Dr. Andrew Weil who was named in 2006 as one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People is taking on the world’s fastest growing epidemic, depression. One in 10 Americans, including children, are taking antidepressant drugs, and the World Health Organization predicts that by the year 2030, more people worldwide will be affected by depression than by any other health condition. Dr Weil says there’s a whole new field of positive psychology that studies people who are positive and optimistic and learning how they use their minds and developing methods of teaching these to other people.
“Just some simple examples: happiness is contagious. You can make an inventory of your life of people whose company you feel more optimistic and positive and you spend more time with them. What we take into our minds and into our senses has a great deal of influence on our emotional state. If you consistently watch sad movies, listen to sad music and read sad books, chances are that you’ll be more sad than if you didn’t.”
Dr. Weil says the information overload and all the media people are exposed to can affect our brain functions and you can limit your exposure to that. He also says there’s a lot you can do on the physical level to boost mood.
“We have a great deal of scientific evidence for the power of physical activity. It boosts mood and works as well as anti-depressant drugs. It doesn’t have to be running a marathon. Walking is perfectly fine as long as you do enough of it and do it regularly.”
Dr. Weil also says pets and nature can have a powerful effect on how we feel. Dr Weil is the founder and program director of the Arizona center for Integrative Medicine and his latest book is titled “Spontaneous Happiness”.