According to CAMH (Canadian Association for Mental Health), 1 in 5 Canadians experience a mental health or addiction problem and is the leading cause of disability in Canada. It is thought that roughly 8% of the population will experience a major depressive episode at some point in their lives. And this number doesn't account for the people who may have dysthymia, chronic low mood that often goes undiagnosed. So when we contemplate, why is everyone so happy, and I'm not? Chances are you are not alone, as the spectrum of mental illness affects more people than you think.
How can you start feeling happier?
Whether you are taking medication, or seeking a natural solution to boost mood, there are things you can do today to help you lift depression. While every case is different and unique, there are universal basics that I recommend for everyone. Once you get started on the basics, you can consult a naturopathic doctor for more targeted treatments with natural supplements, botanicals or acupuncture to support a healthy mood.
Mood Basics #1: Drink water and eat “happy mood food”.
Your body and brain need to receive the appropriate fuel to function optimally. Drink 1-2 litres of water and eat whole grains, lots of fruits and veggies, nuts and seeds, and fresh fish. I like to call these ‘happy mood foods’ since they fuel the brain and have mood-enhancing actions. There are plenty more to choose from, but start here and you’ll be on your way.
Mood Basics #2: Take a fish oil supplement and vitamin D
There is abundant research showing that a daily fish oil supplement containing appropriate levels of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) can improve and maintain a positive mood. If you are vegan, consider flax oil (while not as potent, it is better than not using a healthy oil at all). Taking a daily active vitamin D3 supplement is another good addition. It acts like a hormone in your body that research has shown can boost mood.
Mood Basics #3: Step away from the TV and get moving and interacting every day.
I recognize that this step might be a challenge. Motivation is often difficult with depression and low mood. But moving your body is a potent antidepressant and can include walking, tai chi, swimming or yoga. Get up and do something physical for 30 minutes. As well, people who are happier tend to spend less time in front of the TV and more time connecting with others – visit a family member, have coffee with a friend, take your dog to the social dog park or attend church. Human connection is powerful and healing.
I hope that these few mood basics can get you on your way to feeling better. There is hope in lifting depression and being happier, because you deserve to feel like your best self.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.