Monday, November 10, 2008
When you first go vegetarian or vegan you might be overwhelmed by the enormous problem of animal exploitation. The reality of how our society treats animals (and farm workers and human health) is truly quite depressing and it's normal to feel sad about it. But regardless of the normalcy of your feelings, you probably want to feel better. So.. here are some tips for overcoming depression:
1) Make sure you're getting proper nutrition. Take a look at your diet and see if you might want to add new foods, a supplement, or fortified foods. Make sure you get a wide variety of vegan foods. Use a food diary to monitor your nutrition and to show any medical professionals. Treat your body/ your health like a scientist would treat it - keep detailed and accurate records. This can help you identify deficiencies or triggers. (Don't necessarily trust the average doctor, though, because many haven't had much nutrition training. Get a second opinion if your doctor says, "just eat meat" or prescribes antidepressants.)
More info on vegan nutrition:
2) Get regular exposure to sunlight. It will get you some vitamin D (deficiency can mimic depression) and also just "getting out" helps me. It might help you, too.
Wikipedia on light therapy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Light_th...
3) Get regular exercise. Besides the endorphins produced from exercise, many studies have shown exercise is just as or more effective than antidepressants and exercise doesn't have the same negative side effects.
More info on exercise: http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide...
4) Reasoned optimism: Try to find the good in every situation. Consciously try to be hopeful and optimistic. You CAN change your thought patterns for the better.
5) Find support from family, friends, and/or professionals. Get online and find a vegan forum or blog. Others know what this feels like and they can help you.
Try this vegan forum:
6) Avoid triggers when possible. For example, if you're upset by images of tortured animals, try to limit viewing those and try to balance that with positive images of happy animals.
This tips apply to any kind of depression, but I've specifically targeted them to the kind of depression that occurs with some vegans and vegetarians. Take care of yourself!