Feelings and moods are secondary, resultant phenomena.
What does this mean?
It means that you shouldn’t focus on your feelings or moods at all. And you most definitely shouldn’t let how you feel dictate your life experience.
Don’t try and interpret your feelings and moods, just accept them and then use your will and analytical mind to allow you to take steps towards your ultimate life.
The more positive steps you take in your life, the more you will change your reality to something that will result in good moods and positive feelings.
If you can manage to summon up a good attitude while being in the abyss of depression and anxiety you will be well on the way to winning the battle.
Our attitude is one of the most important factors in determining the path our life takes. A positive attitude can lift us up out of depression into a life we love.
So what is a positive attitude? What does it mean?
I think of attitude in terms of an aeroplane. An aeroplane climbing is said to have a positive attitude. An aeroplane descending is said to have a negative attitude.
Be mindful of how you think about and react to the events and experiences in your life. If you try and maintain a positive attitude, you will point the plane up and your life will climb to new highs. A negative attitude will point the aeroplane downwards to the ground which brings yet more low moods and negative experiences.
The restorative properties of sleep are well known, so it is no coincidence that there is a strong link between insomnia and depression. It is very important for people suffering from depression and anxiety to get a good amount of sleep every single night. That means following a good sleep hygiene regime.
‘Sleep hygiene’ means habits that help you to have a good night’s sleep. Common sleeping problems (such as insomnia) are often caused by bad habits reinforced over years or even decades. You can dramatically improve your sleep quality by making a few minor adjustments to lifestyle and attitude.
Obey your body clock
The body’s alternating sleep-wake cycle is controlled by an internal ‘clock’ within the brain. Most bodily processes (such as temperature and brain states) are synchronised to this 24-hour physiological clock. Getting a good sleep means working with your body clock, not against it. Suggestions include:
- Get up at the same time every day. Soon this strict routine will help to ‘set’ your body clock and you’ll find yourself getting sleepy at about the same time every night.
- Don’t ignore tiredness. Go to bed when your body tells you it’s ready.
- Don’t go to bed if you don’t feel tired. You will only reinforce bad habits such as lying awake.
- Get enough early morning sunshine. Exposure to light during early waking hours helps to set your body clock.
Improve your sleeping environment
Good sleep is more likely if your bedroom feels restful and comfortable. Suggestions include:
- Invest in a mattress that is neither too hard nor too soft.
- Make sure the room is at the right temperature.
- Ensure the room is dark enough.
- If you can’t control noise (such as barking dogs or loud neighbours), buy a pair of earplugs.
- Use your bedroom only for sleeping and intimacy. If you treat your bed like a second lounge room – for watching television or talking to friends on the phone, for example – your mind will associate your bedroom with activity.
Some people resort to medications or ‘social drugs’ in the mistaken belief that sleep will be more likely. Common pitfalls include:
- Cigarettes – many smokers claim that cigarettes help them relax, yet nicotine is a stimulant. The side effects, including accelerated heart rate and increased blood pressure, are likely to keep you awake for longer.
- Alcohol – alcohol is a depressant drug, which means it slows the workings of the nervous system. Drinking before bed may help you doze off but, since alcohol disturbs the rhythm of sleep patterns, you won’t feel refreshed in the morning. Other drawbacks include waking frequently to go to the toilet and hangovers.
- Sleeping pills – drawbacks include daytime sleepiness, failure to address the causes of sleeping problems, and the ‘rebound’ effect – after a stint of using sleeping pills, falling asleep without them tends to be even harder. These drugs should only be used as a temporary last resort and under strict medical advice.
Relax your mind
Insomnia is often caused by worrying. Suggestions include:
- If you are a chronic bedtime worrier, try scheduling a half hour of ‘worry time’ well before bed. Once you retire, remind yourself that you’ve already done your worrying for the day.
- Try relaxation exercises. You could consciously relax every part of your body, starting with your toes and working up to your scalp.
Make sure you drink lots of water (and electrolytes).
Studies link depression to dehydration because 85% of brain tissue is water.
Dehydration causes energy generation in the brain to decrease.
So my recommendation is to make sure you drink a good amount of water every day to keep the brain fog away.
Because depression is a multi-faceted condition with several causes, involving multiple parts of your body, it would be an overstatement to say that all depression is affected by dehydration. However, in many cases, dehydration could be a contributing factor worth considering.
There is a lot more information to be found about the possible link between dehydration and depression.
You really have nothing to lose and a lot to gain in drinking more water (as long as it is within reason).
Did you know that every living thing on the earth *except for some organisms under the sea that live in volcanic vents runs on sunlight?
Without the sun, almost every living thing would die from starvation. Literally, the energy the fuels life would have ceased and therefore so would life.
Unfortunately, the sun gets some bad press.
We are constantly told to stay out of the sun because its bad for us, but on the contrary. The sun is the thing that sustains us.
Interestingly, some people fall into depression at the same time every year during the winter season because they don’t get enough sunlight.
This is called seasonal affective disorder. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seasonal_affective_disorder
By extension, if we aren’t getting enough sun on a day to day basis this can drastically affect our mood… so make sure you get out there into the sun and get charged up!
Dec. 5, 2002 — A sunny day may do more than just boost your mood — it may increase levels of a natural antidepressant in the brain. A new study shows that the brain produces more of the mood-lifting chemical serotonin on sunny days than on darker days.
I like to step out of the office a few times during the day for a sunno (a really lame version of a smoko).
A sunno is basically 5 minutes soaking up sunlight.
We are a lot like computers. We take inputs which we process which determines some result.
If you load a poorly written program into a computer, the computer performs poorly.
If you enter nonsense data into a computer program, the result you get is yet more nonsense.
In the IT world, this is a principal known as GIGO. Garbage In Garbage Out.
We are similar.
If we fill our minds with rubbish, for example tabloid news, or blogs telling us that we aren’t good enough, or even hang around people who treat us poorly our resulting experience will be affected negatively. For example our self image might be damaged, we might attain unrealistic expectations of ourselves or others, our attitude towards ourselves and others might change to the negative.
If we eat and drink lots of rubbish food like lots of sugary soda, lollies, alcohol, processed foods like chips and cake etc we will experience inconsistent energy levels and mood.
Therefore, we should try and be on guard protecting our minds and bodies from Garbage In so we don’t get Garbage Out.
We should aim for Good In Good Out
The answer… one bite at a time
Depression and anxiety can be caused or greatly exacerbated by stress, more specifically the feeling of being overwhelmed by the endless demands that life throws at us.
Take for example myself, I have a career where all day every day I am bombarded with requests from customers, co-workers, business partners, bosses. All requests have an urgency to them.
I have my family household who have needs. I need to keep the money coming in to keep the roof over our heads, the bills paid and our belly’s full. I have friends and family I need to keep in touch with, side projects I want to deliver… The sad thing is that this is a truncated list!
This is the reality of our lives in this modern world.
It is all too easy to become overwhelmed and stressed over it all.
One thing I have learn is that we let the sense of being overwhelmed stop our progress and take our power. We need to keep calm and carry on.
The way I do this is to make a list of what I need to do, and then pick a single high priority task out of the list which I work on until its done. While working on one of the items in the list, I don’t worry about anything else.
This is akin to eating an elephant one bite at a time!
SSRIs also known as meds or happy pills are a drug therapy found to be an effective intervention in clinical depression and anxiety.
SSRIs help the seratonin on your brain to hang around longer through blocking the reuptake of it by the presynaptic neuron, thereby letting it build up to effective levels.
This increases serotonin signaling, which then acts to elevate mood and thus relieve depressive symptoms.
Some examples of SSRIs are:
- Citalopram (Celexa)
- Escitalopram (Lexapro)
- Fluoxetine (Prozac)
- Paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva)
- Sertraline (Zoloft)
- Vilazodone (Viibryd)
I have can personally vouch for the effectiveness of sertraline.
Here are some great slideshows about antidepressants
To start the healing process do something positive NOW. It can be anything.
That is the key to starting the recovery process…
Use your will to make your existence better, or even someone elses.
An example might be to make your bed, clean your teeth or have a shower.
Something else positive you could do is clean your bedroom, house or apartment.
Ring a friend or family member and see what they are up to.
Go outside for a walk, and be sure to take a deep breath of fresh air while you are out there.
Have a glass of water.
Plant a plant.
Water a plant.
Mow the lawn.
Draw a picture.
Every positive action you take makes your existence better… you might not be able to tell but it has.
After you have taken one positive action, take another… or have a rest and then take another, but know the more positive things you do the better your life gets!
Inflammation is when chemicals from the body’s white blood cells are released into the blood or affected tissues to protect your body from foreign substances. This release of chemicals increases the blood flow to the area of injury or infection.
Acute inflammation is a normal part of our body’s healing process, this might occur when you get a scratch (example). The skin around the scratch will become engorged with blood and become puss filled while the body repels any invading bacteria.
In contrast to acute inflammation is chronic inflammation. This is long term inflammation that just hangs around, often attacking the body itself making you sick rather than healthy. This could be as a result of allergies, stress, intake of toxic foods, bad environment, lack of vitamins or one of many other lifestyle issues.
Depression has been strongly linked with chronic inflammation.
In order to get past depression, it might be required to work out how to rid yourself of chronic inflammation.
This image from http://www.nutrishield.com/inflammageing/contentp2.php is a good guide on how to treat inflammation.
One of the best tricks to beating depression and anxiety is in learning to accept it for what it is…
Just mind stuff, nothing more.
It is really just a scary illusion that feeds off our fear of it.
The more we pay attention to our depression and let it rule our lives the more power it has, the more power it gains.
The more we accept it and carry on living as if it doesn’t exist, the weaker it gets… until it ceases to exist entirely.
Synapses and neurotransmitters – how your brain is supposed to work and why your feeling down
Depression and anxiety can be traced back to an organic cause that happens within the brain itself, and that cause is the brain not having enough of the neurotransmitter serotonin to allow it to run well.
Serotonin can be likened to something like oil in a car. Your brain burns through serotonin like a car burns through oil.
If your brain is constantly stressed, it will possibly burn through the serotonin faster than your body can restore it. And like running out of oil in a car, running out of serotonin is NOT GOOD.
If you run out of serotonin messages in some parts of the brain won’t be delivered in a normal way and your brain will act like a junk heap of a car on its way out.
Here’s an image that explains how serotonin is involved in message delivery… (with the addition of diamond shaped ecstasy molecules for good measure)
This begs the question, if you run out of serotonin how do you get it back?
- You need to learn how to function on low serotonin until it is restored.
- You need to learn to chill out, slow down and manage your stressors better so you don’t use up so much damn serotonin.
- You need to do things that will increase your serotonin creation
- You COULD go on some medications, proven to slow the rate that serotonin leaves your brain (SSRIs)
- Then wait… and it will be restored in time.
Once you get your serotonin levels back and right… DON’T USE IT ALL UP AGAIN because depression and anxiety SUCKS.
Cling to people in the darkness and they will guide you to the light
Friends, family, work colleagues… people in general.
They will all help you though your depression, especially if you let them know that you are suffering.
Chances are they have suffered in the same way.
Make your strongest effort to stay in touch with your people They are like your life raft keeping you afloat.
Cling to them!
When going through the deepest of depressive episodes a friend of mine would come over with beer and scotch.
We would chug the booze down and get into some XBOX gaming.
Once the alcohol kicked in we would be laughing and having a great old time and for a while the depression would fade into insignificance.
Sure the depression would come back quickly but those moments of reprieve were both restorative and hope giving.
Exercise – Trigger the release of endorphins and look good doing it!
Exercise is REALLY REALLY good for people with depression and or anxiety.
Firstly, it is something positive. It helps your body grow stronger and more resilient.
With a strong healthy body, life is just easier.
Exercise makes you look better too… which is mostly good.
One other benefit of exercise is the release of hormones called Endorphin is triggered with vigorous exercise.
This is the same hormone that is responsible for the good feelings associated with Love and Chocolate!
So exercise has the potential to at least for a few moments make you feel a lot better about yourself and the world which is a major plus when someone is battling depression and or anxiety.
For more information on endorphins visit here:
Acceptance Commitment therapy – accept your life and commit to positive actions
One of the traps of depression and anxiety is getting caught up in the negative thoughts generated in your mind and then spiralling down further into a deeper hole.
In order to overcome depression and anxiety you must learn to do the following:
- Accept that depression and anxiety is part of your life, just like any other. It is another experience, albeit a shitty one.
- It is OK to feel bad, sad, depressed… They are all important emotions you need to experience, and they all come and go.
- Know that with time, like everything in this world the depression and anxiety will pass.
- Learn that the bad thoughts and feelings aren’t real. They merely come, show themselves to you and disappear. Let the thoughts just be what they are…. some random expression of your brain.
- Learn that you are not any less a person just because you are having an episode of depression or anxiety. People will be there for you!
- Don’t give any deliberate effort to analysing the thoughts. Just let them come and go freely, unless the thought is particularly good… then you can dwell on it all you want.
- Work out what you want from life…. Visualise, how do you want your life to look. Create some goals! Work out what you truly value in your life.
- The most important step! Take positive action… Especially when your mind is giving you hell.
- No matter how small the positive action is, it effectively punches depression and anxiety in the nuts
- Think about something you can do in line with your value system and just do it!… This can be as trivial as cleaning your kitchen, drawing a picture or ringing a relative, catching up with a friend or going for a walk.
- If you can keep taking positive actions in line with your value system, despite depression and anxiety toying with you you will grow stronger and more resilient and more capable than you ever imagined, and the depression and anxiety will dissolve like a bad dream.
Dr Russ Harris presents a very important truth about “feelings”
Take Probiotics to Help Treat Depression and Anxiety
Did you know that your depression and or anxiety could be caused by the bacterial colony in your bowels being overgrown with the wrong bacteria?
A large percentage of the serotonin in your body is actually produced in your gut, in part by the microbes that reside there. If the bacteria colony in your gut has been damaged, resulting in symptoms like IBS there’s a good chance that this is linked to your body running a shortage of serotonin. This results in mood disorders like depression and anxiety.
“Our work demonstrates that microbes normally present in the gut stimulate host intestinal cells to produce serotonin”
How does this translate practically to our own battle with mood disorders?
Quite simply, we need to start taking probiotics
Probiotics are anti-inflammatory microbes that seem to affect the gut in a positive way, decreasing stress signaling in the body and possibly even increasing the transformation of the amino acid tryptophan to serotonin in the brain. In both their anti-inflammatory capacity and their serotonin capacity, probiotics have *some* overall effects similar to antidepressants such as SSRIs.
Some videos on the subject