depression: part 1

7 Jan

PCOS is often associated with depression. But the fact that we are predisposed to depression for biological reasons does NOT mean that we are doomed to it! It doesn’t even always mean that PCOS sufferers need antidepressants, although I do take them. Today, I want to talk about a good first step toward controlling depression, for almost everybody: exercise.

Obviously, exercise is good for us on a number of levels. Its health benefits are undisputed. But even if you only exercise a little, it can help a lot with depression. You don’t have to be out there sweating up a storm to see this benefit (although you will feel even better if you do!).  Even a walk every morning–no matter whether it’s “brisk,” as all of the health magazines seem to specify, or not–will help. My theory on this is that it’s partly the physical activity; partly the sunshine, if you walk outside; and partly just the feeling of doing something good for yourself.  In my own life, because I have a job and two small children and a dissertation to write, a walk or run in the morning is a great source of solitude and a lovely opportunity to take a break from worrying about other people.

I know that, if you are suffering from depression, this sounds unrealistic. It is also really, really hard to do. And I am the last person to argue that it is enough to make you all better. But it’s a great start, and it’s free and good for you in other ways, too. Here are a few tips to help you get started and stick with it.

* If you can, enlist someone to support you and help you. My husband has prodded me out the door any of a number of mornings just by rolling over and mumbling, “Was that alarm for you? Oh, you’re going running, right?”–which is to say, by reinforcing the expectation that I will, indeed, get up and do it. Even if it’s early, and cold, and I don’t like either of those things.

* Log it. Seeing what you’ve accomplished over a month or two is motivating!

* If you’re an early-morning exerciser, get any gear you need ready the night before. I am terrible at this, but it’s such a nice bonus when I wake up and I have a running-ready outfit waiting for me and my iPod charged. I also try to remind myself that if I want to, I can take a lovely hot shower when I get home–a nice reward on those cold mornings.

* Don’t have a nice neighborhood for running/walking in? Neither do I. I live on a busy street with no sidewalks. So I have scoped out my area and I have a park and a scenic cemetery, each within a 5-minute drive. Driving to walk seems counterintuitive, but if it gets you somewhere nice, it’s worth it. I also run on the track at my university some mornings. Less interesting and less attractive, but easy on the joints. Examine your options–there are probably several choices of walking routes near you.

* Be proud of yourself. Even if you’re just taking a casual amble three times a week, that’s time you’re spending to make yourself better in all kinds of ways! Savor those moments and carve out the time you need to create them.

* Finally–last but not least–if this is out of reach for you because of depression, GET TREATMENT. I will have more to say about this in further posts, but it can’t be said often enough: depression is a disease and it CAN be treated. It’s not always easy, because different things work for different people, but most of us can find effective treatments and get relief.


2 Responses to “depression: part 1”

  1. Jensen May 15, 2010 at 2:11 pm #

    Very good posting. Will you please write a lot more about this topic.


  1. seven steps to help you deal with anxiety « got pcos? - June 29, 2010

    […] getting enough sleep (easier said than done for many of us); getting plenty of exercise (also great for fighting depression); cutting out caffeine; and reducing your intake of sugar and other simple carbs. You will have to […]

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