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Beating Depression, Part Two: Things to Consider

Inner peace and relaxation
Find peace in nature

In my last installment, I addressed various avenues for treating depression naturally. I am neither a doctor nor a psychiatrist. I’m just a person who has observed a lot of depression amongst my family and friends, and have found ways to permanently reverse it in myself. As a result, I have taken a lifelong interest in the topic. I read and collect information. Hypnotherapy is certainly an important tool in relieving depression - but it’s not the only one, and it works best in combination with other tools.

Here are some categories to explore in assessing your own situation.

Can diet reverse depression?

The issue of what constitutes a healthy diet is controversial and one of the reasons there are so few studies on diet and mental health. For example, does a healthy diet include processed white bread? Does it include sugar or chocolate? If you look at what public schools serve children in state-sponsored meals, you might think that might be a model of what a healthy meal should look like. Yet, if you look closely, you'll see that such meals include highly processed foods packed with sugar and preservatives. In my opinion, they’re not very healthy at all.

As mentioned in Part 1, I knew diet affected my mother from observation. She would literally have a panic attack if she didn’t ingest sugar (usually ice cream) at 3pm each day. She also couldn’t move her bowels without coffee. After she turned 50 or so, if she had just two sips of wine, she’d be “three sheets to the wind.” It was obvious her body couldn’t process these things - and there were probably multiple reasons why. But if the body has such a negative reaction to a substance, isn’t it a good idea to avoid it?

Slowly, the medical community is catching up, and there have been a few useful studies. Here’s a study recommending a ketogenic diet for depression. Here’s an article from the British Journal of Nutrition suggesting a link between diet and depression in kids and teens.

The best place to start if you think that diet could be part of your issue is to see a functional medicine doctor or naturopath. If you don't have the money for that, try an elimination diet. It’s a challenge, but it’s free and will provide you with useful information.

The concept of anxiety as a mental state and how it affects thoughts and emotions.
A healthy and delicious choice

What if hormonal imbalance is causing my depression?

Getting a check-up from a functional medicine doctor or naturopath can be useful in finding out how well the body makes and processes hormone. Most women recognize a link between hormones and depression simply because so many women suffer from PMS. I was such a woman, and all it took to convince me that hormones were key was to keep track of my mood for a month.

Hormone balance can be equally important for men. Here’s information about depression and hormonal balance for both men and women from the Amen Clinics. They specialize in balancing the brain emotionally and functionally.

Sometimes hormonal imbalance stems from the body. Aging men may lack testosterone or teenage girls have irregular cycles. However, sometimes we create the imbalance ourselves. Here’s an article linking depression to teens taking contraceptive hormones.

Could sleep deprivation be causing my depression?

If you get too little sleep or if you sleep at odd hours, disturbing the circadian rhythm, depression could be a result. As compared to diet, which is difficult to study because food is such a broad topic, sleep is easy. We all need sleep and if we don’t get it, our brain ceases to function well. Here’s an article from Johns Hopkins Medicine declaring there’s absolutely a connection between lack of sleep and emotional balance. Of course, Johns Hopkins is a western medicine facility. They might recommend tests and drugs. If certain kinds of sleep apnea are discovered, they might even recommend surgery which, depending on the diagnosis, might not be a bad idea.

For most people, though, good sleep hygiene is a matter of changing our modern habits. Sufficient exercise is key for a good night’s sleep. Keeping a steady schedule - waking and sleeping at set times - sets our natural body clock. Relaxing before bed, in the form of a good book, no screen technologies, and a quiet dark room can be helpful, as can herbal teas or other remedies. Here’s a useful article with 9 ways to enhance sleep, and thereby enhance mood.

Can Hypnosis, Meditation or Prayer reverse depression?

Accessing the superconscious clears the mind and creates a state of flow. Hypnosis is particularly useful in helping clients establish healthy habits, like those that might contribute to good sleep hygiene. Hypnosis is amazing for training a client to relax before bed. Many people in today's world simply do not know how to relax. Relaxation, in general, is key to good digestion and mental health. If for whatever reason, a person can't relax, good sleep will be impossible and the emotional state will suffer.

Hypnosis, meditation, and prayer refocus the mind and clear the subconscious. Although each works differently from the other, they do stimulate the same brainwave state. They clear the mind and can be used throughout the day to alleviate depression and anxiety. My one caveat about prayer is that people don’t know how to do it. Some people treat prayer as a magic bullet and then they get frustrated with it. If the depression is clinical (not caused by a clear source), prayer may need to be longer and more meditative in nature. In other words, it needs to be used to change how the brain functions in the same way that meditation and hypnosis do. For example, it's not only beneficial to speak to God, it's also beneficial to listen.

Can connecting with people resolve depression?

Many years ago, a friend of mine, who suffered from depression, told me a counselor had told her that people need about 25 friends apiece to thrive, especially in a marriage. These 25 people would not all be close friends – they would have different levels of closeness, with 4 or 5 being actually close. Plus, this variety of friends would bring different qualities to the relationship. My friend was struggling, having only two or three friends in her circle, and so her marriage to her extroverted husband was suffering. When one has that many acquaintances and friends, one sees oneself as part of the community and recognizes the impact of one's contribution. Other people can help you solve your problems, and by helping them solve theirs, your problems seem manageable. Even introverts can achieve this. However, in modern times, when people spend so much time in front of a screen, it's easy to replace real physical relationships with artificial ones. We just don't attach very well with people we meet on a screen and that robs us of life-affirming relationships.

If acquiring this many friends and acquaintances seems like a challenge, or would take a long time to manifest, then invest in in-person talk therapy. A good therapist not only will keep you accountable to your personal growth, but therapists are real people and will be more invested in your future than someone you haven’t met.

How can Nature and Exercise reverse depression?

As I said previously, exercise produces endorphins which reverse depression. If you are sitting all day, whether at work or at home, your physical body isn't doing enough to promote your mental state. What if you're ill or elderly and exercise is difficult? There are still things you can do. For example, I give many of my clients breathing exercises which they can easily do sitting. You can also do gentle stretches and movements.

I know this, sadly, because I've had to rebuild myself more than once. After a car accident in 2013, I had to rebuild my body as well as my brain. Someone at the research lab where my husband worked gave us an EEG device and I could watch my brain waves while I did breathing exercises. I saw that oxygen is like soap and water to the brain – it increases circulation and eliminate toxins.

A way to enjoy exercise is out in nature, if that's possible. But even during the winter, when we have to stay inside, we can enjoy nature by caring for houseplants, looking out the window, or going for a long drive. As Deepak Chopra wrote, “When you drink in nature through your senses, you’re deep in your awareness of the great silence, intelligence flowing through all things. You nourish your mind, body, and spirit, as you connect to the divine love of Being.”

Support and Comfort represents the role of a hypnotherapist in providing guidance and support.
Find your inner piece

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