Lifestyle changes are simple but powerful tools in treating depression and anxiety, and they are an essential component of an integrated approach to treatment. In some cases, lifestyle changes alone can help depression or relieve anxiety, so it makes sense to start with them right away. But if you are suffering from moderate to severe depression or anxiety, also seek professional help right away. And if you don’t see relief from symptoms of mild depression in a few months, likewise seek professional help.
Lifestyle changes that can help include the following.
Exercise is the most important place to start. Numerous well-designed studies have found exercise to be effective in elevating mood and reducing symptoms of depression. As for anxiety, many research studies have also found an improvement in anxiety symptoms with increased physical activity, especially mindful movement, such as yoga, tai chi, and qigong.
Exercise stimulates the body to produce serotonin and endorphins, which are chemicals in the brain (neurotransmitters) that help depression. But that only partially explains the positive impacts of exercise on depression.