Mental Health: Overcoming Depression Without Medication
Researchers now believe that 75% of the effect of anti-depressants is due to nothing more than the placebo effect. Most anti-depressants are SSRI's (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) which are believed to have an effect on the Serotonin levels in the brain.
It seems that improvement in patients suffering with depression who are prescribed anti-depressants may actually be down to their own personal beliefs, rather than being a result of the medication they are prescribed.
What is depression?
In order to relieve yourself of your depression you must first find out whether you really are truly suffering with depression or whether you are simply just feeling down, as there is a significant difference.
Problems at work or at home or sometimes both can be extremely difficult to cope with and can leave you feeling vulnerable and sad. This does not necessarily mean that you are suffering with depression.
Depression usually begins when, over a long period time, problems in your life continue to mount up, each additional problem causing you that extra bit of stress and worry that builds in a gradual crescendo over a significant length of time.
Depression is the point where all of these stresses and strains on your mind become overwhelmingly difficult to cope with and become unbearable and even the most silly, little negligible things that happen in everyday life make you feel even more wore down.
When this happens you feel like you don't have the motivation or energy to make the effort any more, you would rather sleep or escape by keeping your mind occupied in some other way.
This then leads you into the 'automatic negative thought' aspect of depression whereby you will most likely find your interior dialogue (the voice in your mind when you're thinking to yourself) throwing negative thoughts at you seemingly of its own accord.
Your mind is working overtime and the more your mind throws these automatic thoughts at you the more anxious, worried and depressed you become which eventually leads you into feeling stressed and anxious about any new problems that may arise which can ultimately make you feel suicidal.
If you are genuinely suffering with depression you will probably suffer with a lot of automatic negative thoughts which you will find yourself becoming more and more aware of.
This may then lead you into believing that you are thinking too much or that your mind is on overdrive.
You then become worried about why your mind is being so active which in turn leads you back to being paranoid and you then find yourself in a downward circular spiral of awkward thinking traps which ultimately leads to more depression, anxiety and paranoia.
At the point that depression kicks in some people report a sensation at the front of their head which feels like it has become indented or caved in. Others report a sense of feeling lost and not knowing who they are any more or where they are going in life.
Some people feel worthless and lack self-esteem due to recurring bad experiences. Most people suffering with depression will feel paranoid and uneasy in certain social situations, particularly where there are a lot of people.
They may feel that everyone is looking at them or plotting something behind their back or knows something they don't. Some people may even develop irrational phobias.
Bi-polar disorder is what used to be known as manic or chronic depression but has become better understood recently. Sufferers of bi-polar disorder often find themselves feeling content with their life for several weeks then suddenly become overenthusiastic and overly excitable.
This may then be followed by several weeks of feeling manically depressed. The order of the symptoms usually goes through a long term cycle.
Techniques For Relieving Depression
Whilst some of these techniques may seem a little simplistic they have been proven to work and some patterns are currently used within various types of therapy.
I advise that even if you feel that nothing is happening that you should continue to use the techniques for approximately twenty minutes every day for a minimum of two weeks.
Even after the two weeks it can still take time for the changes to take effect.
Automatic Negative Thoughts and Interior Dialogue
To deal with your automatic negative thoughts you first need to be aware of when they are occurring. Each time your mind throws a negative thought at you do not start believing that you are thinking too much, you are not.
You are just more aware of those thoughts happening so don't worry. Instead respond to the suggestion with opposition.
For example, if you find yourself thinking 'i hate life' simply respond to yourself and say 'i'll ignore that, it's just an automatic negative thought, I won't let it bother me, I love life'
Although this technique may seem a little daft after a while you should notice a significant difference in the way your interior dialogue works.
Effectively what you are doing is taking those automatic thoughts which contain negative assumptions and turning them into positive suggestions.
Never ever underestimate the power of suggestion, it's one of the most powerful tools known to man.
Taking An Outside Perspective
Another extremely useful technique which can really help you get a perspective on things is to spend an hour or so on your own and take a look at the bigger picture.
First you should sit or lie down comfortably relax and clear your mind then begin to look at your own life and everything in it from a third person perspective.
Watch your life as though you are someone else watching a movie.
Thinking outside the box and taking a look at your life from an outside perspective over a long period of time will allow you to notice things that you had never really thought about before which will begin to make you realize things you never realized before.
Recoding Past Experiences
Note: Please read the following technique from start to end and make sure you understand it before applying it. I also recommend that before applying these techniques you do some research into the world of NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming).
If there are any specific memories of events that have occurred in your life or in your past which you strongly react emotionally to or relate to your depression, you can alter the way that you represent (code) these experience to yourself.
Since we represent everything internally to ourselves in metaphorical representations of reality (ie dreams) this is an easy technique.
Take the even and imagine it happening on a large television screen in your mind but view it from a third person perspective (as though you are sat in a cinema watching it).
Now watch the event happening on the screen and play it over a couple of times. Take as much time as you need. Keep replaying the event but as you do so gradually make the color slowly drain away until it becomes black and white.
As you continue to replay the scene in your mind imagine the black and white screen becoming darker and darker, the images are becoming blurry and harder to see.
As you are nearing the end of the technique zoom out on the dark, blurry black and white screen and see it gradually becoming smaller and smaller in your until you're left with just a tiny dot.
Now open your eyes.
Doing this three times a day for a week or two effectively changes how your memory recodes that event and therefore alters how you respond emotionally whenever that memory is triggered in the future.
Disclaimer: The above methods are taken from various aspects of applied psychology and NLP. Those wishing to try out the above methods should properly research them thoroughly first. Alternatively, this article is not a substitute for medical diagnosis and treatment and it is advised that you seek out professional medical help for your depression.
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