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Depression & Anxiety: Causes, Symptoms and Prevention

Woman in depression sitting on couch

Depression and anxiety are intense mood disorders typically characterized by feelings of sadness, anxiousness, loss, anger, and worry. Although they are different disorders it is common for both anxiety and depression to be present. 

Furthermore, depression and anxiety can be experienced in slightly different ways with varying symptoms. 

If you or someone you know has depression or anxiety, it’s important to understand the root causes of these disorders and explore ways to prevent them from getting worse over time without necessarily having to rely on meds. There are many ways you can make lifestyle changes that will benefit your mental health and overall improve your quality of life. 

Here are some physical symptoms and signs of what to look for:

Signs of Depression

  • Guilt
  • Hopelessness
  • Distress
  • Low mood or depressed mood
  • Helplessness
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Loss of interest
  • Feelings of doom

Signs Anxiety

  • Restlessness
  • Panic attacks
  • Difficulty concentrating 
  • Irritability 
  • Increase or decrease of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain from stress

Causes of Depression and Anxiety

Both depression and anxiety disorders can be caused by a wide variety of things, ranging from biological factors to circumstantial events. For example, you might become depressed or anxious because of these risk factors:

  • A bad life event occurred, such as early childhood trauma or a significant injury. The loss of a loved one or job can also induce depression in adulthood. 
  • Family history. There’s some evidence that genetics can play a role in one’s likelihood of developing depression but, typically, genetics only account for around 10% of the population. Most cases of mood disorders have been the result of environmental or lifestyle choices such as diet.   
  • Medical conditions, such as insomnia, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), panic disorder,  or chronic pain, can make depression more likely.

Similarly, anxiety can be caused by several potential factors, including:

  • A traumatic incident or event in your life.
  • Brain structure can be affected by family history and genetics but again, in most cases, mood disorders such as depression have been the result of environmental or lifestyle choices. 
  • Medications prescribed for certain health conditions can also induce anxiety in certain individuals

Furthermore, many people on antidepressants experience a sharp increase in anxiety. Antidepressants by their very nature are stimulants, as they work to help counteract the low energy levels common with depression symptoms.

If you suspect you are experiencing depression or anxiety to any degree, it’s important to discuss your symptoms with your doctor so they can diagnose you properly.

Remedies for Depression and Anxiety

Depression and anxiety can be debilitating but there are natural ways to address mood disorders. Here are just a couple of examples.

Make Nutritional Changes

Making some changes to your diet can have positive effects beyond what you might expect.

For example, you should remove sugar and get rid of saturated fats. Both of these will help your body to feel healthier and more energized, which may also help to treat some symptoms of depression. Try to avoid processed foods and eat healthy meats like fish or grass-fed and organic beef and chicken. 

You are what you eat, so eating healthily will likely have wide-ranging health effects as well!

Practice Stress-Relieving Habits

Many people experience an increase in their depression or anxiety symptoms when they are under a lot of stress. You can’t always treat the source of the stress directly, especially if it stems from your job or family.

But you can practice stress-relieving habits and relaxation techniques to calm down or relax at the end of the day. Some of the best habits to practice include:

  • Meditate, particularly when paired with yoga so you get a little extra exercise.
  • Exercise, in general, can help to relieve stress by burning off stress hormones.
  • Take a relaxing outdoor walk.
  • Focus on feeling grateful for things in your everyday life; it’s difficult to feel stressed if you feel grateful for things instead.
  • Remove social media from your life. Delete Facebook and other social media platforms and you’ll see almost immediate results.
  • Journal, which can be a helpful way to express yourself if you don’t have a therapist to talk to.
  • Get a good, restful night of sleep.

Exercise Regularly

As mentioned above, exercise is key if you want to manage depression and/or anxiety. You should exercise consistently and perform high-intensity interval training or HIIT instead of cardio training.

HIIT burns more calories and can make you feel better about your body as a result. But more importantly, it more effectively reduces cortisol which is a key stress hormone and one of the major factors behind depression or anxiety spikes.

Plus, exercising regularly will make you feel better overall.

Target Key Vitamins and Minerals to Support Emotional Health

You may also want to target certain key vitamins and minerals, which may be able to help support mental and emotional health. 

We’d recommend targeting these ingredients in either supplements or your dietary choices:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids. Common ingredients in fish oil and marine algae, omega-3 fatty acids may be able to improve mood by traveling through brain cell membranes and interacting with various mood-related molecules. 
  • Vitamin D, also called the sunshine vitamin, is a key vitamin for supporting mood. Additionally, a vitamin D deficiency makes you more likely to experience more depressive episodes. 
  • Rhodiola can assist with stress-related burnout, which frequently occurs in people who have chronic stress.
  • There are also links to vitamin B12 deficiency and depression/anxiety. That’s because vitamin B12 and many other B vitamins help your brain produce the right chemicals to support your mood.
  • You need a certain amount of magnesium every day for several bodily functions, including the formation of DNA. However, low levels of magnesium have been linked to depressive symptoms because magnesium helps regulate the actions of certain brain receptors. 

*It’s important to note that upping your intake of these supplements does not replace prescription medication like antidepressants. Always follow the guidance of your mental health provider. 


Overall, we know that it can be tough to deal with depression and anxiety, especially if you experience both disorders at the same time. But remember that there’s always a way forward and there are always methods to help alleviate your symptoms without taking potentially harmful medication.

If you or someone you know has had suicidal thoughts, please seek professional help from your healthcare providers or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255. 


Major Depression and Genetics | Genetics of Brain Function | Stanford Medicine

SSRI Antidepressant Medications: Adverse Effects and Tolerability | NCIB

The Effects of Psychological Stress on Depression | NCBI

Caloric expenditure of aerobic, resistance, or combined high-intensity interval training using a hydraulic resistance system in healthy men | NCBI

Omega-3 fatty acids for mood disorders | Harvard Health

Vitamin D and Depression: Where is all the Sunshine? | NCBI

Multicenter, open-label, exploratory clinical trial with Rhodiola rosea extract in patients suffering from burnout symptoms | NCBI

Vitamin B12 Supplementation: Preventing Onset and Improving Prognosis of Depression

Rapid recovery from major depression using magnesium treatment | NCBI

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