body against the damaging effects of stress.

Depression has been reversed in mice by feeding them probiotic bacteria, research reports.

Lactobacillus is a type of ‘good’ bacteria found in yogurt, among other foods.

The role of the gut microbiome — the bacteria which live in our gut — has become a focus of research interest recently.

Dr Alban Gaultier, who led the study, said:

“The big hope for this kind of research is that we won’t need to bother with complex drugs and side effects when we can just play with the microbiome.

It would be magical just to change your diet, to change the bacteria you take, and fix your health — and your mood.”

Probiotics for depression study

The scientists found that when mice in the study were put under stress, the bacteria in their gut changed.

The main change was a reduction in Lactobacillus, which was linked to depressed behaviour in the mice.

Feeding them Lactobacillus almost completely stopped their depressive behaviours.

The researchers found a mechanism for how this change in the gut led to depression (it is through a metabolite called kynurenine).

First author, Ms Ioana Marin said:

“This is the most consistent change we’ve seen across different experiments and different settings we call microbiome profiles.

This is a consistent change.

We see Lactobacillus levels correlate directly with the behavior of these mice.”

The researchers plan to continue investigating kynurenine’s role in depression, Ms Marin said:

“There has been some work in humans and quite a bit in animal models talking about how this metabolite, kynurenine, can influence behavior.

It’s something produced with inflammation that we know is connected with depression.

But the question still remains: How?

How does this molecule affect the brain?

What are the processes?

This is the road we want to take.”

The study was published in the journal Scientific Reports (Marin et al., 2017).

The Major Personality Type Linked To Depression Risk

Among the major personality traits, it shows the strongest link to depression.

Among the major personality traits, it shows the strongest link to depression.

Negative emotionality is linked to a higher risk of depression, data from millions of people finds.

Negative emotionality, or being neurotic, involves a tendency towards fear and worry.

People who are neurotic are more likely to experience negative emotions like fear, jealousy, guilt, worry and envy.

The good news is that a depressive personality can be changed, contrary to what many people think.

The study’s conclusions come from analysing data from over two million people.

Their DNA revealed 269 genes related to depression.

Certain genes were also related to some lifestyle choice, like smoking.

The study shows that experiencing depression is linked to personality, which is partly controlled by genes.

Dr Raliza Stoyanova, of Wellcome, who funded the study, said:

“This large study is an important advance in understanding how genetic variability might contribute to risk for depression.

Given that current treatments work for only half of those who need them, the study provides some intriguing clues for future research to follow up — for example that biological pathways involved in developing the condition may not be the same as those involved in responding to treatment.”

Dr Sophie Dix, Director of Research at mental health charity MQ, said:

“This study adds to the weight of evidence that genes are one of the key risk factors in depression, which is also impacted by life events such as social environment and trauma.

The value of this could really be seen when looking into the development of personalised treatments — a welcome step given the dearth of innovation in identifying new approaches.

We have seen very little advancement in nearly 50 years for people living with depression and right now the avenues available are not working for everyone.”

The study was published in the journal Nature Neuroscience (Howard et al., 2019).

Why Depressed People Take Social Rejection Harder (M)

There’s a good reason why depressed people find it much harder to deal with social rejection.

There's a good reason why depressed people find it much harder to deal with social rejection.

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4 Surprising Benefits Of Depression

Depressed has some benefits and may even be necessary, positive and have advantages sometimes.

Depressed has some benefits and may even be necessary, positive and have advantages sometimes.

One benefit of depression is that it is an adaptive way of dealing with certain problems in life, such as relationship breakdown and illness, say the authors of a study.

While clinical depression is a serious mental health issue, the researchers argue that by examining how depression might have originally arisen, we can better understand how to treat it.

Dr. Paul Andrews, who led the study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, said:

“Depression has long been seen as nothing but a problem.

We are asking whether it may actually be a natural adaptation that the brain uses to tackle certain problems.

We are seeing more evidence that depression can be a necessary and beneficial adaptation to dealing with major, complex issues that defy easy understanding.”

In fact, people who are depressed display some surprising advantages in their thinking skills.

Depressed people:

  1. process information more deeply.
  2. are more accurate at complex tasks.
  3. make better judgements on detail-oriented information.
  4. make more accurate cost-benefit analyses.

Benefit of depression

The researchers developed a questionnaire which measures ‘analytical rumination’, a mental process which is thought to be an ancient defence mechanism and the root of depression (Barbic et al., 2014).

Analytical rumination is where people turn problems over in their heads to the exclusion of all else, trying to look for a solution.

They first examine the problem’s cause, then the things that need solving, any possible solutions plus the costs and benefits of each solution.

The symptoms of depression, which often include lethargy, difficulty sleeping, poor concentration and disinterest in other people or the external world, may actually be ways of saving energy while a person is focusing on the problem.

Positives of depression

Clinical depression may be a result of this natural process getting out of control, causing people to withdraw from the world after getting stuck in a loop.

Dr Skye Barbic, the study’s first author, said:

“Based on how people answer our questions, we can tailor appropriate levels of care and supports.

This set of questions can also inform completely different discussions between the clinician and the patient.

Instead of discussing the disease as a ‘bad thing’, clinicians may be able to help patients have insight about the potential adaptive purposes of their thinking and how this may be used as a strength to move forward in their lives.”

Dr Zachary Durisko, another of the study’s authors, said:

“When working with many people who experience chronic health conditions, depression is often the limiting factor to recovery and goal attainment.

The test can potentially quickly tell us when people are struggling to identify their problems, trying to set goals, or trying to move forward in their lives. “


Depression Risk Reduced 70% By This Tasty Food

The food contains flavonoids, which are antioxidants that can reduce inflammation in the body.

The food contains flavonoids, which are antioxidants that can reduce inflammation in the body.

Eating dark chocolate could reduce the risk of depression by 70 percent, research suggests.

Dark chocolate has a high concentration of cacao (above 70%).

Cacao contains flavonoids, which are antioxidants that can reduce inflammation in the body.

Inflammation has been strongly linked to the onset of depression.

Chocolate contains a number of psychoactive ingredients, which can produce a feeling like euphoria.

Chocolate also contains phenylethylamine, which can enhance people’s mood.

Studies find, though, that it is not just about what is in the chocolate.

The sensual pleasure of eating chocolate is central to its effect on mood.

The study included 13,626 adults who were asked about their chocolate consumption and any depressive symptoms, among other things.

The results showed that those who ate dark chocolate had a 70 percent lower chance of depression.

Those eating the most chocolate, of any kind, were less likely to report being depressed than those who ate no chocolate, the study found.

In contrast, those eating non-dark chocolate did not have a lower risk of depression.

Dr Sarah Jackson, the study’s first author, said:

“This study provides some evidence that consumption of chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, may be associated with reduced odds of clinically relevant depressive symptoms.

However further research is required to clarify the direction of causation — it could be the case that depression causes people to lose their interest in eating chocolate, or there could be other factors that make people both less likely to eat dark chocolate and to be depressed.

Should a causal relationship demonstrating a protective effect of chocolate consumption on depressive symptoms be established, the biological mechanism needs to be understood to determine the type and amount of chocolate consumption for optimal depression prevention and management.”

The study was published in the journal Depression and Anxiety (Jackson et al., 2019).

Coffee Reduces Depression Risk, Study Suggests

One in 5 US women experience depression during their lifetime.

Caffeinated coffee may reduce depression risk by up to 20 percent.

Drinking caffeinated coffee reduces depression risk, research finds.

The more caffeine women in the study drank, the lower their chances of becoming depressed.

Drinking two to three cups of coffee a day was linked to a 15 percent reduction in depression risk.

Those drinking four or more cups per day had a 20 percent reduced risk.

Other studies in men have also suggested that caffeine intake is linked to lower depression.

Coffee reduces depression study

The conclusions come from a study that followed 50,739 US nurses.

They were tracked for 10 years and none were depressed at the start of the study.

Over the study’s duration, their intake of caffeinated drinks was tracked.

This included caffeinated soft drinks as well as non-herbal tea and coffee.

The study’s authors explain the results:

“In this large prospective cohort of older women free of clinical depression or severe depressive symptoms at baseline, risk of depression decreased in a dose-dependent manner with increasing consumption of caffeinated coffee.”

However, due to the nature of the study it:

“…cannot prove that caffeine or caffeinated coffee reduces the risk of depression but only suggests the possibility of such a protective effect.”

Decaffeinated coffee was not linked to any reduction in risk.

The study was published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine (Lucas et al., 2011).

Psilocybin Helps Depressed People Feel Positive Emotions

After taking psilocybin, depressed people experienced feelings of unity, transcendence of space and time and a loss of boundaries.

After taking psilocybin, depressed people experienced feelings of unity, transcendence of space and time and a loss of boundaries.

Psilocybin – the active part of magic mushrooms — can help reduce depression symptoms and reawaken the emotions, research finds.

The stronger the ‘mystical experience’, the more the hallucinogenic drug helped.

People whose depression was most improved reported a more mystical experience, including feelings of unity and transcendence.

Although antidepressants like Prozac can often help those who are depressed, they reduce both positive and negative emotions.

Psilocybin therapy, though, may revive brain activity and help people reconnect with their emotions.

Dr Leor Roseman, the study’s first author, said:

“Our findings are important as they reveal biological changes after psilocybin therapy and, more specifically, they suggest that increased emotional processing is crucial for the treatment to work.”

Psilocybin and positive emotions study

The conclusions come from a small trial on 20 depressed people.

All stopped taking their antidepressants for two weeks and were given two doses of psilocybin under controlled conditions in the lab.

Afterwards, patients reported feeling emotionally re-connected.

Brain scans revealed that their response to emotional faces after taking psilocybin was increased.

Dr Roseman said:

“Having a healthy control group in future studies should be helpful in answering some of these questions.

We also want to investigate how the amygdala responds a longer time after treatment, which will inform us about longer term effects – compared to the current study, which was only looked at one day after the therapy.”

Feelings of unity

The researchers also looked at patients’ feelings about taking the hallucinogen.

Those who found it helped most reported a more ‘mystical experience’.

They were more likely to experience feelings of unity, transcending space and time, and a loss of boundaries.

The next stage for the researchers is to directly compare psilocybin with antidepressants.

The studies were published in the journals Neuropharmacology   and Frontiers in Pharmacology (Roseman et al., 2017; Roseman et al., 2018).