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How to reduce your risk for depression

Michelle Maffei is a freelance copywriter covering a variety of topics both online and in print, from parenting to beauty and more. Combining her two favorite loves, writing and motherhood, she has found joy in even the most challenging ...

Fight depression before it strikes

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, women are 70 percent more likely than men to experience depression during their lifetime. Although the causes and levels of depression vary, reducing your risk of depression through exercise, diet and other measures is possible. Here are some ways to help reduce your risk for depression.

Fight depression before it strikesCelebrities and depression

The latest famous faces to battle a depression, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Demi Lovato, both took their battles with bipolar disorder public (bipolar disorder includes both depression and its opposite, a highly excitable state). Gwyneth Paltrow admits she "felt like a zombie" with postpartum depression. And celebrities such as Different Strokes actress Dana Plato and Spiderman 3 actress Lucy Gordon tragically spiraled so far into depression that they committed suicide.

When even celebrities from Halle Berry to Princess Diana are diagnosed with the sadness and hopelessness that depression brings, it's easier to understand that everyone may be subject to this serious and sometimes debilitating condition.

How can you reduce stress?

Find balance when it comes to work and other commitments. Taking on too many commitments can up the stress factor and increase your risk of depression. And don't forget to take steps to relax and unwind, from meditation to yoga to simple breathing techniques. Most important, make time for play; recreation is an important tool to reduce stress.

Parenting, though often wonderful, can also be a big source of stress.

Discover 5 tips for stress-less parenting >>

Benefits of physical activities

The Centers for Disease Control reports that aerobic activities, or a mix of aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities, three to five times a week for 30 to 60 minutes per session, can improve your mental health and mood. Aerobic exercise can raise the levels of feel-good chemicals like endorphins, adrenaline,serotonin and dopamine in your brain, leaving you feeling happy and healthy. Research shows that even lower levels of activity a few times a week can help tip the scales in your favor when it comes to reducing your risk of depression.

Reducing your risk through diet

A diet that is low in fat and high in fiber, vitamins and minerals can be beneficial in fighting depression. Omega-3 fatty acides found in many fish and B-complex vitamins in whole grains are key ingredients to help reduce your risk of depression.

Get enough sleep

The typical person needs around eight hours of sleep nightly, coupled with a regular sleep schedule. Have chronic insomnia? Talk to your doctor about options, especially since insomnia is a risk factor for depression.

Learn about surprising foods that help you sleep better >>

Know your risk factors

One of the most important ways you can reduce the likelihood that you will become a susceptible to depression is to know if you're at risk. Women who have low self-esteem, are sensitive to rejection, who abuse alcohol or drugs, or have other risk factors may be more vulnerable.

In order to learn how to reduce your risk for depression, you have to first learn to tune into yourself to detect signs of depression. "For women, usually the biggest concern that you see is weight gain," advises Dr. Brad Douglas, an/ OB/GYN expert on "Many women who are very unhappy turn their attention to food and many times to closet eating." So build a strong social network of support, reduce stress, learn the benefits of physical activity and seek help by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline toll-free 24-hours a day at 1-800-273-TALK (273-8255) when reducing your risk is a battle you cannot fight on your own.

Do you think it's helpful when celebrities open up about their struggles with mental illness?

Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.

More on mental health and depression

Damaging effects of depression on health
Coping with post-race depression
Chronic insomnia can cause depression

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