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Death by Depression
Photo: Dmitriy Yakovlev
For years we’ve heard how smoking can lead to all kinds of ailments and even death. Now, a new study claims that depression raises your risk of death exactly the same amount that smoking does.1 Researchers from the University of Bergen in Norway and King's College in London found that the risk of death due to depression was unquestionably equivalent to the risk of death from smoking. Some of the reasons could be that depressed people are less physically active, fail to seek help, or fail to receive the right kind of help when they do seek it.

Psychologist Jeffrey Rossman, Ph.D. says, “Depression is a huge risk factor for heart disease.” Yet he’s quick to add, “but it's both preventable and very treatable.” He shares three important things we can do to prevent depression.

Preventative Suggestions

1. Stay actively involved with relationships, activities, and work that are satisfying to you
2. Engage in at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise at least five days a week
3. Eat a healthy diet, filled with whole foods rather than packaged foods, and avoid excessive alcohol consumption

Pretty simple suggestions, aren’t they? And things we can all easily do. But if you feel that depression has already begun to creep into your life, he offers these two suggestions.

Healing Suggestions

1. Seek professional help if you feel that you’re seriously depressed. Depression is a medical condition; don’t tell yourself that it’s all in your head. “Speak with your doctor or a therapist to determine the best approach to improving your mood now and preventing further depression in the future,” says Rossman.

2. Don’t ignore a persistent low mood. “Often, making changes in just one or two areas of your life—for instance, by boosting your daily activity level—is enough to significantly improve your mood and avert a real, sustained depression,” Rossman says. “I recommend working with a psychotherapist to help you overcome mild to moderate depression and develop skills for long-term happiness and success.”

If you feel a family member or friend is depressed, Rossman encourages you to take action. “Reach out and let your loved one know you care about her,” says Rossman. “Ask her to seek help from a professional, be it her doctor or a psychotherapist (psychiatrist, psychologist, licensed social worker, or mental-health counselor). Let her know that help is available and that if she's willing to work at it, she can get better.”

It’s encouraging to know that depression is both preventable as well as treatable—if action is taken. We have to follow the preventative measures and/or seek help until we find someone who will listen and offer the correct diagnosis and treatment. It would be a waste to die from a disease that can be treated with healthy living and the correct psychological and medical attention.

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By Nancy Canwell. Copyright © 2010 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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