Get a checkup. This may seem like a no-brainer, especially if you’ve already been to your doctor for your diagnosis and treatment of depression. But many long-standing health conditions can contribute to reduced brain fitness, while not being the primary cause of your depression. Being overweight, for example, has been shown to reduce brain function and can contribute to depression. It may also lower your ability to exercise, robbing you of a key brain- and mood-booster. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, anemia, thyroid problems, concussions or other brain injuries, stroke and other health problems can all take a toll on brain fitness, as can low levels of Vitamins B12 and D, and testosterone (in men). Getting these conditions under control can help boost your brain, which in turn will put you in the best condition to bounce back from depression.
Check your medications. I often see patients who have no idea their medications are causing side effects. In particular, medications given for anxiety, insomnia, pain and even depression can cause mood changes, brain fog, or other cognitive and health problems, so it’s a good idea to review your total medication list with your doctor to ensure they’re not interfering unnecessarily with your brain function or health.
Sleep. Insomnia and sleep apnea, in particular, have been shown to reduce brain function, which can contribute to depression. Many people put up with sleep disorders and incorrectly assume they’re untreatable. Not only are both conditions often treatable, but treatment can help reverse the damage done to the brain and lead to dramatic improvements in brain function. My sleep apnea patients are often amazed at how different they feel after treatment. And diagnosis is easier than ever before – with a small device provided by your doctor you can do a sleep study in your own home.