Depression is a serious health condition that impacts the lives of millions of people. There are currently 19 million Americans with depression. And according to the World Health Organization, depression will be the second largest single cause of illness in the world by 2020. Fortunately, studies show that ecotherapy may help relieve depression symptoms.
Types of Depression and Symptoms
There are many types of depression including bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, seasonal affective disorder, and postpartum depression. Some of the depression symptoms include feelings of helplessness and worthlessness, irritability, insomnia, oversleeping, loss of energy, anxiety, weight loss, weight gain, and even thoughts of death. Recommended treatments for depression include “antidepressant drugs, psychotherapy, or a combination of both.” Another aspect of treatment could be reevaluating how your environment impacts your mental health.
Nature and Mental Health
In the past, the University of Essex has commissioned ecotherapy studies. Ecotherapy is about getting out of doors and becoming active in a natural environment as a way of boosting mental health. This study showed:
- Seventy-one percent of the study participants reported decreased levels of depression after a walk in nature.
- Over 70 percent of the participants said they felt less tense after a walk in nature.
- Ninety percent of the participants said their self-esteem increased after a walk in nature.
- Eighty-eight percent of the people reported feeling improved mood after their walk in nature.
Healing From Depression
Whether you’re experiencing depression or not, practicing ecotherapy is great for Mindful health. Listed below are four reasons researchers believe our moods change when we are in nature.
- Connections. We make nature and social connections with animals, trees, clouds and our surroundings.
- Our senses. Being in nature stimulates our senses. The colors, sounds, fresh air, and wind are sensory stimulators.
- Activity. We are walking and in motion, which makes us produce endorphins and serotonin.
- Escape from our busy lives. We are reflecting, thinking and coming home to our self when we’re in nature. This de-stresses and nourishes us.
Bonus. Need some tips to help you get started on incorporating ecotherapy into your life? Consider going on daily walks around the neighborhood with your family. If you have a patio or outdoor space, try having your morning coffee outside. Or for your lunch break, consider walking around the block.