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Having dealt with depression for many years, I believe that an Integrative approach looking at all aspects of our lives is the key to healing. Yes, sometimes medications are necessary and helpful. But usually it is something more than a lack of a pill. These are the things that have helped pull me out of the downward spiral and re-connect with the joy of life.
1) Connect in-person
Reach out to people that you care about and set up a time to get together. If you can’t physically get together, at least connect by speaking on the phone or online. But, you need to go beyond impersonal texting, messaging, and emailing. To hear someone’s voice and have them hear yours or to see each other face-to-face is important.
2) Get your body moving
Physical activity helps you move through stagnant energy and also creates those feel good chemicals in your body. Make sure you move your body physically for at least 10 minutes a day. Even doing a short walk or dancing in your living room can help.
3) Get outside
A change in scenery and getting some fresh air can help. Even better if you can enjoy some aspect of nature such as in a park. My favorite place to go is a local lagoon trail where I can hear the birds, feel the shade of the Eucalyptus grove, and breathe in some clean air. They even have benches where I can meditate.
4) Pattern interrupt
Come up with a few things that you can do instead of ruminating on negative thoughts. When I would catch myself in an endless loop, some of the things I would do were: look at baby pictures of my kids, sing, repeat a mantra or affirmation (a couple of mine were “Let go” and “I am safe and grounded”), find humor in the situation or watch something funny.
5) Feed your brain and body
We need the proper nutrients for our brain and body to work – protein provides amino acids which are the building blocks for neurotransmitters that regulate energy and mood and healthy fats are also important. Consuming a whole-foods diet can also reduce inflammation and provide important nutrient cofactors to support brain and body functioning. Some people that do not respond to anti-depressant medications may be helped by a particular form of methylated B vitamin, particularly if you have a specific gene type. This (and your ability to respond to anti-depressant medications) can be assessed by genetic testing
6) Get professional help
You don’t need to go through this alone and there are many types of professionals who can help. If you haven’t found the right fit, keep looking.
- Psychology Today has a searchable database of therapists, psychiatrists, support groups, and treatment centers.
- There are also many crisis hotlines including Lifeline for suicide prevention
- Unstuck: Your Guide to the Seven-Stage Journey Out of Depression by James Gordon, MD
- The Chemistry of Joy: A Three-Step Program for Overcoming Depression Through Western Science and Eastern Wisdom by Henry Emmons, MD and Rachel Kranz
- A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles by Marianne Williamson
- Just One Thing: Developing a Buddha Brain One Simple Practice at a Time by Rick Hanson, PhD
Fisher Wallace Stimulator
- FDA-approved for depression, anxiety and insomnia, this device gently stimulates the brain to produce serotonin and other neurochemicals responsible for healthy mood and sleep. Multiple published studies have shown it to be safe and effective.
- Not for use in those with implanted medical devices, such as nerve stimulators or pacemakers
Target gb-X by Klaire Labs
- This probiotic supplement blend is specifically designed to support positive mood by influencing the gut-brain axis through the microbiome. This blend has been clinically shown to decrease overall cognitive reactivity to sad mood, rumination, negative thoughts, and aggressive thoughts.
- Supplements can be ordered here
- (Steenbergen L, Sellaro R, van Hemert S, Bosch JA, Colzato LS. A randomized, controlled trial to test the effect of multispecies probiotics on cognitive reactivity to sad mood. Brain Behav Immun. 2015 Aug;48:258-64.)
Neurotransmitter and Metabolite Testing
- After assessing your neurotransmitters and metabolites, a targeted supplement regimen can be used to improve neurotransmitter balance.