Beyond Meds for Mental Health

Exercise, Nutrition, and Sleep.. Oh My!

Exercise Can Reduce Depression Symptoms!

  • Improves quality of sleep

  • Improves self esteem 

  • Endorphins/ feeling of euphoria

    • Endorphins also trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine.

      • For example, the feeling that follows a run or workout is often described as "euphoric." That feeling, known as a "runner's high," can be accompanied by a positive and energizing outlook on life.

  • Reduces stress

  • Improve your stress management skills

  • Helps remove pent up energy which is one trigger for depression symptoms

  • More social interaction

    • Group classes

  • Cope in a healthy way

    • Doing something positive such as exercise to manage depression is a healthy coping strategy. (Archer, 2014)

Why is This Important?

  • Stimulate brain growth

    • An interesting fact about depression and anxiety is that being depressed for a period of time physically alters your neural pathways. The longer you stay in a depressive state, the more hardwired your responses and thought processes become. By exercising, you actually stimulate growth and new connections, meaning it will be easier for you to train your brain to avoid unhealthy thought patterns. (Archer, 2014)

  • NIMA estimates that 16.2 million U.S. adults had at least one major depressive episode in 2016. This represents 6.7% of the U.S. adult population. (Archer, 2014)

  • Currently, only 41% of U.S. adults with a mental disorder received mental health services in the past year   (Archer, 2014)

  • Exercise would at least alleviate symptoms if no health services are available to them



Why is Nutrition Important?

It can help with

Nutrition plays a key role in mental health! Positive correlations can be made between quality of diet and depression or anxiety. Nutrients are needed for regular supply of energy and are the building blocks that maintain the neural structure. Nutrients influence neurotransmissions, mitochondrial integrity, and genetic expression. (Dauncey, 2012)

Disturbances in mental health, such as depression, unhappiness or anxiety, may cause people to eat unhealthy amounts or types of food. Conversely, eating behavior influences mental health. When we eat too much, we feel uncomfortable (socially, we do not want to look "piggish" to others, and, even alone, we prefer not to feel that we are eating "too much" or "more than normal"), and if we happen to be dieting to lose weight we may also feel guilty and anxious. Negative emotions, in their turn, can make us overeat in an attempt to feel better. Certain foods may be comforting or help to alleviate negative moods. If, on the other hand, we eat too little, we may feel irritable, tired or deprived, especially if others around us are eating more and seem to be enjoying their food (Raju, 2017)

Malnutrition contributes widely to the impaired structure and functioning of the brain which results in neuropsychiatric disorders. 

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