The Dos And Do Nots Of Depression

The Dos And Do Nots Of Depression

What you should and shouldn't do in managing your depression.
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As a young woman who has struggled with depression for many years, I've discovered many different ways to handle (and NOT handle) depression.

DON'T stay in bed all day.

Depression's favorite thing to do is tempt you to stay in bed all day. Everything feels pointless anyway, right? Wrong.

While there's no shame in taking a personal, lazy day as a break from your busy life once in a while, laying around doing nothing all day only feeds into your depression- even though it's the only thing you want to do. The more time you spend alone with your thoughts, the more depressed you will feel. The unoccupied mind overthinks. Avoid it.

DO surround yourself with friends and family.

Ask your closest family members, friends, or co-workers to go out and do something fun together- even if that's exactly what you DON'T want to do. It will distract your mind, and a change of scenery is always beneficial to the brain.

Call up your best friend and go out to your favorite restaurant together, or to do your favorite activity: shopping, going to the beach, hiking, etc. Force yourself to go out. You'll feel better because of it.

DON'T drink alcohol.

Alcohol is a depressant, meaning that it will only bring you down more.

Turning to alcohol as a way to deal with depression is not only unhealthy physically, mentally, and emotionally, it can also lead to alcoholism, which is an easy way to ruin your life and possibly die.

DO drink water.

The human body is 80% water, so your body needs a lot of it! Drinking a lot of water each day not only keeps you healthy and hydrated, but keeps you feeling good- compared to sugary fruit juices, coffees, and sodas, which can make you feel bloated and overall blah.

DON'T use unhealthy coping mechanisms.

Drinking alcohol is not the only unhealthy coping mechanism people turn to, although it may be one of the most common or obvious. Others may seem harmless, like sleeping much more than usual, or overeating. Eating and sleeping too much or too little are big symptoms of depression. Any sudden changes in your sleeping or eating habits are not a good sign. As long as you continue these habits, you will feel depressed. More extreme unhealthy coping mechanisms include drug use or even suicide attempts.

If you experience any suicidal thoughts or actions, please seek help or call this hotline: 1-800-273-8255.

DO use healthy coping mechanisms.

A very healthy coping mechanism is exercising (but not over exercising!) because it releases "feel good" hormones into the brain, which counteracts the physiological aspect of depression.

If you're a beginner, go for a walk around the block or on a hike with a friend. If you're a go-getter, join a local gym and talk to a physical fitness instructor there. Even though depression makes it seem impossible some days to get out of bed, and even more impossible to be physically active, the adrenaline you get from exercising will make you feel much better.

Another helpful coping mechanism involves finding an outlet for your emotions, whether it be creative: writing, taking pictures, painting, scrapbooking, or otherwise: using a punching bag or a stress ball, will help you release pent-up emotions. Channel your energy creatively. It's fun, productive, and will occupy your mind.

DON'T keep it inside.

If you're suffering from depression, it's easy to feel like you're all alone and that no one understands how you feel. But trust me, you're not alone. The World Health Organization has found that 350 million people worldwide suffer from depression. That's 5% of the global population.

Not to say that your case isn't unique. Everyone feels emotions differently, and everyone deals with them differently. My advice is to confide how you're feeling in a parent, sibling, or other close family member or best friend. The first step to solving any problem is admitting the problem exists. Speaking your feelings aloud helps you accept and work on them.

DO seek help.

Once you have confided in at least one person you trust how you are feeling, the next step may be to seek professional help. Keep in mind this isn't for everyone. But if you're feeling depressed and want to get better, talk to your primary care physician, and if they deem it necessary, they will refer you to a therapist or psychiatrist. (Therapists cannot administer medication; psychiatrists can.)

I'm not saying everyone who is depressed should go get on anti-depressants. But when you talk to your doctor about your symptoms, they will be able to officially diagnose you with depression, or may say that's not what it is at all. Other physical and physiological factors can go into giving you similar symptoms to depression, and your doctor will be able to identify that.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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4 reasons how Drake's New Album May Help Us Fight Mental Illness

Increasing Evidence Points to Music as a Potential Solution to the Mental Health Problem.

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Okay, You caught me!

I am NOT just talking about everybody's favorite actor-turned-rapper— or second, if you've seen Childish Gambino's "This is America" music video. Unfortunately, current research hasn't explored specific genres and artists. However, studies HAVE provided significant evidence in possibilities for music to treat mental health disorders. Now, before you say something that your parents would not be proud of, ask yourself if you can really blame me for wanting to get your attention. This is an urgent matter concerning each one of us. If we all face the truth, we could very well reach one step closer to solving one of society's biggest problems: Mental Health.

The Problem:

As our nation continues to bleed from tragedies like the horrific shooting that shattered the lives of 70 families whose loved ones just wanted to watch the "Dark Knight Rises" during its first hours of release, as well as the traumatic loss of seventeen misfortunate innocents to the complications of mental health disorders in the dear city of Parkland— a city mere hours from our very own community— it's impossible to deny the existence of mental illness. As many of us can already vouch, mental illness is much more common than what most would think: over 19 million adults in America suffer from a mental health disorder. Picture that: a population slightly less than that of Florida is plagued by hopelessness, isolation, and utter despair.

Disease in the form of depression holds millions of people prisoner, as anxieties instill crippling desperation and too many struggles with finding peace. This can be you. It could be your brother, your sister, your mother, your father, your cousin, your aunt, your uncle, your friend, your roommate, your fraternity brother, your sorority sister, your lab partner, or just your classmate that sits in the corner of the lecture hall with a head buried into a notebook that camouflages all emotion.

I hope we— the UCF community— understand the gravity of the problem, but it's clear that some still see mental illness as a disease that affects only a handful of "misfits" who "terrorize" our streets, while the numbers reveal more to the issue. In fact, 1 in 5 Americans suffers from a mental health disorder. The problem is so serious that suicide has risen to become the second-leading cause of death among 20 to 24-year-olds. While many continue to ask for more antidepressants and even the occasional "proper spanking," recent studies indicate increases in occurrence, such as one in depression from 5.9% in 2012 to 8.2% in 2015. So, clearly, none of that is working.

The Evidence:

If we really want to create a world where our children are free from the chains of mental illness, we need to think outside the box. Doctors and scientists won't really talk about this since it's still a growing field of research, but music has strong potential. We don't have any options at the moment, which means we need to change our mindset about music and to continue to explore its medicinal benefits. If you're still skeptical because of the title, then please consider these 4 pieces of solid evidence backed by scientific research:

1. Music has been proven to improve disorders like Parkinson's Disease.

Researchers sponsored by the National Institute of Health— the country's largest research agency— saw an improvement in the daily function of patients with Parkinson's Disease. This makes patients shake uncontrollably, which often prevents them from complete functionality. The disease is caused by a shortage of dopamine— a chemical your neurons, or brain cells, release; since music treats this shortage, there's an obvious ability to increase dopamine levels. As numerous studies connect dopamine shortages to mental illnesses like depression, addiction, and ADHD, someone could possibly use music's proven ability to increase dopamine levels to treat said problems.

2. Listening to the music has the potential to activate your brain's "reward center."

In 2013, Valorie Salimpoor and fellow researchers conducted a study that connected subjects' pleasure towards music to a specific part of the brain. This key structure, the nucleus accumbens, is the body's "reward center," which means all of you have experienced its magical powers. In fact, any time the brain detects a rewarding sensation— drinking ice-cold water after a five-mile run in sunny, humid Florida, eating that Taco Bell chalupa after a long happy hour at Knight's Library, and even consuming recreational drugs— this structure releases more of that fantastic dopamine. So, with further research into specifics, doctors may soon be prescribing your daily dose of tunes for your own health.

3. Listening to Music may be more effective than prescription anti-anxiety medication.

In 2013, Mona Lisa Chanda and Daniel J. Levitin— two accomplished doctors in psychology— reviewed a study wherein patients waiting to undergo surgery were given either anti-anxiety medications or music to listen to. The study took into account cortisol levels, which are used daily by healthcare professionals to gauge patient levels. This "stress hormone" was actually found to be lower in patients who listened to classical music rather those who took the recommended dose of prescription drugs. Sit there and think about that for a second: these patients actually felt more relaxed with something as simple as MUSIC than with chemicals that are made specifically to force patients into relaxation before surgery. Why pop a Xanax when you can just listen to Beethoven?

4. Music may release the chemicals that help you naturally relax and feel love.

Further studies continue to justify music's place in the medical world as results demonstrate increases in substances such as prolactin— a hormone that produces a relaxing sensation— as well as oxytocin— the substance that promotes warmth and happiness during a hug between mother and child. So this study basically showed us that music has the potential to actually make you feel the way you did when Mom or Dad would embrace you with the warmest hug you've ever felt.

The Future:

The evidence I present you with today is ultimately just a collection of individual situations where specific people found specific results. There are a lot of variables when it comes to any research study; therefore, data is never truly certain. We should take these findings as strong suggestions to a possible solution, but we must remember the possibility of failure in our search.

The neurochemistry behind the music and its medicinal properties is just beginning to unfold before the scientific community. In fact, extremely qualified scientists from the National Institute of Health— the organization that basically runs any important medical study in the United States— continue to remind us of the subject's youth with the constant use of "potential" behind any and all of their findings. Therefore, it's our responsibility as a community to look into this— not just that of the scientists at the National Institute of Health.

We're all surrounded by music. It's at the bars. It's in our ears during all-night sessions at the UCF library. It's keeping us awake through East Colonial traffic at 7:00 AM while hordes of students focus on their cell phone screens instead of the paved roads ahead. It's in the shoes we wear, the actions we take, and the words we say. IF YOU'RE READING THIS: it's accessible to you. So, don't be shy, and try to play with your Spotify account, or even just on YouTube, and gauge the power of music. As more and more of us see the light, we can promote the movement and carry on as more research comes out to support us.

Drop the bars, drop those addictive pills that destroy your body slowly, and pick up your headphones and press PLAY.

Just relax, close your eyes, smile, and live.

Cover Image Credit:

@champagnepapi

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The Health Risks of Eating at the Ballpark This Summer

The staggering absence of nutritious options for regular patrons at Citizens Bank Park

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No Phillies fan would say that this past Friday's game was great--- the Milwaukee Brewers blew the Fightin' Phils out of the water at 12-4. I went to the game myself and my dad---a self-proclaimed "Philly Phanatic"--- was begging me to leave after the seventh inning stretch. Needless to say, it was a sorry sight, yet not hardly as appalling as the junk food forced on parishoners at the stadium.

Not only are fans barred from bringing food or drink into the stands, but they are bombarded with the enchanting smells of the fast food sold every five steps in the stadium complex. Usually, these facts wouldn't phase me; but since there is not a single, god-damned green vegetable available for purchase, it really grinds my gears.

Although I have never struggled with any weight problems myself, my father has for as long as I can remember. A light-hearted, hard-working family man, my dad has eaten what commercials and billboards had sold him as the quick, tasty, cheap meal for his time-constrained adult life---and it has left its mark.

He's obese.

His blood pressure is through the roof and he has sleep apnea leaving little respite from his already tiring life. To help, I've been making him the healthier meals his body needs so that time isn't a factor in his choice of food anymore. As of late, he had been sleeping more soundly and even appearing more chipper with his eating the little boxed chicken or fish salads I pack him. So, it goes without saying that I felt pretty helpless as I watched my father chomp on a loaded ball park hot dog and fries--- only to find him hours later awake and watching T.V. groggily in the middle of the night despite his having work that morning.

To prevent what I didn't know as inevitable at the time, I had searched every menu of each stand for a meal nutritious and filling for my father. To my dismay, I came back with nothing. No matter the restaurant, whether it be Chick-fil-a or Chickie's and Pete's, the menus displayed meal options barely enough to count on your right hand while the drink menus read like a short story. Perhaps, then-- I thought to myself--- the popcorn could be better. Unbuttered and lightly-salted popcorn can be a filling, whole-grain, and low-calorie snack but alas, what we purchased was hidden in a box with no nutrition label and tasted heavily of additives (I think I even tasted a bit of hidden sugar, but I can't be sure because the nutritional information is basically impossible to find).

While writing this article, I had scoured the Citizen Bank Park website for nutritional information on the choices offered to patrons. While the Advanced Suite Menu has a bountiful assortment of healthy options for whomever was to order catering in their suite, the regular-paying fans are given basically zilch in terms of nutritional information. Sure, the calories are listed beside the menu options (at least the food items are), but even if one gets a low calorie meal, it's still some form of fried-fiasco bound to leave them hungry and cause them to buy some other "low calorie option"; making them destined to consume the same if not more calories. Of course, especially disciplined patrons could simply not buy another food item, but I think we can all agree no one wants to be hungry on a night when they came out and spent money to have fun.

In a time where the obesity crisis is dealing some serious damage to the health of people from all walks of life and even fast food restaurants are striving to offer healthier options to whomever may stumble through their "golden arches," I think it's absolutely imperative that ball parks, specifically Citizens Bank Park, gets its act together and gives its regular-paying patrons filling and nutritionally beneficial food options; not just for my father's sake, but for other people just like him who are caught in this chaos that is the american diet.

Cover Image Credit:

Shannon Lynn

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