Have you ever felt depressed or found yourself in a dark place in your mind? Where things that once brought you joy just don't, or where you know you should be putting one foot in front of the other but it just feels too hard to bear? I have. I know how frustrating and overwhelming it can be, especially when you know you have plenty of reasons to be happy but for some reason you're just stuck and you can't shift out of it.
I also know from experience that while depression cannot be simply cured by “mind over matter”, that it can be treated and improved significantly. That the lack of motivation to do regular daily activities, the inability to find enjoyment and the overwhelming amount of negative thoughts can shift given time and attention if you give yourself that time and attention and can find patience and compassion for yourself within the process. Above all I firmly believe that depression is not an illness that one should have to suffer through alone, and that treatment and therapy can be crucial to the healing process back to better health.
I have times where I feel very present and whole, and other times where I still struggle personally with both anxiety and depression. From experience I can say that along with treatment options you may be considering, small additions to your daily routine can prove to have significant effects on lowering depression symptoms over time.
Here is a short list based on both research and experience that you might find helpful and that I hope if nothing else, you will give a try if you feel you are suffering:
1. Put yourself and your mental health first
It is easy to put your health on the backburner when life gets busy and stressful. Maybe you are hating the office job you have, or you're fighting with a spouse. When life gets tough, it is easy to neglect our bodies physically and mentally. Look at life in the larger terms and understand that how you take care of your health now, will affect you for years down the road. If you are suffering from depression, making regular time for self care is essential, and seeking treatment is the first step back to better quality of life which can truly make all the difference.
2. Get a routine going
It may be hard to keep up with and be motivated about a routine. However, by setting goals and habits on a daily or weekly basis, you are continuing to improve upon your condition. Just stick with it. Try to set goals for exercise. If you can go on a jog just three days a week, you’ll be boosting your serotonin, your mood and your physical health. Take time to go outside in nature and get some fresh air. Depression is hard, but getting out of your normal environment can help you get out of your head for a bit. Practicing mindfulness is something everyone should do on a daily basis. Mindfulness involves focusing on the present moment and not the past or future. By doing so, we let go of anxieties we feel about the future or negative thoughts we have about the past, eliminating feelings of worry. By practicing eliminating these feelings in the moment we improve our resilience to deal with stress over time.
3. Reach out
Don’t go through this alone. Chances are there are people in your life that love and care about you very much. Although it may seem hard to reach out or socialize, being around people can help you feel more connected. It is easy to isolate yourself when depression is consuming your mind and thoughts, but talking to friends and family can have profound benefits on beginning the process to better health.
Acupuncture has been proven to be extremely beneficial for those dealing with depression. Acupuncture can boost serotonin levels and, by releasing blockages in the body's energy flow, improve calm and focus. The rest you receive during Acupuncture is also an excellent time to practice mindfulness when you are not distracted by your usual environment. By rebalancing the body our mental, physical and spiritual health improve.
Depression is not easy, but it can get better. Contact a medical professional about the best treatment options for you and consider alternative treatments such as acupuncture to help improve your resilience, your mindfulness and to help you feel confident that you have tools in your toolbox that help shift that negative state when you're in the thick of it. As someone who has been there, I understand the challenges and pitfalls. I also understand how powerful Acupuncture can be as part of the healing process and I'd be honored to help you explore that option too.
Yours in Health,
Rebecca M H Kitzerow is a Licensed Acupuncturist practicing in La Center, Washington. With over a decade of experience she has won 10 Nattie consumer choice awards from Natural Awakenings Magazine since 2014.