Rabu, 21 Februari 2007

Dr. Dani's top 10 ways to beat depression and anxiety!

I have no idea what inspired me to post this blog this morning. I was just sitting there and thinking of all of the ways to make life a little more cheery. It seems to me that there has been a giant surge in the use of anti depressants. I honestly believe that *most* depression can be treated naturally. Now, I do realize there are those cases out there where anti depressants are more of a necessity, so I don't mean to offend. As someone who has dealt with some chronic depression in the past, and someone who deals with some minor seasonal depression now, these are the things that have helped me (when anti depressants DID NOT).

1. B vitamins. This is crucial. The B vitamins are for your mental health. When you are deficient, you will suffer. B1 (thiamine) turns glucose into fuel. If you lack B1, you will suffer with fatigue- which can turn to depression. B3 (niacin)- a defeciency of B3 can cause Pellegra which produces psychosis and dementia. It can also cause extreme anxiety. B5 (pantothenic acid) assists in the uptake of amino acids to the brain. A lack of this vitamin will cause severe depression. B6 (pyrodoxine) is needed to process seratonin (the chemical that produces the 'happy feeling'), melatonin (the chemical that assists in sleeping), and dopamine (essential for the normal functioning of the nervous system). B12- This one is near and dear to me. Being a vegetarian makes it much harder for me to get enough B12 and so it is basically necessary for me to take a supplement (which I haven't been doing lately and now I'm extremely bitchy- I'm off to the drug store at lunch!). B12 deficiency causes pernicious anemia. The symptoms are mood swings, paranoia, dizziness, irritability, hallucinations, dementia, mania, appetite loss, heart palpatations, shortness of breath, and tingling extremeties. This is a VERY important vitamin.

In addition to your important B vitamins- I would also advise an uptake in vitamin C, Iron, Zinc, Potassium, Calcium, and Manganese.

2. Drink MORE WATER!!! I think the majority of the population is dehydrated. Dehydration can cause fatigue, decreased brain activity (your brain is 85% water), and it can also cause severe headaches. The one thing that throws me into depression easily is fatigue. I am the sort of person that wants to be going going going. When I am fatigued, I feel absolutely useless.

Being dehydrated increases your level of fear and anxiety.

People often mistake being 'hungry' when they are actually 'thirsty'. When you are thirsty- your body is craving water. People tend to overeat when they are dehydrated which can cause you to be overweight. People who are overweight have a higher chance of dealing with depression.

I would say a good rule is if you're not going #1 six times a day, you should probably drink some more water.

3. Listen to uplifting music! When you are in a funk, listening to sad music is just going allow you to wallow in your sorrow. Which brings me to...

4. Dance! Dancing around your living room in your pjs is just going to make you laugh at yourself. You can't be sad then ; )

5. Get plenty of exercise. Taken from MayoClinic:

"Research suggests that it may take at least 30 minutes of exercise a day for at least three to five days a week to significantly improve symptoms of depression. However, smaller amounts of activity — as little as 10 to 15 minutes at a time — have been shown to improve mood in the short term. "So, small bouts of exercise may be a great way to get started if it's initially too difficult to do more," Dr. Vickers-Douglas says.
Just how exercise reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety isn't fully understood. Researchers believe that exercise prompts changes in both mind and body.
Some evidence suggests that exercise postively affects the levels of certain mood-enhancing neurotransmitters in the brain. Exercise may also boost feel-good endorphins, release tension in muscles, help you sleep better and reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol. It also increases body temperature, which may have calming effects. All of these changes in your mind and body can improve such symptoms as sadness, anxiety, irritability, stress, fatigue, anger, self-doubt and hopelessness."

When I was dealing with horribly severe anxiety, exercize helped me tremendously. I got to the point where I was becoming agoraphobic (wouldn't leave the house unless absolutely necessary), and I was also struggling with falling asleep at night. I would lay in bed and have tremors and anxiety attacks until I would eventually pass out from sheer exhaustion, only to have to wake up a couple hours later for work. This is no way to live people!!! When I began my exercise routine (which I should get back on top of!), I slowly began to fall asleep more easily. That with the help of valerian root tea got me back on track.

6. BELIEVE in the power of positive thinking. It is a very real, and very powerful thing. YOU can make things happen and change your life, and knowing you have that control is very uplifting. You need to change the way you're looking at your current situation and change the way you're processing your thoughts. Let's have a couple of examples:

During my extreme anxiety, I was always afraid I was going to have an anxiety attack, and I was afraid they were never going to go away. These thoughts crossed my mind many times throughout a day. Everytime I was thinking these thoughts, I was just confirming that they were indeed going to happen. I suffered for 4-5 years because of this. Towards the end, I got to the point where I just REFUSED to live like that any longer. I started telling myself, I DO NOT SUFFER FROM ANXIETY ANY MORE. I WILL NOT SUFFER FROM ANXIETY ANY MORE. I told myself that it was all in my head, and that everything is ok (because it was, and it is!). By replacing my fear of anxiety with the affirmation that I do not suffer from anxiety, I banished my attacks. I have not suffered in about 2 years now. It is gone.

Let's use a depression example:

Perhaps your significant other has left you. This is a big one for everyone, so I thought it would be a good example. It's bound to at best upset you, at worst send you into a depression. Change is so hard sometimes, but you need to look at it in a positive light (even something as 'negative' and hard as a significant other leaving). As cliche as it sounds, I really enjoy the saying 'everything happens for a reason'. You have to believe this with unwaivering faith. Everything does happen for a reason, and I'm sure your s.o. left because your soul mate is right around the corner. What if you missed him/her because you were in the wrong relationship??!!! See how easy that was? ; )

Affirmations are always good as well. Pick a mantra and repeat it over and over. Perhaps (for this example):

* I enjoy being independent and having the freedom to always do what I want to do.

Isn't that a great positive spin?? And better yet, it's true!

7. Keep a gratitude journal. This is sort of an add on to #6...
Enter in your journal every night 10 reasons why you are blessed and grateful. This will remind you of the good things you're not focusing on when you're looking at the things that are making you sad.

8. Get out in the sun!!! Try to get outside and go to the beach, walk to the park, go hiking, go boating, go camping... Anything to get some fresh air and some sunlight. If it's winter, try skiing, snowboarding, snow shoe-ing (how the hell do you spell that???), intertubing, ice skating... Being outdoors even during cloud cover still gives you the benefits of being in the sun. This often times also goes hand in hand with #5.

9. Spend some time with a good friend. Do something fun, even if you don't think you feel like it. Try to find something that wont allow you to focus on anything upsetting. My votes are going for pie at a hole in the wall restaurant and having a good chat, go out dancing (this covers #3, #4, #5!), go to a great concert, see if there are any listings for local theatre (I mean live theatre, not movie theatre- which I don't suggest personally), go get tattoos!!!!, treat yourself to a spa facial or massage (or both!).

10. If you feel the need, try out a good herbal supplement for depression/anxiety before going head-first into using anti depressants. I highly suggest 5-HTP (which I had a Dr. confirm as 100% safe, and I found 100% effective), St. John's Wart (never worked for me, but some people swear by it), melatonin supplements (aid in falling asleep and also a mood elevator- try not to take right before work!), Valerian root extract (Valium was patterned after valerian root...just a little fun fact for the day!)

I hope this is beneficial for someone. Depression and anxiety can literally ruin your life, so don't let it any longer! I feel for people on anti depressants thinking that it is going to cure them. I've never seen a single person cured by anti depressants (or honestly even helped much), and that's because they're not a cure. They don't attack the root cause of your depression. Find the root cause and fix it!

Your life is worth enjoying!

I'm here for support if anyone needs it. It's good to know sometimes that someone has gone through what you're going through, and they made it to the light at the end of the tunnel.

Much love to everyone!

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