The Upside of Depression

Periods of sadness, apathy, hopelessness and discontent have been part of my life’s journey, and I assume that is true for most people. How we deal with those feelings matters. They can lead to personal transformation and lifestyle changes or disempowerment and a pessimistic outlook.

In my life, periods of depression accompanied 1) the ending of my two marriages; 2) the awareness that being a full time mom was not fulfilling me; 3) the realization that my religion had lost meaning for me; and 4) the two health crises that changed my body (to name a few). Life looked bleak in those times; I had no idea what would replace the known. I did my best to cope and reach for support from others. Grace did the rest as these situations became turning points that made me a better person and brought more abundance into my life.

Situational depression is different from chronic depression or grief. Chronic depression could mean a lifetime of medication, and grief is a natural response to significant loss—person, job, home, health, business, and more. A complicated grief response may also require medication. That being said, depression can be overcome in a variety of ways. Our job is to make our lives easier by recognizing the symptoms, identifying the available resources, and knowing when to ask for professional help.

Incidence and Symptoms of Depression:

As reported by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, a major depressive disorder affects an estimated 15 million American adults (6.7% of the population) in a given year. According to Healthline.com, 80% of individuals who have symptoms of clinical depression are not receiving any treatment, and the number of patients diagnosed with depression increases by approximately 20% each year.

Ten symptoms associated with depression are these: chronic sadness, self-loathing attitude, loss of interest or pleasure in activities, irritability and isolation, anxiety, fatigue, disturbed sleep patterns, change in appetite and body weight, moving or speaking slowly or feeling restless, and suicidal tendencies. The disorder negatively affects work, self-care, home care, and relationships.

Integrative Wellness Tips to Heal Depression

In the article, Seven Proven Ways to Overcome Depression Naturally, Deane Alban lists strategies that may not only reduce or alleviate symptoms of depression but also contribute to optimal health: (To learn more, go here)  http://reset.me/story/7-proven-ways-to-overcome-depression-naturally/

  1. Eat real food and avoid processed food, fast food, and commercial baked goods. You will increase the nutrients your brain needs to function.
  2. Eat healthy fats in order to balance omega-3 and omega 6 essential fatty acids in your blood.
  3. Get physically active in order to increase endorphins, the feel good hormones, and increase levels of brain growth factors that regulate the neurotransmitters targeted by antidepressants. Outdoor exercise will replenish vitamin D levels which will lift your mood and reduce the winter blues.
  4. Practice meditation because it is one of the best ways to heal depression. This mindful practice increases levels of serotonin and reduces cortisol and brain inflammation as well as quiets negative self-talk. Other mind-body healing techniques are biofeedback, guided imagery, self-hypnosis, yoga, breathing exercises, autogenic training, acupuncture, biofeedback and neurofeedback.
  5. Develop an attitude of gratitude because it reduces underlying toxic emotions such as envy, frustration, resentment and regret, to name a few.
  6. Consider using herbal remedies: Chinese medicine uses artic root, Asian ginseng and ginkgo. Ayurvedic medicine uses aswagandha to reduce stress and cortisol; turmeric (curcumin) to increase serotonin and dopamine; and saffron to improve serotonin metabolism.
  7. Explore Homeopathic remedies such as arsenicum album, aurum metallicum, naturium muraticum, sepia, and pulsatilla nigricans. However, homeopathy works best when an expert is guiding the healing.

These integrative wellness strategies involve the body and mind—my kind of approach. Prescription drugs are the conventional treatment for depression; however, used in conjunction with other holistic strategies, a positive mood may occur sooner, have more intensity, and last longer. Psychotherapy is another effective method to overcome depression because it may uncover dysfunctional mental and behavioral patterns that can be changed with insight and purposeful actions. Emotional Freedom Techniques has been used successfully to eliminate depression and the negative thinking associated with it.

From my personal experience and observations of others who struggle with situational depression, I believe depression can be a stepping stone to greater aliveness. When we feel sad, powerless and apathetic, we have an opportunity to look around, notice what is not working, ask for help and make changes. One of the most important things we can do is trust that a Higher Power will carry us through this darkness—the Footprints in the Sand Prayer. Looking on the bright side of life enables us to see life from a higher perspective and trust that a positive outcome is within reach.

An integrative approach will not only alleviate or eliminate symptoms of depression, it will also lead to great health, a sense of well-being and a life filled with personal satisfaction—prevention at its best.

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