What are the effective ways to decrease depression among our youth?
- Improve physical health
There is a connection between mental and physical health. Failure to take care of physical health can worsen depression. Practices such as lack of enough sleep, poor diet, and inactivity worsen depression. The problem is that youths are good at these practices. They don’t care about what they eat. Most of the time youths are taking junk food. They get inadequate sleep. This is considering the many hours they spend on phones or other gadgets. They don’t engage in physical activities. To reduce depression, we must combat these behaviors. Youths must adopt a healthy living style. This can be achieved by;
2. Being physically active
First, youths need to be physically active. This is important for good mental health. Studies show that exercise is effective in preventing and reducing depression. Some studies even show that exercises can be as good as antidepressants in treating depression. Walking for about an hour or running for 15 minutes daily reduces the risk of depression. They also help in relieving depression symptoms.
How does exercise fight depression?
When you exercise, you promote several changes in your brain. These changes promote the feeling of calmness. Exercise triggers the brain to release feel-good chemicals. Also, exercises distract from negative thoughts that can lead to depression among youths.
Several factors can hinder youths from exercising. First, the feeling of being exhausted makes exercise feel even more exhausting. Second, feeling overwhelmed can deter youths from exercising. Third, hopelessness can demotivate one from being active. Fourth, youths who feel bad about themselves may not engage in physical exercises.
Youths must overcome these barriers to exercise to reduce the risk of depression. This can be achieved by; first, starting small. Youths should start by setting achievable goals. Setting huge goals at first can increase the risk of depression. An achievable goal may include working out for 15 minutes daily. You can build the goals from here. Second, youths should consider working out when energy is highest. This may be early in the morning, evening, or weekends. Third, engage in physical activities that you love.
- Eat a healthy diet
Taking unhealthy foods such as sugary snacks can worsen symptoms of depression. It makes one feel tired and sluggish increasing the risk of depression. Youths should stop unhealthy eating. Think about whole grains, vegetables, and fruits.
- Have adequate sleep
Lack of enough sleep increases the risk of depression. Youths should ensure that they get enough sleep. This should be about 8 hours of quality sleep.
- Avoid the use of drugs
Youths are tempted to take drugs when stressed. Unfortunately, drug abuse including drinking alcohol increases the risk of depression.
3. Have strong support systems
Youths must build strong support systems to prevent and reduce depression. Parents are good support systems. Parents have a lot to offer to youths. Studies show that youths with a strong relationship with parents have minimal or no depression symptoms. This is compared to youths with less parental support.
Peers can also be support systems. But only peer relationships can help prevent depression. Studies show that having positive friendships reduces the risk of anxiety, stress, and depression. Negative friendships worsen depression.
Youths can use support systems when they face challenges. This means that they should talk to parents, friends, or trusted adults. Opening up about what we are feeling is the first step to preventing depression. By talking to someone you will realize people love and care about you. You just need to speak out and someone will be listening. This is one of the best remedies for depression.
When talking with youths, adults or friends should; first, be gentle and respectful. Just show the willingness to listen. Second, acknowledge their feelings of sadness or frustrations. If you try to show that the feelings are unreasonable, you may worsen depression. Third, avoid criticizing youths once they start talking. Just listen and show them that you are there just for them.
4. Reduce the use of social media
Increased use of social media can lead to depression. Youths spend the most time on social media and less time connecting offline. This is associated with increased symptoms of depression. This is because online connections are less satisfying. This leaves youths feeling isolated.
Social media exposes youths to biased perspectives of what a youth should be like. Then, they start comparing themselves to that. The result is frustration that can lead to depression.
Also, there is a lot of bullying on social media. So, when youths spend a lot of time on social media, they are more likely to be bullied. When one is bullied, they develop feelings of frustration, anger, and low self-esteem. This increases the risk of depression.
So, youths should have control over their use of social media. They should limit the amount of time they spend on social media. They should avoid negativity in social media. Youths should realize that social media content is not always true. Most of the time, social media does not reflect reality.
5. Seek professional help
Seeking help may seem improper for youths. But is an effective way of reducing and preventing depression. Counselors are trained in dealing with mental health problems. They know how best to deal with depression. So, youths should not be afraid of therapy. Again, you can seek counseling whenever you have negative thoughts. You don’t necessarily need to have depression to seek help. Counselors are always ready to help out.