The slums, the pits, the blues, the dumps… Call it what you will, we can all agree, depression is a dark, grimy prison that has a way of sucking the life out of you. While, I’m glad to see it has been quite some time since I’ve wrestled with depression, I can vividly remember some very dark hours in my life that I thought I’d never be free from.
I know what it’s like to not even be able get out of a chair for being so heavily weighted under the blanket of it. I remember the certainty I clung to for so many years, thinking it would always be something that would come back. I looked for it. I watched and I waited.
As a teenager, I tried the drugs. They made me feel worse and even more unstable. I couldn’t stand the false sense of happiness it sometimes induced. I just couldn’t stand the stuff. I had to get off of it.
Years later, I still pressed through and dealt with cycles of depression, many of which I thought I’d never survive. I can’t count the time I was literally more afraid of myself than anything else I could think of.
It’s no way to live, for sure – not for me and certainly not for you.
If you’re like me, you’re glad to know that there are really many things you can do to naturally enhance mood and retrain your brain to beat depression for good.
Some of these suggestions may seem small. Some maybe even “out-there” depending on where you’re coming from but standing on the other side of that beastly mountain, I can tell you, you don’t have to be stuck with depression. You can overcome it and live joyfully naturally.
1. Optimize Nutrition Nutrition Nutrition!
It amazes me how little we discuss the role of nutrition in mental distress and disorders. There are several vitamins and minerals that have been linked to anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder and more. Emotions are not just feelings. Our mindset, mood and countenance are greatly affected by our own body chemistry and this is absolutely impacted by diet and lifestyle choices.
Dude, you’ve seriously got to be mindful of those food-mood connections.
First of all, many whole food nutrients have been linked to brain power and a healthy mood. These include omega-3’s, zinc, folate, B-vitamins, iodine and more.
I know – Some people just totally check out here but our bodies are made to support a number of functions, including maintaining a healthy brain chemistry and promoting healthy moods. It cannot do that at it’s best when deprived of the raw materials it need to do so.
YOU’VE GOT TO STOP EATING CRAP!
I know that may come off a little crass and I’m seriously not judging but the truth is, even when it sends your taste buds into a frenzy of flavor, processed foods are toxic to the brain and body. We know sugary foods lead to sugar crashes but this really goes even beyond that.
Many processed foods contain additives that cause your brain to dump chemicals similar to that seen in the brains of heroin junkies. That’s why once you pop, you seriously can’t stinkin’ stop. This creates a cycle where you eat the foods, you get your fix but then find yourself in a funk again until you get your next junk food fix.
Seriously, it’s nuts that we’re allowed to create, sell and consume foods that can actual send kids (and their parents) into junk-food withdrawals as they try to get away from them.
Still, as challenging as it may be, it’s a challenge you must press through to get your eating back on track so your brain and body can get on with you actually getting to enjoy your life.
Don’t just try to guess your way through it. You shouldn’t be taking anything you’re not actually deficient in. Some supplements are simply excreted through urine where there’s an excess in the system but some others can accumulate in the body and come with their own set of problems.
Best bet – Get connected with a knowledgeable Nutritionist that can help you get a full nutritional panel and thyroid testing (especially if you’ve been labeled “bipolar”). Get the results and start working on improving your diet to balance out vitamin and mineral levels in the blood. Determine whether supplementation is needed and go from there.
2. Prayer & Meditation
Regardless of opinions or beliefs, the facts are in. Prayer and meditation come with a wealth of benefits to the brain and body.
Prayer and Meditation help to promote peace, boost brain power, and increase our capacity to focus. (Imagine… we could all be, like, geniuses or something… Whoa!!!!)
Seriously, don’t tell me you don’t have time – you do. Even 15 minutes of allowing your brain the time to clear out and focus in on a little one-on-one time with Jesus can do wonders for rerouting your entire day!
Yea, if you ever catch me getting a little frenzied, it’s probably because I really just need to complete or repeat this part of my day.
3. Herbal Remedies
Many studies have shown St. John’s Wort to be just as effective as antidepressants in combating depression (though without the same intensity of side effects as those tied to their pharma counter parts). St. John’s Wort is often taken by capsule or liquid extract. It should be noted that the source of the depression can have some bearing on the effectiveness of St. John’s Wort. Here’s why I found it so helpful.
Science is unveiling incredible things about the brain and it’s ability to change. (If you’re nerdy like me, you’ll surely swoon over learning about what experts refer to as neuroplasticity.) The thing is, just as neural pathways are reinforced over time with our repeatedly allowing ourselves to think a certain way, so they can be rerouted over time by choosing to redirect our thoughts.
Amongst other things, negativity can also be the product of the lack or excess of certain chemicals in the body. Problem is, we get in a funk and start thinking all sorts of thoughts and, unless we’re rather intentional about doing so, we can thoroughly reinforce the very neural pathways that keep us stuck in those funky, foul thoughts. This creates a beast of a cycle that can be very difficult to overcome as our brains become toxic chemical dumping grounds.
This is why I used the St. John’s for a season to help support a healthier chemical balance in the brain and body while simultaneously making the intentional effort to reroute my thoughts to things that were positive and true and even flat telling myself: “NO. I’m not going to think that way.”
Some days were easier than others but I can gladly say that the time passed and I didn’t need the help of any remedies or supplements; only the resolve to remind myself that I’m not going to think that way in response to any thought that could lead me back down that path.
In addition to St. John’s Wort, many find supplements, such as 5HTP and SAMe to relieve symptoms of depression.
4. Essential Oils
Many others turn to essential oils to promote a healthier, happier mood. These include: Benzoin, bergamot, chamomile, cinnamon, clary sage, cypress, frankincense, geranium, ginger, grapefruit, helichrysum, jasmine, juniper, lavender, lemon, lemongrass, orange, palmarosa, patchouli, peppermint, petitgrain, pine, rose, sandalwood, spruce, vanilla, vetiver, ylang ylang
5. Take a walk in the sun
I don’t know what it is about us that seems to determine to want to nestle into the very surroundings and situations that cater to depression but, seriously, you’ve got to knock it off!
Lack of Vitamin D and sun exposure have been repeatedly linked to depression. Sun exposure also helps to boost Serotonin in the brain, further helping to promote a healthy, happy mood and give depression a swift kick in the pants.
Grab a friend and head out for the day. Even if it’s cold, having the hands and face exposed can help you get adequate intakes of sunshine. Couple that with fresh air and movement and you’ve got an easy way to brighten your day.
If you’re one of the millions that have up to this point believed you’re destined to deal with depression all your life – stop. It is not just part of who you are. It is but a symptom – a symptom that something needs and can be corrected.
I know for a fact, there is hope and that joy is yours to be had. Where you are is no indicator of where you’re headed but what you think and do is.
Believe that much joy lies just ahead and press on. I assure you, you can’t even begin to calculate the blessings ahead and which will abound all the more as you learn to walk in freedom and triumph over depression.
The author of this article does not purport to be a licensed medical doctor. All resources provided by LaTriciaMorris.com, SeeKidsThrive.com and or EdenLifeMinistries.com and/or any of their affiliates are intended for educational purposes only. Content herein is not intended to diagnose or cure any disease or illness. Readers are advised to consult with a trusted healthcare professional prior to implementing any recommendations or integrating any alternative remedies or therapies discussed across any and all of our platforms.