1. Got the blues? It could be your meds

    The summer sun is out... so why do you feel like there's a dark cloud hanging over your head?

    That's a question more and more folks like you are asking themselves at a time when depression is on the rise.

    Stress... grief... loneliness... there are so many things that can give you the blues, even under the bluest of skies.

    And it's perfectly normal for these gloomy feelings to come and go.

    But if your "funk" sticks around for a while -- and there's no obvious reason -- you may want to take stock of what's in your medicine cabinet.

    Because according to a new study, your depression may be a side effect of the pills you're popping!

    In the study, published in JAMA, researchers surveyed over 26,000 Americans on their use of prescription and over-the-counter medications over a 10-year period.

    By the end of the study, it turned out that 38 percent of the participants were taking at least one drug with depression as a known side effect, up from 35 percent a decade earlier.

    These included common meds for conditions as run-of-the-mill as heartburn, allergies, pain, and hypertension.

    And sure enough, the more of these drugs the participants took, the MORE likely they were to report a diagnosis of depression.

    Now, you could reason that people who take more drugs are probably sicker than those who take fewer -- and illness alone could give you the blues.

    But the study showed that something about the drugs themselves spiked the likelihood of depression.

    Fifteen percent of the folks who took at least three drugs tied to depression reported feeling down in the dumps, whereas folks who took three or more drugs WITHOUT depression as a known side effect had no increased risk of depression.

    And here's where things get really shocking: Even those who were on ANTIDEPRESSANT medications had an increased risk of depression if they also took at least one other drug with depression as a known side effect.

    That means you can't even pop a "happy pill" to counteract the kinds of pills that can bring you down!

    So, if you're feeling blue and taking any meds at all -- even over-the-counter meds that seem harmless -- check with your doc about depression as a possible side effect.

    Often, you can switch to comparable meds that won't send you into a sea of sadness.

    Better yet, turn to nature over drugs for whatever ails you.

    For example, probiotics can ease allergies naturally... acupuncture can relieve pain without side effects... and both of these natural approaches can even improve depression .

    Whatever you do, don't jump on the antidepressant bandwagon to boost your mood -- because these drugs can up your risk of falls and double your risk of Alzheimer's .

  2. Light exercise eases depression

    Ditch the doldrums with this easy brain hack

    When you're feeling low, your couch is prime real estate. It's got everything you're looking for to escape, no matter what's distressing you.

    It's not only comfortable -- it's comforting!

    But according to the latest research, the "couch potato" approach to dealing with the blues may actually be making it worse.

    When you're feeling depressed, it's usually because you have low levels of the brain chemical serotonin. But curling up is the exact OPPOSITE of what you should be doing to lift your spirits -- because the BEST way to boost levels of this "feel-good" neurotransmitter is by getting a little exercise!

    The new study, published in the Journal of Health Psychology, found that while being sedentary is associated with depression, physical activity -- even just light exercise -- can really turn things around.

    In the study, researchers compared the self-reported feelings of wellbeing and depression of 419 middle-aged adults with their physical movements over the course of four days.

    Those who were the MOST sedentary were the LEAST happy, compared to those who engaged in some light or moderate physical activity.

    But the good news is that people who had been sedentary but began some light or moderate exercise during the study showed the GREATEST improvement in psychological well-being.

    So, if you're struggling with depression or feeling even a little bit down, don't reach for that remote -- or for an antidepressant drug that comes with a list of side effects longer than the line at the DMV.

    Instead, get moving!

    And it doesn't take a lot of "get-up-and-go" to lift your spirits.

    The most effective exercise for raising serotonin levels is aerobic activity -- the stuff that gets your heart pumping -- so if you're more ambitious with your exercise, by all means keep it up.

    But according to these latest findings, it's enough just to move around without any sweating, panting for breath, or heart pounding -- the equivalent of taking a leisurely stroll around the mall!

    That means you'll get a brain boost even from low-intensity activities like gardening, walking the dog, or window shopping.

    You don't even need "workout" gear, and you'll still get enough physical activity to put a smile on your face again.

    You might actually get the most bang for your buck from trying a gentle senior yoga class -- because the ancient practice not only gets you moving, but it also incorporates breathing and meditation, a combination that's been shown in studies to ease major depression.

    Taking a walk outside in the sun is also a great bet -- because studies show that feasting your eyes on trees, birds, and greenery reduces depression, as does getting enough vitamin D, the "sunshine" vitamin your body produces when the rays hit your skin.

  3. Yoga eases major depression

    Ditch depression with this ancient practice You're feeling down... maybe even hopeless... and it's more than just "the blues" or a passing "funk." When you've got major depression, life's not exactly a bowl of cherries -- in fact, it's the pits. It seems like you'll never again take pleasure in the things you used to enjoy. To make matters worse...
  4. Nature's greenery helps combat depression

    A mood boost from our feathered friends When you've got the blues, you may feel like you never want to step outside your front door again. Depression -- and its close cousin, anxiety -- has a way of making you want to stay inside, draw the curtains, and nurse your woes with a box of tissues on the couch. You'd...
  5. Seniors taking more depression meds than ever

    The number of adults on psychiatric medications for depression is ballooning, especially in seniors. Here are some ways of combating life's ups and downs without getting that prescription filled.
  6. Your depression may be caused by carbs

    Eating refined carbs has been linked to an increased risk in developing depression in older women. So, if you want to lift your spirits out of this post-holiday slump, all you need to do is make some simple changes to your diet.
  7. Daylight saving transition triggers depression

    People are more likely to suffer depression during the transition from daylight saving to standard time, but here are some helpful ways to cope with those dark afternoons.
  8. Nighttime hot flashes can make menopausal women depressed

    New study shows menopausal women are depressed by nighttime hot flashes – and not just because they’re sleep deprived. But instead of taking meds to reduce the depression, try a natural remedy to reduce the hot flashes.
  9. Key to beating depression starts in your gut

    Another study proves that the right balance of gut bacteria can help control depression and anxiety.
  10. Feds may pull anti-smoking Chantix after suicide link

    Patients on anti-smoking drug Chantix are offing themselves in record numbers. Even the feds think you may be better off smoking.

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