Doctors / Education

Find help coping with mild depression

Somewhere between 10 and 15 million American employees suffer from mild to severe depression symptoms each year.  Depression is the most expensive health care problem that American companies deal with.  On average, an employee depression episode costs 5% to 10% more than a heart attack.  Depression causes the greatest number of missed work days among employees, and is responsible for the greatest loss in productivity.

Because depression symptoms usually begin rather mild and become progressively worse over time (unless they’re triggered by a significant emotional event such as a death in the family, in which case depression can set in almost immediately), it makes great sense to help employees start coping with mild depression as soon as symptoms become recognizable.

What are a few depression symptoms?  There are actually dozens of symptoms, and each individual (and each individual episode of depression, as well) is unique.  Here is an abbreviated list of just a few common depression signs:

  • Decreased work quality and/or quantity
  • Apparent changes in attendance habits or engagement
  • Appetite changes
  • Lack of interest in work or outside interests
  • Changes in ability to sleep
  • Excessive or frequent alcohol consumption
  • Frequent or prolonged sadness
  • Lethargy or apathy

If you recognize these types of symptoms in yourself or someone you know, you should take steps to mitigate the impact of mild depression, and hopefully reverse the trend before it becomes any more serious.  Here are a few tips for how to get past mild depression.

  • Avoid depression medications, if at all possible.  They are the subject of scrutiny due to lack of proven benefit.
  • Get lots of sleep.  Every cell in your body needs sleep for effective mitochondrial (energy transfer) function.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol.  Alcohol and depression go hand in hand.
  • Exercise three to five times per week.  Endorphins are a powerful  anti-depressant.
  • Get plenty of sun.  Sunlight has been shown to improve mood.
  • Eat healthy foods.  Avoid processed carbohydrates and starches such as rice, breads, and potatoes (including french fries and potato chips), and avoid sugary foods and drinks at all costs.  The insulin spikes caused by starches and sugars result in mood crashes.
  • Get professional help immediately if you suspect that you are at risk of harming yourself or someone else.

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