What you believe about the possibility of depression recovery? What other steps have you tried…
Would you like to know how to cure depression naturally?
Have you been experiencing an overwhelming sense of sorrow, regret, frustration or dissatisfaction with life? Do you believe there is nothing much you can do about it; that life is tough and you have to struggle to get through every day? Can’t remember the last time you felt truly joyful?
It sounds like you might be experiencing chronic low mood. Some people refer to this as depression and believe they are mentally ill.
The feelings of depression are very real and horribly cruel. They steal the colour, enjoyment and pleasure out of life, replacing them with misery and despair.
But I don’t believe you are sick. Not mentally ill.
Even in your endless sorrow you are doing the best you can. Yes, you are. You have put coping strategies in place to help you get through. Things like sleeping more, thinking more and retreating from the world. These behaviours make you feel safe and when you feel safe, you feel better.
But now you want to know how to cure depression naturally.
First though, let’s ask, ‘How did you get here’?
My guess is that there has been some kind of stress in your life – major or minor – which has led to changes in your sleep and appetite, perhaps brought on mysterious aches and pains, left you weepy and dazed, affected your thinking, memory and decision-making, and worst of all, made you believe there is no hope.
Our thinking patterns – how we respond to life’s experiences – are learned from a very young age. They are not always helpful, though we do the best we can. As adults, stress triggers these thinking patterns and if we are not resilient and able to respond in a way that reduces the stress, we can descend into depression.
But there is hope.
I believe that everyone, including you, does the very best they can with the resources, information and coping strategies they have.
Read through these scenarios:
You have used strategies which get you through that patch of low mood.
You spend the evening and the whole of the next two days thinking this situation over and over. You are using a thinking strategy to try and find a solution to the problem.
You feel physically unwell (even if there is no actual migraine) and so you respond to your body’s need to rest, roll over and sleep heavily for the next three hours.
Each of these situations is common in when we’ve been experiencing a low mood for a long time. Low
mood results in inertia (unwillingness or inability to move) and eating foods to comfort us. Everyday conversations or events take on mammoth, even catastrophic proportions, and we mull over them in our mind searching for the solutions. Sleep eludes us and we wake up feeling exhausted and so we stay in bed for a few more hours.
What we are doing in each situation is what we feel is best for ourselves and our bodies.
However, the opposite is actually what need to do, but we can only do what our current level of information allows us to do. This is what I mean when I say that you are doing the best you can to look after yourself given your current knowledge and resources at your disposal.
But now, you want more out of life. Your current coping strategies are not working for you.
There are seven steps to getting your life back on track:
So the first step in how to cure depression naturally is to be kind to yourself.
Even if you know that sitting on the couch for hours does actually make you feel worse in the long-term, it’s all you can find the energy for right now. And that’s OK. For now.
Even though you may force yourself to lie awake going over and over that unpleasant situation, you may really believe that somewhere in all that thinking lies the solution to the problem. So thinking it through makes sense to you. Actually, what you are doing is ruminating, one of the most debilitating symptoms of depression and it never gets you any closer to the answer. But it’s all you can do, right now. And that’s OK. For now.
Even though somewhere in your heart you know that getting up and having coffee with a friend is probably what you need right now; the chance to get out, have a laugh, perhaps share what’s on your mind, your body is saying ‘No way’ and because you don’t have any other strategies for getting up and about, you listen and obey and go back to sleep. That’s all you can do right now. And that’s OK. For now.
Low moods encourage us to tell ourselves lies about what a slob you are, how stupid you are to let things grow out of proportion or how you’ll never sleep well or get out of depression because you’re a loser and nothing is going to change, you are probably listening to these lies.
Listening to the lies of depression makes it so hard to change, to do what you have to do.Stop saying unkind things to yourself and stop saying unkind things about yourself to other people. Click To Tweet
Understand that you are doing the best you can under very difficult and challenging circumstances.
So one of the most important steps in how to cure depression naturally is to do watch your racing thoughts and negative self-talk.
This is a tricky concept because it sounds like you have to enjoy or like having the pain of depressive low moods. Or that you have to give up.
Just because we accept something it doesn’t mean we have to like it, or that the situation will stay the same forever.
At school, you may have had to study subjects you didn’t enjoy – for me it was maths – but there really wasn’t any point struggling against it. I accepted that I would have to endure maths for at least another year and knew that I had to do the homework and take the exams.
But I also knew that eventually I would only study the subjects I really enjoyed.
Or, maybe you have to work back later than usual because there is a big project on. You may not enjoy having to spend so much time at work away from your family, but you choose to do it because it won’t be forever (and hopefully you are getting some financial benefit too)!
Or maybe your teenage daughter is going out more on the weekends or in the evening and you’re not sure exactly where she is or if you like the idea of her growing up. But you let her know that you’ll be there to pick her up if she needs it and you understand that she’s not going to do anything silly and she’s able to look after herself. You may not like it, but soon she’ll be a young adult and responsible for herself and developing more independence is just part of that process.
Or perhaps your father is aging and his ability to live independently is reducing. You find you’re doing his chores around the house, buying his groceries and preparing meals. While you are happy to do this because you love your Dad and are worried about him, it puts additional stress on you and takes your attention from your own life or family. You don’t exactly like it, but you choose to do it for now.
So, there are many times as we go through life in which we find ourselves doing things we don’t really like or enjoy, but we accept that we need to.
I can’t imagine ever liking or enjoying profoundly low moods, negative thinking patterns or feelings of helplessness and hopelessness (that would just be weird) but accepting our mood is far more constructive than fighting it.
This warlike language – battling, struggling, fighting the demons of depression – is the language of not accepting.
Fighting and resisting, keeping going and hanging in there…these are words and thoughts that keep you resisting or pushing away the depression. When we inevitably fail, that’s when we may feel like giving in.
Because you can’t ‘win the war’ against depression. Not because it’s too strong for you, but because it’s just not the right strategy.
Constantly fighting and struggling against depression takes too much energy. It makes you feel that you have to defeat the depression completely each and every day. It depletes you physically and emotionally.
It makes you think, ‘Why can’t I do this? Why do I let the depression get the better of me? I should be stronger than this!’Telling yourself every day, ‘I have to beat the depression. I must fight it, control it, conquer it’ will only make you feel weak and inadequate. Click To Tweet
When we have thoughts like this, our amygdala, a tiny region of the brain which is responsible for emotional reactions, triggers the production cortisol and adrenaline. In other words, overly negative emotions trigger the stress response system in our body: the fight or flight response.
In fight or flight, our prefrontal cortex – the thinking part of the brain – shuts down so that the body is focussed on physical survival. The heart beats faster, sending oxygen to our limbs to get ready for action. Our muscles tense up, ready to flee. We stop feeling hungry, because obviously you don’t want to be needing to eat when you’re facing a life-or-death situation.
When you are in fight-or-flight mode, you simply cannot take the actions you need to reduce your symptoms because to do that you need to be thinking clearly and calmly.
You set yourself up for failure. Then comes another round of self-recriminations, ‘I’m hopeless, weak, pathetic. I deserve to have this depression’.
Stop fighting. Don’t get into fight or flight.
How to cure depression naturally means accepting the depression. Don’t have any strong emotional reaction to it. Think of it as a chair or a fridge or a pen. Look at it objectively, from the outside. We don’t normally have emotional reactions to chairs or fridges. And yes, OK, depression is not a chair.
But if we can start to relate to it as just a thing, you will be in a much better place to begin to make decisions about reducing the symptoms.
Many people with depression, including you, know what makes them feel better. In fact, you already know how to cure depression naturally. You know that chatting with a good friend who understands you or taking a walk in the park lifts your mood. You know that when you go to the shops, or the library, or see a movie or do something nice for a neighbour that you feel better after.
But you don’t do these mood-lifting activities often enough for them to become habits.
And this is not your fault.
This is due to the energy-sucking, motivation-killing, pleasure-destroying monster that depression is.
Chronically low moods affect us in three ways: in our lifestyle (behaviour), in our brain function (cognitive) and in our thinking patterns (use of our mind).
When I was depressed I couldn’t sleep well at all. I found it difficult to drop off to sleep, despite feeling fatigued, and when I finally did fall asleep I found it difficult to stay asleep through the night. I would wake around 2am and lie there, thinking, until about 4 or 5am when I’d drop into a very deep sleep from which I would be awakened by the alarm clock, groggy and exhausted.
Can you relate?
I ate poorly: cheap, high fat foods such as hamburgers, sausages and takeaway Chinese. I ate a lot of rice, pasta and bread. I craved sugar, consuming cakes, doughnuts and chocolate almost daily.
Are you finding you’re craving sugary foods and can’t find the energy to make your own meals? Do you stop of for fast food on the way home from work or order in pizza over the weekend?
With very low levels of energy, I never exercised. But I did have a dog and because I cared about her, I took her out to the park or the beach every day, sometimes twice or even three times each day. I would shuffle along, often stopping to sit on the bench or grass. It was not exercise, but at least I was moving.
How are you going getting physical activity into your day? Not easy, is it?
I was working for myself during my most depressed period (ha! I was trying to build a bricks-and-mortar business, an incredibly difficult thing to do with chronic and overwhelming low mood) and this meant I was alone almost every day.
My house was in a terrible mess and I hated it, but I didn’t care because no one ever visited. I dreaded the phone ringing and would rarely answer it if it did. I usually refused invitations or cancelled at the last minute, with a ‘head ache’. I was getting more and more isolated but I just didn’t have the energy to see anyone.
What about you? Do you find yourself alone most days? If you’re working or otherwise needing to be out among people, do you dread it and long to be able to escape back home?
Do you ever think your brain is just not working properly?
I did. Constantly.
I locked my keys into the car or locked myself out of the house on a regular basis. I continually forgot to take things I needed with me and with my house in a perpetual state of clutter, I constantly lost things and spent hours searching for things and ending up in tears.
My business was in a legal field which meant I had to keep up with changes to the law and regulations and I found this nearly impossible in depression. I just couldn’t remember what needed to be done.
I made endless to-do lists, set goals and made action plans and then fell in a heap because it all seemed so overwhelming. I simply didn’t know where to begin. I couldn’t think straight. My brain was a mush and I felt weighed down as if I was wearing a helmet of lead.
Cognitive symptoms are some of the most distressing and frightening symptoms of depression because they affect our ability to function in the world.
The way we think and the emotions we attach to our thoughts has a two-fold role in depression. The way we think and feel can lower our mood and it can make us stay there.
Feeling overwhelmed with sadness, regret, shame, helplessness, hopelessness and frustration is often caused by life stress whether in our distant childhood, or in our more recent adulthood. The way we think affects how we deal with stressors that arise.
If we are a ‘glass-half full’ person, always focussing on the negative and unable to see any positives, will promote depressive thinking. Even if we have normally been a reasonably happy, upbeat person, the
stressor may lead to lack of sleep, anxiety, changes in physical activity and diet which may lead to depressive symptoms, which in turn make us habitually less cheerful and positive.
For example, I’m thinking of an old friend who was always very confident, outgoing and cheerful. He went through a difficult period at work and simultaneously, a relationship breakdown. He slept poorly, stressed over work, stopped seeing his friends and consequently his mood dropped significantly. When I spoke with him, he had a very negative view of himself and the future. The more he expressed how unhappy he was, how life was unfair and how nothing would ever change, the more depressed he became.
Today, he is much better, having slowly re-engaged with the world; going to the gym, playing basketball with friends. He’s found another job he enjoys and has taken up photography.
He did this by noticing what was missing in his life (lifestyle symptoms) and changing his thought patterns (‘thinking’ symptoms). He found he could plan and make decisions much more easily as the depression eased. He’s doing well today.
Dealing with the ‘thinking’ symptoms of depression can also be very distressing. Our low mood thinking lies to us and tells us that not only is the world a terrible place, but that we are terrible people and don’t deserve a rewarding, contented life.
Worst of all, we begin to believe those lies so that they become truths for us.
But they are not universal truths.
The world is a wonderful place. You are a wonderful person. You richly deserve a rewarding life.
It’s hard to believe when you’re down in the trenches with depression.
You need strategies to turn those unhelpful thinking patterns around. But understand, within you there is already the answer to how to cure depression naturally.
But how? Where to begin?
Read on to find out!
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If you'd asked her 15 years ago if she believed life could be a wonderful as it is today, Vickie would have answered, 'I just don't know, but it doesn't seem likely.' Now she knows that if she can turn her life around, it's possible for you too. Ask Vickie how she can help you design the life you'd really love to live and say goodbye to depression forever.