Regular physical activity and adequate intake of omega-3 fats are the two interventions I prescribe most often to help prevent and treat depression.
Moderate intensity exercise, such as a daily brisk 30-minute walk, helps prevent depression and is as effective for the treatment of mild to moderate depression as antidepressant medication. Do your walking outdoors and you’ll get the added benefit of connecting with nature. As regards fish oil, most people do not have adequate dietary intake of omega-3 fats.
These essential fats help reduce inflammation, protect brain cells from injury, and enhance mood. The best way to obtain them is by eating cold water fish, such as Alaskan salmon, herring, and black cod at least three times a week, but supplements may also be helpful.
Other general diet and lifestyle changes can help optimize emotional as well as physical health, starting with no smoking — don’t smoke, and if you do, quit; follow my anti-inflammatory diet (www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART02012/anti-inflammatory-diet
); practice healthy means of stress management on a regular basis including breath work, meditation and laughter; be sure to get at least 7 hours of sleep each night; maintain a strong community of family and friends; and limit your time on the Internet — it encourages isolation, and isolation is incompatible with emotional well-being.
--With Marti Lotman
Andrew Weil, M.D., is Founder and Director, Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine at the College of Medicine, University of Arizona, and Director of Integrative Health and Healing, Miraval Resort. He is a pioneer in the field of integrative medicine, which combines conventional medicine with alternative approaches. He received his medical degree from Harvard University. His new book is "True Food: Seasonal, Sustainable, Simple, Pure."SPECIAL: Prayer Changes Your Brain in 4 Astonishing Ways — Find Out How