Depression is Not Only in the Mind and it can End

Depression is not only in the mind, it is invasive. And it is not just a bad day or week.  It hurts all over.  It is in the body, emotions, mind and spirit (whether or not there is a belief in the spirit). Unfortunately, pain is part of depression whether a dull ache or a stabbing pain.

It can affect anyone, at any point in their lives. Actually many people have both anxiety and depression simultaneously. Often depression is characterized by episodes of persistent and pervasive low mood, reduced interest in pleasurable activities, pessimistic ideas about self, the world and the future and changes in functions like sleeping, eating and general self-care.

 

We throw the word ‘depression’ around a lot, to the point where for some of us a bad day is grounds for saying “I’m depressed.” One of the hidden problems with this attitude is that a self-fulfilling prophecy can come to pass when a label is added. Thoughts and behaviors start to conform to this label, reinforcing it, and a vicious cycle is created. We don’t want to ignore a real and pressing problem, but also don’t get overly concerned with normal fluctuations, since these are part and parcel of the human condition.

Video from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) about the causes, symptoms, and treatments of depression.

 

One way to differentiate the real deal from the passing mood is to think of them like beverages, where one is ‘depression’ and the other is ‘depression light’. If the depression is a mood it will lift after a time but look to treatment if lasts for more than two weeks.

Currently, Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) and psychiatric medications with all their side effects have become recommended treatments for both depression and anxiety. And the good news is there are lots of alternatives. It is just a matter of finding the practice, approach or techniques that empower individual self-healing.

Researchers found that learning not to ruminate as much on thoughts and feelings has a positive effect on people suffering from depression. Realizing worry and rumination are factors in depression alone is liberating for many. Metacognitive therapy (MCT) decreases rumination thus benefiting people who have symptoms of depression. Many depressed people feel that their persistent ruminative thoughts are out of their control and overwhelming. MCT helps depressed people to gain control over thoughts. After being treated with MCT 80% of study participants had fully recovered from their depression after six months. Patients analyze the content of their thoughts and raise questions about their validity.

Nature therapy – Go outside, be in nature, or at least stay in the sun for a half an hour a day. Our ancestors lived mostly outside for millions of years which is healing because it increases a positive mood and vitamin D levels naturally.

Bright light therapy – Has been shown in several trials to help alleviate depressive symptoms.  If you can, install some bright lights inside your workspace.  

“I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in tune once more.” – John Burroughs

Laughter Therapy – Laughter relaxes most tense muscles while stimulating organ muscles, boosts the immune system, alleviates pain and improves mood. Negative thoughts, it can bring about depression that may manifest into physical symptoms. With laughter a good overall feeling happens, which stays even after the laughter. It is hard to feel sad, angry, or anxious when laughter. It can help fight depression when laugh, triggering release endorphins, neuropeptides which act as natural painkillers. A good laugh expands the lungs, improve oxygen inhalation, stress and tension are reduced, the whole body relaxes, and an overall sense of well-being.  

Gardening – One of the best ways is to lift depression get your hands dirty, enjoy the outside and grow your own food. Not only does gardening trigger the production of “happy” chemicals in the brain (serotonin and dopamine). Contact with soil can also provide good bacteria that are natural reducers of depression.

 

Deep breathing If nothing else when depressed, honor breathing. Believe in it. Really value it. Consciously BREATHE. With this deep breathing method consciously pay attention to breathing. Begin by slowing breath then focus on taking regular, deep breaths.

Eat a Healthy Diet – Avoiding toxins and getting enough but not too much tryptophan helps mood. Optimize omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acid ratios, which improves overall health.

Meditation or Prayer Regular research shows that prayer and meditation play a role in preventing depression and depression relapse. Research for years focused on mindfulness.Relapse rates for people using meditation were the same as those taking antidepressants (about 30%), and lower than those on a placebo (about 70%) in one study. The second study found that 47% of the meditation group relapsed, compared to 60% of the people on antidepressants alone.

Herbs – Saffron, the Crocus sativus increases the levels of serotonin and other chemicals in the brain. Research has shown as effective as fluoxetine (Prozac) in reducing symptoms of depression without the side effects.

St. John’s wort is one of the most studied supplements for depression is used in teas, pills, and extracts. Popular in Europe it is found as beneficial as antidepressants for mild depression without the side effects of pharma.

Caveat: St. John’s wort can diminish the effectiveness of various prescription medications, including birth control pills, HIV drugs, blood thinners, and some anticancer medications, among others.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is encouraging everyone to increase global mental health this World Health Day, April 7, 2017.  To eliminate stigma and increase access to mental health treatment so more people can get the help they deserve. This year’s Health Day motto is “Depression: let’s talk,” and it’s because a lack of treatment availability and stigma are preventing people from getting that help.

Use what works to empower selfhealing. Try a combination of doses of laughter, fun friends, sunlight, soil, nature exposure, fun movement, herbs and a healthy diet to relieve depression.

 

 

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