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Maintain Your Brain: How to Get Happy & Stay Happy
Maintain Your Brain: How to Get Happy & Stay Happy

Everyone knows that maintaining physical health requires ongoing care and attention—that’s why we try to exercise, eat healthy and take our medicine on schedule. However, many people don’t realize that our mental health also needs to be maintained.

In particular, those of us who have been diagnosed with depression need ongoing care and attention. If you’re among the nearly 17 percent of U.S. adults who have experienced depression, you should know that you can live a fulfilled and happy life.

Understand that depression is not your fault and is not a sign of weakness. In fact, did you know that researchers have found biological factors associated with depression? Depression is caused by chemical changes in the brain.

Depression is similar to any chronic medical condition that needs to be managed, such as heart disease, high blood pressure or diabetes.

Three Steps to Help Manage Depression
1 Seeking treatment and taking your prescribed medication on an ongoing basis under proper medical supervision (this is by far the most important step).
2 Staying active and exercising regularly.
3 Eating healthy meals and “moodboosting” foods.

What You Need to Know About Anti-Depressant Medication

Depressed Woman

If you experience symptoms of depression (such as feelings of sadness or worthlessness lasting for weeks), seek help from a qualified physician or psychiatrist who can diagnose and treat you.

Be sure to take the medication prescribed to you—and continue taking it under your doctor’s supervision, even after you start feeling better. Don’t make the common mistake of assuming you’re “cured” just because you feel better.

Anti-depressants are not like medication you take for a temporary illness, like the flu. They’re akin to the “maintenance drugs” that we take for our bodies on a long-term basis, like blood pressure-lowering drugs and diabetes medications.

If the side effects from your anti-depressants bother you, you can ask your physician or psychiatrist to switch you to a different medication.

Exercise and Happiness

Did you know that exercise can improve your mood?

That’s right: exercise releases endorphins (your body’s “feelgood” chemicals), and regular exercise can reduce stress, boost self esteem and improve sleep.

Most importantly, research shows that frequent exercise can decrease anxiety and feelings of depression—and can actually be an effective treatment for mild to moderate depression.

Woman Exercising

Meanwhile, exercising helps you stay healthy, active and independent.

Some examples of moderate exercise that you might enjoy include: biking, dancing, gardening, low-impact aerobics, tennis,swimming, walking and yoga. Talk to your doctor about what would be best for you.

Food for Thought
Researchers are continually finding more and more evidence that what we eat affects not just our bodies, but also our minds. Making wise food choices can help with managing your depression.

Mood-Busting Foods
Stay away from foods that can disrupt your energy, blood sugar and mood levels; these include refined flour and sugars, fried foods and red meat.

Mood-Boosting Foods
Additionally, try eating more of these foods that may help boost your mood: salmon, walnuts, sugar beets, tofu, molasses (in moderation) and leafy green vegetables.

In general, try to avoid heavily processed “junk food” and eat more whole foods.

With proper management, you can keep your depression at bay. Remember: healthy eating and exercise can help, but ultimately the key to staying happy is to continue taking your anti-depressants.

To learn more about managing depression, please talk to your doctor. You can also learn more on the Wellness Library page of our website,

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