Depression is a very physical state. It impacts our bodies and we feel it in our bodies. Our bodies either help depression or hinder it. In some cases our bodies actually are the cause of our depression. So one of the places we must start in dealing with depression is in a very physical way.
Chronic pain can lead to depression and depression can lead to chronic pain. Some of the things that can cause depression or which depression can cause are:
• Regular Headaches and migraines
• Back pain
• Muscle aches and joint pain
• Chest pain
• Digestive problems
• Exhaustion and fatigue
• Sleep disturbance – normally to little and sometimes to much
• Change in appetite and weight – Normally to much but sometimes to little
Depression has many likely sources, including defective mood regulation by the brain, genetic susceptibility, stressful life events, child hood trauma, medications, and medical problems. It’s believed that in most cases that several of these forces interact to bring on depression. The chemical state of the body can impact our emotions and our emotions can impact the physical state of the body.
So if you are suffering from severe feelings of depression which has lasted over two weeks you should see a doctor for a complete physical check up and also a psychiatrist to see if there are physical aspects of your emotional state and also things that can be done in order to relieve some of these physical motivators of depression. Do not have your general physician prescribe anti-depressives to you. Go to a specialist for that. This can help you to begin to address your depression at a very physical level.
Ant-depression medication should be used with great caution. The medication is not a “happy pill” and unless reinforced by other factors such as lifestyle changes, prayer, new self talk patterns, and inner healing any results will most likely be short lived.
There are two extremes, one which believes that depression can simply be cured by taking a pill and the other which rejects all medical efforts to help fight depression. The wise course is to fight depression on many fronts and to recognize that your depression is unique in how it is exactly working in you. So in an intelligent and balanced way, you should, in conversations with your doctor determine what would be the best course of action for you. However, do not depend on a pill to defeat depression in your life since medication alone rarely works to end depression in the long run.
If you have extreme depression that’s interfering with your capability to function, medication may be the correct course for you. However, it’s imperative you first try counseling, exercise, and/or self-help strategies that work just as well or better—minus the side effects—as antidepressants in many cases.
Abuse of alcohol, prescription drugs, and illegal drugs is common among people who are depressed. This is self-medication in many cases. If you have any of these behaviors then it is vital you see a doctor since this type of physical “cure” is only going to lead to more negative circumstances and make matters worst rather than better.
Some physical things to do outside of medication to fight depression.
1. Regular exercise reduces stress. Find a “fun exercise” since you will stick with it
2. Change your diet to not fuel your depression. Some recommendations that are often made are:
a. Seek nutrients in what you eat
b. Seek Antioxidants in what you eat – (broccoli, spinach, blueberries, oranges, tomatoes, nuts, and seeds etc.)
c. Seek “Smart Carbs” like whole grains
d. Seek Protein Rich Foods – beans, peas, lean beef, low-fat cheese, fish, milk etc.
e. Mediterranean type diet can help not fuel depression
f. Get plenty of vitamin D
g. Seek Omega-3 fatty acids – fatty fish,, walnuts, flaxseed etc.
h. Reduce alcohol and caffeine
Always inform your doctor and check with a dietitian when changing your eating patterns. Always use common sense and balance in every change you make in your life and this would include your eating patterns.
3. Regular patterns of life – A schedule of when we get up, eat, and do things. Structure reduces stress
4. Don’t feed the depression by cutting out sunlight and the outside world. Even when your depression is screaming at you to go to a dark room do the opposite and put yourself in a well-lighted space. Lack of sunlight is a known physical influence for some depression.
5. Use of emotionally calming music or music that seem s to release our pain. Some music can depress us and some can help lift our moods. To actually make the music ourselves either through the use of instruments or our voice seems to also help since this can help us express emotions. The Psalms clearly helped the writer to express deep feelings before God. Because music is so individual; people would have to develop the right use of music for him or her to help them to fight their depression. But music is a very powerful God given emotional tool for the soul.
For an interesting use of the book of Psalms in dealing with emotions see Tim Keller’s messages on the Psalms.
So as you try to deal with depression you need to begin with the physical realities of your life. We can work on our depression from the outside in as well as from the inside out. More to come…