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6 Ways to Combat Depression

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6 Ways to Combat Depression

By Stephen Ilardi, PhD, Experience Life

According to the latest research, about one in four Americans — more than 70 million people — will meet the criteria for major depression at some point in their lives. The rate of depression in industrialized societies has been on the rise for decades — it’s roughly 10 times higher today than it was just two generations ago.

How can you make sense of the fact that even though antidepressant use has skyrocketed in recent years, the rate of depression in the United States hasn’t declined, but rather increased?

As a clinical psychologist, I believe the answer is rooted in our way of life. I say this because researchers have assessed modern-day hunter-gatherer bands — such as the Kaluli people of the New Guinea highlands — for the presence of mental illness, and they found that clinical depression is almost completely nonexistent among such groups.

Despite being much more likely to experience tragic events like the death of a child or a crippling illness, and living with none of the material comforts or medical advances we take for granted, they’re largely immune to the plague of depressive illness.

But how are hunter-gatherers able to weather life’s storms so effectively? Based on the available research, it seems that the hunter-gatherer lifestyle is profoundly antidepressant. As they go about their daily lives, they naturally wind up doing things that keep them from getting depressed, things that change the brain more powerfully than any medication.

My colleagues and I at the University of Kansas have developed a treatment called “Therapeutic Lifestyle Change,” or TLC. It incorporates six major protective lifestyle elements we need to reclaim from our ancestors: dietary omega-3 fatty acids, mentally engaging activity, physical exercise, sunlight exposure, social support and adequate sleep.

Next: Feed Your Brain

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Read more: Depression, Health, Mental Wellness, Natural Remedies, Self-Help

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Megan, selected from Experience Life

Experience Life magazine is an award-winning health and fitness publication that aims to empower people to live their best, most authentic lives, and challenges the conventions of hype, gimmicks and superficiality in favor of a discerning, whole-person perspective. Visit experiencelife.com to learn more and to sign up for the Experience Life newsletter, or to subscribe to the print or digital version.

564 comments

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5:24AM PDT on Jul 26, 2014

thanks

4:53PM PDT on May 1, 2013

Thanks!

4:53PM PDT on May 1, 2013

Thanks!

6:48AM PST on Mar 1, 2013

thanks. I am on Paxel. it helps a lot (only 10 mg a day!)

8:06AM PST on Feb 22, 2013

:(

4:40AM PST on Feb 20, 2013

Great tips. I had an episode of depression this winter and went on Zoloft and I am doing really well. I still take it to sleep.

10:56AM PST on Jan 14, 2013

And to the persons commenting before me, if you want to get well, you have to stop with the negative thinking. I know that when you're having your dark hours, your brain goes against you, and it's impossible to think positive, but when that darkness lifts, then you can work on getting well. And you have to stop waiting for someone to help you, and start helping yourself! These six advices is the way to go!

10:33AM PST on Jan 14, 2013

This is really helpfull, thanks!!! I've always thought that depression have a connection with our modern way of life, this finally proves it for me! And I know from my own experience that all of these things helps. Now I'm on my way to be completely free from horrible depression!

7:18PM PST on Jan 1, 2013

Emily, I agree 100% with you too!

7:16PM PST on Jan 1, 2013

Kit, I saw your post after adding mine, but you are so right about everything you said! That's what I go through when I'm in depression mode, myself and it's sheer hell! It's like you CAN'T just pull yourself out of it! My brain just doesn't have the energy to even THINK, let alone act! It's like a paralysis of the brain! I can't even TALK straight! I just want to hibernate like the bears do for 2 months! It's horrible!!!

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