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Beating the Blues Depression Signs and Solutions

Depression is quickly becoming one of the biggest health problems in the world. According to a study by USA Magazine, 75% of doctor visits in the US are for stress and depression related illnesses. Clinical depression is Australia's fastest growing illness. How do you know if you are depressed? The National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing found that one in four women and one in six men suffered from depression. In 20 years, depression will be second only to heart disease as the nation's biggest health problem. Chances are, you may be suffering from stress and anxiety, even depression.

Here are some of the warning signs. WORK STRESS. Fear of going to work. Conflict with co workers.

Errors or loss of concentration. Absenteeism or being physically there, but doing little work. Unusual or unacceptable behaviour. Aggression or hostility.

Accidents or near misses. Trouble with customers. Feeling unable to cope with constant work demands. Working more slowly or making more mistakes.

Poor time management. GENERAL STRESS. Disturbed sleep. Lack of energy or motivation. Feelings of helplessness or hopelessness. Physical aches and pains.

Poor concentration, memory or being easily distracted. Feeling that life is not worth living. Loss of interest in sex. Difficulties with home life and routine daily activities. Feeling easily tired. Withdrawal from social activities.

Suicidal tendencies. Sadness, worthlessness. Frequent moaning, groaning and sighing. SO WHAT CAN YOU DO? As Richard Bach in "Illusion", so eloquently put it: "What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the Master calls a butterfly." There is much you can do to reduce you stress levels {regardless of whether external stressors change}. Here are 6 of the best.

EXERCISE. There is growing evidence that exercise, and in particular strength training, should be provided as a first line therapy for depression, according to exercise therapist Chris Tzar. "In the coming years, medical practitioners may find themselves prescribing exercise and healthy eating habits as frequently as drugs," he says. MEDITATION.

Take time out to be quiet and attend to personal needs. Meditation is a way many people do this. It is easily learned and takes care of the need to unwind. After meditating, a few minutes rest should be taken before resuming other activities. YOGA, PILATES OR TAI CHI. All 3 activities include movements to reduce your stress levels.

They can also benefit your fitness, balance, strength and flexibility. Why not join a class today? Don't worry, they have beginners' classes and cater for all age groups. DIET AND NUTRITION.

Healthy eating is an important factor in beating the blues. Foods containing omega 3 fatty acids, particularly fish oils, can reduce stress. Increased intake of the minerals magnesium, zinc and selenium may help. B group vitamins are very important, particularly if you live or work in a highly stressful situation. An important benefit with these nutrients is that they can increase the level of serotonin [the feel good hormone] in the brain.

QUALITY SLEEP. High levels of stress can make you restless and lead to disturbed sleep. You need a minimum of 6 hours sleep per night to function effectively.

Lavender oil and chamomile tea can be effective sleep inducers. PETS. Have you noticed how you feel "at ease" when in the company of your pet? Do you have a warm feeling when you see or stroke a puppy or kitten? Pets can have an extraordinarily positive effect on our feelings and emotions and a growing body of research has indicated their benefits to our health.

Owning a pet has been associated with a reduced risk of heart disease and cancer as well as a reduction in symptoms of stress, depression and anxiety. According to cancer specialist Dr Bernie Siegel, our body chemistry changes when we are in the company of pets. "Levels of the stress hormone cortisol go down, immune function improves and perhaps more significantly, serotonin levels increase". he says. OTHER STRATEGIES. Some of the best ways of dealing with stress and depression are often the simplest.

Spending time with nature {such as a park or beach},spending time with friends, smiling, being happy, laughing, having fun and looking for the positive aspects of life, are just a few simple examples. Being grateful for just being alive is another. Yesterday, my wife Ros attended the funeral of a close friend who died of cancer. She was 49. Finally, learning to say no, simplifying your life and reducing your commitments, may be very helpful too.

It may be time to nurture "you" rather than always trying to please others. Hannah Arendt summarized this point of view with: "Dedicate yourself to the good you deserve and desire for yourself. Give yourself peace of mind.

You deserve to be happy. You deserve delight.".

Graeme Lanham is the author of a popular new E book, "Your Life Fitness". It covers all aspects of health and fitness for busy and active people and includes a comprehensive coverage of depression, stress and anxiety. Please visit his web page at: and receive 2 special FREE bonuses.

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