Poppets, this is the part where I tell you that I am not a doctor or a psychiatrist and that you should not be reading my blog as a subsitute for medical advice.
But I will also say that I know very well what it means to have the blues, not to mention the mean reds, not to mention a growing feeling that your school/workplace is, in fact, the anti-christ. If you are at the anti-christ stage, it is time to see a doctor. But assuming that you're not there yet, let's chat about tips for warding off depression.
The most obvious non-drug ways to prevent depression are nutrition, exercise and gazing at beautiful things, just so long as those beautiful things are not delicious marrieds or other cute people 15 years or more younger than yourself. I am thinking more in terms of the art gallery and Georgian architecture. I live near Edinburgh, so any time I want to look at Georgian architecture, I can take my pick of buses for £1.20 and gaze at classical symmetry all I want.
I found some great anti-depression nutrition foods listed in Redbook (UK, Feb 2009), so here they are:
1. Vitamin C (oranges, kiwis, sweet peppers, broccoli)
2. Omega-3 (salmon, mackerel, sardines, flaxseed)
3. Theanine (green tea or, in smaller amounts, ordinary black tea)
4. B Vitamins, esp. folic acid (leafy greens, wholegrains, seeds, beans, nuts, eggs)
5. L-tryptophan (turkey, chicken, beef, soybeans, cottage cheese)
6. Magnesium (almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, cashews, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds)
7. Vitamin D (oily fish, eggs, cod liver oil, liver)
And of course you get Vitamin D from the sun, so you should get outside into the sun when you can (but wear sunscreen).
From mediaeval times, scholars complained of melancholy and today grad students seem to pop anti-depressants like candy, and it's been suggested to me that it is because we readers-and-writers sit too long in one place for hours at a time. Moving around is a great mood booster, and back when I had a student (i.e. free) membership in a gym, I found that 99% of the time, if I felt lousy on my way into the gym, I felt great coming out.
I leave it up to you what beautiful things you have to gaze at. I got through a very bad time by watching every single episode of Sex and the City because it reminded me of my friends, although I hasten to add that none of my friends behaved like the characters on SATC and that I do not recommend it for young people.* But I also got through it by listening to Gerard Le Norman's Les Plus Belles Chansons over and over again and, alas, by eating a lot of Ben & Jerry's ice-cream, the effects of which my figure has still not recovered. (Woe!)
The Jesuits advise that you read sad things when you're happy and happy things when you're sad, to even you out. I think it works with music, too. Les Plus Belles Chansons is very happy, even "Voici Les Clés", a song about a man who is sending his runaway girlfriend the house-keys in case she decides to come back.
I listened to Les Plus Belles Chansons last night, not because I was depressed but because I was in a musical mood. Meanwhile, I try to walk four miles a day along the sea, which surely must be good for me in all kinds of ways, and I today I ate a menu practically guaranteed to make me euphoric:
Omlette (2 eggs, cheese)
Coffee (only 1.5 cups--apparently more is bad)
125 g deli turkey on 1 slice brown bread
glass 1% Milk
6 more Almonds
(4 Mile Walk)
Roasted Portobella Mushroom
Tin of Salmon mashed up with yogurt on mixed Leafy Greens, Sweet Peppers, red onions, small tomato, 1 oz cheddar cheese chopped into weeny pieces
1 small glass white wine
I don't actually feel euphoric, but I do feel well-fed.
*Two of my husband's friends watched every single episode and claimed that they only did so because they knew I had watched it, and they wanted to know what kind of woman B.A. was marrying. Every time they say this, I get really unseraphic indeed.