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What Causes Depression?

Recognize Your Risk Factors

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Controllable Risk Factors
  • Your diet. Food can affect your mood. A diet too low in iron, healthy carbohydrates, and calories can cause symptoms of depression. Eating plenty of calories, whole grain carbohydrates, Omega-3 fatty acids, and iron-rich foods can improve symptoms. Learn how to eat well when dealing with depression.
  • Your activity level. Inactive people tend to have higher stress levels, difficulty sleeping, anxiety, and mood swings. Regular exercise produces “feel good” chemicals in the brain, enhancing the benefits of antidepressant medications, and producing similar results. Learn more about exercising to relieve depression.
  • Your alcohol & drug use. For many, depression and substance abuse are closely connected. Alcohol and illicit drugs can interact with medications, worsen depression and its symptoms, and prevent recovery. If you think you have a problem with drugs or alcohol, seek help.
  • Your sleeping patterns. Changes in your sleeping habits and the quality of your sleep can be closely related to your mood. A lack of sleep can cause many symptoms similar to those of depression. Get tips for better shut-eye.
  • Your medications. Several types of medications can cause depression. If you think your medication may be contributing to your symptoms, talk to your doctor about finding an alternative medication for your condition that doesn't have this negative side effect.
  • Your stress levels. People with uncontrolled, chronic stress are more prone to developing depression. Taking time to relax and relieve stress through exercise, meditation, yoga or other techniques can help.
While lifestyle changes alone cannot treat depression, talk with your health care provider if you think the factors above may be affecting your mood, thoughts and behavior. Every small lifestyle change you can make, in conjunction with the treatment plan laid out by your doctor, can improve your overall health and help enhance the effectiveness of medical interventions.
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About The Author

Nicole Nichols Nicole Nichols
A certified personal trainer and fitness instructor with a bachelor's degree in health education, Nicole loves living a healthy and fit lifestyle and helping others do the same. Nicole was formerly SparkPeople's fitness expert and editor-in-chief, known on the site as "Coach Nicole." Make sure to explore more of her articles and blog posts.

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