Depression can be a deep dark tunnel. If you have been affected by it, then you know. I went through a very dark period in my life, and I remember thinking at the time that there was no worse pain and that pain seemed to have no end in sight.. These days, some people come to Health Coaching in hopes that along with their other ills, the depression might leave them. Often it does.
Many people who say they are depressed are simply having a bad day or week. That “depression” is normal and temporary, and in many cases is cured by a few nights of good sleep and perhaps a freeing, low-stress weekend. The depression we’re talking about here, however, goes beyond the temporary low moods set off by unhappy circumstances. And if you are currently taking medication for depression, certainly do not consider decreasing or discontinuing it without the collaboration with your doctor.
There are, however, some non-medical ways to fight depression, which, when employed, may reduce or eliminate the need for medication. Again, prescription medication is a medical matter to be discussed with your physician.
Here are some non-medical solutions that have helped people out of the darkness of depression.
1. Knowledge is Power. Sometimes knowing the root cause of your depression is the key to unlocking the depression cage. In this internet age, it is an easy thing to learn about the sources of mental anguish. Knowing that cause may be empowering for you, and empowerment, or knowing which step to take next, is an exciting thing.
2. Eat Well. Start with a diet which includes lots of dark leafy greens, (in regular green smoothies is the best way), and other fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds. This habit alone can make a huge difference in how you feel. Then, look for foods that improve the output of serotonin. Some of the best serotonin enhancers include sour cherries, coconut oil, avocados, and flax seeds. Stay out of processed foods and refined sugar. They are not your friends.
3. Talk Therapy, done with a certified behavioral analyst, can be very helpful in identifying unhealthy patterns in your life. It guides you in learning new and better ways to cope with negative people, stressful situations, and self-defeating thoughts and self-talk.
4. Chamomile Tea can alleviate annoying sleeplessness that sometimes accompanies depression. This is a good thing, because waking up tired from lack of sleep only accentuates the low feelings you have as you drag yourself out of bed. Try a strong cup of chamomile tea 30-45 minutes before bedtime. A sachet of lavender under your pillow might provide an extra boost of sleep inducement, as well.
5. Get Physical. When you feel depressed, it’s an easy thing to concentrate on how good you do NOT feel. Redirect just a bit of that energy and focus on moving your body. Light to moderate exercise gives you a jolt of endorphins that work like antidepressants. Pick an activity you like – go for a swim, hike in the hills, dance on the beach, or go to an exercise class. Focus on your wonderful body which is working hard for your well-being always. For best results, make physical acyivity part of your daily routine.
6. Avoid Caffeine. Being exhausted from lack of sleep, yet wired from coffee is not a good combination to add to your depression. Coffee does not do anything for your mood or for the chemicals in your brain that regulate your mood. Some studies have shown that 2 cups of coffee can actually lower your serotonin levels. This is not a good outcome to mix with depression.
7. Enjoy Green Tea. It does have some caffeine, but much less than coffee, and the caffeine in green tea combines with it’s L-theanine. These two substances will give you an energy boost, but without the subsequent crash. Green Tea can reduce stress, and has been shown to boost dopamine levels. Green Tea is a far more helpful beverage for you than coffee for at least as long as the depression lasts. You may find that you like it as much when you’re feeling better.
8. Seek Social Support. Feelings of isolation and disconnection can be reduced by maintaining a strong support network. Humans are social beings to begin with, and when we’re feeling alone and sad, we need the company of others who have been, or are currently going through emotional experiences similar to our own. Find a group through your doctor, therapist, or perhaps your local college or church.
Again, if you need the help of the medical profession through a dark time in your life, get it. And to the extent that you can employ any or all of the above self-help practices, the sooner you will be enjoying more sunny days.