5 Things You Can Do to Improve Your Depression
Depression is more than just feeling sad. Sadness is a natural human emotion, but when this sadness perpetuates, and you begin to sink into dread and despair, depression begins to take hold. When you are depressed, your brain physically changes and generates less serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that is associated with calmer emotions as well as motivation. Your brain becomes very active. In fact, some researchers have found that more than 70 different parts of the brain are activated during depression. This includes the hippocampus, front part of the brain also called the prefrontal cortex, the anterior cingulate cortex, the temporal lobes, and other parts of the brain you probably have never heard of and most likely don’t want to. Following are five things you can do to improve your depression. However, before you read any further, if your depression has lead to thoughts of suicide or self harm, seek help immediately. Don’t even wait until the morning, but call the suicide prevention hotline now.
- Find the root cause of your depression. The most productive step in addressing your depression is to first identify the cause. Find out if the depression is stemming from something physical within your body that can be treated or if it is from an outside source. Learn how adrenals and thyroid are connected to depression. Sometimes, your physical symptoms that appear to be depression, manic or bipolar depression may really be the effects of hypothyroidism. An underactive thyroid or poor adrenal health and depression often go hand in hand. Both the thyroid and the adrenals are part of the endocrine system. Regardless of the cause, once you’ve pinpointed what is at the root of your depression, only then can you begin to successfully treating it. Other Causes of Depression are:
- Suppressed anger
- Grief, loss
- Repeated losses
- Mental strain, long-term stress
- Life becomes unbalanced with too little or too much work
- Economic problems
- Bad relationship
- Aging- with a belief that the surface/physical looks is what matters
- Loss of identity- children leave the home, divorce, loss of job
- A childhood of neglect
- Low self-esteem- losses are taken more personally
- Alcoholism, weak liver
- Chemical imbalances in the brain
- Head injury
- Hormonal imbalances- childbirth (post-partum depression), menopause.
Common symptoms of Depression:
- Exhaustion, which isn’t helped by sleep
- Use of sleep as an escape
- Loss of interest in appearance
- Loss of appetite
- Excess smoking, drinking, drugs or using work to dull the pain
- Loss of libido (low sex drive)
- Lack of motivation, feels helpless and hopeless
- Inability to cope with extra demands
- Difficulty making decisions
- Things seem to take a long time
- Thinking, remembering and concentrating are all difficult
- Lack of joy
- Sadness, unhappiness
- Crying, sometimes for no apparent reason
- Loneliness, in spite of having friends or family around
- A feeling that no one can help
- Self-pity, absorbed in sad thoughts about self
- Low self-confidence, low self-esteem, a sense of inferiority
- Guilt, anxiety, either blaming others or oneself
- Negative, pessimistic thoughts that churn around and around
- Gloom, a feeling of flatness
- Indifference to family, close friends and/or loved ones
- A feeling of pointlessness
- Increased irritability
- Mood swings
- Feeling numb, apathetic, dazed. May just sit and stare.
- Feeling imprisoned, separate- as if nothing is real
- Despair, as if a cloud hangs overhead
Suicidal thoughts, life is bleak
- Do a neurotransmitter test to find out which neurotransmitters are out of balance. Stress and other factors can cause imbalances in neurotransmitters, hormones, adrenals, and immunity. Your healthcare professional may begin by asking a series of questions to get an idea of your mood and physical symptoms and to determine your stress levels. He or she will then order a lab test, using either your blood or your urine, that will determine imbalances among major brain chemicals such as dopamine, serotonin, GABA, epinephrine, norepinephrine, cortisol, PEA, histamine, or glutamate. Once the test results are in, you will be able to work toward treating the true cause of your depression.
- Get quality sleep and take a walk in nature. Get grounded by walking with bare feet. Because depression activates the brain and lowers levels of serotonin, insomnia is one of the most common signs of depression. As many as 80 percent of people who suffer from depression also have difficulty sleeping. Pile on top of that fatigue and anxieties, and a vicious cycle is begun of sleepless nights that run into long, tiring, depressing days. Exercise and relaxation may help you get the sleep your body needs to help balance out your mood enough to lift out of the depression. Walking in a peaceful environment of nature is a great way to help your body produce natural pain killers known as endorphins. Don’t be surprised if you even experience the euphoria of a runner’s high after exercise and walking has become part of your daily or weekly routine.
- Read your Bible/say 3 affirmations 10 times before bed. Studies have revealed that those who have a belief in God are twice as likely to respond well to treatment of depression and to experience better outcomes. This is true regardless of the religious affiliation. It is the faith that gives you hope. Tap into this higher power to lift your mood and help you relax and sleep. Use scriptures and prayer to speak out loud using three affirmations ten times before bed. Your affirmations are usually quick, short statements that encourage and uplift your state of mind. These affirmations may include a short scripture, such as “I cast my fears on the Lord for he cares for me”, “Meditate on things that are holy, pure, loving, and joyful.” Or, they may be as simple as saying out loud, “I am valuable” or “God comforts”. As you hear yourself speak these affirmations out loud, you will begin to believe them, and your mindset will shift to more edifying thoughts as you drift off to sleep.
- Heal your gut and remove foods that affect your gut, drink at least 8 cups of water every day, and stay away from caffeine. When you are depressed, your brain requires more energy-inducing glucose. This is why you may crave chocolate or eat when you are depressed. You may also cry uncontrollably in an effort by your brain to relieve tension. If you crave coffee or other caffeinated beverages, try substituting with Teeccino coffee, which is caffeine, gluten and acid free. Also, make sure you get enough protein that will support your neurotransmitters. Take supplements like Vitamin D3, or spend time in the sun. Supplement with 5HTP, fish oil, and St. John’s Wort.
Homeopathic Support for Depression:
Aurum metallicum –
Despairing depression, commonly caused by a business loss or a personal failure of some sort. Everything seems black. You feel you have let family and/or employees down. Suicidal thoughts. You feel worthless. You feel this feeling will never end.
Kali phosphoricum –
Depression from too much excitement. Exhaustion. Anxiety.
Lachesis muta –
Depression from suppression (physical or emotional) of expression due
to another person or circumstances. Depressed and suspicious. Feels much worse on waking in the morning.
Natrum muriaticum –
Quietly and deeply depressed. Sad and resentful. Depression comes on after a loss or a disappointment. Hides feelings: may not realize the depth of their emotions and especially doesn’t want anyone else to see them. Will only cry when alone.
Pulsatilla nigricans –
Depressed and weepy. May have suffered a loss. Feels lonely, wants company and sympathy and feels better for it. Feels better after crying. Can easily cry in the company of others.
Worn out, depressed and irritable. Feels better for crying but wants to be alone and doesn’t want to be comforted. Indifferent to close friends and relatives (including their children). Feels guilty about not feeling.
Flower Essences for Depression
Gentian- a temporary setback. You feel discouraged for a while but then decide to try again.
Gorse- feeling hopeless and discouraged.
Mustard- feeling you have a dark cloud over your head, in a pit. It comes on suddenly, with no reason, and leaves just as suddenly. Can be hormonal.
Sweet Chestnut- “the dark night of the soul.” Deep anguish.
Associated Flower Essences
Aspen- fear and anxiety with no known reason.
Cherry plum- fear of losing one’s mind, losing control.
Elm- feeling overwhelmed.
Honeysuckle- living in the past. You feel it was better or worse back then.
Hornbeam- the Monday morning blahs, all week.
Impatiens- irritable and impatient.
Larch- low self esteem.
Oak- total exhaustion.
Pine- feeling guilt.
White Chestnut- persistent thoughts. Unable to quiet mind.
Psychology and Psychotherapy Theory, Research and Practice The British Psychological Society, Kate Miriam Loewenthal, September 2001 Faith Conquers All? Beliefs about the role of religious factors in coping with depression among different cultural-religious groups in the UK – http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1348/000711201160993/full
Journal of Affective Disorders, Volume 26, Issue 1, September 1992, Pages 31-43 Elsevier, M-P, Austin – Single photon emission tomography with 99m Tc-exametaxime in major depression and the pattern of brain activity underlying the psychotic/neurotic continuum – https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0165032792900322
BMJ 1996;313 doi, August 1996 – St. John’s wort for depression – an overview and meta-analysis of randomised clinical trials – www.bmj.com/content/313/7052/253.short
Mental Health and Physical Activity, Elsevier, Volume 5, Issue 1, June 2012, Pages 66-75, Walking for depression or depressive symptoms: A systematic review and meta-analysis – https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1755296612000099
Homeopathic Guide to Stress: Safe and Effective Natural Ways To Alleviate Physical and Emotional Stress by Miranda Castro