Depression is a difficult topic for the millions of people who experience it. Not only is it tricky to navigate in terms of treatment, but it's tough to even talk about for a great many sufferers. Because depression often permeates a person's life in so many ways, it may be unpleasant to delve into. After all, when we feel bad, it's tempting for us to stick our heads in the sand and follow the path of least resistance.

With that said, it's worth taking a few minutes to think about some of the causes and potential treatments out there, some of which may require us to think outside the box. As we learn more about depression and make advancements in mental health treatment, it may surprise you to learn what is emerging in terms of findings.

Addressing a lack of goals

Research has suggested that a lack of drive or direction may contribute to depression. This can initiate a vicious cycle whereby a person who ordinarily doesn't feel like striving towards anything may feel even less motivated to do so when full-blown depression kicks in.

Assuming this is true, adopting a set of goals is vital. Not just one - there should ideally be several. This is because putting all your eggs in one basket may cause you to feel defeated if your main aspiration does not come to fruition. With several potential goals, you are spreading the risk and increasing your overall chances of success.

Are you lacking stimulation?

Our minds require stimulation. If you are suffering from depression, there is a fair chance that you are not challenging yourself sufficiently. A mind that is left to its own devices can sometimes cause problems and create negative loops or thinking patterns. In that sense, your mind is a little like your digestive system - it needs sustenance and something to chew on.

If you're depressed or suffer from anxiety, consider what your day-to-day life looks like. Is it devoid of challenges and situations that require you to think deeply and creatively? Attending school, or considering a new line of work may prove beneficial. Even just enjoying a new hobby or acquiring a skill can sometimes be enough to break the monotony.

A change of scenery, and sometimes just a solid dose of fresh air can also do the trick when it comes to shaking off a funk, at least temporarily.

Diet and exercise are crucial

As you may have guessed, what we put into our bodies plays a major role when it comes to maintaining mental health.

A lack of nutrients or certain essential vitamins and minerals can create a number of issues. Vitamins B, C, D as well as calcium and magnesium all play important parts when it comes to neural function and mood. Where possible, it's best to obtain natural sources of such nutrients from food, but supplementation may sometimes be necessary, depending on what your doctor or mental health provider has advised you.

Exercise is another crucial factor not to be overlooked. Adequate blood flow and the removal of toxins by way of exercise and sufficient hydration are key when it comes to staying on top of your mental health game.

Avoid stimulants and recreational substances

Your mind is delicate and works by way of a complex system of neurons and transmitters.

When a person takes stimulants or abuses recreational drugs, the equilibrium that exists may be thrown off. It's important to understand that just because a person may have used (and felt good from) a certain substance in the past, it's not guaranteed to continue to work for them. A person who, for example, has used marijuana over a longer period and been fine could suddenly feel quite differently after a single bad smoke.

Even substances like caffeine, alcohol or nicotine, often considered to be fairly common and benign, can have a negative effect (especially with prolonged use).

In short, brain chemistry is not to be taken lightly, and never underestimate the potential ramifications of getting it wrong.

Therapy is still a great option

Talking with a qualified professional about your personal situation is always recommend should you find yourself in a tough spot.

It's important to note that your therapist or psychiatrist should be a good fit for you. It may take several tries to find the professional that you feel most comfortable with, but the results will likely prove worth it.

Where possible, be clear on what you want to talk about, and what you're hoping to achieve when speaking to a therapist. To that end, it is recommend that you write down what you need help with prior to talking to someone. This is important, because therapy may feel pointless or unhelpful unless steered in the right direction.

Consider medication

While still taboo for some people, the right medication can be life-changing for a person suffering from depression.

If your doctor or mental health professional recommends you give it a try, you owe it to yourself to at least consider it. Medication can be a rocky road in and of itself with potential side-effects and possible withdrawal symptoms later down the line, but it can also vastly improve a person's quality of life. As with therapy, it may take some time to find the best fit for you, but assuming you reach that point, you will be glad you stayed the course.

To sum up, it's vital to consider the various situations that may be contributing to a negative mental health situation for you personally. Even if you can't work it out for yourself, the most important thing is to reach out and tell someone what you're going through. Sometimes, a simple finger-point in the right direction can mean the difference between a life that works and one that doesn't.

Even if you continue to struggle, it's important to never give up hope. We all face challenges that must be overcome, and some of us will have to dig deeper than we may want to beat them. If that sounds like you, know you are not alone, and that help is available. You just have to be willing to seek it out.