Getting a handle on Depression

 

DO YOU STRUGGLE WITH DEPRESSION?  In my research regarding depression, things just don’t jive.  Imagine that.  A 2015 Huffington post article states “11% of our population suffers from depression.  A 2015 Prevention article states “15% of Americans will suffer at some point in their lives” AND “25% of middle aged American women take prescription medications.”  OMG!  Are you kidding me?  Why, pray tell, are so many people taking prescription drugs?!  I digress since I wanted to provide info on how to overcome/control mild depression.  Prescription drugs is for another day. 

 

I am sure we can all attest to having the blues on occasion.  We’re human, right?  If it’s just for a few days, you’re probably okay.  If it’s for a few weeks, then something has to give.

 

Here are some symptoms of depression: 

  • Lethargy

  • Irritability over minor things

  • Anger management issues

  • Loss of interest in things you love to do

  • Focusing on the past or on things that have gone wrong

  • Sleeplessness or sleeping too much

  • Change in appetite/weight gain or weight loss

  • Difficulty concentrating

 

Here are some possible causes and risk factors:

  • Brain chemistry

  • Hormones

  • Genetics

  • Low self-esteem

  • Chronic disease

  • Alcohol or drug abuse

  • Some prescription medications

  • Family history

 

Here is what can help:

  • Physical Activity – Bet you didn’t see this one coming.  ;)  It will probably be a challenge to make the commitment to exercise.  Start out small.  How about a walk focusing on nature?  Getting outside into the fresh air can make a big difference too!  If you have been an athlete/exerciser in the past, work out HARD.  Get those endorphins going.  Regular exercise helps you feel fit, strong and confident which helps with self-esteem.

  • Nutrition – Eating a diet rich in vegetables and whole grains is found to decrease depression symptoms. Our Western diet of refined carbs and processed meat is associated with high rates of depression according to a 2010 article in the “American Journal of Psychiatry”.  Yet another reason to fuel your body with healthy, nutrition-rich foods!

  • Mindfulness Practice – A University of Michigan study found that depressed patients who attended a retreat involving meditation, guided imagery, drumming, journal writing and hiking (exercise again!) saw immediate reduction in symptoms.  When you are not used to these practices, start out slow.   A number of years ago, I was having some challenges of my own.  One of my favorite exercises is a self-guided meditation.  Click this link to hear this in action:     https://www.youtube.com/edit?o=U&video_id=FT4VyJf3F64       It’s about letting go of things you cannot control.  “Hey, that’s about everything, right?  We can only control our reaction.”  When I first started doing this exercise, the spot of color (you’ll get it when you listen to this on the link) would NOT go away.  Within a couple of weeks, I could do this exercise quickly and feel better instantly. 

  • Light Therapy – Did you know that Sweden has one of the highest suicide statistics?  It’s thought to be because of the lack of light during the winter. A treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder is the use of light boxes which mimics the sun.  It’s believed that light boosts melatonin and regulates the stress hormone cortisol.  Better sleep and less stress too?  I’m in!  I moved to sunny California in 1997 and get lots of natural sunlight now.  Love it!!

  • Antidepressants – By now, you know that I am not a fan of prescription drugs.  However, there is a time and a place for everything.  I personally like to practice both western and eastern philosophies .  I do believe, whole heartedly, that we are an over-medicated society. If you are on antidepressants and are of a mind to eliminate them, you MUST follow the advice of your doctor.  My former husband was put on antidepressants.  He decided to take himself off cold turkey.  Between that and living in Sweden at the time, he took his own life. My heart aches.

 

In conclusion, we will ALL feel better when we practice the techniques above.  A few days of the blues, in my opinion, is normal.  A couple of weeks or more means you need to seek help.  Talk to a friend.  Find techniques that work for you. Seek medical advice AND be careful of physicians who want to medicate you right away. I would even suggest trying alternative health care. I know some wonderful M.D.s who are also holistic health care professionals. As always, I believe that finding balance in your life is the key to overall health. Take care of YOU and THEN put the air mask on others.

 

 

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