Tennessee Williams once said, “when so many are lonely as seem to be lonely, it would be inexcusably selfish to be lonely alone”, likewise it is important to note that in the UK approximately 1 in 5 people suffer with depression so there is no need to deal with your feelings on your own.
It is very common with individuals suffering from depression to dissociate themselves from their friends and family. Even though they are desperate for contact with others, they feel overwhelmed at the thought of reaching out and/or explaining their feelings. These feelings can include irritability, loss of appetite, reduced sex drive, anger, tearfulness, insomnia, exhaustion, negative thinking, lack of motivation, hopelessness and a loss of purpose.
Depression is a broad term which can be internal (genetic, biological and physical) or external (environmental and/or psychological). Different types of depression are seen in a wide range of mood disorders ranging from Seasonal Affective Disorder to Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome to Bipolar Disorder. Depression, be it internal or external, can affect all aspects of the individual’s life and often lasts at least a few weeks if not months. The shift in the person’s perception and internal thought processes can be alarming for the individual because they recognise that their mood has lessened but more often than not they do not know why.
There are many treatments out there for depression with the medical profession focusing on anti-depressants which come in all shapes and sizes from tricyclics to SSRIs to MAOs. This can be quite daunting to someone who is already depressed so below we talk about some less conventional ways to help beat the blues.
There is an equine facilitated learning retreat based in Colchester called “Feel Authentic”. Both Claire Cracknell and Janice Donovan run this retreat and use controlled interaction and specific exercises in conjunction with horses to highlight how our outer false self conflicts with our true self and can play an important role in our depression. Such internal discord results in a set of negative self beliefs and it is these such beliefs that Claire and Janice expose to their clients with the aid of their equine friends.
The session involves using the horse’s behaviour as metaphors for circumstances in the client’s life and through exercises (backed by research and psychology) to allow the client to understand and perceive their circumstances with a greater clarity, enabling them to find the courage and understanding to begin the journey towards a life they both desire and deserve. Anyone trying equine therapy will be invited to be at one with the horse and learn to react to feelings.
There is a lot to learn from these animals as they process information in a different way from humans and view emotions as signals that require action and adaptation. For example, if a horse is in a situation where the appropriate emotion signal is that of fear, they will process such information as a danger signal, reposition themselves away from the danger and continue on doing whatever they were doing before unphased by what a human would have called an emotive circumstance. It is this very objectivity displayed by the horse that we as humans can learn from, i.e. to not dwell in negative feelings caused by an emotional trigger which would send us spiralling into a vicious loop of uncertainty and low self-esteem.
If you are interested in a session at Feel Authentic, please call 01787 223 237 to make a booking.
If there is not an obvious external cause for depression, nutritional therapists advocate that our emotions and mental state are heavily influenced by the types of foods we eat. It is commonly known that the brain requires food (fuel) to function but more often than not we supply our brain with a quick fix of glucose in the form of high sugar foods like pizza, cakes, chocolate and fizzy drinks, yet these only cause a temporary but fast rise in sugar levels followed by a crash of the same. Outwardly a person who fuels their body in this manner will appear to have mood swings. Add to this internal chemical imbalance even the smallest of anxiety-inducing situations such as a deadline at work or a fight with your partner and you are not far from the slippery slope towards depression.
If you believe this may be the trigger of your depression, an easy fix which doesn’t require anti-depressants can be a change in diet. This can be as easy as increasing your low GI foods such as oats, brown rice, green vegetables, pulses and nuts. In addition, for those who still have a sweet tooth and want the occasional treat, this can be combated with an increase in chromium containing foods as chromium will help the production of insulin and this will maintain your blood sugar levels. Chromium containing foods include garlic, cinnamon and even broccoli to name but a few. Another important food type associated with mood often referred to as the “happiness hormone” is serotonin pre-cursor tryptophan which can be found turkey and yoghurt. If these foods do not appeal to you, eggs (which cointain phenylalanine) and avocados and almonds (which contain tyrosine) are great sources of the amnio acids which facilitate dopamine production which like serotonin will also give our brain a quick pick-me-up.
A final good all-rounder would be to take a multi-vitamin with particular emphasis on your B and D vitamins. For more natural approach to these vitamins, increase intake of dark green vegetables such as spinach and kale and/or grains such as millet and quinoa for your B vitamin intake and for non-vegetarians a good source of vitamin D includes mackerel, sardines and eggs.
Bach Flower Remedies
Bach Flower Remedies are now easily available at local health food shops. They have been thought to help improve negative states of mind and emotional imbalances resulting in positive outcomes and attitudes. The aim of this remedy is to treat the person not the disease, resolving illnesses at their root cause. These remedies can be given in tinctures or an easy to use spray and in some cases have been incorporated into chewing gum.
Although common consensus is to think the Bach Remedies are for light depression, research has shown that they can be effective in the more severe cases and they are able to be used alongside more conventional medicine.
Bach Rescue Remedy is suggested as a good all-rounder, gorse for feelings of hopelessness, mustard for a quick onset of depression out of the blue, and olive for when a person feels exhausted and needing to regain strength.
For further information visit www.bachremedies.co.uk.
The above three therapies are not the only alternative remedies. If none of these appeal to you, do look into exercising, Neuro-Linguistic Programming, clinical hypnosis, medical herbalism and cognitive behaviour therapy. As humans, we are complex individuals. There is no one fix to cure all but no doubt one of the alternative therapies out there can be used in conjunction or instead of conventional medications so long as approved by your doctor.
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