Category Archives: Depression

Treating Depression as a Wake-up Call

Treating Mild to Moderate Depression

Even mild depression needs to be taken seriously. Since Depression can lead to subsequent depressions and since depression can lead to suicide, it’s important to start counteracting the loss of zest for life as soon as you notice Symptoms: Seek a professional consultation immediately to determine the underlying cause of your depression and take the following steps.

Non Pharmacological Treatment for Depression: (1) Move! Do something, even if it’s walking around the block. Exercise breaks down stress chemicals & boosts neurotransmitters that make you feel good. (2) Meditate or do yoga. Being still & breathing deeply slowly shifts things. (3) Eat Healthy & Include Protein in each meal & snacks. Food affects your Mood. (4) Avoid foods that can lead to sugar crashes & mood swings like sugar, coffee, excessive tea drinking, & excess salt. (5) Avoid Addictive chemicals, including Alcohol and marijuana (depressants). (6) Monitor Self-Talk, depression likes to talk trash, so take it out. (7) Problem Solve: Make a list of 3 goals every day and do them. (8) Call friends. Women Stress Manage by Tending & Befriending. (9) Consult your naturopath about supplements. There are a lot of new supplements designed to assist with mood regulation, but it is important that you use one that suits your needs so that you don’t wind up feeling worse.

If you have trouble doing the first 9 steps or don’t experience relief from doing them, see a psychiatrist or prescribing psychiatric nurse for a diagnosis and prescription. Depression due to bipolar disorder is treated differently than major depression. Depression can develop in reaction to severe or chronic excess stress of any kind. The source of the stress can be from a number of sources, including chronic pain, economic stress, physical illnesses, old traumas that have not resolved – posttraumatic stress disorder, intense grief, emotionally abusive relationships, poor stress management, etc. Diseases of the endocrine system also tend to cause depression and should be ruled out by seeing a doctor or naturopath.

Reducing the source of the stress is a key to healing depression without relapsing again. It is important to identify and treat the underlying cause. An important step in treating any depression is getting an assessment of the underlying cause.

Treating Complex, Resistent Depression due to Childhood Abuse and/or Neglect

Healing depression related to childhood abuse and/or neglect is more complicated, tends to be of greater duration & subject to relapse, which causes greater damage to the mindbody. Due to these factors, it is Important to find a therapist trained in a variety of trauma specific therapies and to stick with a program of recovery for a sustained length of time. Adult child abuse victims often leave counseling prematurely. Knowing that it takes sustained effort can prevent impatience with the process that leads to despair or dropping out because you start to feel better. Just because you are feeling better does not necessarily mean that the underlying issues are resolved.

Treating Moderate to Severe Depression

If you have Moderate to Severe Depression, consult your doctor about medication. There is medical evidence that SSRIs (class of anti-depressants related to Prozac) help regenerate a part of the brain called the hippocampus, which shrinks in volume when depressed. Taking the drugs will help you recover the energy and the desire to adopt the above mental health regimen. As you feel better, you can gradually phase out the medication with the guidance of your doctor. Abruptly ending medication complicates the healing process. Research has shown that the best overall treatment for depression is a combination of therapy and medication.

The sooner you begin recovery, the better prognosis for long-term health and overall well-being. Most age related disease is stress related disease. I believe that treating depression comprehensively can put you on a track for life-time health.

©Noreen Wedman 2011

Facing the Shadow

sydney-vivid-lights-festivalFacing one’s shadow psychologically is a good thing. Yet we fear facing a period of rough emotional weather. (And indeed, intense trauma is sometimes best dealt with in small manageable packets using somatic therapy.) Pretending the shadow isn’t there is SO tempting, but it doesn’t make it go away. Stuffing uncomfortable emotions and thoughts has costs: depression, PTSD, binge eating, emotional explosions, physical violence, ennui, avoidance…Facing the darkness is where the creative energy lies. Darkness will create. The level of awareness that you meet it with will determine whether what is created is beneficial or not.

Facing the shadow is the place where shift happens. “Embracing the darkness” is a technique that I use that relies on the same elements of the mind that creates dreams. The technique relies solely on the discomfiting sensory-related imagery (rather than thoughts) that emerge in connection with a disturbing memory or dream. Transformation happens by becoming “one with that image” – by “embracing” what one fears until images of transformation appear in the mind’s eye. The fogs lifts, a rainbow appears, a child sings sweetly, the scent of flowers perfumes the imagination.

Why does this work? I suspect that it works for several reasons. The amygdala (the part of the brain connected with the flight, fight or freeze response) “thinks” in symbols & sensory images, not words. The amygdala has immediate access to regions of the brain connected with touch, sight, hearing, and smell. It houses the emotional memory system. “Embracing the Darkness” also uses the principles of desensitization used to treat phobias by facing fears while in a state of relaxation. By using the “language” of the amygdala, the emotional charge around frightening and disturbing memories may be discharged and transformed. This month, I invite you to try this technique for an introductory session of $75.

There are other ways to face one’s darkness: Trying new things that are a little scary, pushing at the edge of your comfort zone, recording dreams, writing stream of conscious thoughts daily, and processing a painful memory that has surfaced with your counselor. I use a technique called “the Dive” to process painful memories, including recent situations. The Dive incorporates aspects of Focusing, Traumatic Renegotiation, the Enneagram, Somatic experiencing, and depth Psychology. A current experience is processed and a related early memory is processed, resolving the current and the old unfinished business, leaving one more present and relaxed. The goal is greater access to essential states of being: more peaceful, joyful, loving, serene, empowered, wise, intuitive, valued, Courageous, or greater ability to commit. Paradoxically, this shift comes from facing inner darkness.