Depression sucks. There’s no sugar coating it.
For years I suffered from clinical depression.
At one point, it was so bad that I seriously considered driving my car off the Coronado bridge and into the ocean. It’s hard to share that but, it’s where I was.
I’ve lost friends to depressive suicide. I’ve seen mentors and people that I look up to ruined by this horrible dis-ease. I’ve experienced depression in a very real and tangible way.
I know what it’s like to lose hope, to believe that things will never improve, and to wonder whether you will ever escape from the jaws of the so-called “Black Dog”.
But I also know what it’s like to conquer it…
I know how it feels to pull yourself up inch by inch in a silent fight for your life.
I know what it feels like to achieve true and lasting happiness, to overcome the darkness, and create a life that is worth living.
I know what it’s like to escape the feelings of despair and create a life that is filled with laughter, joy, and love.
If you’d pulled me aside 5 years ago at the height of my depression and told me that, by the time I was 30, I would have amazing friends that inspire me, a 7-figure lifestyle business, a beautiful girlfriend, live on the beach in San Diego, CA and an overwhelming sense of joy and gratitude each and every day…
I would have laughed you out of the room and told you to screw off!
But here I am.
And if you or someone that you love is currently suffering from depression, I want you to know that you’re not alone and it can get better. You can create an exceptional life. And you do have a reason to keep on living.
In this guide, I’m going to share the core strategies and tactics that I’ve used in my own life and in the lives of hundreds of clients to help them overcome depression, kick the black dog in the face, and reclaim their happiness naturally.
I’m not offering you any quick fixes or instant miracle cures.
Nothing that I’m about to share with you is easy or instantaneous.
It’s going to require hard work, perseverance, and a willingness to challenge traditional wisdom and the “Better living through chemistry” ideology that pervades our western medical world.
But if you are willing and able to put in the work, take action on what I’m about to share and be patient with results, I promise that you can and will beat your depression once and for all and live the life that you truly deserve.
This is a long read but, it will only get better from here.
What We Are Doing Isn’t Working… And the Numbers Prove It
Before I dive into the exact tactics I used to beat my own depression, I first want to take a look at some startling numbers and statistics.
- More than 350 million people have been diagnosed with depression worldwide (source)
- More than 7% of the U.S. population, a total of more than 16 million people suffer from a depressive episode each year (source)
- 13% of the American population (12 and over) uses some sort of antidepressant (source)
- An American commits suicide every 12.3 minutes
- 30.6% of men will suffer from a period of depression in their life.
- Suicide is the second leading cause of death for individuals ages 44 and under
If depression were looked at by the number of death that it causes, it would be causing mass killings every day in every city in America.
Depression is on the rise and it isn’t slowing down anytime soon.
But what are we doing about it? Why is it that depression seems to be getting worse even though more people are taking antidepressants than ever before in human history?
Simply put, depression is a money-making machine.
The Drugs Keeps Coming, But the People Keep Getting Sicker!
Suicide rates have not slumped under the onslaught of antidepressants, mood-stabilizers, anxiolytic and anti-psychotic drugs; the jump in suicide rates suggests that the opposite is true. In some cases, suicide risk skyrockets once treatment begins (the patient may feel not only penalized for a justifiable reaction, but permanently stigmatized as malfunctioning). Studies show that self-loathing sharply decreases only in the course of cognitive-behavioral treatment.” ~Antonella Gambotto-Burke,
In the Western world, we have a very single sided approach to combatting depression.
Prescribe more pills.
Lots and lots and lots of pills…
In the statistics above, you probably noticed that, even though more than 13% of the U.S. population is on some sort of antidepressant, the rates of depression are continuing to rise.
So clearly, something is wrong here. The traditional form of treating depression through the antidepressant SSRI or Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors doesn’t work.
Rather, they don’t work in the long run and here’s why.
According to many studies, there is no conclusive evidence to suggest that SSRIs are the best way to combat depression and, according to some research, they may actually increase your risk of long-term depression!
Oh, and let’s not forget all of the possible side effects that come with long-term SSRI usage. (courtesy of WebMD)
- Increased appetite and weight gain
- Loss of sexual desire and other sexual problems, such as erectile dysfunction and decreased orgasm
- Fatigue and drowsiness
- Dry mouth
- Blurred vision
- And suicide… wtf?
That’s right… The pills that you are being prescribed to fight depression have actually been linked to suicidal tendencies!
So if these forms of treatment are so ineffective, then why are they so popular?
Simple… They are very good at masking the symptoms of depression without treating the root cause.
This means BIG profits for big pharma!
If 13% (or more) of the population needs to use a pill for the rest of their life in order to be a functioning member of society, why would any pharmaceutical company sit down at their annual shareholders meeting and discuss how they are going to start providing a holistic and permanent solution to their cash cow pills?
Anti-depressants are a $15 BILLION per year industry! Now why in the world would they want to lose out on all of that profit by actually helping people find a natural cure?
They wouldn’t and they won’t because it is not in their best interest to do so.
“Be angry with pharmaceutical companies for allowing us to believe living the above life can be treated with drugs. Correctly prescribed drugs kill thousands of people per year. The flu kills just about no one. The vaccine never works.” ~Dr Jack Wolfson
So, is all of this to say that you should never take antidepressants?
In some cases, there are individuals who genuinely need this type of medication to get out of the darkness and get to a point where they can do the uncomfortable internal and lifestyle work that is required to beat depression permanently.
But anti-depressants for most should never be your first resort or your perceived cure-all.
Anti-depressants are a temporary solution to a very permanent problem unless treated naturally.
Relying on antidepressants to eradicate your depression is like having your leg blown off and then constantly wrapping it in more gauze instead of closing up the wound and getting surgery.
It might keep you going for a little while, but eventually, you will be forced to either confront the real problem or die.
What I’m going to offer you today is a natural solution to the problem of depression.
Make no mistake – this isn’t a quick fix.
It isn’t going to change your life in a day, week, or month. It will take consistent practice and effort. It will require that you make very big changes in your lifestyle and habits.
But if you are willing to follow through on what I’m about to share with you, I promise that your depression will get better (if not disappear entirely).
These are the tactics that I used to escape the darkness and build a life I’m happy to wake up to every day. They’ve worked for hundreds of thousands of other people, and there’s an overwhelming amount of peer-reviewed research (which I’ll be sharing throughout this guide) to prove the efficacy of these tactics.
So, if you are willing to take an unconventional approach to curing your depression, the information I’m about to share with you can and will make things better.
But you must take action and trust in the process.
Can you do that?
Now let’s dive in.
Reframing and Understanding Depression for What it Actually Is
Before we can dive into the core mechanics and specific tactics to combat depression, it’s important that we are all working from the same strategy and framework for beating depression.
And this starts by accepting a simple fact…
Depression is a natural part of life.
Being depressed doesn’t make you weird or mentally unstable or broken.
It means that you are a normal, functioning member of society. Depression is simply a signal to your brain that something is amiss and that you need to take action to rectify the situation.
Nearly every person in the world will suffer from some form of depression at some point in their lives and this is okay.
Whether this depression is caused by a breakup, death, job loss, or chemical imbalance is irrelevant. This is a problem that we all face and, only by accepting the prevalence and normalcy of this problem can we take the action required to fix it.
And this is where we get to our core strategy.
Depression is nothing more than a signal. The same way that your “Check Engine” light on your car is a signal that something isn’t working properly and needs attention.
So instead of seeing depression as this negative thing, we need to realize that depression is actually there to serve us. It’s a sign that something in our lives isn’t working and that we need to take action to remedy the situation.
How do we do this?
You eliminate depression by creating an environment, physically, mentally, and emotionally where depression cannot exist.
When you strip away all of the root causes of depression, it slowly fades away.
So that’s what our goal is and that’s what I’m about to show you how to do.
Let’s get started.
15 Tactics for Beating Depression Naturally without Breaking the Bank
1. Sleep Like a Baby without the Guilt
Sleep is the best meditation ~Dalai Lama
According to Medical Daily, 40.6 million Americans, more than 30% of the workforce, are chronically sleep deprived.
Now, at first glance, this statistic probably doesn’t seem all that significant.
But when you consider that sleep deprivation has been strongly linked to
- Impaired Cognition and an Increased Risk of Preventable Accidents
- Not to mention, an increased risk of infections, cancer, and overall mortality.
You begin to realize that sleep deprivation is no joking matter.
In his book, 12 Rules for Life, Dr. Jordan Peterson, acclaimed psychologist and YouTube’s quintessential father figure stated that one of the first things he will do with any patient who is suffering from depression is to convince them to get more high-quality sleep and begin waking up at the same time every day.
And when you consider the positive effects of sufficient sleep, it’s easy to see why.
- Improved memory
- Lower systemic inflammation
- Improved immune function
- Elevated mood
- Learning and problem-solving abilities improved
So how much sleep is enough to help battle depression? And how can you improve the quality of your sleep to maximize the benefits that you gain?
Well, according to the National Sleep Foundation, adults need 7-9 hours in order to prevent the effects of sleep deprivation from affecting your life and mood.
As for increasing the quality of your sleep, it’s actually pretty simple.
- Go to bed before 11 p.m.
- Wake up at the same time each day
- Sleep in a completely dark and cold room (research shows that 65-67 F is ideal for sleep)
- Exercise daily
- Turn off all electronics 60 minutes before bed.
- Reduce blue light by using amber light bulbs and apps like f.lux on your computer
If you start to take your sleep more seriously, I can promise you that you will feel the effects almost immediately.
When I made a conscious effort to get more sleep and prioritize recovery over #hustling, my performance, mood, and overall well being skyrocketed.
And for those type A individuals in my audience who are concerned that getting 8-9 hours of sleep will impair your ability to be productive and get sh*t done, the research has clearly shown that sufficient amounts of sleep actually allow you to get more done in less time therefore you are more efficient.
In fact, some of the most prolific entrepreneurs and business people I’ve ever interviewed cite sleep as one of the main reasons for their success.
- Podcast Guest, Neil Patel sleeps 9.25 hours a night while running three multi-million dollar businesses.
- Arianna Huffington, Co-founder of the Huffington Post and multimillionaire claims that sleeping 8 hours a night was partially responsible for her success.
- James Altucher, multi-millionaire investor, and hedge fund manager includes “Sleeping 8 Hours” as one of the keys to his financial success
So do yourself, your depression, and your bank account a favor and sleep the morning away like you always wanted to when you were a teenager getting ready for school.
2. Turn your Life into an Epic Adventure
The human brain craves novelty.
According to an article from Life Hacker, there’s an entire region in our midbrain known as the substantia nigra/ventral segmental area of SN/VTA that is effectively the “Novelty Center” of the brain. Researchers Buzneck and Duzel used an “oddball” experiment in which they tested people using fMRI imaging to determine how people’s brains respond to novelty.
What they found was that the SN/VTA was activated when an individual was exposed to completely novel images, images that had never been seen before.
I know this might sound a little too sciencey, but hang in there for a minute and I promise it will make more sense.
We’ve all heard about the neurotransmitter dopamine. Traditional psychology holds that dopamine is the reward chemical in brain meaning that it’s released to reward beneficial or pleasurable behaviors. However, more recent research has shown that dopamine is actually related to our brain’s desire to seek rewards rather than being released as a reward itself.
For example, you get more of a dopamine hit from anticipating sex with a beautiful woman than you do from actually having sex.
Animals studies have shown that novelty and dopamine are inextricably linked and that the brain reacts to novelty by releasing more dopamine which makes us want to go and search for a new reward.
In Layman’s terms, this means that your brain gets excited and releases “feel good” chemicals into your body anytime it is exposed to something new and exciting.
What this means for people suffering from depression is simple.
If you want to make your brain happier, expose it to completely new and novel stimulus.
Studies have shown that increasing the amount of novelty present in your life has tremendous benefits for the secretion of dopamine and serotonin, both of which work to combat depression and anxiety and help regulate and ensure the continued health of your brain.
When I was struggling with depression personally, I found that the more often I stepped out of my comfort zone and tried new hobbies and activities, the better I felt.
Luckily, you don’t have to go too far in order to reap these benefits.
Even things as simple as listening to a new genre of music, watching a new standup comedy (which we will talk about later) or playing a new video game can stimulate the novelty and reward centers of your brain and increase your dopamine and serotonin levels.
Increase the intensity and frequency of novel experiences as you feel comfortable by trying out group activities such as dancing, martial arts, or some sort of creative endeavor like a musical instrument.
The more novelty you can inject into your life, the easier it will be to beat depression once and for all.
3. Tap Into Your Inner Monk and Express Gratitude Daily
When gratitude appears, fear dissapears. ~Tony Robbins
Your brain did not evolve to make you happy. It evolved to make you survive.
Our primal minds are hardwired to focus on the things that we don’t have to encourage innovation, creation, and competition.
After all, when humans first emerged onto the planet, resources were scarce and the competition was fierce. If we didn’t have this inherent desire for more, we would have died out and fallen prey to more aggressive species.
However, we aren’t on the plains of Africa anymore…
We live in a time where resources are more abundant than ever before even with the increasing population (a.k.a competition).
Today, we have an unprecedented opportunity to experience true abundance and happiness if we can find a way to sneak around our evolutionary hardwiring and consciously practice gratitude and an abundance mindset.
You, yes you, have more resources and power at your disposal than some the greatest kings of history.
You have access to more information, better health care, longer life expectancies, and more options that the greatest rulers and tyrants that the world has ever known.
Hell… The device that you are reading this article on has more computing power than the devices that put a man on the moon!
But most of us don’t realize this… We are caught in an endless loop of scarcity thinking about all of the things that we don’t have and the things that we wish we could have.
If you want to beat depression once and for all then you must wrestle your lizard brain into submission by focusing on the abundance and blessings in your life instead of all of the perceived scarcity and lack in your life.
It’s also been shown to improve the quality and quantity of your sleep, increase your odds of career success, and improve the quality of your romantic and platonic relationships.
Gratitude makes an appreciable difference in every area of your life.
And the best part is that it’s easy and free to practice it.
By taking only 5 minutes each morning to write down and internalize all of the things that you are grateful for, you can reframe your struggles and supercharge your psychology.
You will show up in a completely different way when you are focused on everything that is right in your life instead of the things you perceive to be wrong.
Be grateful now.
It might just change your life.
4. Empty Your Mind with a Daily Journal
Your brain is the most important complicated and important organ in the human body.
It’s the command center for everything in your life and every function that your body has.
However, most of us have no idea how to maintain a healthy and optimized brain. We were never taught how to clean and declutter our minds so that they can function at the highest levels.
Journaling is like whispering to oneself and listening at the same time. ~Mina Murray
And as a result, most of us are carrying an endless amount of baggage, confusion, and frustration that is hindering us from living normal and exciting lives.
According to a significant amount of peer-reviewed research, journaling is one of the best ways to declutter your mind, manage stress, and overcome internal struggles.
By regularly journaling about your depression, and about your life in general, you are able to organize and prioritize your thoughts and emotions.
It gives you an opportunity to detach yourself emotionally and analyze your experiences, thoughts, and feelings on a logical level.
It’s kind of like a form of cerebral urination.
If you drink a ton of water over the course of the day and don’t take the time to relieve yourself, your bladder is going to explode and you will experience excruciating pain.
Your brain is the same way.
If you are continually filling your mind with new information, stimulus, and experiences, you will need to empty it occasionally to ensure that it continues to function properly. Unless you take a “Brain dump”, your brain will eventually become so cluttered and frazzled that your mind will explode into a state of stress, disorder, and chaos creating an environment for depression to thrive.
Take 10 to 15 minutes a day and simply write about what you are feeling. You might be amazed by the results and how simple this is.
5. “Gamify” Your Life And Rig It in Your Favor
You’ll often hear personal development gurus telling you that you should “Set goals that are 10X greater than you think you can achieve!”
And this is great advice for someone with high levels of happiness, esteem, and confidence.
But it’s TERRIBLE advice for people who are suffering from depression.
According to the chemical theory of depression, one of the underlying causes of depression is an imbalance of neurotransmitters and chemicals in your brain. Most notably, the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin.
Now, as it relates to goal setting these neurotransmitters are activated and released anytime that you set and achieve a goal, win at a competition, or succeed at a personal or professional endeavor.
However, if you set and fail at a goal, lose at a competition, or screw up at any endeavor, the inverse happens. Your brain actually reduces the number of neurotransmitter receptors that are present and, given enough time, can actually make you much more depressed than you originally were.
This is where gamification comes into play.
When people are depressed, they tend to view their lives in a pessimistic and negative light. They tend to feel lost, hopeless, and purposeless. As such, one of the most powerful ways to reframe their depression is to view life as a game.
When you play games like Angry Birds, Chess, or Tetris, every small win gives you another tiny dopamine hit.
And when you start to introduce these concepts into your life, you will find that it’s much easier to stack these small wins upon one another and achieve a high level of success and happiness over time.
So how do you actually gamify your life in order to help rid yourself of depression? It’s actually quite simple.
The goal here is to make a game out of life by setting small daily goals or “Quests” that you need to achieve. This can be something as grandiose as attending a salsa class and asking that cute girl to dance with you.
Whatever the case may be, your mission is to create and achieve at least one quest each day.
Make it small and make it winnable. Write down your goal at the beginning of the day and keep score on a whiteboard or piece of paper.
The more fun you can have with this, the better. Steve Kamb over at Nerd Fitness did a phenomenal job of using gamification to help his clients reach their health and fitness goals and I’d highly recommend using his Nerd Fitness Academy as a model for your own life.
When you turn your life into a living breathing video game with daily quests, boss battles, and fun adventures, you alleviate some of the stress of daily life and turn your days into a fun and exciting video game that you actually want to play.
6. Work with a Professional Coach To Get Faster Results in Half the Time
One of the biggest life hacks for escaping depression and living an amazing life is, without a doubt, leveraging the power of professional coaching to accelerate your results and move forward faster.
When I was trying to work through and overcome my depression, I found that it was difficult to gain perspective on my problems and internal struggles.
I didn’t know what questions to ask myself or how to approach the underlying causes of my depression because, frankly, I’d never been shown how.
By working with a professional coach, I was able to see my depression for what it really was. I learned about the power of state management and focusing on the positive aspects of life versus the negative.
I was able to accelerate my path to healing and shortcut my personal growth by working with someone who had been there and done that.
If you want to beat your depression as fast as humanly possible, I strongly recommend that you work with an experienced life coach.
The right coach will help you identify and eradicate the patterns leading to your depression and, more importantly, help you create a life that is not only free from depression but filled with joy and excitement.
I’ve written pretty extensively on the importance of having a coach and how it’s different than a therapist or counselor here: The Ten Reasons Every Man Needs a Coach to Breakthrough in their Life, Business, and Relationships.
Although I’m pretty biased towards the amazing coaches that we have here at Knowledge for Men, I want to make sure that everyone reading this understands the importance of finding the right coach.
If you go through the application process with our team and decide that you need someone with a different skill set and expertise that’s fine! The important thing is that you get help and find a coach with whom you feel comfortable.
7. Sweat Like You’re Running For Your Life
Study after study has illustrated the tremendous importance of daily exercise.
- Elevated mood, reduced stress, and less anxiety
- Improved blood flow to the brain
- The production of new brain cells
- Improves memory
- Improved discipline, impulse control, and decision making
- And, most importantly, decreased depression.
Exercise helps ease depression in a number of different ways.
Primarily, when you engage in exercise (particularly cardiovascular activities like running) your brain releases BDNF or brain-derived nootropic factor and something known as an endocannabinoid.
BDNF is a compound that increases the production of new neurons and neuronal connections (all of which are essential to a healthy brain and mood).
Endocannabinoids and the Endocannabinoid System as a whole are responsible for a whole host of important activities in the body that can suppress pain, reduces stress, and elevates mood (Dietrich & McDaniel 2004).
It’s kind of like a defensive wall for your brain that helps ward off stress and depressive symptoms.
In fact, numerous studies have concluded that for patients with mild to moderate depression, exercise could be just as effective (if not more so) than antidepressants over a 12 week period.
You don’t need a complicated workout plan or a fancy gym membership to reap the anti-depressive benefits of exercise.
Studies have shown that HIIT or High-Intensity Interval Training is one of the most effective ways to reap all of the positive benefits of exercise in the shortest amount of time.
Although I recommend that all of my clients and audience members complete a resistance training workout at least 3 times a week, and yoga twice a week, if you are just getting started, simply doing three HIIT cardio sessions per week can get you started on the road to recovery.
All you are going to do is pick an exercise like sprinting, burpees, or jump squats Then, you are going to set a timer for 45 seconds.
You are going to go all out on the exercise for 45 seconds and then rest for 15-30 seconds.
Repeat this for a total of 15 to 20 minutes and BOOM! That’s it. You can also YouTube a number of different HIT workouts for free.
I’ve been weight training for more than 10 years and I’ve yet to find a more effective and research-backed approach than the workouts that Mike shares in his books and on his blog.
If you’re up to the challenge, his training philosophy will help you get bigger, become stronger, and feel better about yourself and your body faster than you ever thought possible.
But regardless of which workout you choose to follow, you must workout.
Your brain and body will be much happier and you’ve successfully taken one more positive step on the road to recovery.
8. Let Food Be Thy Medicine
Most people underestimate the effect that their diet has on their mental health and overall well being.
However, after a groundbreaking study compiled by Felice Jacka Ph.D. at Deakin University in Australia, we can conclusively say that depression can be improved through dietary changes.
In her research, Jacka’s team recruited 67 men and women with moderate to severe depression who reported eating a relatively unhealthy diet.
They took half of the depressed individuals and placed them on a modified version of the Mediterranean diet and required them to attend dietary support sessions with a nutritionist.
The other half of the group was instructed to continue on their unhealthy diet as usual but was required to attend social support sessions (to reduce the possible variable of social interaction).
All participants were scored using the MADRS scale (Montgomery–Åsberg Depression Rating Scale(link is external), a system that rates mood on a scale of 0 to 60 with a score of 60 indicated borderline suicidal levels of depression.
After the 12-week study concluded, the individuals following the Modified Mediterranean diet improved their MADRS scores by an average of 11 points. Of the 31 individuals on the diet, 32% scored so low on the scale that they no longer met the criteria for clinical depression!
Conversely, in the group that continued to consume an unhealthy diet, their scores improved by an average of only 4 points and fewer than 8% of the participants successfully “beat” their depression.
Although more studies certainly should be conducted to conclusively determine how specific dietary factors influence mood and depression, the research conducted by Jacka’s team gives us a great place to start.
Here is a list of encouraged and discouraged foods according to the diet used in this research:
- Encouraged foods: whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, low-fat/ unsweetened dairy, raw unsalted nuts, lean red meat, chicken, fish, eggs, and olive oil
- Discouraged foods: sweets, refined cereals, fried food, fast food, processed meat, soft drinks.
- Beverages: maximum two sugar-sweetened beverages per week and maximum two alcoholic drinks per day, preferably red wine with the occasional screw-up 😉
On a personal note, I would like to mention that green smoothies and a low meat diet have both had a MASSIVE impact on my own happiness levels and were critical components in my battle against depression.
I recommend that every single person reading this start their days with a cup of organic coffee and a green smoothie filled with spinach, kale, cucumber, celery, and about 1.5 cups of frozen fruit.
For those of you in the world of low card/ high-fat dieting, especially the ketogenic diet, it’s important to note that, while this diet certainly has a wide number of physical benefits, it is not the ideal diet for depressed individuals.
A carbohydrate-rich diet triggers the release of insulin in your body. In turn, this causes the amino acid tryptophan to remain in the bloodstream at a high concentration allowing it to enter the brain and cause a rise in serotonin levels.
In other words, carbs are like premium fuel for the brain. Sure, you can get where you need to go with plain old 82 Octane, but you will be faster and smoother if you give your brain what it really needs.
The Bottom Line:
If you want to beat depression naturally, then you need to provide your body with all of the nutrients required to optimize your physical and cognitive function.
This means cutting out the processed crap, increasing your intake of plant foods, and ensuring that you have a sufficient amount of meat and complex carbohydrates to create the neurotransmitters and peptides your body needs.
9. Socialize Like Your Life Depends on It
Despite the fact that we are more connected than ever before, there is a pervasive sense of loneliness and isolation in our society that is becoming unavoidable.
People don’t interact the way that they used to. We walk through our lives with our earbuds in, our eyes glued to our phones, and our minds shut off from the outside world.
We are surrounded by people, but most of us feel completely alone.
Unfortunately, most people underestimate the impact that this can have on their mental and physical well being.
In fact, some studies have shown that suffering from loneliness can be as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day!
Once you have recalibrated your physical body through exercise, the modified Mediterranean diet, and sufficient amounts of high-quality sleep, it’s imperative that you begin to tackle and optimize this part of your life.
According to many studies, regular social interaction can: (source)
- Decrease your risk of depression
- Reduce your likelihood of developing dementia
- Increase your life expectancy
- Boost your immune function and physical health
Life is meant to be lived and shared with others.
If you or someone that you love is suffering from depression, finding ways to increase your social activity and spend more time with amazing and empowering people will help you heal and recover in a way that few other things can.
But there’s a catch…
Depression makes it easy to stay isolated and hard to socialize. Which, in turn, makes the depression worse and increases the desire to stay isolated.
Taking someone in a deeply depressed state and trying to get them to go out and have a good time with friends can often do more harm than good by making the person associate negative emotions such as insecurity, inadequacy, and anxiety with social time.
This is why I personally recommend that you focus on fixing your physical body first.
Clean up your diet, get sufficient amounts of sleep, and exercise regularly. Then you will feel more ready and comfortable to engage in social activity.
When you are ready to start socializing again, you want to start small. Pick an activity or two that you genuinely love and invite one of your positive friends to join you.
Use Meetup.com or check out local activity boards to find something that you would enjoy and make it a goal to get out of your house and into a social setting at least once or twice a week.
You don’t need to turn into a crazy party animal to improve your depression and begin building your social support network.
Start small and increase your social interactions as you become more comfortable. It will make a world of difference.
10. Free Yourself of Worry, Endless Concerns and Anxiety (Meditation)
In meditation, I can let go of everything. I’m not Hugh Jackman. I’m not a dad. I’m not a husband. I’m just dipping into that powerful source that creates everything. I take a little bath in it ~Hugh Jackman
Meditation is the equivalent of shutting out all of the open tabs and programs on your computer to free up the RAM and increase your processing power.
It is one of the single most powerful weapons in your arsenal to fight depression.
Extensive research has been conducted that have shown some pretty amazing and surprising findings regarding the effects of meditation.
- Increases the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin
- Shrinks the brain’s fear center
- Deactivates the anxiety and depression centers of the brain
- Rebuilds the hippocampus of the brain
- Stimulates the same Alpha and Theta brain waves Doctors use to combat depression
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Meditation is proven to help: (source)
- Lower blood pressure
- Alleviate symptoms of insomnia
- Reduce depression and anxiety
- Reduce pain
- Reduce symptoms of IBS
- Aid in smoking cessation
The bottom line is that meditation is a wildly positive habit that can improve nearly every area of your life if it’s practiced with consistency.
But how do you actually get started meditating and how often do you need to do it to reap the benefits?
While there is no conclusive evidence prescribing an exact method or length of time in order to achieve optimal results, most experts agree that 10-30 minutes of meditation per day is all that is necessary to experience real and lasting changes.
I’m a great supporter of Transcendental Meditation. I’ve been using it for almost 40 years now – and I think it’s a great tool for anyone to have, to be able to utilize as a tool for stress. ~Clint Eastwood
Personally, my favorite way to meditate is to pick an instrumental song that gets me into a positive (but relaxed) mental state, set a timer, and then simply get present in the moment for 10-20 minutes.
I don’t do any sort of fancy visualization techniques or chant weird mantras from an audio tape.
I just sit in silence, feel my body and my breath, and pay attention to the present moment. Anytime I notice my mind wandering, I gently redirect it back to the present moment by noticing the music and the rhythm of my breath.
And that’s it.
Leo is one of the most profound and inspiring guests that I’ve ever interviewed and his simple approach to life and happiness will rock you to your core and challenge the fundamental ways in which you view life.
If nothing else, I highly recommend that you give his blog a read and learn from his wealth of wisdom and experience.
If you are willing to commit to this practice for 30 days, alongside a comprehensive diet, exercise, and social regimen, I promise that your depression will be dramatically reduced (if not completely eradicated).
11. Reconnect with Nature to Unlock Your Primal Side
I personally believe that one of the biggest causes of depression in the modern world is our society’s disconnection from the natural world.
10,000 years ago, we had no choice but to spend time in nature. We were constantly surrounded by plants, animals, and awe-inspiring views that reminded us of our place in the cosmos and of the insignificance of our troubles.
But today, we live in a world where nature is scarce and a narcissistic focus on the self is abundant.
We forget that we are nothing more than animals and are only a small part of this planet that we call home.
According to research published by the Journal of Extreme Physiology and Medicine in 2013, exercising outdoors will not only produce endorphins but has the ability to improve self-esteem, reduce feelings of depression, anger, and tension.
In fact, a recent study conducted by researchers from the University of Essex found that walking in nature reduced depression scores in nearly 71% of patients!
But here’s where things get really interesting.
When the researchers compared the effects of walking in nature to a control group that walked through a shopping center, they found that only 45% of shopping center walkers reduced their depression scores with 22% of them actually citing increased feelings of depression!
This is wild!
By combining regular exposure to nature with the already mentioned tactics, you will have a powerful tool for combatting depression in any form that it takes.
Make it your goal to spend at least 3 hours in nature each week.
Personally, I try to ride my bike by the beach for at least 60 minutes a day, however, for those of you on a tighter schedule, simply getting out of the city for a long hike once a week can work wonders for your physical and mental well being. To top it off it’s a great place to meditate and journal in absolute solitude!
12. Create an Environment of Anti-Depression
One commonality that I’ve noticed among all of my depressed clients or friends is that they live in depressing environments, and I mean this in every sense of the word.
Their homes and apartments are poorly lit, filled with crap, and about as clean as the inside of a Detroit alley dumpster.
The music that they listen to is depressing, angry, and nihilistic.
The movies and video games that they play are filled with gratuitous violence and depressing plotlines (seriously guys, Schindler’s List is a great movie, but it’s not worth watching on repeat if you’re depressed).
Even the people that they hang out with are in a similarly depressed and sad state, after all… misery loves company.
If you are going to overcome depression once and for all, then your environment needs to reflect your commitment.
According to an article from Psychology Today, there is a strong correlation between an unclean and negative environment and chronic depression:
As they put it clutter:
- Bombards our minds with excessive stimuli (visual, olfactory, tactile), causing our senses to work overtime on stimuli that aren’t necessary or important.
- Distracts us by drawing our attention away from what our focus should be on.
- Makes it more difficult to relax, both physically and mentally.
- Signals to our brains that our work is never done.
- Makes us anxious because we’re never sure what it’s going to take to get through to the bottom of the pile.
- Creates feelings of guilt (“I should be more organized”) and embarrassment, especially when others unexpectedly drop by our homes or workspaces.
- Inhibits creativity and productivity by invading the open spaces that allow most people to think, brain storm, and problem solve.
- Frustrates us by preventing us from locating what we need quickly (e.g. files and paperwork lost in the “pile” or keys swallowed up by the clutter).
Looking back at my own battle with depression, it’s funny how easy it was to allow my home environment to slip into chaos.
When I was depressed, dishes piled up in the sink, my bed and clothes were unkempt, and laundry left undone for weeks.
In much the same way that you someone battling chronic illness would want to keep their environment clean and bacteria free, if you want to beat depression, you must create an environment where depression cannot thrive.
Clean your apartment. Open the windows and the shades. Paint your living space a bright and inviting color. Remove any negative images, photos of exes, or other pictures that conjure negative emotions. Get rid of the junk!
Minimalism is not the lack of something. It’s the perfect amount of something. ~Nicholas Burroughs
Start listening to happier music. Watch comedies instead of horror flicks. Buy indoor plants and fill your home with them. Do whatever you need to do to transform your environment so that it creates a state of happiness, peace, and serenity.
Life isn’t meant to be wasted in the pursuit of more “Stuff” and the profound lessons that I learned about minimalism from these three men cannot be overstated.
In fact, my minimalist philosophy is one of the primary reasons that I’ve been able to experience the levels of joy and abundance in my life today.
13. The Most Powerful Way to Reframe Your Challenges
Often times, one of the underlying causes of depression is a pessimistic and skewed view of yourself, your challenges, and your future.
We live in such a narcissistic and “Me” focused society that it’s easy to slip into a worldview where we lose sight of the struggles that others are going through and the things that we have to be grateful for in our own lives.
The less connected we are to other people, the easier it is to believe that we are someone unique and special and that the challenges we are facing have never been dealt with by anyone else before.
The reality is much different.
You and I are one out of more than 7 billion points of human connection. We are specks of dust on a speck of dust.
And the best way (that I’ve found) to reframe our problems and gain perspective on our lives is to volunteer.
But don’t take my work for it, take a look at the science.
According to helpguide.org:
“When researchers at the London School of Economics examined the relationship between volunteering and measures of happiness in a large group of American adults, they found the more people volunteered, the happier they were, according to a study in Social Science and Medicine. Compared with people who never volunteered, the odds of being “very happy” rose 7% among those who volunteer monthly and 12% for people who volunteer every two to four weeks. Among weekly volunteers, 16% felt very happy—a hike in happiness comparable to having an income of $75,000–$100,000 versus $20,000, say the researchers.”
Yes, you read that statistic correctly.
Volunteering once every two weeks can have the same benefits to your baseline happiness levels as increasing your income by more than 500%!
The social connection and perspective shift that you will gain by spending time with people who are less fortunate than you is tremendous.
You don’t have to go crazy and join the Peace Corps (unless you want to which is great if you do), but taking a few hours out of your month to go and help someone else is one of the most powerful tools in your battle against depression.
14. Laugh Until Your Stomach Hurts
We’ve all heard the saying that “Laughter is the best medicine”.
And while I’ve never been one for cliches, I can’t help but agree.
According to healthcentral.com, there are a number of scientifically validated reasons to laugh more to:
- Strengthen the immune system by activating cells that attack viruses.
- Lower blood pressure for some by inducing relaxation and preventing the release of stress hormones such as cortisol.
- Trigger the release of endorphins which give you a sense of well being. These endorphins are also natural painkillers.
- Reduce stress and anxiety because it naturally relaxes you. Laughter induces your heart rate to slow down and your blood pressure to decrease.
- Increases our creativity as it encourages a new perspective to look at things.
- Improves our mood through social connection and an increased feeling of belonging. Laughing with friends can decrease feelings of alienation and lowers our risk for depression.
From my own personal experience, I believe that laughter is one of the funnest and easiest ways to combat depression. When you are laughing you do not experience the symptoms of depression. You are not suffering at all in a state of laughter.
If you want to beat depression once and for all, then you need to laugh like it’s been prescribed by your doctor. Listen to comedy podcasts, watch funny movies and standups on YouTube and Netflix, go to comedy clubs on a monthly basis.
Don’t let yourself go more than a day without laughing so hard that your stomach hurts inside and out.
When you are laughing deeply, you are in the moment. You’re not thinking about the past or the future, you’re simply in the moment, fully experiencing the gift that is the present.
15. Choose to Live in a Beautiful State
At the end of the day, the single most important decision that you can ever make is the decision to live in a beautiful state.
Considering all that we know about the physical and neurological effects of depression, it might sound weird for me to tell you to simply choose to live in a beautiful state and eradicate your own depression.
It can’t be that simple, right?
Well, yes and no.
I’m not suggesting that you can simply snap yourself out of a depressive episode by saying “Meh, I want to be happy!”
But I am saying that depression and happiness are a choice.
You can choose to do the work necessary to beat your depression or you can choose to continue living in a dark and miserable state.
You have the power to decide how you feel and what you will and will not tolerate from your life.
Choose to live in a beautiful state. Accept responsibility for your emotions. Notice the negativity as it arises and make a conscious effort to redirect your thoughts and emotions to a more empowering place.
Accepting responsibility for our emotional states and internalizing the fact that living in a beautiful state is a choice is hard to believe, I know.
But the fact remains… You have a choice.
So what do you choose?
The Top Supplements For Beating Depression FASTER
In addition to the many tactics that I’ve already shared with you above, there is an overwhelming amount of new research suggesting that depression can be alleviated and completely cured by addressing the underlying physical deficiencies in the body.
While there isn’t a single supplement or pill that you can take to help your depression, there is some research suggesting that the following supplements can help rewire your brain and eradicate depression faster when combined with the above 15 tactics:
5 HTP: 5 HTP or 5-hydroxytryptophan is a fantastic natural option for increasing serotonin levels. This natural percussor to serotonin was studied in an experiment where 63 individuals took 300 mg of 5-HTP for 6 weeks. At the end of the study, researchers found that 5 HTP can have the same depression relief as traditional SSRI’s without the negative side effects.
Fish Oil: Fish oil is rich in omega 3 which are tremendously important for optimal brain health. Studies have shown that many depressed individuals suffer from low levels of omega 3’s and their depressive symptoms were significantly reduced or completely eradicated by adding this essential building block into their diets.
B Complex Vitamins: B complex vitamins (especially b6 and b3) have been shown to help your body conserve more of the amino acid tryptophan allowing the body to convert it into serotonin. A 2004 study of 140 individuals found that nearly all clinically depressed patients had low levels of vitamin B6 in their bloodstream.
L-Theanine: The amino acid L-theanine, which is a derivative of the amino acid found in green tea has long been known to release GABA into the brain, a wildly calming neurotransmitter that promotes relaxation but which is difficult to absorb through traditional supplements. I recommend putting 100 Mg of L-theanine into your morning coffee to increase the presence of GABA in your brain while simultaneously preventing a caffeine crash later in the day.
Vitamin D3: Most American’s suffer from chronically low levels of vitamin d. We no longer spend time outside and, as a result, we no longer have the same concentration of vitamin d in our blood. Many studies have concluded that increasing vitamin D levels by supplementing with 10,000 IU or more per day can significantly reduce depression in patients.
Tumeric: Tumeric has been shown to have a host of beneficial properties. Among those is that it increases the synthesis of BDNF of brain-derived nootropic factor, an essential hormone for optimal cognitive function and mental health.
Holy Basil: Holy Basil has long been known to be a powerful healing agent. Among its healing properties is that it can lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, and ease stress and tension, all of which are powerful antidepressant factors.
If you’re looking for an “All in one” supplement stack that will help you improve depression naturally, then I highly recommend you check out some of the products from my friends over at Natural Stacks.
All of their supplements are tested for purity and consistency by well known third parties and Natural Stacks is one of the only companies I know of that offers complete transparency on their formulas and ingredient sourcing.
Their “Mood Stack” is one of my all-time favorite supplement stacks and I cannot recommend it enough. (And no, I’m not being paid to say any of this or affiliated with their brand in any way).
If you want to beat your depression, understand that you can. But you must make the definite decision.
No more, “I’d like to” or “It would be nice”.
‘Shoulds’ don’t beat diseases, only ‘Musts’ can do that.
You have the power to win this. You were not born depressed and, if you are willing to fight your way out tooth and claw, you don’t have to stay depressed.
You must fight this like it’s a fight for your life because, quite frankly, it is. Life is too short to tolerate depression. It’s too precious to waste one more second feeling sorry for yourself and living in a state of suffering.
Switch from a “should” to a “must”.
If you are suffering from depression you have one mission and one mission only… Win. Reclaim your joy, your happiness, and your life. You don’t have to suffer and if you’re willing to take action on what I’ve shared with you, you won’t.
You can beat this. You will beat this.
Now get after it.
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