April 25, 2015
Americans are spending less time outdoors and depression rates are increasing. Experts report that we spend 25% less time in nature than we did in 1987. Meanwhile, 1 in 10 Americans are clinically depressed and taking anti-depressants.
This is serious, considering some of the common side effects of anti-depressants are weight gain, sexual dysfunction, fatigue, insomnia, constipation, agitation, irritability, anxiety, and suicide. These side effects alone are depressing.
"The number one way I maintain my emotional health is by getting out in nature."
Some argue that anti-depressants are handed out far too easily when simple lifestyle changes might be all we need.
When I had a car accident in my early twenties, my doctor prescribed me anti-depressants. He rationalized that if I was sad it would be harder for my body to heal. A few weeks later, I told him I didn’t like how numb they made me feel and I wanted to discontinue using them. He told me I “would be back because no one gets off of anti-depressants.”
This doctor’s unethical practices angered me and set me on a path to find a natural way to beat the blues. I vowed to never again take an anti-depressant and, ten years later, I haven’t. So there, doc.
"Gardening is my favorite way to get my nature high."
I found great relief in herbs, supplements, exercise and positive thinking. However, the number one way that I maintain my emotional health is by getting outside in nature. The sunshine and fresh air have a way of turning any bad day around.
Gardening is my favorite way to get my nature high. Science has recently discovered why my garden gives me such bliss.
There are friendly bacteria in the soil called Mycobacterium vaccae. Studies have shown that M. vaccae activate neurons in the brain that release seratonin—the same neurons activated by Prozac. Gardeners are regularly exposed to these bacteria when they play in the dirt. We touch and inhale these bacteria. If we have any cuts on our hands, these bacteria enter our bloodstream. We even eat them when we eat our homegrown fruits and veggies.
"Studies have shown that the bacteria M. vaccae, found in soil, activates neurons in the brain that release seratonin--the same neurons activated by Prozac."
Gardening is the best thing we can do for our health and wellbeing. It exposes us to happiness-inducing bacteria, gives us a healthy dose of vitamin D from the sun, supplies our lungs with fresh air, exercises our bodies, and feeds us with nutritionally-superior fruits and vegetables. All of these boost our mood and help us overcome depression.
By the way, now is the perfect time to start your Spring garden.