Burnaby physician Dr. Ali Ghahary works with many patients suffering from depression and anxiety, conditions that often co-exist together. As many as 4.5 million Canadians aged 18 or older, as well as some younger children, are diagnosed with a mental disorder at least once in their lives, which can have a significant impact on their ability to lead normal and healthy lifestyles – including underperformances at work and school, as well as a steady decline in social interactions.
Some of the common symptoms of depression and anxiety include panic attacks, feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness, loss of interest in once enjoyable activities, disturbances in sleep, changes in appetite and weight loss/gain.
At Brentwood Medical Clinic in Burnaby, British Columbia, Dr. Ghahary works in combination with clinical psychologists and psychiatrists in helping patients come up with appropriate treatment plans specifically designed for them, usually consisting of medications in conjecture with behavioural therapy as well as lifestyle and habit changes. While medication is often successful as a standalone treatment, making some natural changes to one’s daily life is also recommended when dealing with mental health.
First and foremost, setting goals, i.e. ‘What do I want to accomplish with my treatment?’ As depression can often interrupt the structure that you were once used to, discussing any goals you have with your physician, counselor, psychologist or psychiatrist will help pave the path to a successful outcome and help you with your future plans. In addition, goals can also be something small, such as doing the dishes every day or setting your alarm to wake up at a specific time every morning – which is also another key factor when dealing with depression and anxiety, as it can disrupt sleeping patterns. Trying not to take naps and ensuring you don’t surround yourself with any distractions (computers, television) will also help your sleep improve over time.
To boost the brain’s feel-good chemicals known as endorphins, regular exercise is also helpful. Going for 20 to 30 minute walks a few times a week is a great way to alleviate symptoms associated to depression and anxiety. If outdoor activities aren’t your thing, joining a community centre with exercise equipment is another option. If you are one who has difficulty sleeping as mentioned above, there are also several 24-hour gyms in Canada that you may benefit from joining. As long as you are keeping fit somehow.
You may also want to try taking on new responsibilities. Those suffering from depression tend to avoid taking on too much at once, and it often get in the way of school or work, but it is important to remain involved. If you previously worked full-time, think of re-entering the workforce by taking on a part-time job. You could also consider volunteering; helping others will make you feel good about yourself.
When struggling with depression and anxiety, it is also important to avoid thinking negative thoughts. Naturally, we often jump to the worst possible conclusions, but that is especially so in individuals who are depressed. If you constantly tell yourself that you don’t feel good enough, try to change your thinking by listing all of the reasons why you are good enough, and remind yourself of all the things you have accomplished in the past and hope to accomplish in the future.
By making these lifestyle changes and implementing new things, you are altering the dopamine levels in your brain, and in time you will find that you not only feel more energized and focused, but have more pleasure and enjoyment out of life.