I have an ongoing struggle combating depression. As a member of the “Anti-Unnecessary Medication” mindset, it’s forced me to seek more alternative and all-natural means with which to self-medicate as opposed to what is prescribed by Dr. Feelgood.
According to an article from WebMD.com, titled “10 Natural Depression Treatments” by R. Morgan Griffin, the following tips are all-natural ways to help to fight depression:
Get in a routine
Personally, I think that it is my enslavement to a routine that I did not choose that more causes my depression. As an addendum, it’s a good practice to put a bit of your own desire into a routine to help you cope. For example, I enjoy going to a coffee shop for breakfast before going to work every day. According to Griffin’s article “If you’re depressed, you need a routine, says Ian Cook, MD. He’s a psychiatrist and director of the Depression Research and Clinic Program at UCLA.”
Griffin/Cook says to “start small.” “When you’re depressed, you may feel like you can’t accomplish anything,” he adds.
This makes a lot of sense because even setting and achieving small goals can reinforce your waning sense of hope.
Exercise can cause microscopic tears in the muscles as they rebuild themselves to become stronger. The body’s natural response to this is to produce endorphins to help negate the pain from the tears which have the added benefit of improving mood in a sort of all-natural high. Moreover, Cook goes on to note “Regular exercise seems to encourage the brain to rewire itself in positive ways.”
This has always been one of the harder things for me as food is pretty much the only vice which I allow myself. Also, as Cook says, “there’s evidence that foods with omega-3 fatty acids (such as salmon and tuna) and folic acid (such as spinach and avocado) could help ease depression.”
Get enough sleep
This is also one of the more difficult treatments methods for me. There’s always one more episode to watch on NetFlix and one last word to get in with the girlfriend before finally closing my eyes, but I know that I should definitely work harder at it because as Cook says “What can you do? Start by making some changes to your lifestyle. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day.”
Take on responsibilities
This seems to be counter-intuitive, but it does make some sense. In my own experience, the temptation to pull back and hide in my room binging on sci-fi shows is nearly overwhelming. It never really ends well. Doing that, or something similar tends to make a person focus too much on him/herself and all of the flaws that would overwhelm a person when too bright a light is shone upon them. The simple truth is that we all have flaws that make us unique and beautiful in our own way.
Moreover, Cook warns “If you’re not up to full-time school or work, that’s fine. Think about part-time. If that seems like too much, consider volunteer work.”
Challenge negative thoughts
This is by far the most challenging monkey to get off of my back. For whatever reason, it’s like a reflex always to jump to a negative interpretation of the facts in front of me. Moreover, it’s ingrained into the modus operandi of my thinking routine to the point of being indistinguishable from the surrounding, cheery parts if indeed there are any.
For myself, I have found that I tend to use negativity as a security blanket to insulate myself from pain. It’s easier to deal with a bad outcome if you’re always expecting one from the beginning. Cook corroborates this with “When you’re depressed, you leap to the worst possible conclusions. The next time you’re feeling terrible about yourself, use logic as a natural depression treatment. You might feel like no one likes you, but is there real evidence for that?”
If I’m being really honest, then the answer to that question is an incontrovertible “No.”
Check with your doctor before using supplements
Personally, this has never been a problem for me given the aforementioned “No Pills” mentality which I have fostered, but Cook says “There’s promising evidence for certain supplements for depression. Those include fish oil, folic acid, and SAMe. But more research needs to be done before we’ll know for sure.”
Do something new
I have found this to be one of the more effective practices in my personal quest to overcome depression. The mentality of my own experience is that nothing ever changes, so forcing myself to do new things whenever I get the opportunity challenges that ingrained perspective and encourages me to err on the side of a hopeful future as opposed to a dismal one. Cook agrees in his article with “When we challenge ourselves to do something different, there are chemical changes in the brain. Trying something new alters the levels of [the brain chemical] dopamine, which is associated with pleasure, enjoyment, and learning.”
Try to have fun
This is the most obvious and yet the most challenging way to counteract depression. It’s as if my own brain just forgets how to have fun, and when I try to think of ways to do it, I come up blank. It’s like trying to read the directions of how to use a light switch in a room with almost no light in it in the first place. Cook supplements this with “What if nothing seems fun anymore? That’s just a symptom of depression. You have to keep trying anyway. When you’re depressed, you can lose the knack for enjoying life. You have to relearn how to do it. In time, fun things really will feel fun again.”
I can personally affirm that this thinking is dead on accurate!