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Food and Diet For Symptoms of Depression

By | Chronic Disease, Diabetes, Mental Health, Nutrition | No Comments

Food and diet changes that help with symptoms of depression

As well as aiding in weight loss, food and diet changes can also have a positive impact on the symptoms of depression.

Depression is one of the most prevalent mental health illnesses throughout the world.

A study published in Psychosomatic Medicine showed that those who change their diet may see a greater improvement in the symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Foods that put you in a good mood!

Various vitamins, fatty acids, minerals and fibre consumed as part of a healthy diet could also impact the brain and help to improve mood.

The following foods and nutrients may play a role in reducing the symptoms of depression:

  • Whole grains
  • Nuts
  • Seafoods
  • Oily fish
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
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Ditch the junk food!

While we have established that a healthy diet can help to improve mood, an unhealthy diet can have the opposite affect.

While it’s okay to have the occasional treat or overindulge sometimes, it’s the long term unhealthy diets that contain lots of foods that are very high in energy (calories) and low on nutrition. Here’s a list of foods to limit:

  • Fried foods
  • Butter
  • Salt
  • Sugary snacks and drinks
  • Take away foods
  • Processed foods and meats
  • White breads, cakes and pastries
donut unhealthy food diets

Don’t forget to exercise too!

It’s well documented that the inclusion of regular exercise into your routine can have a dramatic impact on your mental health. So while you’re eating better, move better too!

Taking small steps on your journey to good health doesn’t have to be daunting – begin with a walk around the block, and gradually increase as your fitness levels do. Exercise releases endorphins, which help keep you happy!

Small dietary changes can make a big difference in how you feel over time.

Not only can they help improve your mood, but they also keep you healthy for many other reasons!

eat more of what makes you happy

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Social Media and your Mental Health

By | General Wellbeing, Lifestyle, Men's Health, Mental Health, Women's Health | No Comments

Social media and your mental health: Mental health is incredibly important to maintain, and there are many sources that say social media could be impacting our mental health in a negative way. Even Facebook has expressed concern that excess use of social media could be detrimental to people’s health. So what is healthy use of social media, and what are the consequences of not sticking to a moderate level of use?

The benefits of social media

Social sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram allow a degree of connectivity that has never been available before. People can keep up to date with friends in other countries, receive information about current events, products and services, and communicate with new people to learn things and express ideas.

For many people, social media allows them to find like-minded people and feel connected to the world around them. It gives them a chance to express their thoughts, opinions and ideas, and even to seek help. Facebook and other sites can be a great place to share exciting news, and to ask for support when needs arise.

It’s not all good news.

Some studies have shown links between the amounts of time spent on social media and negative body image, difficulty sleeping, symptoms of depression, and eating issues. Some people are even partially blaming an increased suicide rate on the prevalence of social media.

Social media can activate the reward centres of the brain, meaning users can become addicted to getting “likes”. It can also lead to envy and unhealthy comparison between users. Online bullying and trolling experienced via social media can be extremely detrimental to mental health, and there is a flood of information online with little way to verify whether it is true or not, causing people to change their world view based on false assumptions.

What can you do to keep social media use healthy?

Social media doesn’t affect everyone in the same way, so you will have to have an honest look at how your use affects you personally. However, there are some key things everyone can do to make sure social media use doesn’t have a negative impact on their mental health

  • Turn off your phone: There is some worrying data emerging about blue light coming from phones and human health. There is little doubt that it can negatively affect your sleep, and checking social media when you should be sleeping is worse. Make a firm cut-off a few hours before bedtime, and stick to it.
  • Be careful of comparison: It has been said that social media is comparing someone else’s highlight reel to your everyday life. Many people only put the absolute highlights for others to see, so social media is not a good baseline for reality. Comparison is the thief of joy, so don’t let it get you down.
  • Communicate with others: Ultimately social media is designed for people to connect together, so use it for its intended purpose! Use your time on social media to communicate with people and groups that are trustworthy and build you up. It’s good to follow current events, but try to add some light-hearted pages that make you laugh to offset too much bad news.
  • Limit your time: It is definitely possible to have too much of a good thing. Find a balance in your life where you are able to be present, instead of constantly getting lost in social media. If you find yourself checking Facebook, Instagram, then back to Facebook, it might be a sign you need a break. If loved ones are telling you that you spend too much time on your phone – listen to them. If you need help regulating your time, there are plenty of apps that can help you track and/or restrict your usage.

Social media can be very positive if it is used in the right way for a limited amount of time. If you feel caught in a spiral, or if you want to talk to someone about your mental health, your GP is a good place to start. The online world can be a great place, but don’t forget to balance that out with plenty of time in the real world as well.

Want more information?

Call (03) 5611 3365 to speak to a friendly patient concierge

or book an appointment here
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Workplace Bullying and Mental Health

By | General Wellbeing, Lifestyle, Men's Health, Mental Health, Women's Health | No Comments

Is Workplace Bullying Affecting Your Mental Health?

Bullying is often discussed in relation to youth, but it’s a problem that can occur at almost any age. When discussing bullying as adults, it’s important to remember that bullying is often made up of small, repetitive incidents that seem insignificant on their own, but over time have a serious and detrimental effect on individuals and the wider workplace.

A report by Beyond Blue found that almost 1 in 2 Australians will experience workplace bullying at some time in their lives. Far from being a small annoyance, bullying can have real effects on people’s mental health. Let’s look at workplace bullying, and how it can have long-reaching consequences for individuals and their companies.

What is Workplace Bullying?

“Heads Up” defines workplace bullying as “repeated and unreasonable behaviour directed towards an employee or group of employees, that creates a risk to health and safety”. Bullying embarrasses, threatens or intimidates the person being bullied. It can happen in person, but can also happen out of sight or online.

The “risk to health and safety” applies when someone’s mental health is at stake, as well as their physical safety. Workplace bullying takes many forms, and it can have a significant effect on the health and wellbeing of the person being bullied, as well as on the culture of the workplace.

There are several types of bullying behaviour that are more common.

Cyberbullying:

 People can be bullied using technology. That might include having messages sent either to the person or about them via various forms, sharing media about a person such as videos or pictures, or posing as that person online.

Social bullying:

 Deliberately leaving someone else out in an attempt to make them feel bad, deliberately excluding someone from a conversation, using social gatherings to say unpleasant things about a person. Bear in mind, that doesn’t mean that everyone should be invited to every social gathering! Bullying occurs when the person is being repeatedly left out with the deliberate intent of making them feel excluded.

Physical bullying:

 Taking or destroying someone’s property or any unwanted touch can be a form of bullying. Physical bullying is starting to cross the line into explicitly illegal behaviour such as assault and theft.

Emotional bullying:

 Ridiculing, intimidating, or putting someone else down repeatedly is emotional bullying.

The Impact of Bullying

Bullying has a different effect on each person. People might feel alone, scared, powerless or miserable. Repetitive bullying can be overwhelming and feel like escape is impossible. Some people get angry, and spend time planning retribution. The effects of being bullied can build up over time, creating a high pressure situation.

Bullying can affect every part of someone’s life, from their relationships, confidence, how they present themselves, and what coping strategies they employ. People who are being bullied are often constantly on the alert to avoid unpleasant situations, which can be mentally exhausting and impact their working life.

Bullying in the workplace can have an effect on the business as well, especially because of lost productivity, absent employees, high turnover and low morale. The combined cost of bullying in Australian workplaces is estimated to be between $6 billion and $36 billion a year.

Putting a Stop to Workplace Bullying

In the past, management have often addressed bullying as an individual issue. However, beyondblue research has found that it is actually environmental factors that drive bullying, such as poor organisational culture and a lack of strong leadership.

Creating an environment that doesn’t allow bullying behaviour to occur is the best way to stop it from escalating. Businesses need to create strong, consistent approaches that do not tolerate bullying behaviour. A positive, respectful work culture goes a long way towards stopping bullying in the workplace.

If bullying does occur, the most important thing that individuals and businesses can do is treat it seriously. Bullying is often made up out of small incidents that seem insignificant on their own, but can build up to make a person miserable. Anyone who is being bullied needs to feel heard and supported. If you are being bullied, make sure you find a trustworthy person to talk to. Workplace bullying is a serious issue, and the impact on mental health should not be taken lightly by anyone involved.

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How to Combat Seasonal Affective Disorder

By | General Wellbeing, Lifestyle, Men's Health, Mental Health, Women's Health | No Comments

Beating the Winter Blues

If you notice yourself getting down when temperatures start to drop, you could suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. It’s more than just feeling a bit gloomy – SAD is a recognised condition with millions of people experiencing symptoms at winter time. Thankfully, there are some easy steps you can take to stop the change in season from affecting your mood.

SAD Symptoms

SAD symptoms commonly mimic symptoms of depression. Feelings of hopelessness, a lack of energy, changes in eating and sleeping patterns, and a change in activity levels or making the time and effort to do the things you usually enjoy are all signs of Seasonal Affective Disorder. However, what might make it SAD is the timing – Especially if symptoms occur during the winter months, when the days and nights are cold, there is a lack of sunshine and warmth, and days are spent inside out of the elements.

According to Beyond Blue, sunlight affects our hormones, but some people are more susceptible than others. Lack of sunlight can mean our bodies produce less melatonin, the hormone that tells your body it’s time for sleep. Less sun could also mean less serotonin, a hormone that affects mood, appetite and sleep. Finally, sunlight affects our body’s internal clock (circadian rhythm) – so lower sunlight levels during the winter can throw off your body clock.

SAD Treatments and Tips

Follow the Light

Researchers have demonstrated a clear link between reduced light exposure and a drop in mental health for many people during the winter months. As the days get shorter but work hours remain the same, it can be hard for people to get enough natural light into their day. This is turn affects mood, sleep habits and can have other side effects like poor vitamin D levels.

If SAD is getting you down, you might have to think of creative ways to get more light into your day. If you can choose to sit next to a window at work, that could help you get that light ix throughout the day. Spending your lunch hour outside whenever possible is another great way to get some light. For those who can’t make it outside, light boxes can help. Setting up a bright station and spending time there daily can help life your mood.

Get Active

SAD can leave you feeling lethargic and unmotivated, but try to push through and get some movement into your day. Exercise is generally recommended to help combat depression, but has some benefits that specifically relate to SAD. If your exercise takes place outside or in front of a light box it can help you get some extra light into your day, and it can work to reduce the effects of the carbohydrates often craved by people experiencing SAD. Often the cold is a reason for people to stay inside, but some light exercise can have you warm again in no time. It doesn’t have to be long or strenuous – a walk outside during your lunch break might be enough to help you feel better.

Watch Your Food

Craving carbohydrate-rich food is a recognised symptom of SAD, and it can lead to a downwards shift in your mood, not to mention the physical effects and potential weight gain. If you’re tempted to fill your plate with comforting carbs, try to look for other solutions. Protein-rich meals will keep you feeling fuller for longer. Try swapping an omelette instead of cereal, and a chicken salad instead of a chicken sandwich. Fruit can help meet your cravings for sweet, but are also full of fibre and nutrients.

Sleep Soundly

How you sleep has a massive effect on your mood, and SAD can send your sleep patterns into a downwards spiral. Napping through the day, feeling lethargic and missing the usual light cues that help your brain wake up can disturb your sleep patterns. Try to help your body’s natural processes along. When you wake up, aim for bright lights and lots of activity. Instead of letting the lethargy glue you to the couch, try to fight it with activity. Then when sleep time comes around, low lights (especially minimising bright screens at least an hour before bed), and a warm, comfortable environment can help you drift off and sleep soundly.

If you are finding symptoms hard to shake off, if SAD is significantly affecting your life or if making basic changes doesn’t seem to be having an effect, it’s a good idea to discuss your symptoms with your GP. For most people, however, it won’t take much to boost your mood. You don’t have to succumb to the winter blues – a few basic changes should have you back to normal in no time.

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