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Beating Depression, Part One: My N=1 Story

Inner peace and relaxation
The healing power of nature

Many people seek hypnosis therapy to reverse depression. That's a good thing – because it shows that there are a lot of people out there who are looking for natural solutions to both mental and medical issues. It's less of a good thing when clients don't understand that depression can have various causes or, for that matter, have not thought much about their own individual case. Just as many see Western medicine as a magic bullet, many clients look at hypnosis the same way, and as I've said, over and over again, hypnosis is not magic.

What is Depression?

Here’s a link to the Mayo Clinic website page on Depression. It’s extensive and shows a variety of potential causes. Basically, it describes depression as “…feelings of sadness [that] won’t go away and the origin of the sadness is hard to discern. It is not something [people] can 'snap out of’ or control. It causes feelings and thoughts that won’t go away. Many lose interest in normal daily activities, lack energy, and have trouble concentrating. These are all signs of depression, a mood disorder also referred to as clinical depression or major depressive disorder.”

The takeaway is that each client has a unique experience of depression and that all avenues ought to be explored to find a lasting solution.

My mother suffered from depression - although she really suffered from thyroid imbalance (probably Hashimoto's) that came on with menopause. Back in the day, doctors weren't so sophisticated respecting these issues. They gave her shock treatment and put her in a mental ward for a while. Of course, this did nothing, so they put her on anti-depressants, and she stayed on them for 25 years until she died. These did very little except destroy her self-esteem and, after so many years on them, give her psychotic episodes if she didn't take her pills. It took about 10 years for her to get diagnosed with a thyroid problem when she started to grow a goiter. The thyroid medicine did more than anything to right her mental ship.

Her depression story began when I was about 13, and I became a very critical observer of her mental state - and what I thought caused it. For one thing, she had a terrible diet. She ate only processed foods laced with preservatives, tons of sugar, and of course, caffeine in the form of diet soda. She drank no water and ate no fresh vegetables. After a while, she could no longer drink alcohol – just a couple of sips would make her drunk. She had to have a sugar break at 3 pm daily or she would lose her mind. She didn't exercise much, and she didn't sleep well.

But she also had understandable reasons for suffering from depression. She was a brilliant woman who didn't have an outlet for her brilliance. Her brilliant husband, my father, was gone on business a lot of the time. With her three kids nearly grown or gone, she experienced the sorrow of an empty nest. Added to all of this, she had had plenty of childhood trauma between her father dying young, the depression, and World War II.

So there it is. She had multiple causes for depression, and probably even more than we knew about. The only way anyone thought to address it was to give her shock treatment, pills and endless talk therapy. The pills had loads of side effects which required more pills. And no one, except me, questioned any of it.

The concept of anxiety as a mental state and how it affects thoughts and emotions.
You are not alone

How I beat depression…my N=1 account.

Since I looked like her, many people in my life - including my father - told me I would grow up to be just like her: that I would be “crazy,” too. So naturally, I determined that that would never happen. But when I was young, between the ages of 13 and 28, it seemed like they might have been right.

When I was young, I would have terrible PMS, which caused depression, and eventually I realized that my hormones were out of balance. I read what I could on the subject, and eventually found a doctor who helped balance them. I believe that clients who are dealing with weight loss or any issue like depression or anxiety would benefit from talking to a naturopath or functional medicine doctor to get a good “lay of the land” for physical issues that may be causing the mental ones.

In the process of healing my hormones, I realized that even though I ate a healthier diet than my mother’s, I really wasn't eating well. So I overhauled my diet to include fresh things – as much as possible ONLY fresh things. Now that I'm older, I rarely eat out. Sugar, caffeine, and preservatives can really affect the brain.

I also exercise. Those who follow me know that I'm a big fan of kundalini yoga, which I do every morning, and have for 27 years. It's like giving yourself an acupuncture treatment without the needles. I also walk a mile or two every day. Exercise raises depression-beating endorphins - amongst other positive things.

I recognize that sleep is probably the most important thing I can do. I'm a busy person with a busy mind, so I admit that some days I only get six hours. But if that happens a couple days in a row, I take steps to ensure 7 to 8 hours for another couple days in a row. Of course, hypnosis is a great help for sleep, but most important is good sleep hygiene - relaxing before bed, a quiet dark room, no screens for a couple hours beforehand.

I go out in nature, and I cultivate my hobby as a watercolor painter. Sometimes life just needs to be fun. Appreciating the beauty and majesty of creation puts things in perspective.

My spiritual life is extremely important to me and includes a combination of self-hypnosis, prayer, and meditation, which I change up depending on what personal goals I'm working on.

I enjoy extremely satisfying work in which I serve others. (I love being a hypnotherapist.) I also do charity work, and take care of my husband, dog, and cat. By caring for others, I recognize how important self-care is, because if I don't take care of myself, I can't serve anyone else. To help others well requires good health and good personal boundaries.

So that's my recipe for success. I'm probably the least depressed person I know – and considering I've had a lot of hard knocks in life, that's saying something. I realize that I am not a double-blind study. This is just my story. My data comes from one subject, so N=1, as researchers would say. But, hey, it's an amazing story. During my youth, I refused to take anti-depressants. I was determined to figure it out using what I had observed of my mother’s experience as an inspiration. And I did. So, I hope you’ll be inspired to beat your own depression. Of course, hypnosis can play an important part - but you'll have greater success if you take a holistic approach.

What are Natural Ways to Relieve Depression?

In the next installment, I will go into more depth, exploring natural ways to approach depression, including hypnosis. But for now, here's a short list of things to look into:

  1. Eat a healthy diet

  2. Balance hormones/check for health causes

  3. Sleep well

  4. Hypnosis/Meditation/Prayer

  5. Care about others; spend time with people

  6. Go out in Nature

  7. Ask for help

Here’s a link to a book called "Why Isn't My Brain Working?" by Datis Kharrazian. It discusses various sources of brain dysfunction as well as ways to reverse them. More ideas in the next installment.

Support and Comfort represents the role of a hypnotherapist in providing guidance and support.
The importance of self-care and mindfulness practices

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