- Personal Health Information & Self-Help
How to control and overcome Depression without resorting to medication.
Dr Matthew Erdelyi PhD talking about depression and its causes.From Illumistream.
Coping with Depression without medication.
Depression is an evil thing, of that there is no doubt. It is an illness that can strike seemingly without warning. Being depressed isn’t the same thing as sometimes feeling down, sad or miserable. The vast majority of people, unless they are very lucky, will feel like that at some point in their lives. Depression is far more serious than that, it is an illness that can, if left untreated, ruin and even end lives.
Although not thought to be hereditary some people do seem to be more prone to depression than others. Depression is also a lot more common than most people realise, severe depression will afflict around 15% of the population at some time during their lives. The figure could be a lot higher than that because of the simple fact that so many depressed people fail to seek help for their condition. They suffer in silence, often hiding thier disease from even the people closest to them.
There remains a stigma attached to being depressed, the feeling that the affected person should be able to snap out of it somehow, to be able to pull themselves together. Which is absolute rubbish, depression is a very real illness thought to be caused by an imbalance of brain chemicals. It can affect anyone, at any time of life, even the likes of Abraham Lincoln, and Ghandi suffered from it. It can affect even those people who appear to be happy and contented with their lives, many people still don't realise just how devastating depression can be.
Very often there seems to be no reason whatsoever for the affected person to be depressed, they can appear not to have a care in the world and this makes it so much harder for others to understand and be sympathetic. It is all to easy for people to point at someone suffering from depression and say 'what have they got to be depressed about?' Most of the time if you asked that question directly the sufferer wouldn't even know the answer themselves.
Of course there are exceptions, if a person is feeling depressed after a bereavement or because they have lost their job, or some other life changing experience then that is perfectly normal, you should expect to feel pretty miserable. But so often there just doesn't seem to be any real reason for depression, it can be a real mystery.
There is another way.
All too often when a sufferer does seek help and advice from a medical professional the first thing they do is reach for the prescription pad. Which is not always a bad thing, in fact, some people might only find a way to cope with their depression through medication. But it should be noted that there is another way, you can learn to deal with this terrible illness without resorting to tablets.
Not everyone, myself included, feels happy taking pills and quite often mood enhancers go hand in hand with pills to help you sleep. It can be a viscious circle, you feel depressed so you take pills, having to take pills all the time makes you feel depressed!
Antidepressants can have some pretty scary side effects too, especially when you first start taking them, from suicidal feelings to self harming. They can also increase your appitite, cause nausea, constipation, blurred vision and make sleeping difficult. Any and all of which would make me feel pretty darn sad and depressed.
Ten simple questions.
Ask yourself these questions to give an indication of your state of mind. Chose from the following answers :-
1) Has your sleep pattern been disrupted?
2) Have you lost your appetite or been comfort eating?
3) Have you been feeling drained of energy?
4) Have you had the feeling that you’ve somehow let people down?
5) Have you found yourself feeling sad or down?
6) Have you found it hard to settle to things like reading or watching TV?
7) Have you taken little pleasure from doing the things you normally enjoy?
8) Have you found it hard to carry on a conversation with people?
9) Have you considered hurting yourself?
10) Has the thought ever crossed your mind that you would be better off dead?
If you answered no to the majority of questions then you wouldn’t appear to be in any danger of developing depression. If you answered some days then that could indicate the start of a problem. If you answered most days to the majority of questions then it would be best to speak to a doctor as soon a possible and before setting out a course of action for yourself.
Think about a calm, restful image to help you relax.
Go to your happy place.
Medication isn't the only way to cope with depression.
Depression and anxiety often go hand in hand, no one seems to know which one comes first, does the depression cause anxiety or is it the other way round? Does it even really matter? Learning how to relax and let go of the days worries and niggles can help the depressed person immensely, this can be achieved in a variety of ways from deep breathing exercises to simply visualizing a calm, peaceful place.
Keep the bedroom for sleeping.
It might sound simple but these days all too often the bedroom has become a multi functional room. If you have trouble relaxing at the end of the day and dropping off to sleep easily then take a look around your bedroom. Do you use your computer in the room, watch TV, read? If the answer is yes then try removing these distractions for a short period of time, say one month.
Only enter the bedroom when you are ready to go to sleep, the brain will soon associate the room with sleep and only sleep and you will find it a lot easier to switch off at the end of the day. Get into a bedtime routine, if possible take a warm bath, it is much better for helping you relaxe than a shower, get into bed, close your eyes and start taking long, slow, deep breaths. Think about somewhere calm and peaceful, it can be a real place that you know or an imaginary one. A beach, a sunset, a lake surrounded by trees anything that helps you to feel happy and relaxed.
Forget about anything else and concentrate on your happy place. Relax your body slowly a bit at a time, start at your feet and work your way up, feel the worries of the day flowing out of you. You should fall asleep quite quickly, but if you don't then don't worry. Get up and do something else for a while, go into another room and read a book, have a warm drink then return to bed when you feel as if you can sleep. Never stay in bed awake for longer than fifteen minutes, it will just ramp up your anxiety levels and you will spend the best part of the night tossing and turning.
Eat plenty of seeds and nuts to help fight depression.
Eat yourself happy.
Some foods that can help to fight depression.
Carbohydrates can help to raise the levels of serotonin in the body, foods such as brown rice, whole wheat bread, kidney beans and honey all contain high levels of carbohydrates.
Some studies have shown that people suffering from depression have low levels of vitamin E, including foods such as chickpeas, nuts, seeds and leafy green vegetables in the diet can be helpful.
Chocolate, in particular dark chocolate, is a well known mood enhancer, it just makes you feel good to sit back and tuck into a couple of squares of really good chocolate.
Mnay people find drinking green tea to be a great way to relax, it does have calming properties and can also help to lowere blood pressure. Eat foods rich in Omega 3 fatty acids such as flax seeds, salmon,tuna, sardines and soybeans.
Exercise, fresh air and getting out of the house.
Exercise is another great way to lift the mood, walking is one of the best ways to exercise the whole body, just getting out in the fresh air and feeling like part of the world can make you feel better too. All too often depression sufferers become reclusive, they can't face the outside world, they don't want to see people, they can't face making the effort to get ready. It is a slippery slope and one that needs to be tackled quickly if you find yourself feeling this way. Force yourself to get dressed and get out, you will feel better for it.
Keep your mind as active as your body, even doing a crossword or suduko puzzle everyday can work wonders. The more time you spend doing things like this, the less time you have to dwell on negative thoughts. Keep yourself ocupied, both mind and body if you want to start finding a way out of depression. Don't expect any changes to happen overnight, it is a long haul and a difficult path to follow but remeber - there is light at the end of the tunnel. Think positively - It does get better.
A trouble shared.
No matter which method you chose to use in your quest to cope with depression, the most important thing to remember is not to try to do it alone. Seek help from family, friends, your Doctor - anyone you trust and feel comfortable confiding in. Seek out on line forums, you will be amazed at how many people are feeling the same way you are, there is an age old adage that is worth remembering - A trouble shared is a trouble halved.