I had suffered from the symptoms of clinical depression for 35 years. Believe me it was no party. In fact there were times during those 35 years when I thought I was going to go completely out of mind. Although there are many different types of depression, clinical depression by far is the worst because it occurs and is experienced for no apparent reason at all. It just strikes out of the blue as a result of a chemical imbalance in the brain as opposed to depression that is caused by external stimuli.

For 25 of those 35 years I took a number of different anti-depressants and went through a lot of therapy. About 10 years ago however my doctor had recommended that I modify my lifestyle so I could possibly cut back a bit on my medication because of the side effect. In my case the medicine I took caused a dry cough that was extremely disturbing and in social situations, quite embarrassing. If you are on medication, are you experiencing any side effects?

I took my doctors advice and after about 3 months I noticed a significant positive change in my mood to the point where I was able to reduce the amount of medicine I took. Keep in mind that if you suffer from a type of depression that is not as severe as mine, you might be able to cut back on or eliminate taking any medication. But please make sure you consult with your doctor about any change in your medication first

Here are the lifestyle changes I want to share with you. The following are 7 proven steps to overcoming the symptoms of depression:

1. Daily aerobic exercise - Anytime you get your heart pumping fast something quite amazing occurs within your brain. Endorphins are spread throughout your body significantly reducing depression. If you never heard of them before, Endorphins are natural opiates that when triggered through aerobic exercise, such as walking or jogging, will counteract the effects of depression. There are many additional health benefits to aerobic exercise as well. Irregardless of the type of aerobic exercise you plan on doing, make sure you start out slow and work your way up. Talk to your doctor for suggestions.

2. Watch what you eat - The fact of the matter is that when our body is deficient in nutrients it will not work to its full capacity. Nutrient deficiency can even cause illness and chemical imbalances. So make sure you get the proper amount of vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, protein, and even a small amount of fat. If you want to nip the problem in the bud you need to start eating right. If you can't get your recommended daily nutrients from food you'll need to supplement your diet with a good diet supplement. Again, talk to your doctor about recommendations.

3. Get a good nights sleep - Before I talked with my doctor I never knew that improper sleep patterns can cause and create depression. In my case, I always slept later than I should. At the time my depression was at its worst I was sleeping at least 12 hours everyday. However, my doctor told me that there are also people whose depression is more intense in the morning because they do not get enough sleep at night . I had to change my sleep routine so it was more conducive to a good nights sleep. That meant no caffeine after 7p.m. I needed to do something that would relax me such as taking a warm shower and reading or just listening to quiet music. I was told not to work late or do any form of stressful activity. The best requirements for a restful sleep are a relaxed body and quiet mind. .

4. Use thought stopping/switching - This step is without a doubt my favorite because it works quickly and is quite effective even on someone like me with severe depression. The technique is part of cognitive (thoughts) and behavioral therapy and involves switching activity from the emotional part of your brain to the thinking or reasoning part of your brain which does not have the capacity for depression. Anytime you are depressed your thoughts are pretty much askew because of your negative emotions. I call this 'stinkin thinkin." Typical examples include "this life sucks", "nothing ever changes", " I am absolutely good for nothing." I could go on but I'm sure you get the idea. Does any of that sound like you? If it does, let's stop that negative thinking right now.

Your ability to stop those thoughts quickly will depend on the severity of your depression. You can interrupt yourself by either yelling or in a normal voice saying "stop." When in public you might simply want to pinch yourself or place a rubber band on your wrist and snap it. I used the rubber band. Initially, I had the reddest wrist in town but it did get my attention. Next you need to focus on doing something (that's the behavior part) that involves logic such as a cross word puzzle, checkers, chess, Sudoku, etc. My favorite was finding the hidden words in a pile of messed up letters. A variation of this simply involves switching to positive cognitions. Sing a favorite song to yourself or think of and fully concentrate on a pleasant scene. Repeating this technique will offset the chemical imbalance that causes depression.

5. Get out in the sun - To put it simply, get out and be in the sun. Sunshine is extremely effective for depression so take advantage of it. According to scientists, sunlight increases the levels of serotonin ( a neurotransmitter in the brain that assists in proper mood regulation) and reduces the level of melatonin ( a hormone that controls sleep). Just make sure never to look directly into the sunlight. About 15 minutes a day without sun-blocker is all you need

6. Become a social butterfly - Depending on the severity of your depression , socializing can be next to impossible for some people but not all. Since my depression was so severe at one point, my doctor recommended that I begin to socialize more often only after the effects from the previous steps really kicked in. Once it had, I did begin to get out more so I could be around my friends and family. The fact of the matter is if you want to mitigate the effects of your depression you need human contact in order to develop a more positive outlook on yourself and life in general. I would recommend following these steps in order, as I did, to reduce any feeling of lethargy you may have. All feeling aside, you just have to do it. Take it one step at a time.

7. Have some chocolate - I've saved the best for last. However, I am not referring to the typical chocolate which is found in such foods as candy bars, ice cream, or milk. In fact, regular chocolate is high in processed sugar and could worsen your depression. The chocolate I am talking about is known as organic chocolate. Organic chocolate is a really dark bitter chocolate containing organic cocoa solids, brown cane sugar, vanilla and soya lecithin. It contains all the natural antioxidants and minerals found in the cacao bean. It is the antioxidants that help the brain’s functions, reduce inflammation and gives you a boost of energy. The best part is that the serotonin, dopamine, and phenylalanine content genuinely will make you feel happy and alleviate depression. You can find organic chocolate at your local health food store.

One final thought. Please keep in mind that these 7 steps are very effective behavioral modification techniques used to reduce the symptoms of depression, but not the depression itself since, as of yet, there is no cure. Therefore, if you want to live a more productive and less debilitating life, make sure you follow these lifestyle changes everyday.

Author's Bio: 

Dave Kanofsky is a proud affiliate with Wealth Creations Network, your zero out of pocket way to creating wealth. Dave Kanofsky is passionate about empowering those individuals with depression and/or who are disabled to create wealth for themselves. So what are you waiting for? Sign up now and start to make money free.