5 Ways to Manage Depression
Coping with Depression
Recently my life has been touched by three suicides and one serious almost successful attempt. All of them occurred within the last month. Robin Williams suicide affected the whole world, many of us are severely grief stricken at his loss and the tragedy of it.
When I thought about this blog I went to look at all the statistics of who commits suicide but then I realized that in no case did the statistics matter to the family members of the person who died.
When I was a child, my stepfather had a borderline personality. He was abusive and psychologically cruel but more than that, he threatened to kill himself almost every week. One time he really did pull out a gun. We had a big dramatic moment, where I took it away from him, tossed it across the room to my sister who ran out of the house with it – all while I held him at bay. He was six feet tall, 220 pounds and I was a little 110 pound 17 year old girl at the time. I sometimes wished that he would just leave, so I wouldn’t have be tortured by him anymore.
But then I came upon a period in my own life where I felt so badly that I pondered taking my own life. I understood how pain and anger can make everything else pale in comparison. And I realized that what kept me alive during that time was the support of people who loved me.
How to Manage Depression
Millions of people suffer from depression. Antidepressants are prescribed daily in every doctor’s office. The symptoms of depression include moodiness, sadness, low energy, suicidal thoughts, sleep problems, food cravings or lack of appetite, inability to get motivated, and obsessive thoughts. Some people may not think they are depressed but they can’t stop eating muffins, or have to have ten cups of coffee every day to keep going.
Our bodies are chemical factories run by a computer that regulates everything. We are in a delicate balance all the time but many of us don’t recognize it. Depression can come from life circumstances, genetic predisposition, or it can come from poor diet, lack of exercise, and toxins in our environment.
Here are 5 things you can do to help yourself be balanced when depression threatens to take over.
1. Eat a well balanced diet with enough protein and low carbohydrate vegetables throughout the day. Keeping your blood sugar stable will help you have a better mood.
Avoid common food allergens such as gluten, dairy, eggs, sugar, corn, peanuts, soy. Many of my patients have learned that by cutting “white foods”, they are not as depressed.
2. When you feel a low mood coming on, do something physical to release it – 100 jumping jacks, or go outside take a walk, or go to the gym or take a yoga class.
3. Get a “mood buddy” – make a deal with a friend or family member that you will check in daily to make sure that you are doing okay. Stay in communication with loved ones so that you feel their support. Ideally you have a whole community of people who stay in touch to be connected.
4. Take nutritional supplements to support your biochemistry – omega fatty acids, Vitamin D, good quality multivitamin with B complex. balance.
5. Take it one step further – seek a professional who can support your healing – a counselor, psychiatrist, doctor, acupuncturist – someone who will help you get more physically balanced and be there for you when things get rough. Some of what they might do is –
a. help balance hormones,
b. measure your brain chemistry and help balance that,
c. provide counseling and listening ear
d. help you recognize when you need medication
We struggle with our minds every day. Sometimes you might feel as though your emotions are purely “mental,” with no physical basis. I encourage you to recognize that your health is a combination of physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual elements. Don’t neglect balancing your physical body better when you think something is purely emotional or stress related.
It seems like it doesn’t matter how much you’re loved when suicide becomes an option. Each of the people who died this last few weeks were deeply loved. Yet somehow it wasn’t able to stop them from taking action.