Fighting Depression – Be A Mental Health Warrior
I like to consider myself a mental health warrior as I am fighting depression regularly. I use all the knowledge I have to battle this, and I will guide you through what I do; it is not easy, and it takes a lot of determination, but even just using one of the tips should help move you forward to wellness.
At the time of writing, I am going through a huge bout of depression, fighting it with all my might. On the outside, you wouldn’t know about the internal battle, well, I say that, but the people close to me know the war I am fighting. But if you were to see me briefly, you would not know. I hide it quite well and you may too.
Depression is an illness I have yet to figure out how to cure myself, but I do things that help alleviate some of the symptoms. I have tried fighting it naturally, but to no avail; I get worse. So the first tool in my armoury is always medication. Now, because I have bipolar, I am limited to how many anti-depressants I can tolerate, too much, and it will send me into a hypomanic state which can be worse than depression for me.
What Causes Depression?
But what actually causes depression in the first place? I have often wondered whether it was my lifestyle, a chemical imbalance or something else. According to research on depression, they reckon it is this:
Researchers believe that — more important than levels of specific brain chemicals — nerve cell connections, nerve cell growth, and the functioning of nerve circuits have a major impact on depression. Still, their understanding of the neurological underpinnings of mood is incomplete.Harvard Health Publishing
The cause of depression is many things, and even medical professionals are unsure about the true basis behind it. Originally depression was meant to come from the heart, and then as science developed, it was pinpointed to the brain. I think it is a mixture of three things, the heart, the stomach and the brain.
Why do I think the stomach is involved? Because of serotonin, the chemical we need to alleviate depression. The gut contains 95% of our serotonin, and we need this to help beat depression, which is why anti-depressants contain serotonin.
What Does Serotonin Do?
As I’m not a medical anything I will leave it to the experts to describe serotonin:
Serotonin is the key hormone that stabilizes our mood, feelings of well-being, and happiness. This hormone impacts your entire body. It enables brain cells and other nervous system cells to communicate with each other. Serotonin also helps with sleeping, eating, and digestion. However, if the brain has too little serotonin, it may lead to depression.Hormone.org
We need it, it helps us fight depression, but the problem is finding the right medication that suits you to get it into your system. I have been through countless anti-depressants, I am currently on Sertraline, and it has just been increased, but I have to take a mood stabiliser; otherwise, I can get lifted into a hypomanic state. If you do not have bipolar, which most people don’t, then your doctor should just be prescribing an anti-depressant in the battle of fighting depression.
Being a mental health warrior requires equipment, some of it mental, some of it physical and occasionally, in my case, sometimes spiritual. I will go through everything I use to get my depression under control, so I am not dragged through the mire by it.
Tips For Fighting Depression
When we are depressed, we can either be too tired or suffer from insomnia. I tend to get the latter, whereas, in truth, I need the former. Sleep is of paramount importance when it comes to depression, and the more you can get of it, the better for your brain.
You need to get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night. Any less than that can prolong the depression; sometimes, you may need slightly more, especially if you have a terrible day.
If like me, you are prone to insomnia, then I recommend taking Melatonin; check with your doctor first to make sure there are no unwanted interactions with your medication. You can find out more about Melatonin by reading my article here or [AF] visiting Piping Rock, where I buy mine.
Talk to Someone
Don’t bottle things up; it will make things worse. I have undergone various therapies, and the most helpful of these are cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). Alongside counselling, although with the latter, I find the actual counsellor is important. You really need to gel with them.
At the time of writing, I am on the waiting list for counselling from my local mental health support team. However, if you do not have a support team, you can find a counsellor by [AF] visiting Calmerry, an online professional counselling service.
If you need CBT which is very helpful for learning coping mechanisms when faced with depression, then my choice would be [AF] a company called Online Therapy, where you book your appointments. You will be assigned a therapist, and you both work together in helping you move forward.
CBT works with the now; it is not about your past; it is all about how you deal with it now.
Living in the now really helps when it comes to fighting depression as you need to accept just this moment, as this is all you have. The past no longer exists, and the future has yet to happen, all you have is now. Decisions made in the past no longer matter, and decisions you make for the future have not happened. Living in the now is freeing, but it does take a lot of effort.
If there is only one thing you do to fight depression, then practice mindfulness.
I don’t drink because I know it will make me feel bad, not initially but afterwards, and my mental health is too important to me to have to deal with the after-effects of alcohol.
Sometimes people drink to drown their sorrows, but really this is a fallacy; the alcohol will magnify your depression. It is a natural depressant. It would help if you had an anti-depressant, and to be honest, you would be better off with a chicken sandwich. Why chicken, Lou? Because it contains tryptophan which the body will turn into serotonin, which is an anti-depressant.
If you do have a drink of alcohol, make sure you limit your intake.
I love aromatherapy, and I have written a lot about it on my website because it is so helpful to me, but I hope it is for you too.
Aromatherapy is a tool in your armoury for fighting depression, and this is because it activates your brain. It will stimulate the senses, and with depression, you need as much stimulation as you can get a hold of; you want the feel-good endorphins released. You get this when you exercise and also when you inhale pleasant aromas. Always choose a good quality oil, nothing synthetic; you want the plant’s essence, not artificial.
You can either massage yourself with it or, even better, get someone else to do it; physical contact releases endorphins. Or you can apply it on your wrists and throat as you would perfume, you can get a roll-on aromatherapy oil. I use both methods, and for daily use, I use the roll-on, and I spend ten minutes inhaling it before I try and get on with my day.
Getting your thoughts and feelings down on paper or onto a notepad on your phone can be really helpful. Perfect for working your way through your problems. I tend to write in a journal, and then once I have written as much as possible, I then shred it to be emotionally apart from my thoughts.
I call my brain Frog because it reminds me of a frog just staring back at me with a glum look waiting for good thoughts to come along and then snatching them up with its sticky tongue. So when I journal, I always refer to my brain as a frog. It helps me focus on the fact that it is a chemical decline in my brain affecting me, not me and my thought process; it is the frog causing my depression, and therefore, the frog is my nemesis in my journal.
Try writing your journal and give your brain an identity. It helps when it comes to mindfulness as well. [AF] Silk and Sonder provide the most beautiful journals for writing in, check them out.
Aside from taking Melatonin at night, I also take several supplements; once again, all except one are bought through [AF] Piping Rock, mainly because they are good quality, arrive on time and are of great value. I take a Krill oil supplement to help with my omega levels which are good for the brain. I take a probiotic to help my guts with healthy bacteria, I also take a multivitamin with extra iron.
Sometimes depression can be caused by a lack of iron in your diet or a lack of Vitamin D, so I like to make sure I have both these areas covered, and a multivitamin will do the trick.
If you are unsure if your depression is being caused by low iron levels, your doctor can do a blood test to identify if this is your problem; it is well worth getting tested for.
Other Areas for Fighting Depression
Exercise is another good way to alleviate depression, but I don’t know about you, but the last thing I want to do is a race around when I am feeling depressed. In fact, I couldn’t think of anything worse. However, I do try and move my body a little, even if it is stretching or putting my favourite tune on and having a little boogie. It might not have all my usual enthusiasm, but it gets the heartbeat up a little, and I often feel a little better afterwards.
If it is sunny, head outdoors to get your Vitamin D and try and walk around some trees as they give off oxygen and other chemicals that will boost your mind and you can discover more in my forest therapy article.
I hope these ideas will be of benefit to you and if you have any of your own, please leave them in the comments box below. I would love to read them, and you may help someone out.
“If you are feeling suicidal please do not stop to think what to do, call your doctor or go to the emergency department and seek help. Do not be scared they are there to help you.”Lou