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Stress, Anxiety and Depression in a SHTF World

In an extended emergency, depression and anxiety disorders will be prevalent and preppers should prepare accordingly for them. Having a combined approach to your wellness through storing natural supplements, healthy habits, and being mentally and spiritually prepared will can keep you surviving and thriving.

The extreme stress experienced during a long-term disaster scenario can result in depression, even in a person with previously stellar mental health.

Over the past two years of crippling economic chaos in Greece, suicides have increased by as much as 1/3 the rate before the collapse. Anti-depressant use has increased 20% as people are struggling with a feeling of hopelessness as taxes go up and paychecks go down.

According to the DSM-IV, a major depressive episode is classified by a group of symptoms that are present for longer than 2 weeks.

Criteria for Major Depressive Episode

(Must have a total of 5 symptoms for at least 2 weeks.  One of the symptoms must be depressed mood or loss of interest.)

  1. Depressed mood.
  2. Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all or almost all activities.
  3. Significant (>5% body weight) weight loss or gain, or increase or decrease in appetite.
  4. Insomnia or hypersomnia.
  5. Psychomotor agitation or retardation.
  6. Fatigue or loss of energy.
  7. Feelings of worthlessness or inappropriate guilt.
  8. Diminished concentration or indecisiveness.
  9. Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide.

The above symptoms can be paralyzing during a time that we need all of our faculties and energy. Depression and/or anxiety are serious illnesses that can be devastating for not only the victim but also for their loved ones. During good times, we can seek medical advice if the darkness of depression is encroaching. During a disaster situation or collapse, this may not be possible.

While these suggestions are not supposed to take the place of medical care and advice, they can help prevent or lessen some of the symptoms.

  1. Be mentally and spiritually prepared. The fact that you are reading a prepping website means that you are preparing for a possible desperate situation at some point in the future. When you understand what is going on and have considered what to expect you can face the situation with less shock and more confidence. This mental preparedness will help you offset some of the fear and trauma that others are experiencing in the same situation. Equally, preparing your spirit for dealing with more desolate times will also help you stave off depression.
  2. Eat a healthy and nutritious diet. This is something that you must prepare for ahead of time when you’re building your food stockpile. Make sure that you have a variety of healthy foods and avoid triggers like artificial colors and flavors, MSG, artificial sweeteners, and preservatives. Base your diet around whole foods as this affects your mental wellness as much as your physical wellness.
  3. Stock up on vitamins.  Many people suffering from depression are aided by supplemental Niacin, a B vitamin, as well as vitamin D3, both of which are very inexpensive. A good quality multivitamin can also help you get all the nutrients your body requires. Other helpful supplements are omega-3 fatty acids and folic acid. St. John’s Wart, lemon balm, valerian, and chamomile as individual ingredients, or combinations, such as Clarocet natural supplements can all help to provide calming and mood balance.
  4. Get plenty of sleep.  With the stresses of guard duty and all of the chores that need to be done, it can be difficult to shut off your brain enough to rest. The herbal supplement valerian root listed in the previous point, can also aid you in getting a good night’s sleep and peppermint or chamomile teas also have relaxing qualities.
  5. Take mental breaks during the day. No one can focus on stressful situations during every waking hour without it taking a toll. Take a few minutes to read a chapter of a good book, play with a child, spend some time with a friend or joke with a partner.
  6. Make a schedule. Alternatively, many people suffering from depression struggle to get out of bed and get anything done – this paralysis can be equally harmful in a disaster situation. If this applies, try setting small goals, making a list and crossing off items. Give yourself plenty of breaks between tasks.
  7. Exercise – This may be a given in a disaster situation, but if the situations allows a brisk walk or jog, this can help your brain to release endorphins, nature’s antidepressant.
  8. Get some sunshine.  This is not always possible for safety reasons or because of the weather, but if you’re able to try to get 30 minutes of sunshine per day. Your body will absorb vitamin D and can help you sleep by properly adjusting your circadian rhythms.
  9. Don’t allow yourself to ruminate on the situation. Rumination is basically over-thinking the negative aspects of a given situation.  When you catch yourself dwelling on the bad side of your situation, you must stop yourself and force yourself to find something positive to think of. It’s fine to think of the negatives on occasion but when you ponder the same thing over and over, you need to divert yourself from these energy-stealing thoughts.

Anyone who has ever suffered from intense stress, anxiety or depression know all too well how paralyzing it can be. In an extended emergency, these disorders will be prevalent and preppers should prepare accordingly for them. Having a combined approach to your wellness through storing natural supplements, healthy habits, as well as mentally and spiritually preparing yourself for the shtf difficulties can keep you surviving and thriving.


This article is meant for informational purposes. Contact a doctor to get professional advice on whether these natural supplements are right for you.

This article was originally published at Ready Nutrition™ on October 24th, 2012