1. Natural Ways to Treat Depression

    February 6, 2014

    The post has been removed after editorial review.

  2. The “Tomato Effect” in Treating Depression

    January 29, 2014

    The Tomato Effect in Treating Depression

    The “tomato effect” is something that happens when you attempt to treat a condition, and your mind has already reserved a view or opinion on just how successful that treatment is going to be. It’s an assessment based on the way an individual believes the treatment is going to affect him or her, and this supposed mental awareness can have an impact on the success or failure of treatment.

    The “tomato effect” is often associated with a joke commonly seen on doctor-oriented TV sitcoms. The patient claims to have some type of illness, the doctor prescribes them “medication” (aka, sugar pills), and magically, they are cured. The idea of convincing a person that a particular treatment is going to be effective and can work is often half the battle; belief has a lot of power over the effect of a particular treatment. People’s minds are complex, and the association of an idea, a strong will, and the pre-conceived notion toward how a treatment is going to work has a lot more power than some might think.


    Medicinal Approach Versus Nutritional Balance


    There is a lot of talk surrounding the treatment of depression with medicinal approaches versus adjustments made with regards to basic nutrition. The medicinal treatment comes with the risk of certain side effects, which in some cases, can’t be reversed. The change in nutritional intake, however, is something that can be adjusted without the risk of long-term change in various bodily functions. For individuals that are hesitant toward trying a medicinal approach, research has shown that the proper increase in certain B-Vitamins, which have a lot to do with energy and focus, can lead to increased cognitive behavior and more energy and productivity. The avoidance of unhealthy substances, such as trans fats, also leads to a positive outcome, both in physical development and mental processing.

    One problem with the medicinal approach is previously held opinions about the success or failure of a certain medication. If the patient believes that medicine is a bad idea, then the likelihood of recognizing any kind of positive change could be compromised, whether the changes are happening or not. People may fear side effects, or simply not trust in the success of a particular medication. When treating depression, if the mind doesn’t want to believe it’s being helped, then the treatment may be less successful.  The alternative treatment of making nutritional changes is sometimes the more acceptable approach for certain people, and there really is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’; as long as the individual believes that it can work for them, then it is a step in the right direction.


    Belief has more Power than Treatment


    Some treatments used to manage a mental condition are going to be viewed as a possibility for success or as a negative option.  This is before the patient even begins using it on a regular basis. It is human nature to develop opinions and to view something as a good or bad idea; these views and the ability to keep an open mind can have an impact on just how successful treatment is going to be. Human beings and their mental psyche are incredibly complex; by grasping an understanding of exactly what the mind can do, it has a great influence toward how effective treatment can be. It is important to factor in the opinions of a person toward any treatment solution; the ignorance toward something that crucial can be the very platform that defines a successful treatment attempt, or a waste of time all together.

    Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pistoletty/3651313640/

  3. A Life Time With Depression

    December 24, 2013

    A Life Time With Depression

    By Laura Copeland

    When I think about how hard my life has been it still cuts me up sometimes. I wonder what a depression free life would have been like, if my childhood was happy and fun, if I hadn’t had this dark cloud overshadowing my whole life, if I hadn’t spent most of my life being my own worst enemy.

    I can’t even remember when it all began, when I first started feeling like this. I’ve always been this way for as long as I can remember. Even when I think back as far as I can, I remember how hard my life felt and how I just didn’t want to exists.

    I didn’t even know I was depressed until after I was diagnosed when I had my daughter at the age of 23, I just always thought, this is how life is. I look at how happy and confident my daughter is now and it makes me realise it was not normal at all.

    It makes me think how did no one notice, how could I go through my whole childhood being that depressed. I mean I couldn’t tell anyone because I didn’t realise there was anything to tell, but how didn’t anyone else see?

    Even the social workers didn’t see what was going on and tried to pin it on abuse, which there was none. I always felt like I was a trouble maker and a lot of the time I was made to feel like I chose to be like this, like it was my fault. All I wanted was the love and understanding I needed and the help to get better.

    When you’re a child with depression and you don’t know what’s going on, it’s like you have no control because you can’t just go to the doctors for help. I remember wishing so many times for someone to help me, for someone to see that I didn’t want to be like this and I wasn’t just trying to cause trouble.

    This has been the case for most of my adult life as well and I have only recently been able to get my depression under control, although I have had a recent lapse. It seems to me that I can achieve a period of time where I feel like I live my life without depression but the challenge is the maintenance. And I have only had two of these depression free periods, which isn’t many in a total of 30 years.

    Does all this make me want to give up though?

    No way, I’ve tasted freedom and it makes me more determined to find this permanently. There are so many things I’ve tried and some of them work very well for me and it’s about commitment.

    I know exercise and mediation work wonders for me but it doesn’t mean I always have the motivation to fit them into my life. Even though I know they will make me feel so much better I still have some resistance.

    I mean I’ve been this way for nearly the whole of my life and it’s so scary making that change for good. It’s a learning process and I the older I get the easier it is. There are now so many things I just don’t see the point in getting upset about, like I used to.

    There is one thing I know for sure and it’s that a lot of how I am is down to not thinking I’m good enough and at my worst times I would literally bully myself in my head. I had no chance, constantly telling myself how no one cared and how I was no good and when I say constantly I mean every minute of every day!

    Talk about living in hell but that is the one thing that I have managed to control. I can’t even imagine doing that to myself on a daily basis, to that extent anymore. Of course I still put myself down now and again but it’s mostly specific to something I’ve done, instead of a running commentary in my head.

    Being able to stop this habit has transformed my life and it has given me hope of full recovery. It has shown me that I can change, even something that I’ve done for the whole of my life, something that is so embedded in me it felt like it was a part of me.

    My life may have been hard up until this point, well it still is but I am so close to coming out on the other side. And when I do it will be my soul goal to help others break free too.

    I mean, I just have to, otherwise what was it all for? Knowing that I can use all the heartache I’ve been through to help so many others, makes it all worth it. It has also made me who I am and I slowly love that person more and more every day.

    We all have a purpose and we all can make a difference in the world and I hope to make beating depression mine.

    Not only for myself but for everyone I have the privilege to inspire.

    Author Bio: Laura Copeland is the founder of Female Worth, empowering women to accept the best, attract the best because they deserve the best. Female Worth is a site dedicated to helping women live the lives of their dreams by enabling them to believe in themselves and grow strong self-worth.

    Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sophiadphotography/10597799035/

  4. Teenage Depression – A Short Guide for Parents

    December 18, 2013

    Teenage Depression

    Just about every teenager has bouts of sadness, as the teen years can be somewhat difficult and confusing at times.  Sad moods are one thing, but depression is another. Teenage depression is much more than sadness and can become a problem if not recognized or treated.  It can certainly lead toward problems like substance abuse, self-mutilation, aggression, and suicide.  As a parent, you probably think that your teen would not struggle with depression, but a high number of teens do, so it is important to recognize the signs.

    Signs and symptoms

    The teen years can be challenging, as teens have to face all sorts of pressures, hormones, challenges, and so on.  Many teens wrestle with questions about who they are and how they fit in.  They also can have issues with parents resulting in conflict.  As teens embark on their journey to independence, they certainly hit some bumpy spots on the road, and sometimes they can enter a period of sadness. This state of sadness is common and usually does not pose a problem or last too long. It is when the sadness intensifies and lasts for weeks and months that the teen enters into a state of depression.

    Here are the most common characteristics of teenage depression:

    • Extreme sadness
    • Lethargy
    • Frequent crying
    • Irritability
    • Fatigue
    • Problems getting to sleep or sleeping all the time
    • Restlessness
    • Hopelessness
    • Suicidal thoughts
    • Aggression
    • Change in eating habits


    How depression affects teens

    If a teenager is struggling with depression, he or she will most likely have some problems in various areas of life.  Though some teens may be able to keep problems to a minimum, others will act out their depression at home and/or at school.

    At school the teen’s grades could drop, he may skip classes or days, be aggressive toward peers or teachers, or drop out. At home the teen can withdrawal from family and friends, be rebellious, act out, turn to alcohol or drugs to self-medicate, get addicted to the internet, and engage in high-risk behaviors like substance abuse addiction, unsafe sex, or crazy driving behaviors.

    What to do if you think your teenager is suicidal

    If your teen is talking about suicide or if you think he or she is suicidal for any reason, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.  You will be given assistance as to what you can do to help your teenager.

    Here are some signs that your teen may be suicidal:

    • Kidding around about suicide
    • Making comments like, “I feel like crashing into a tree,” or “I just wish I could disappear,” or “I’d be better off dead for sure.”
    • Romanticizing dying
    • Drawing pictures or writing stories about death or suicide
    • Reckless behavior
    • Getting a weapon or a bunch of pills


    Talking with your teen

    If you think that your teen is struggling with depression, sit down and have a talk with him or her right away. Tell him that you have been observing particular signs of depression. Let him know that you are concerned and that you want to help. Encourage him to own up to his depression if that be the case and give a good dose of support and unconditional love as he does.

    Many teens will deny that they are struggling out of feeling ashamed or afraid.  Let him know that you are there for them, that you understand about depression, and that there is help available.  Be gentle with him and let him open up on his time.  Do not judge or patronize him. He needs open arms.


    There are various treatments available for depression.  Call your doctor to set up an appointment for a depression screening or go directly to a psychologist.  Encourage your teen to go to therapy and be open and honest with the counselor. Oftentimes all it takes is a series of therapy sessions for your teen to minimize or eliminate the depression.  He may simply need to learn some coping skills or vent many feelings to a person who can offer insight and advice.

    Sometimes depression is due to a chemical imbalance, so there are anti-anxiety medications available for such cases.  Your teen would have to visit a psychiatrist for an assessment and evaluation.  Many teens do not need medication, but for those that do, it has been known to help minimize and alleviate many depressive symptoms.

    Your teen can get help for depression.  As a parent, you can play a part in that, so do your best to be alert to depressive signs and offer the help that you can.

    Image Credit: Alexis Tejeda @ http://www.flickr.com/photos/alexonrails/5701764082


  5. Insomnia and Depression- How the Two Dance Together

    December 10, 2013

    Insomnia and Depression- How the Two Dance Together

    Insomnia and depression are 2 conditions that essentially go together, hand in hand. The lack of rest on a nightly basis for a long period of time leads to an incredible amount of damage toward the mental psyche, and causes changes in the way that an individual perceives daily routines. This is something that can be put into consideration on the notion of common sense. The effect a lack of sleep has on mental health has led to a study conducted at Ryerson University, and claim, that curing insomnia and curing depression fall under similar criteria.

    When a body and mind experience a lack of rest over a long period of time the perception toward everything around an individual changes. When the body and mind are exhausted the most mundane and simple tasks can be seen as challenging, and an overpowering sense of negativity can be felt as a result. The development over time of these negative feelings can lead to them gradually taking over the mind and body, and eventually this leads to the very birth of the condition we know as ‘depression’.

    Therapy and Defeating Insomnia

    Therapy that has been based around effectively curing ‘depression’ has put a study into place around the idea of insomnia, and the interaction it has with depression. The study states by taking various thought processes and structuring the way a mind perceives them, a certain kind of ‘calm’ can be achieved, which will lead to acquiring better sleep patterns. From this, the acquiring of better sleep patterns, the mind will be able to function more clearly, and the result will be a more rested and clear psyche. Thus, the claim that curing insomnia can help cure depression.

    When the body is deprived of a need such as rest, than it falls into a position of panic, stress is heightened, and negative thoughts eventually become a common routine. The claim that healthier sleeping patterns will help cure depression is correct, but it is also a statement that is common sense. The more important thing to recognize in all of this is the idea of ‘perception’, and the coping technique of how to mentally digest various thoughts and feelings. The coping technique of how to take various ideas and stresses in is the actual component that is helping cure the depression, the sleep is simply a side-component. Acquiring sleep is definitely something the body needs, but the effective management of things that make us think and cause stress is the idea here that is most important.

    When the mind is racing and thinking about several different problematic ideas, than the opportunity to get a healthy amount of rest becomes quite challenging. The ability to acquire coping techniques to keep the mind frame in a stable place helps treat the problem we know as depression, and it also defeats the other problem, insomnia.  Do insomnia and depression happen together all the time? Not always. Can learning how to defeat insomnia contribute to a healthier mind frame? Absolutely. The important thing to keep in mind however is that insomnia and depression are two entirely separate problems, and while insomnia can worsen the condition of depression, it isn’t the cause of it. Insomnia is a common side-effect of depression.

    The therapy of curing insomnia is based heavily around our problem solving abilities and how to separate thoughts when they come to mind. When you take a stressful situation and learn how to properly break it down and cope with the final outcome, that is a piece of education that is directly relevant toward overcoming depression. Depression is often associated with the inability to think clearly, and the result of this unclear thinking leading to a lack of motivation, and an overwhelming outcome of negative feelings. These negative feelings are the part of the equation that an individual can’t take control of, and usually is the core of the condition we know as depression. The ability to properly cope with ideas, and separate and understand ideas may be considered a way of ‘curing’ insomnia, but more importantly it is a skill that in itself can help deal with depression. Curing and overcoming depression isn’t so much about making it fully go away, but about how to maximize an individual’s control  over the feelings it can bring.

    Curing Insomnia is Curing Depression

    I think that when you take this statement you have to be careful with how far you place the two together on the same concept, as I’ve mentioned before. A lack of sleep certainly does contribute toward the development of depression, but the sudden ability to rest and get a full night’s sleep shouldn’t be deemed a ‘cure’ for depression. The necessity to separate the claim that curing insomnia can help conquer depression as opposed to the claim it can ‘cure’ it is essential. The ability to overcome the mental condition known as depression has far more strings attached beyond the ability to simply get a good night’s rest. The key to overcoming depression is associated with defining what the condition depends on to exist. From these core dependencies the development of an effective plan to manage stress with various coping strategies, a healthy daily routine, and healthy rest all play vital roles when combating depression. Basing depression solely around the idea of sleep is not only an error, but a delivery of false hope for people who struggle with the condition. The ability to see the condition for all that it is will be the only path that leads to eventually curing it.

    Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/federicoravassard/8552043273

  6. What is a Nervous Breakdown? The Cause and the Symptoms.

    November 7, 2013

    What is a Nervous Breakdown? The Cause and the Symptoms.

    We live in a modern world and enjoy an easier and more pleasurable life than our ancestors, yet the thought of losing our lifestyle and place in the society turns out to be our greatest fear. We live to acquire things. The race to get more possessions than the person next to you causes cravings and creates conflicts among us. The attachment to a materialistic lifestyle has blurred the prominence of family and the importance of building healthy relationships. This race is unsustainable and eventually leads to a nervous breakdown.

    So, what is a nervous breakdown?  It has no real medical definition, and it is the term typically used by a lay person to refer to symptoms related to one or more of frustration, stress, anxiety and depression. It helps to explain the condition of a person who can’t participate normally in their day-to-day life. They may lose interest in their life, get anxious easily, suffer from panic attacks and severe headaches, and may act irritably.  People affected by nervous breakdowns don’t experience chronic episodes, but they still require attention and care.

    If we lived in the middle ages, we would have seen a practice of labeling any mentally ill person as possessed by demons. They would be tortured and burned as witches. In a modern world we have a little bit more knowledge about the mental illnesses, so the person who is suffering from some form of psychological or psychiatric condition can count on at least some understanding of people around him. While some people may still attribute nervous breakdowns to demons possessing the person, most of us understand that nervous breakdowns are the result of some unfavorable external events and internal conflicts caused by these events or circumstances. If you feel you are suffering from nervous breakdowns, you need to immediately seek help. Get yourself out of the blues as soon as possible because the condition becomes more problematic when it persists and you can end-up with full blown depression.
    Intensity of nervous breakdowns can vary from person to person. Look for the common symptoms of nervous breakdown if you or your loved ones seem to be suffering.  The sufferers may isolate themselves because they want to recover from an upsetting situation, but their social withdrawal is just an indication that they are in need of help. They lack excitement and lose interest in things and people. Life loses its charm and flavor for them. Lack of sleep makes them dizzy and they can’t concentrate on work. They can get extremely anxious and display mood swings. They feel like crying most of the time and want to run far away from everything. In severe cases, they may suffer from delusions or hallucinations. They can also show physical symptoms of nervous breakdown like difficulty in breathing, headaches, upset stomach, trembling, dizziness, irregular or fast heartbeat or high blood pressure.

    A paper “Responses to nervous breakdowns in America over a 40-year period,” published in American Psychologist, shows that 19% of respondents had experienced an impending nervous breakdown in 1957, but in 1996 the number increased to 26%. I am sure with recession, unemployment, and constantly escalating work stress the numbers today will be even more alarming. We see exponentially increasing number of people suffering from stress-related anxiety and depression and our mental health system is simply unable to deal with this increase.

    Nervous breakdowns are especially dangerous in teenagers. They see life in black and white color and, being already at the verge of their emotions, they reach a depressive state very easily. They can become depressed and suicidal after failing their exams, after breaking up with their partners, and  being rejected or bullied by peers. Most often the cause is not the failure itself but the inability to handle insults and criticisms form the family, friends and society.

    Nervous breakdowns are often attributed to ‘burned out’ effect, especially in executives and people suffering from perfectionism (in fact, “perfectionism” is a DSM5 listed mental condition). Being exhausted by the lengthy and brain-busting work, they feel miserable and useless, and everything seems bleak to them.  Divorce can be a precipitating factor as well.  Stressed out people do not bend easily to changes in their life, and adjusting your life without your partner can be challenging and difficult. Traumatic events including death of loved one and losing your possessions in some natural catastrophe can be really testing as well. Investment losses, loss of job, or other financial difficulties often lead to nervous breakdowns. Inflation, poverty and low socioeconomic status give way to tension and frustration.

    Modifying our lifestyles to avoid or minimize stress, using relaxation techniques, and psychological treatments such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can help remedy nervous breakdowns. CBT can help you change the way of thinking about life circumstances – everyone knows that it is not the stress that tortures us, but our perception of life under stress.  We are the ones responsible for regulating and modifying our thoughts.

    Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/17537227@N00/528653751

  7. Beating the Blues: Natural Ways to Improve Your Mental Health

    November 1, 2013

    Natural Ways to Improve Your Mental Health

    by Lisa Coleman

    Depression is a serious illness, but even those with relatively happy lives can still come down with the blues once in a while. Everyone feels this at some point, and often throughout their lives. However, there are natural steps and remedies that a person can take to help aid in beating the blues without turning to prescription medications. If this sounds like something you’re currently going through, you might be interested in following natural ways to lift your spirits.

    1. Eat Right

    Eating and maintaining a healthy diet that includes all the appropriate nutrients that a body requires is very important to a person’s health and mood. Deficiencies of nutrients in a diet such as omega-3 fatty acids, the B vitamins folic acid and B12, chromium, selenium, vitamin D, and zinc can all be contributing factors of depressive symptoms. Eating a well-balanced diet is a vital key to increasing your mood and to experiencing less of the blues. Including more fish and flaxseed in your diet can help with their mood boosting properties and health benefits. Taking an organic multi-vitamin may help ensure you are getting some of these deficiencies back into your diet.

    2. Get into Exercise

    You’ve likely heard this before, but exercise can work wonders when it comes to easing depression. Studies have shown that getting regular exercise can lift your mood, create a better outlook on life, help you achieve deeper sleep and give you higher self-esteem. It helps ease the beginning signs of depression and anxiety by improving blood flow to the brain. Of course, these are only the mental effects of exercise. The many positive physical effects, such as weight loss and increased immunity, will help you better deal with the stress of your everyday life. Michael Babyak, professor of medical psychology at the Duke University Medical Center, performed a study with a team of researchers that revealed doing a mild aerobic physical activity three times a week was equivalent to a standard treatment of antidepressant medications.

    Studies have shown that participating in yoga can help encourage relaxation, and remove stress and anxiety for your daily life. Studies have also revealed that the breathing exercises that accompany yoga can help lower levels of cortisol, an adrenal hormone linked to stress.

    3. Spend Time with Friends

    One of the best cures for the blues is to spend time around people who you have fun with. Often, people suffering from depression begin to isolate themselves from the world, but this only makes the problem worse in the long run. Even if you’re feeling bummed, try to force yourself out the door for that coffee date with a friend. Once you get there and begin chatting, you’re likely to feel a lift in your mood.

    If talking with someone is not an option, try keeping a journal. This is a way to “talk” without involving others, whether it is due to shyness or privacy. Jotting things down and releasing your feelings is a great way to gain perspective on how to let go of negative emotions.

    Another option is to reach out to your mother. From birth, the bond between a child and their mother is one of wholeness and purity of love. If you have a solid relationship with your mother, just hearing her soothing voice, and her words of support and wisdom can help.

    4. Revamp your Appearance

    Changing up your appearance can do a lot to help your emotions. Even if you like your appearance, there is something exciting about looking in the mirror and seeing a new version of yourself. Consider dying your hair, exploring some different outfits or even getting that tattoo you always dreamed of. If you’re a little phobic of needles, don’t worry: There are many online tattoo distributors who sell customizable and cool temporary tattoos in a variety of designs. Getting dolled up like a rock star and going out dancing for the evening might be the ticket to pulling yourself out of your slump.

    5. Try Herbal Remedies

    The extract, hypericum perforatum, from the herb found in St. John’s wort has been used for many years to treat mild to moderate depression. However, this natural herb can interfere with some anti-depressant medications so it is vital not to use without consulting with a doctor first. It is always wise to consult with a doctor or medical professional before using any nutritional supplement.

    6. Take Time for Yourself

    Sometimes, a change of scenery is all that is required to lift your mood. If it’s been a while since you got away and had some fun, now is the time to do so. Go camping with family, spend the weekend at the beach with your girlfriends or visit an amusement park with your kids. If lack of time is an issue, try a trip to a local day spa for a few hours. Get rejuvenated by a professional masseuse. This is a great way to relieve stress and anxiety currently apart of your life. Don’t get caught in the trap of thinking that you need a lot of money or vacation time to take a nice trip. Much can be accomplished in a weekend, or in a few hours, and by the time you get back home, you will likely feel refreshed and ready to face your problems.

    Life can be tough, and it’s natural to get depressed from time to time. However, if you find yourself unable to enjoy activities that you previously loved, you experience your mood getting worse over time or you begin having dark thoughts about hurting yourself, you should consider talking to your doctor. Sometimes, depression can be due to a chemical imbalance in the brain and not anything in your lifestyle. If that’s the case, a doctor can help you figure out a proper treatment plan.

    Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mytudut/5180386049

  8. Forcing Yourself Away from Depression

    October 19, 2013

    Force Yourself Away from Depression

    by Jacob Gross

    No matter what anyone says, depression is not something that can be toughed out. No amount of white-knuckling and teeth-gritting can cure depression. Even positive thinking fails when faced with a powerful depressive episode. This is not to say that a good attitude and positive thinking does not help, but depression is a big thing. I will give this disclaimer a few times because it is important: if you are depressed, go see a psychologist, psychiatrist or other specialist. It is not something to deal with on your own without help. However, if you are a depressive person or if you have recently come out of a depressive episode, positive thinking, a good attitude and hard work can help stave off the depression.

    Depression is not an impossible enemy

    Depression is not a black hole that sucks up all the light around it instantaneously. It is not an all-consuming monster; it is not the abyss. Depression is a sink drain, a leak in the pipes, a hole in the pocket. The harder a depressive episode comes on, the less you want to fight it. It slowly drains you of desire for anything, let alone putting in an effort to stay happy. At some point, when a full blown depression sets in, it is unlikely that any amount of happy thoughts will put you in a better mood. If you are not yet fully depressed but are worried you are heading that direction, forcing yourself to be happy is the best possible decision.

    Forcing is the key word here. When depression starts to put its claws in you, it becomes harder to engage the world in a positive way. You have to force yourself to go out and do the things you love or find new things to love. There is nothing as conducive to depression as inaction. Likewise, a great way of battling a creeping depression is to stay active. New activities excite your mind and keep you from dwelling on the same old thoughts and feelings. Furthermore, staying indoors in the dark is a recipe for depression, so anything you can do to get yourself outside will help. There is a reason Seasonal Affective Disorder is a thing. Lack of sunlight and staying inside makes people depressed. Get out and do things.

    Trick your mind

    Another part of forcing yourself to be happy involves some neat psychological/neurological tricks. Your mind is not a computer with perfect programming that follows clear rules. Your mind is more like, well, a broken computer. Sometimes things work exactly how they are supposed to and sometimes they don’t. Depression is one way that things go wrong. However, another way that your brain malfunctions can help relieve the symptoms of depression. Your brain has an interesting feedback loop with emotions. If you feel an emotion – say, happiness – you will smile and act like a happy person. Strangely, if you act like a happy person and smile, you will start to feel happy. It’s your body confusing your brain.  Strange as it sounds, it is incredibly effective.

    When depression starts to set in, it is hard to stay positive. Well, here’s a news flash: everything worth doing or being is hard. It’s worth the effort to be happy. Even if you feel like the sky is pressing down on you and trying to crush your very being, force yourself to think about teddy bears or the Wizard of Oz or anything that makes you happy. Push those negative thoughts and feelings as far out of your mind as you can. Focus on something bright, even if you really are not feeling it. A funny thing will happen – you’ll start to feel a bit better.

    Remember – this is advice for how to keep depression away and at bay. If you are suffering from a serious depression, go seek immediate help. Depression is a serious mental illness and nothing to be ashamed off. Often times, serious depression has nothing to do with attitude or outlook and everything to do with a chemical imbalance. There are some great drugs out there to help people with these imbalances. If you seek help and your physician or psychiatrist recognizes the symptoms of clinical depression, they can put you on these drugs. It can make a life infinitely better.

    If, however, you are trying to keep away from a depressive episode, be positive. Force yourself to be positive. You will stop faking the happiness and start feeling it faster than you think.

    Image Credit: Ashley Webb – http://www.flickr.com/photos/xlordashx/8619562772

  9. Escaping Depression: A Middle Class Kid’s Guide

    October 11, 2013

    dealing with depression

    by Tyler Fleck

    I feel like a ton of people have this kind of story, the success story that is supposed to be uplifting, and drag how many readers out of a dark hole just on the merit of its ideals and noble notions. But, though I truly hope this can help, this is more of a story of how I dealt with a very dark time in my life, rather than a cure all. I hold no illusions of grandeur, no misappropriated ideals of myself—I know I’m no psychologist or therapist—but, I do know what worked for me, and maybe it can help some of you who might be dealing with a similar issue to work through it. At the least, perhaps it can give you another angle to work from. Anyways, here’s my story of how I was able to defeat depression.


    When I was younger, I went through a period of time where I felt literally nothing can go right. My friends had all moved away—save a loyal few—I couldn’t catch a break in the dating world, and my family life was crumbling as my favorite relatives left one by one, and my parents divorced. Waking up in the mornings was harder and harder every day, and it came to a point—after one of my best friends and mentors died in a car crash—that I started feeling like the darkness was never going to end.

    I felt depressed, lonely, and sometimes I just wondered what the point was. It was hard, to say the least.

    And yet, at the time, I had this strange dichotomy underscoring my life. It wasn’t really apparent at the time, but I was doing well in school, the bullies—who had marred my life before this difficult time—had all moved on to different targets (or different schools) and I still had those aforementioned loyal friends who always seemed to be there for me, even when we had our differences. But, still, I had my problems, and I had to deal with them, which I did in the only way I knew how—by throwing myself into my passions.

    Escaping the Darkness

    I remember, as a younger kid, when things got really bad, I would retreat into my books and my video games to get away from it all. With all the news as of late, many of you might think that’s wrong, that this would just open up a path for me to become some psycho serial-killer; but, for me, I truly needed the escape. Video games and movies and books gave me a whole separate land to go to that I could be king. Nothing was truly impossible, and I had a chance to get out of my head for a while, and just enjoy life. It’s strange to hear, but I think these fantasy lands actually gave me a strange sort of self-confidence; it was just easier to be me while I was playing/reading, and that transferred into the real world after a while. Even more importantly, I started gaining new friends just through common interests in these medias, which really helped me throughout Jr. High and High school, the period of time when I was rebuilding my life.

    Friends and Therapy

    But, with all this said, I don’t want to promote escapism as the only way to fix your problems. I loved playing video games, reading, and throwing myself into projects that would take my mind off of everything else, but that was only part of what I did to save my mental health. I talked to the people close to me (though there weren’t many), pried the minds of whoever would listen (of which there were even fewer), and did the same for others who needed it. Yeah, at the end of the day, those conversations only lasted a few minutes—and sometimes I would go weeks without anyone to talk about where I was in life—but, those few, fleeting moments of true human connection kept me feeling happy, alive even. It was in those moments that I knew I wasn’t completely alone, and I clung to those as hard as I could. I allowed them to drag me out of the dark place I lived in, and it got me where I am today; a perfectly functioning, outgoing individual.

    I also gained a major appreciation for therapy out of this period of time, as I found a wonderful therapist—a family friend—who was really able to connect to me on an emotional level, and kind of help me through all the bad parts of my life. Honestly, I was really lucky in finding someone who could, in conjunction with my friends, help me see the things that I wasn’t seeing, which I now think is probably the hardest part of getting out of a depressed state. It really was so difficult to appreciate the better parts of my life, when everything else seemed so bad. This is kind of why I have such a high appreciation for therapy now, and is precisely why I it makes me happy to see therapy becoming a much more integral part of our society. I really think that, though it doesn’t work for everyone, just having someone to talk to is the key to getting around the darkness in your life, and a therapist gives you that person if you don’t really have anyone else.

    No Regrets

    The strange thing is, I don’t look back on those moments of darkness and wish they never happened—not anymore at least. I mean, I have no doubt life would have been better then without them, and who knows, maybe it would be better now. But, I honestly feel stronger now because of it. I can see my weaknesses for what they were, and I can push myself as far away from them as possible, which has garnered me a rather large social circle, and an even closer relationship with my friends and family, who stuck with me through thick and thin.

    I know that my story probably isn’t as sad, or as hardship-filled, as many who share here on this blog; but I also know that there are a lot of people out there who do have it good, who have loving friends and family and yet cannot see how great things are because of an unnamed inner turmoil. This story is for you, because sometimes it’s hardest to see that light when it’s everywhere but right in front of you. Just take it from me, someone who has also gone through what you have; you just have to look around a bit to find it.

    Image Credit: Daniel Horacio Agostini at http://www.flickr.com/photos/dhammza/94194086

  10. How To Find Peace When Struggling With Mood Swings

    September 21, 2013

    mood swings

    by Katie Lewiz

    Do you feel swinging between strong emotions? Like you go for a ride, not knowing whether you’re happy or sad, suddenly losing your positive mood to an irritated one? This article is for people who experience continuous emotional swings, unsure why their mood behaves this way while the outside world still remains the same. Typically, women at their pre-menstrual stage or pregnancy period undergo a melancholy of swings which would be exhausting and a frequent malady which can be reduced by continuous effort and proper guidance. Apart from that, teenagers, people suffering from bipolar disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity disorder, or anyone who come across stress or pain falls in this unwell state of mood swings.

    Mind – Where Your Swings Originates

    Do you know your mind travels faster than any other media in this whole universe? The complex and greatest processing unit, mind, receives information from five senses and any of it could alter the mood. Let me put down an example here; someone close to you have passed away sometime back and you happened to hear the person’s voice through a record from your friend’s phone recently. This could tear your mental state badly and start to struggle inside with unpleasant thoughts which are possibly not able to solve and ultimately end up in a depressed mood.

    Mood swings can be certain stimulus, which can either be known or probably unclear which shifts your current thought, and it could mostly arise from recollecting events you have tried ignoring. Maybe you are aware that people to cope up their swings, take company of alcohol, drugs, pills to compress their temperament. It is known that millions of Americans depend on pills to control their moods. In a study, during 2011 drug companies sold antidepressants, antipsychotics (to battle mental disorders like ADD, bipolar disorder) worth $11 billion, which was later increased to $18 billion. Unfortunate to say, millions around the globe struggle with swings leading to ill-advised decisions like unnatural quitting from job, packing up business, squabbling with spouse, which doesn’t deserve any pill.

     Not Aware Of Your Swings? Symptoms To Note

    Let me begin with good news, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Mood swings, tag as a weird change of mind or an uncontrolled state where you become totally frustrated, sensitive to all feelings. As mentioned above, more than 75% of women undergo emotional instability during menstruation or menopause period. Here are the common symptoms noted during mood swings.

    • Frustration
    • Irritation
    • Insomnia
    • Inability to think
    • Depression
    • Fatigue
    • Stressed out

    Let the cause of mood swing be any, like menopausal emotional imbalance, hormonal fluctuations, depression, stress, pregnancy, clinical disorders, and so on, the ultimate question is, are you finding peace during this roller-coaster struggles ( a more apt term for bipolar suffers)? Though traditional treatment procedures are effective, with narcotic drugs focusing on serotonin levels (actual mood stimulators in brain), finding peace during these episodes are more significant. Are you ready to open yourself and understand how you can knock out these adversities before it feeds you totally?

    Let’s recollect the struggles and get more practical on how to deal it peacefully.

    Know Your Episodes

    According to NIMH, people with bipolar disorder undergo intense swings of mood which can be over-excited or explosive. During depressive swing they go down badly and become hopeless, and once the mood episodes are known, eventually the person could control over the hypersensitive nature. Bipolar mood swings are not as easy to cope as we say, unless proper effort is put by the person. For example, depressive episode makes the person feel empty and anxious. So recognizing the mood, try to curtail the sad state by involving in activities like reading a positive book, talking out with your friend, running for errands, do some gardening, hence slowly awakening yourself that nothing has actually changed except your mood being unnecessarily sad. If you feel the emotions are way intense to control, it is well advised to get needed help from the physician than fantasizing in your own world. A regular check-up or a talk with your counsellor or psychiatrist will help you as well the psychiatrist to explore the swings and provide with new therapies.

    Make Yourself Comfortable

    It is obvious that we depend on some source during our struggles or hard times to feel comfortable. First, build acceptance in yourself, experience your negatives and positives, as when you start digging deep, you will understand how in reality you can control the changing moods. This could lay stones of hope, courage and seek help to battle the affliction. It is required that you build up a healthy relation with a person who could understand your swings and manage your feelings, thereby pulling you out from the life’s difficult condition.

    Avoid Polarised Thinking

    This is a mental state where the person imagine world is either black or white. For example, if you are not the CEO of a big-fat company you feel total failure; if you didn’t have a good credit rating, you are a scrawny wimp. These kinds of polarised belief demotivate and affect one’s healthy living. Think aloud, AM I A COMPUTER OR ELECTRONIC DEVICE? The answer is 100% NO. Enlighten yourself that, I AM A HUMAN. If you are low in your credit rating, no one could come and kill or screw your life, and daresay you are hunting for a good blow and will achieve it the coming days; if you are not the CEO of the company, of course you are worth a team lead in a reputed firm, when many with higher qualification are not.

    Cogitate No News Is Bad

    Have you at least once thought pondering too much on a situation could finally bring you despair? It is obvious that too much thinking can spoil the goodness in a person, giving way to rumbling clouds of anxiety and worry. Okay, let’s say, a situation like you worked your tail off for a firm and bounced by your CEO, since you don’t know the cause, don’t fill your mind with tumult, instead console yourself saying it’s time for you to step out of the firm as they took much from you, whereas polishing you stronger and sharper for another company which waits for your skills.

    Exercises Beat Mood Struggles

    Equip your routine chart with exercises, yoga and meditation. Throw yourself to a nearby gym, charge your muscles and cut off the bad moods with high confidence. Regular exercise build more bone density, control the overwhelming feeling of unpleasant swings, stress and stabilise your mood much better than you think. If you are ready to practice some moderate exercises daily, around 15 minutes, you would definitely see the change from the earlier disturbing swings. Start adding exercises to your chart!

    No More False Interpretations

    False interpretations arise mostly by externalising from the outside source. It mostly happens like during your swings, the interpretations you build by externalisation could go wrong. For example, if your lover says, you look so lean – alas you start to fight with her thinking she is enough with you and wish for a smart guy. Here the actual reason is, poor girl, she was affected by your health where you took the external matters alone. Don’t make your mood more irritating by unnecessary deceptions.

    Fix Right Foods And Drink Less

    You are here to regulate your mood. So do you believe certain food can affect your mood? Change in serotonin levels alters one’s mood. You obviously know the fact that mood booster chemicals, serotonin is significant to modulate moods. A diet rich in complex carbohydrates, like whole grains, wheat, pastas, peas, legumes, peanuts can increase serotonin levels, curbing mood swings. Vegetables like broccoli, carrots, pumpkin, sprouts, help in proper liver function, maintain hormonal balance of oestrogen helping you way out of mood swings. Legumes are good for regulating oestrogen, a healthy way to reduce mood swing in women during menstrual cycle. It is good to stay wards away from alcoholic drinks or cocktails, though the booze could charge your nerves for the time being, soon you would get the symptoms kicked up high.

    Cleanse Your Negative Thoughts

    Beading up negative thoughts is the fodder for depressive swings. As you stumble upon a negative thought, purge it out with positive notes. For example, put up a Must-Do-Lists, it maybe not gentle as I say, let it be the exam you were trying for 5-7 years, but once you clear off the clutter of emotional worries and poor self-esteem; you would wonder how brilliantly you have crossed the hurdle which once you thought would never accomplish.

    Have belief in yourself? It is nothing impossible, be patient and start plowing on your swings. Keep in mind, it’s pretty natural everyone get swings, the only worry is how long you ponder on those or is it taking your full energy to come out of the petty matter. Let it be any method you adopt, beware, it’s your mind and you are mastering on the emotions.

    Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/51615623@N08/5036658861