Supporting a Healthy Mood

If feeling blue describes you, here is some advice and tips which may help brighten your mood.

Exercise: We know exercise is good for our health and exercising regularly can also help support our emotional health and well-being. The physiological benefits of exercise are well-established in the scientific literature; research also supports the psychological benefit of exercise.1 One study showed a single bout of moderate-intense aerobic exercise can improve mood and positive well-being in adults receiving treatment for major depressive disorder.2 In addition, a walking program was beneficial for both men and women with mild cognitive impairment as shown by improved memory and attention.3 The type of exercise doesn’t seem to matter. Engaging in either aerobic or anaerobic exercise seems to be equally effective for supporting mood. The clear benefits for our mind/mood should be emphasized equally, since the psychological benefit of exercise may be very relevant to the present life situations of some individuals.4

Before beginning a regular exercise program, it is important to obtain a physician’s clearance. Increasing your physical activity and regular exercise (for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week), is a positive way to get your body and mind on the road to better health.

Social Activity: Being around people can naturally lift our spirits. This is true at any age, but especially as we get older. Make a point to go out with friends, spend time with family, or join a group in the community such as a book or crafts club. You can reap double benefits by starting a walking club or hiking troop in your neighborhood! Doing so can allow you to socialize and exercise at the same time. Also, keeping active and social may help keep stress to a minimum to help enhance overall mood.

Diet and Nutritional Supplementation: It is always important to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet rich in fresh vegetables, fruits, lean protein (fish, poultry), and whole grains for good health. However, it may be difficult to eat well on a daily basis, and data shows that Americans in general, fall short with some key nutrients.5 In turn, our overall health as well as our physical and emotional balance may be affected. To help support a healthy mood, consider some nutritional supplements. Before starting a supplement regimen for mood or emotional health, first speak to your health care practitioner.

SAM-e: SAM-e, or S-adenosylmethionine, is a compound naturally produced in the body that may increase levels of neurotransmitters, or brain chemicals, responsible for mood. Factors such as age, certain health conditions and poor diet can impact the amount of SAM-e found in the body. Consequently, those factors can also affect mood. When levels are low, a SAM-e supplement can help restore the body’s supply of SAM-e. B vitamins may also help because they allow SAM-e to work effectively.6 Therefore, SAM-e is recommended to help support a healthy mood. SAM-e has been shown to work in as little as 7 to 14 days when taken daily as directed, however, if you are experiencing symptoms of a low mood, see a physician for a proper guidance.

St. John’s Wort: St. John’s Wort has a popular history and may help support a healthy mood. The exact mechanism of how St. John’s Wort works is unknown. St. John’s Wort may exert a mild anti-depressive action, and therefore may help to support mood. The mood-elevating effects of St. John’s Wort were originally thought to be due solely to the active component, hypericin, but hypericin does not act alone. As with many herbal medicines, St. John’s Wort relies on the complex interplay of many active constituents for its actions.

For people who tend to be sensitive to the sun (such as fair-skinned individuals), they should be cautioned when taking St. John’s Wort, or, individuals taking large doses of the herb should avoid excessive sun exposure. In addition, St. John’s Wort may have additive effects with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and other antidepressants, and should not be used at the same time due to possible adverse effects. St. John’s Wort is also contraindicated in pregnancy because it may stimulate uterine contractions. It has also been discovered that St. John’s Wort may affect the Cytochrome P450 system, which is responsible for metabolizing various common medications. If you are taking prescription medication(s), it is important to check with your health care professional before taking St. John`s Wort.

1. Fadillioglu MD, et al. Effects of Moderate exercise on mild depressive mood, antioxidants and lipid peroxidation. Bull Clin Psychopharmacol 2000;10:194-200.
2. Bartholomew JB et al. Effects of acute exercise on mood and well-being in patients with major depressive disorder. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2005;37:2032-2037
3. Baldessarini RJ. Neuropharmacology of S-adenosyl-L-methionine. Am J Med 1987;83:95-103.
4.Scully D, et al. Physical exercise and psychological well-being: a critical review. Br J Sports Med 1998;32:111-120.5. Fulgoni et al. Food, Fortificants, and Supplements: Where Do Americans Get Their Nutrients? J Nutr. 2011; 141:1847-54.
6. S-Adenosyl-L-Methionine for Treatment of Depression, Osteoarthritis, and Liver Disease. Summary, Evidence Report/Technology Assessment: Number 64. AHRQ Publication No. 02-E033, August 2002. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.