Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders in the United States. In 2015, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, an estimated 6.7 percent of adults experienced at least one depressive episode in the past year.
People who have mild depression can experience the following symptoms:
- Weight gain or loss
- Appetite: Eating more sugar or snack foods and not hungry for a solid meal
- Insomnia: Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
- Fatigue: Mostly from lack of sleep
- Irritability or anger
- Feelings of hopelessness with excessive crying
- Feelings of guilt and despair
- A loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
- A sudden disinterest in socializing
- Difficulties concentrating at work
- Physical aches and pains with seemingly no direct cause
Depression and anxiety disorders are different. People with signs of mild depression can also experience similar symptoms to anxiety such as irritability, nervousness, difficulty concentrating, or sleeping. Depression affects how you feel and causes changes in the body. Depression tends to affect the central nervous system, which is responsible for awareness, thoughts, movements, sensations, and certain behaviors, moods, and memory.
Here are 8 tiny signs of mild depression and moodiness, and how to alleviate them:
1. Get some sunlight to activate Vitamin D in your body
It is recommended to get at least 15 minutes of natural sunlight a day, 4 or more times per week. Sunlight helps the brain release a hormone called serotonin. Serotonin affects mood and social behavior, appetite and digestion, sleep, memory, and intimate desires.
Photo: Andrea Piacquadio/Pexels
2. Take part in physical movement or exercise
Do at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity, 5 times per week. Endorphins get released from the central nervous system and pituitary gland. When released, it inhibits pain signals and increases the feeling of euphoria which can be pleasure, excitement, well-being, or happiness.
3. Drink herbal teas
St. John’s Wort is good for mild to moderate moodiness. Kava Root plant can ease depression and anxiety because of its sedating effect. Also, try chamomile or mint tea.
4. Take supplements
Take Omega 3 fatty acids — DHA and EPA are needed for healthy brain function. Also take B vitamins, especially folic acid and B6, which assist the brain in producing chemicals that affect your mood and other brain functions. Also, minerals such as magnesium, zinc, selenium, and copper help support the nervous system and skeletal muscle system. Amino acids assist in creating proteins, hormones, and neurotransmitters.
5. Find ways to relax
Take a yoga class or meditation with Pranayama (Breath) class. Different breathing techniques soothe the nervous system. You can also get a massage — it is often easier to calm the whole body first, and the mind second.
Get at least 3 Acupuncture treatments. Be sure to let the practitioner know that you are experiencing some depression and it’s affecting your sleep, eating, concentration, and whatever other symptoms you have. You can also listen to soothing sounds or music such as ocean waves.
Spend 15 minutes a day laughing because it releases endorphins into your body just like aerobic exercise. Find your favorite comedy T.V. show or film and spend time laughing. Spend quality time with a very good friend and be sure to talk about the good and positives in your life
7. Do something creative with your hands
Doing something repetitive like knitting or making something with your hands shifts the brain from pain mode to focus mode. It’s a completely different task to the brain. Try baking, cooking, knitting, or crocheting. You can even draw or paint — they now have therapy coloring books for adults. You can also learn how to play a musical instrument.
8. Get your thyroid checked
People who have low levels of the thyroid hormones T3 and T4, Hypothyroidism, often experience the following symptoms:
- Weight gain
- Muscle cramps
- Dry hair and skin
Once the hypothyroidism gets treated, it will usually reduce the depression symptoms of weight gain, irregular menses for women, and fatigue. You can learn to identify the physical signs of depression by asking yourself: “What happens when I’m feeling down or sad? Where do I feel the sadness in my body?” or “What are my top 3 habits when I’m feeling down?”
For example, when you are feeling down, you cry often or spontaneously, eat a lot of ice cream, get very little sleep, and watch more television than usual. Once you recognize your patterns, you will be better prepared to learn how to manage your depression by using some of these 8 tools. This is not meant to replace the advice of your doctor. If you think you have major depression, a feeling of hopelessness that lasts more than 2 weeks. Then talk to your doctor or health care provider for further treatment options.
If you or somebody that you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, there is a way to get help. Call SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or text “HELLO” to 741741 to be connected with the Crisis Text Line.
Tueykay Jew, L.Ac, is a licensed acupuncturist, herbalist, and health, weight loss, and personal development coach.