Depression affects 9 per cent of adults in Singapore, according to the Ministry of Health. During trying economic times, when the stressors are out in full force – debt, joblessness, divorce – even more may be suffering in silence. Use these tactics to perk you up the moment things start to go down.
It’s not just the price that gets you down: University of Helsinki scientists in Finland recently found long-term smokers – especially men – are at higher risk of depression than non-smokers. The good news is, if you quit, your long-term risk returns to that of a non-smoker’s.
The Health Promotion Board’s Quit4life programme offers advice and support through e-mail (HPB_ Quit4Life@hpb.gov.sg). You can also call Quitline (1800-438-2000), a toll-free confidential telephone service that provides smokers and their loved ones with advice on how to kick the habit and how to help someone quit.
Up your protein intake
A protein hit at every meal won’t just improve your torso and build muscle, it also supplies your brain with a mood-enhancing chemical called tryptophan. “Your body converts it into serotonin, the neurotransmitter that regulates sleep, appetite and mood,” says UKbased nutritionist Azmina Govindji. “Red meat, chicken, turkey, fish, dairy, nuts and seeds are good sources.” You could also try a daily 5-Hydroxytryptophan (HTP) supplement (Now 5-HTP, $77.70 for 60 capsules at Nature’s Farm stores), which has tryptophan that’s partially converted to serotonin.
Hang out with your friends regularly
It may not always seem that way, but socialising with friends and family is vital for mental well-being. University of Chicago studies found lonely people become stressed more easily and according to UK’s Royal College of Psychiatrists research, you’re more likely to become depressed if you’re shy or don’t have a close relationship. No matter how much you feel like staying in (again), make the effort. Regular commitments like meeting up to watch the game make it obvious to others if you drop off the radar.
Return to your workout routine
It may not have cheered you up much when you paid the gym membership fee, but exercise is a fast, effective mood-booster. Any form of sweat-breaking will trigger the release of feel-good endorphins, but for the best results, go green.
A recent University of Essex survey in the UK found people who took walks through a shopping centre reported an average 45 per cent increase in self-esteem. For those who strolled through a park, it rose to 71 per cent. And not just because they weren’t dragged into any shoe shops.
“We call it eco-therapy,” says Alison Cobb from UK mental health charity Mind (www.mind.org.uk). “Nearly 94 per cent of people who take part in activities in a green environment say that it lifts their depression.” MacRitchie Reservoir, anybody?