What are the best treatments for depression?

  • There are different ‘types’ of depression. One ‘type’ is called ‘situational’ depression and is more commonly a short-term response to a specific, recent loss. This may be the loss of a loved one through death or relationship change, or a job loss or health related concern.

    Another type of depression is called dysthymia. This is chronic low grade depression that can persist over years of time. Yet another type of depression is called ‘major’ depressive disorder. This is a severe form of depression, where the person suffers significant detrimental changes that negatively impacts both mental and physical functions. Depression often has a genetic component.

    My background includes work in mental health/counseling field and LMP/mind-body integration work as well as personal experience with depresson. Every person is unique and changing, and treatments ideally are tailored to reflect this.

    http://…Mindfulness meditation, as already mentioned, is definitely an effective tool.

    Below are some additional tools. The simplest, quickest, highly effective are listed first!

    1. Change your body posture:

    Literally look up.

    Look towards the sky. Smile, even if you don’t feel like it.

    Next: Uncurl your shoulders. Bring your shoulder blades towards each other. Widen and open your chest. Take a deep breath.

    Scientific research studies have demonstrated that persons who are depressed, flex their head forward, look downwards, round shoulders and are physically ‘curled in’ to themselves.

    Merely changing our body posture impacts our mindset. When you open your chest this alone helps to decrease depression.

    Here are a few links. There are many more. Just write in search engine the words depression and body posture.

    Page on nih.gov.

    2. Breathe deeply into your belly. Breathe in through your mouth. Exhale from your belly through your nose. Let the inhale and the exhale be slow, smooth and even without force or strain. Imagine your breath to be like a pendulum. At the end of your inhale allow a small pause before beginning your exhale. At the end of your exhale allow a small pause before beginning your inhale. Then imagine sending your breath into your head, your shoulders, your back and all areas of your body. This is a breath meditation taught by Suzanne Deason, yoga teacher.

    3. Think of 10 things you are thankful for.Using each of your fingers say each one out loud.Write these down. Consider sharing this with someone besides yourself every day. Whenever you notice yourself depressed immediately do again. Do this as many times in the day as negative thoughts occur. This will become an automatic response in time.

    • Note: If you can’t think of anything, think about the fact that: you can see, you can hear, you have a bed, your heart beats without needing to think about this, you have running water, heat, clothing. etc..(if you lack any of these things ask for help to have these needs met) Every time you feel depressed do this and after a while this will become and ‘automatic habit.’

    4. Eat moderate, nutritionally balanced meals. Reduce or eliminate sugar and refined carbohydrates. Meet with a nutritionist or dietician to review your unique dietary needs. Find someone to share meals with regularly.

    5 Exercise daily, regardless of how you ‘feel’ about this. *(First get the ‘green light’ from your health care professional as to realistic amount of time FOR YOU.) Then: Just do it.

    • Start with an easy, ‘low bar’ goal.whether this be 20 minutes or less. (especially if you have been very inactive.) Add more time gradually as your primary healthcare practitioner recommends. Walk, dance, swim…do anything that gets your heart rate up for at least twenty minutes. This helps your own body to create ‘feel good’ anti-depressant chemicals.

    6. Rule out health conditions: For example, Vitamin D and B-12 deficiency symptoms can present as depression. Anemia, low thyroid, and other health conditions may also present as depression, as do other health conditions. Ask your doctor about getting blood lab tests. If you have out of range results or deficiencies it is crucial to take supplements etc to correct these. This alone may be all that you need to counteract your depression

    7. Allow yourself to grieve losses you’ve had. Let yourself cry, feel bad, go ‘into’ the feelings rather than avoid them. Play music and read/write poetry or prose that helps you to feel the grief and shed tears, scream, beat pillows etc. Read books from the library and do a search on Internet to find materials related to how to deal with loss.

    • Note: If you find yourself ‘stuck’ in grief for more than a couple of months and notice you are really isolated from people and depressed, sign up for and attend a grief and loss support group

      (These are often free at local hospitals/hospices)

    • Find a licensed professional counselor who is experienced with treating depression and cognitive behavioral therapy.

    8. Act out/express depression in creative ways that don’t hurt yourself or someone else: Draw, write poetry, make up a story, (include one where there is a positive ending). Share this with someone trustworthy if you want. Grab a pillow, hold it above your head, then bring outdown unto another pillow on a couch, letting out sounds to express how you feel. Stomp down cardboard boxes. Find and join a drama, art or movement therapy group.

    9. Allow yourself for a set period of time, such an hour or day to simply feel depressed. During this time don’t try to do anything in particular.

    10. Use a SAD (Seasonal affective disorder) lamp that creates negative ions. This is most useful for persons who don’t get sufficient natural daylight. It should be 10,000 LUX minimum of light to be effective based on scientific research. 20 minutes of this light or sunlight in the morning is the norm for treating SAD. (NO sunglasses or transitions lens on) at the BEGINNING of your day.

    11. WORK CONSTRUCTIVELY WITH YOUR OWN THOUGHTS: Thinking gets distorted when you are depressed. Begin to notice and correct/counter-act negative thinking patterns with more neutral to optimistic phrases. You may need expert help from a mental health professional/therapist to learn how to do this.

    • Replace negative thoughts with positive ones: I am breathing, I am alive. I am just fine. I am enough. I am successful in being alive. This is enough. I enjoy my life. My life is just fine. I have value.I like and love myself. Today I choose to be kind to myself.

    • Counteract Negative thoughts directly. Literally talk back. Speak out loud to negative thoughts: Examples:

    • NO! STOP! ENOUGH! You are just my depression talking.

    • You are distorted You are lopsided in your messages.

    • I’m no longer interested. You bore me. I’m DONE with you. Move over, make room for my positive voices. NOW!

    • Distorted thinking happens with clinical depression. That is all that you are, a distorted voice.

    • Depression. I refuse to follow or obey your thinking.

    • Visualize negative words, thoughts, images literally melting away into nothing or shrinking into tiny size crumbs you can feed to birds etc.

    12. Recall times in your life where you DIDN’T FEEL DEPRESSED. Use all of your senses Remember times when you felt just fine, or better yet, incredibly well, great/fantastic, when you felt a sense of achievement, well-being, strength, ‘winning,’ wonder, freshness, vitality, utter satisfaction, happiness, when you were having fun, laughing, felt accepted, loved, & secure.

    Start with recalling as many memories as you can, then
    select the strongest one that you prefer to recall in depth.

    • Recall each situation in as much vivid, thorough detail as possible as if it was happening IN THE PRESENT. Place your body exactly like how you were in this remembrance. Use all of your senses: See yourself. What are you wearing? How is your body positioned? Are you moving or still? What areyou doing? What are your surroundings looking like? What colors and textures do you notice? Is there anyone near you? Any animals? What sounds do you hear? What smells? Are you touching or being touched by anyone or anything? Remember this in as much detail as possible.

    • Note: If you can’t think of anything then you can try out the following:

    Find pictures with images of situations that feel positive and uplifting to you. Select people or creatures/scenery that represent this. Put these images up around where you spend most of your time. Put these images on your phone, your computer, your wall, beside your bathroom mirror, on your fridge, by the door, at your workplace etc.)

    13.Seek professional help from a ‘primary care provider; Choose someone who genuinely listens to your concerns.

    This may be a physician’s assistant, naturopath, or MD such as a psychiatrist, family practice, internal medicine doc, or nurse practitioner, herbalist. Tell her/him about your symptoms. Discuss treatment options and pros and cons of each of these.

    14) Consider also working with a mental health professional, a specialist with whom you feel compatible. (licensed and credentialed) someone who is trained in and experienced with treating depression. This could be a trained therapist MA or MFCC or PHD/social worker LICSW, MSW/MHP/MFCC, psychiatrist, MD etc.

    Anti-depressant pharmaceuticals: Medications are an option and help some. Medications also frequently have unwanted side effects. Newer medications generally result in less side effects. These medications need to be used in conjunction with a licensed professional, either an MD, PA, dispensing nurse probationer etc.

    If you decide you try these medications, be aware that it may take up to a month before you might notice an improvement. Initially you will be more likely to have some side effects such as dry mouth, constipation, sleep changes, delayed sexual response, blunt your affect, (you are less reactive and emotional to things…more emotionally ‘level’ in response to life.) Find out ahead of time what the most common side effects are pf any medicine you’ve been prescribed .

    16. Watch only funny videos. Omit the news entirely from your life until you are not having debilitating depression (even though you may be tempted.)

    17. Garden: Plant and care for tending and growing your own food. Gardening is very therapeutic and calming most of the time

    18. Venture out past your comfort zone and into the local community. Force yourself if necessary to ‘get out!!’ Head to SAFE places where you can be around others without necessarily needing to talk. Find community events in the local papers and through Meetups online and attend one or more of these. Visit libraries, art openings, live music and dance events, open houses, art festivals and fairs, book groups, etc. etc. Someone once said: Reptiles of the mind breed in isolation.’ looking at artwork, ‘hanging out’ with friends etc.

    19. Care for someone, something. Extend to plants, a pet, feeding birds. Volunteer! Find a reality and ‘world’ outside of your ‘depression zone.’ There is a whole wide world with other ‘realities’ happening. Take even a small visit to these things/places/peope/animals. to Caring for/tending to and helping others can give meaning to life and counteract depression’s negatively self-centered focus. Consider:

    • Pet and walk animals at the local shelter

    • Join a community garden

    • Tutor kids in school

    • Join a ‘club’ working on shared projects.

    • Lots of non-profits are understaffed and could use the help.

    • Visit people who are home-bound or in nursing homes

    Dive into the arts: Play music, listen to music. Attend poetry readings. Listen to videos, podcasts, and other recordings of by artists. View art in person, in books, online. (Check out David Whyte’s “What To Remember When Waking”!)

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