Do you struggle with depression? Have you been sad for so long you don’t remember what it feels like to be happy? Or, are you frequently irritable? How about anxiety? Are you constantly on edge? Do you wait for the other shoe to drop, anticipating and dreading the next catastrophe that you’re sure is just around the corner? If so, you’d probably like to learn how to improve your mood.
Dealing with mood issues can feel even worse than physical illness. Feelings of anger, depression, anxiety, frequent moods swings, and similar issues burrow into your psyche. They make you feel helpless, alone, frightened. They can damage or destroy your relationships with your friends and family.
Mood disorders can even cause you to destroy yourself by abusing alcohol or drugs or overeating in an attempt to soothe your pain. All of these actions negatively impacts your health. Mood disorders can even cause you to decide to end your pain for good by attempting or committing suicide. Learning how to improve your mood is crucial to preventing these tragic outcomes.
Why Learn How to Improve Your Mood? Your Physical Health
But there is another reason you need to learn how to improve your mood. Your health depends upon it. Negative moods can affect physical health. How? Let’s take the two most common mood disorders: anxiety and depression.
Research shows anxiety and/or depression to be a factor in the following conditions:
Tension Headaches: Studies show people who suffer from anxiety or depression have more tension headaches than people who do not have those mood disorders.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome: This chronic intestinal disorder is associated with anxiety. Researchers do not know how and why anxiety affects the intestines. But studies show stress and anxiety can lower immunity and lead to many health conditions.
Heart Disease: Studies show a link between anxiety/depression and heart disease. One of the reasons for this link may be the person who suffers from these mood disorders typically do not take proper care of their health. For instance, they may not eat quality foods or get enough exercise.
High Blood Pressure: Studies show anxiety can cause spikes in blood pressure. Though temporary, these spikes can damage your blood vessels leading to heart disease and even stroke.
Osteoporosis: Studies suggest those with a major depressive disorder may have lower bone density than those who do not suffer from this disorder. Low bone density means the bones are not as strong as they should be. Low bone density is often a progressive problem that leads to osteoporosis.
Given the many physical and mental problems that can arise, it is crucial that you know how to improve your mood.
How to Improve Your Mood is Something Millions of People Need to Know: Mood Disorders in America
You’re not the only one asking how to improve your mood. Hundreds of millions of people in America alone struggle with this issue. Mood disorders are among the most common mental illnesses in the United States. Though they each have different symptoms, they all share the characteristic of an uncontrolled elevation or lowering of one’s mood.
Here are a few of the most common mood disorders.
It is normal to feel depressed occasionally, especially if those feelings involve a shakeup in your life. The loss of a job or death of a loved one naturally triggers depression. But if there is no obvious trigger for the depression, and if the depression is long lasting, it is considered to be major depressive disorder (clinical depression).
Major depressive disorder is characterized by severe and persistent low moods that affect how you think, feel, and act. A major depressive episode can significantly interfere with your ability to work or care for yourself. Major depressive disorder is the leading cause of disability in the United States for those aged 15 to 44.3. (Source: Anxiety and Depression Association of America)
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, major depressive disorder affects more than 16 million American adults each year.
Symptoms of Major Depressive Disorder
The symptoms of major depressive disorder vary, and may include:
- Continual low mood, persisting for 2 weeks or more
- Loss of interest in activities that the person used to find enjoyable
- Inability to concentrate
- Mood swings
- Changes in sleep behaviors.
- Excessive emotionality/crying
- Thoughts of suicide
- Weight gain or loss
Seasonal Affective Disorder, Postpartum Depression, and Bipolar Disorder can fit into the category of major depressive disorder. Though bipolar disorder is characterized by extreme shifts in moods — from euphoria to depression — the depression can be significant enough to be considered a major depression while it lasts. Finding out how to improve your mood is a worthwhile goal when dealing with any major depressive disorder.
The Anxiety and Depression Disorders Association states that anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in America. Approximately 40 million adults in the U.S. suffer an anxiety disorder each year.
Anxiety disorders fall into 5 main categories:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
- Panic Disorder (PD)
- Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
The symptoms depend upon the type of anxiety disorder. Here is a brief summary of the most common symptoms of each type.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Symptoms include restlessness and irritability and inability to control worry.
Panic Disorder: Symptoms include attacks of intense fear; fearful anticipation of the next panic attack; fear or avoidance of places the person feels triggered past panic attacks.
Social Anxiety Disorder: Excessively worried about what others think of them in a social situation; obsessively concerned about being embarrassed or humiliated by others in public; stuttering or blushing when around others; feels and acts awkward around others.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: Having unwanted and undesirable thoughts; fear of germs or dirt; the need to have a neat and clean environment; obsessively counting, checking, or cleaning things.
Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome: Vividly reliving past traumas in their mind; depression; insomnia; nightmares; self-harming behaviors; hostility.
Intermittent Explosive Disorder
Intermittent Explosive Disorder is characterized by sudden, repeated episodes of angry verbal outbursts or physical violence. This can lead to the person physically assaulting another person or damaging their own or other’s property. The outburst is out of proportion to the situation that triggered it.
Can You Learn How to Improve Your Mood with Drugs?
Given the numbers of Americans suffering from depression and anxiety disorders, it is not surprising that many of them are taking medications.According to a 2013 article in The New York Times, one in 10 Americans take antidepressant medication. The article goes on to discuss a study published in the Journal of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics that reviewed the medical records of 5,000 patients who had been given a diagnosis of depression within the past year. The researchers found almost two-thirds of them did not meet the criteria for major depressive disorder.Why were they prescribed antidepressants? It is probably, the article theorizes, a combination of misdiagnosis by the doctor and demand by the patient. The patient is sad. Life isn’t going too well. These feelings will soon pass. Though the patient may ask friends and their doctor how to improve your mood, the patient feels comfortable using medication to make them feel better. So, they ask their doctor to write a script.There’s only one problem with taking medication to stabilize your moods or to address most other problems, for that matter. Medications always come with a list of unpleasant and sometimes even dangerous side effects.
Side Effects of Psychotropic Drugs
Most antidepressant drugs are SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), used to treat both major depressive disorder and anxiety. They are typically taken daily. Some of the common side effects for antidepressant medications include:
- Dry Mouth
- Weight Gain
- Sexual Dysfunction
- Loss of Sexual Desire
Side effects of antidepressant drugs can be quite severe. Some antidepressants have even been linked to suicidal thoughts/actions and homicidal tendencies.
Benzodiazepines are a class of drugs used to treat anxiety and other conditions. Researchers believe they increase the effects of the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. (GABA moderates brain activity). Drugs in this class include Xanax, Ativan, Klonopin, and Valium.
They are typically taken on an “as-needed” basis, but a doctor may prescribe them for regular usage if the anxiety disorder is severe.
Some of the side effects of benzodiazepines include:
- Physical dependence on the medication
How to Improve Your Mood: Discovering the Cause of Mood Issues
The exact cause of mood disorders is unknown. But there is evidence indicating that hormonal imbalances may be to blame for mood disorders. For instance, an elevated level of the hormone cortisol can cause feelings of anxiety.
Research also indicates many mood disorders are associated with low levels of certain neurotransmitters in the brain. For instance, low levels of serotonin, considered a “feel-good” chemical, has been linked to depression.
Neurological Inflammation: How Leaky Brain Syndrome Causes Poor Mood
New research shows neurological syndrome may be the underlying cause of most mood disorders.Neurological syndrome is a condition in which the blood-brain barrier becomes compromised, allowing dangerous toxins, pathogens, and other dangerous substances into the brain’s environment. (Doctors are now calling this “leaky brain syndrome.”) These toxins activate microglia cells and cause neurological inflammation.Groundbreaking research is showing neurological inflammation causes depression, anxiety, mood swings, confusion, forgetfulness, brain fog, and many other cognitive and physical problems.
How to Improve your Mood with Foods
Fortunately, research shows that eating high-quality foods can heal and balance your hormones, reduce neurological inflammation, support neurotransmitter function, and so much more. After reading the remainder of this article, you won’t have to ask people how to improve your mood. You’ll know that eating healthy foods is the answer you’ve been searching for!
How to Improve your Mood with a Healthy Diet
A Healthy Diet is an easy way to improve your mood. There are no calories or points to count. There are no complicated menus to remember.
Here’s how this basic diet works to improve your mood:
These Foods Balance your Blood Sugar Levels
The standard American diet seems custom-made to create mood disorders. Studies show regularly eating sugar, refined carbs, and other processed foods negatively affect mood. One of the biggest reasons is that these foods lack fiber. Since there is no fiber to slow it down, the glucose is absorbed into your bloodstream quickly. This causes a rapid rise in blood sugar levels. A little later your blood sugar drops. This causes you to feel moody and tired. (Your blood sugar levels also fall if you go too long without eating.)
These surges in your blood sugar levels lead to an imbalance of hormones, including insulin and the stress hormone cortisol. This causes feelings of stress, anxiety, depression.
Consuming the three food groups below at every main meal will help regulate your blood sugar levels and balance your moods.
Fill half your plate with non-starchy vegetables at every main meal. The fiber in these complex carbohydrates slows the absorption of glucose into your bloodstream. This regulates your blood sugar levels and improves your mood.
3-5 servings per day
Protein also slows the absorption of glucose into your bloodstream. But there is another reason nutrient-dense protein is good for your mood. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. The amino acids tryptophan, tyrosine, and phenylalanine are the precursors (forerunners) for the neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. (Various antidepressant medications affect one or more of these neurotransmitters.) A clinical research study showed that ingestion of proteins containing these amino acids increases levels of those particular neurotransmitters.
3-6 servings per day
Whole-food fats are not only good for our bodies, they are also good for our brains. Our brains are almost 60% fat, so consuming whole-food fats supports healthy brain function. It reduces neurological inflammation and helps build neurotransmitters.
My diet shows you how to improve your mood, and you’ll feel great while you’re eating delicious foods! What more could you ask for?