Think back to a happy memory. Maybe the sun was shining, maybe you accomplished something or maybe the memory was a celebration. Now think of how you feel when you remember this memory. You probably have a warm feeling inside along with a slight smile.
Thinking back to fond memories make us feel good and new research now suggests that travelling down memory lane can help lower your depression.
Positive memories may help improve depression
The new findings were published in Nature and they reveal that positive memory is linked with a boost in mood.
The research was conducted on male mice. When the male mice were with female mice neurons were activated in their brain because they were enjoying themselves. For 10 days after the male and female mice encounter, the male mice were isolated from the females. During that time the mice didn’t struggle when picked up by their tails and likewise drank regular water and ignored the sugar water – sugar water for the mice was commonly preferred.
Through light stimulation positive neurons in the mice were once again activated – similar to their experience with being with the female mice. Over the course of six days the researchers flashed the lights more frequently. On the last day the mice remained motivated and positive even without the light stimulation. Essentially the male mice were no longer depressed as the light stimulation had created lasting positive effects on the mice.
The researchers concluded that those with depression find it difficult to recall positive memories. But when stimulated it could elevate their mood. Of course the original research was conducted on mice and depression in humans is a bit more complex, but this research does hold some promise.
How exactly positive stimulation can be implemented in human is still complicated. Some researchers suggested surgery may be required but that is invasive. For now we are left with the idea that thinking back to positive memories prior to depression may help improve mood.
What is depression?
Depression is chronic feelings of sadness, hopelessness and can even lead to physical pain. People with depression may lack motivation, struggle with daily tasks and may not even want to leave their bed on some days.
The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that annually 6.7 percent of Americans have a major depression episode. And women are at a 70 percent higher risk of experiencing depression in comparison to men. Depression can affect anyone at any age but the average is 32 years.
There are many forms of depression including:
- Postpartum (occurs after having a child)
- Psychotic depression
- Major depression
- Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) which occurs mainly in the winter months.
Although there isn’t an exact cause for depression research is showing it could be linked to a chemical imbalance in the brain. Environmental and genetic factors are also viable causes.
Antidepressants and therapy are currently the go-to treatments to help aid with symptoms associated with depression.
Tips to improve depression
Although new research suggests the power of positive memory to improve depression, often times individuals with depression do not have motivation to do so. In either case there are other means in improving symptoms of depression.
As mentioned, medications and counseling can be used. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) recommend exercise as a means of boosting mood and easing depression symptoms. A minimum 10 minutes a day is enough to start to feel happier and more positive.
It’s also been suggested that vitamins and other nutrients may have mood-boosting effects. It’s important to enjoy a balanced meal with a mix of fish, vegetables and plenty of fruit. Limit your sugar and alcohol intake as it can further worsen symptoms of depression.
Living with depression is possible by following these helpful tips along with seeking out help from others.
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