Depression is a disease that can affect every one of us (regardless of age, gender, social level, etc.). Contrary to popular belief, depression is neither a “fatality” nor a weakness of character. The question that often arises is how to overcome depression? Will alone is not enough to get out of it, especially because the disease causes a feeling of self-worth and negative thoughts. You will find in this article the methods that have proved to overcome this difficult condition.
1. How to React to a Depression Crisis?
Certainly, nobody is prepared for depression, and no one is really ready to live that, but know that depression can affect any type of person and can happen at any time. When someone is touched by depression, it is unavoidable to find the strength to recover and rebound. If some people do not allow themselves to be overtaken by events, others, for their part, will plunge into an interminable spiral. If you are affected by a depression crisis, here are some tips you can follow in order to overcome this crisis:
- Walk for 10 minutes and breathe deeply: walking and breathing are the “life force” that plays an important role in nourishing the body. It has been scientifically proven that walking and breathing exercises can help reduce tension and relieve stress, thanks to extra oxygen. Go for a walk in a park or garden and breathe deeply as this will help you to empty your head and boost the endorphins (which, in turn, will reduce stress and depression hormones).
- Expose yourself sufficiently to sunlight (especially for people who may suffer from seasonal depression). Actually, sunlight will boost the body’s serotonin and hence relaxing. When the weather allows, make sure you always get at least 15 minutes of sunlight every day. However, if you are living in areas with little sunlight, then you can get a light therapy box.
- Do not be too hard with yourself by adopting a pessimistic behavior. Flee all the negative attractions and focus only on what will be positive to console you for this period of depression.
- Do not hold back your tears: If talking about your problems makes you want to cry, then do it. Crying is a great way to relieve yourself, especially when you know why you cry.
- Listen to music: classical music has a real soothing effect as it slows heart rate, lowers blood pressure and even decreases hormone levels of stress, any music you like will fill your brain with well-being neurotransmitters such as dopamine.
- Find the source of depression: Take the time to analyze the situation and find the source of the problem. Indeed, depression is often an alarm signal. It tells you that something is wrong (for example, anxiety disorder, difficulty in relationships with people, difficulty coping with bereavement, overly busy work schedule, etc.). Knowing the origin of your depressive state does not completely overcome the problem, but allows to target some tracks of intervention in order to get out of this depression.
- Talk about your depression: Ruminating in your corner will bring you nothing. To go on in your physical and psychological reconstruction, you will initially have to break the rupture. You will feel better when you share your feelings with someone. Find friends who care about your situation and talk to them about your problems. You can also turn to a professional coach who will provide you with a personalized follow-up and assistance, essential to overcome this period and get better.
- Rectifying the facts: sometimes, by confronting your assumptions with reality, you realize that things are not as you imagine them. For example, if you suspect your husband of infidelity, then ask the question without hesitation. You may be wrong.
- Avoid making important decisions: you cannot trust your judgment when you are depressed. So, it is advisable for depressed people to postpone important decisions because they can make bad decisions, which would aggravate their situation.
- Respect others: Depressed people are often hurtful with their entourage. Avoid being unpleasant because others could also respond with hurtful remarks.
2. How to Overcome Depression? Daily Lifestyle Tips
Fighting depression requires significant involvement and commitment of the patient. The role of the entourage is also very important insofar as it can protect a patient who has lost confidence in himself or herself. Here are some tips to follow on a daily basis to strengthen the fight against depression:
- Identify and overcome your self-critical attacks
Depression usually comes with faultfinding, self-destructive frame of mind that distorts and sidetracks individuals from their daily lives. It paints a negative picture of who they really are, and the individual accepts this negative perspective. What these individuals fail to realize is that whatever is coming up with that thought form is their internal enemy. Think of these negative thoughts as an infection or virus that is bent on making you sick and shun them. Don’t allow them control how you pursue your daily or weekly goals, the activity you engage in, who you visit, etc. Rather than allowing them to make you depressed take control and identify them for what they are-destructive aliens. If you can control your thoughts and recognize the strange voices for what it really is, you can start to appreciate yourself better.
- Appreciate whatever is making you angry and pout it out
Some people feel continuously depressed by being sad and having painful feeling, while for others depression comes as a result of absence of feeling anything which will erode their potential to experience happiness. A lot of people who are depressed are actually turning the anger they feel towards someone else on themselves. This is because they were taught that anger is bad, and there is no need to express it. Even though causing trouble is not advisable, feeling and expressing anger is a natural phenomenon. Therefore, by recognizing and accepting our feelings of anger towards the person who got us angry, we are thus less likely to turn against ourselves and get into depression.
- Reach out to people and stay connected
While battling depression, you are very to isolate yourself from family and friends. Overtime, you start to feel shy and guilty of abandoning them. However, this is when you need support the most if you are to come out this stronger and better. Go to a person who really cares about you and speak to him or her. This person might not be a shrink, but should be able to listen to you attentively and empathetically, without judging you. While other means of communication is great, it is better to arrange a face-to-face meeting, so you can feel better. Furthermore, go to social and sporting events even if you don’t like it, as this can help you forget your predicament.
- Slow down your pace of life
Nowadays, we live a pretty hectic life. The high work rate is one of the causes of depression. Lower your work pace and allow yourself time for other activities such as sports. In the evening, take time for a good hot bath for example or massages, and leave from time to time on a relaxing trip.
- Partake in activities that make you feel good
To deal with depression, one has to do things that will help him/her stay relaxed, focused and energized. This include among other things a healthy lifestyle in every ramification, seeking for ways to better cope with stress, putting boundaries in what you can do, and planning fun events into your day. Even though it may be difficult to indulge in leisure activities, you have to force yourself to do so. Gradually, as you participate more in any activity, you will slowly but surely get better. Here are some activities you can do: go back to a hobby you like previously, learn to express yourself through art or music, hang out with friends, go sightseeing, etc.
- Exercise more than before
A depressed individual may find it very difficult to get out of bed, not to talk of exercising. However, it is something they should try to do because exercise is very powerful for tackling depression. Studies have revealed that frequent exercise is as efficacious as medication for relieving depression symptoms. More than that, it also guards against suffering a decline. Exercise for at least 30 minutes daily and progress as needed. Furthermore, a 10-minute walk can enhance one’ mood for two hours.
- Do manual work
Repeated movements – such as gestures used for knitting, making jewelery, or even designs – can soothe anxiety, stress and depression symptoms, as they help to set aside spurious thoughts to focus on repeating the gesture.
- Eat a healthy, mood-boosting diet
Eating a healthy and nourishing meal can enhance your mood generally, but certain foods can help add serotonin to your brain and make you more related and happier. The foods that are serotonin enhancers include:
– Fish-oil, rich in Omega-3 fatty acids
– Healthy fat, such as coconut oil
– Flaxseed oil
– Sour cherries
– Nuts and almonds
While meditation is not easy, it certainly helps reduce the symptoms of depression. Try meditating for between 30 to 45 minutes at a time. You literally lose touch of yourself and your thoughts overwhelm you when you fall into depression. Meditation therefore affords you the opportunity to go through your mind like a book and recognize what is causing your problems so as to solve them.
- Visit a therapist
Most people see this as a choice to avoid. However, seeing a therapist can help you get some of the load you don’t want to share with anybody in your entourage. So, don’t be shy to visit a therapist.
3. How to Treat Depression?
Depression is a disease that, for various reasons, is associated with a disturbance in the functioning of the brain: it affects the whole organism as well as personality. The diagnosis of depression is a complex procedure that requires taking into account all the person’s symptoms, his antecedents, his personality, etc. It is difficult to fight alone in his corner against depression. Only a competent health professional will be able to see clearly. On the basis of the diagnosis, you will be able to define with the health professional the treatment which is best suited to your situation. Treatment is therefore absolutely necessary when suffering from depression. There are now effective treatments, often complementary, adapted to each person and to the intensity of his disease.
Psychotherapy is a full-fledged treatment of depression based on an adapted listening. Numerous studies have proved their effectiveness to treat depression.
During a depressive episode, psychotherapy can better manage the disease, reduce its symptoms and consequences, give meaning to what one is living and be able to envisage new projects. The first effects of psychotherapy can be felt immediately, the lasting changes occur after a few weeks. After the cure of a depressive episode, psychotherapy is also used to prevent the recurrence of symptoms.
Psychotherapy is a relevant treatment for depression, regardless of the type of depression, its severity or age. It can be used alone (in mild depressive episodes) or in conjunction with antidepressant drugs or other treatments.
3.2) Antidepressant drugs
The goal of a treatment with antidepressants is to reduce significantly the depressive symptoms and their consequences in everyday life. Antidepressant drugs reduces these symptoms after about 3 to 4 weeks of continuous treatment. They usually help to restore the normal functioning of sleep, appetite, regain a positive perception of life, etc. This normal functioning persists after the end of the treatment.
Antidepressant medicines work through a variety of mechanisms. They may have one or more mechanisms of action in common, but can have very different side effects. These side effects may include, for example: drowsiness (or, on the contrary, excitement), constipation, weight gain or loss, dry mouth, drops in tension, sexual difficulties, etc.
3.3) Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), better known as electroshock, has a very bad reputation because it consists in subjecting the patient to an electric current. It is a technique used when everything else has failed. Today, this long-criticized technique has evolved a lot and remains the only solution to treat severe depressions and those that have resisted to antidepressants.
It causes an electric discharge in the brain of the patients in order to trigger a crisis of epilepsy and thus to push the brain to release chemical substance called ‘neurotrophic’. This substance will act by favoring the regrowth of young brain cells that will develop new networks in the brain.
There exist other terapies to treat depression like family systems therapy, mindfulness therapy, gestalt therapy, psychoanalysis, deep sleep therapy, and hypnotherapy.
4. Natural Remedies For Depression
We have seen in the previous sections how to deal with a crisis of depression, how to fight it on a daily basis and also, we have presented the different treatments of this disease. The treatment of depression varies from one country to another, there are countries where the consumption of antidepressants is a record, other countries do the opposite, for example England and Germany, where 60% of depression cases are treated by natural remedies.
More and more scientific research is proving the efficacy of these natural remedies for depression, and there are studies that even prove that these remedies are more effective than conventional antidepressant drugs with the advantage that they are without side effects most of the time. Here is the list of the most effective natural remedies for depression.
In any case, the information we provide here is not a medical prescription nor a treatment substitute which is given to you by a healthcare professional.
4.1) SAM-e : THE BEST NATURAL ANTIDEPRESSANT
First of all, it is necessary to understand what methylation is. Methylation is a vital metabolic process that happens in every cell of all organs of our body. This is one of the most important reactions of our body and without it, life simply could not exist. It is essential for the optimal functioning of almost all the systems of our body and it is absolutely essential for our physical, emotional and mental well-being.
In the brain, methylation is responsible for the manufacture of several neurotransmitters such as noradrenaline (a natural stimulant), dopamine (which creates feeling of well-being) and serotonin (a natural mood stabilizer). With defects or decreases in methylation, the person can see several disorders like the spectrum of autism, all kinds of cognitive and behavioral problems, depression, anxiety, etc. These symptoms are typically a methylation defect.
The main component that conducts methylation is called SAM-e (S-Adenosyl-L-Methionine) which is a molecule manufactured naturally in our body that play a vital role in its functioning. So, a decrease of SAM-e in our body can lead to several disorders and diseases. Among the factors that decrease the SAM-e production are: B vitamins deficiency, tobacco, food intolerances, excess of animal protein in the diet, inflammations and chronic infections, some drugs like antacids, contraceptives and many others.
According to many studies (click here) in the word, an increase in the levels of SAM-e in our body will increase neurotransmitters and hence will have antidepressant effects. Moreover, some studies (click here) have concluded that the efficacy of SAM-e in treating depressive syndromes is greater than that of placebo and even better than that of many antidepressant drugs.
People who don’t make enough SAM-e naturally for some reasons may be helped by taking SAMe as a supplement. Since SAM-e is a naturally occurring compound with no side effects, its benefits make it a must-have remedy in the arsenal of natural antidepressants. Usually, SAM-e begins to improve the symptoms of depression in just a week while antidepressant drugs take two to four weeks.
How to use?
The recommended quantity is 400 to 800 mg per day.
It is recommended to take SAM-e in addition to a treatment with St. John’s wort or saffron. It is important to continue the cure until a complete improvement (there is no risk of dependence, nor any side effect).
4.2) ST. JOHN’S WORT
Among the traditional remedies, there is a plant widely known for its action on mood which is St. John’s Wort. One of the popular names of St. John’s Wort is the “devil’s hunt”. It is one of the champions of natural remedies for depression. In the middle Ages, St. John’s Wort was already suspended from the ceiling to drive away evil spirits and demons. Since the beginning of the 20th century, it has been used to treat mood disorders.
According to several scientific studies (click here) on depressed people, this plant would be as effective as synthetic antidepressants, while causing fewer side effects. The active ingredient in St. John’s Wort is called ‘hyperforin’. This agent would inhibit the decrase of neurotransmitters such as serotonin or dopamine, as do conventional antidepressants.
However, St. John’s Wort should be taken carrefully because it has the serious disadvantage of interacting with many medications, including some antidepressants. It is therefore very important to inform your doctor about the possible use of this plant.
How to use?
St. John’s Wort is consumed mainly in the form of infusions: 25 g of dried St. John’s Wort or 35 g of fresh St. John’s Wort for 500 ml of water, at the rate of 2 cups per day.
4.3) GINKGO BILOBA
Ginkgo Biloba is a potent extreme medicinal plant for revitalizing organisms, for its action on the brain, concentration, memory, reflexes, fight against chronic fatigue, intense stress and insomnia. Its legendary origin goes back to more than 4000 years of use by Chinese medicine. In addition, clinical studies (click here) have demonstrated that ginkgo has therapeutic effects in cases of depression related to degenerative diseases in the elderly, for example in the case of Alzheimer’s. It would effectively regulate mood, improve cognitive functions and decrease anxiety symptoms. Several studies of patients who did not respond well to depression medications found good results in those who took 80 mg of Ginkgo Biloba extract three times a day. Apparently, this extract would increase the level of serotonin in the brain, thus causing a feeling of well-being.
As Ginkgo fluidifies blood, it is not recommended in hemophiliacs, pregnant women, people preparing to undergo surgery, people with epilepsy, but also in people who suffer from hypotension.
How to use?
Ginkgo is consumed as extracts (EGb 761 or Li 1370). The recommended quantity is 120 mg to 240 mg of extracts per day. The effects of Ginkgo may take some time to manifest, so it is recommended to take it for at least 2 months.
The medicinal properties of saffron are known and used for a long time. It is used in particular as an analgesic, anti-inflammatory, to improve the problems of insomnia, stimulate the digestion, and to fight against the mild depression.
The interest of saffron in mild or moderate depression has been demonstrated scientifically (click here), and it seems that it competes with certain synthetic antidepressants. One of its organic compounds is safranal; An agent that inhibits the reuptake of serotonin. Studies have shown that taking 30 mg of saffron per day is as effective as taking a treatment with well known synthetic antidepressants.
The positive point of a treatment with saffron is the absence of side effects.
How to use?
To treat the cases of depression, tablets containing 30 mg of saffron can be used. It can also be used in addition to Melissa infusion.
Ginseng, present in Chinese medicine for thousands of years, was already described as a remedy of “great therapeutic value”. Ginseng is mainly used to stimulate the immune system to tone the body of tired or impaired people, to restore the capacity of the body, to help intellectual concentration and to reduce stress.
This medicinal plant also provides excellent support in the treatment of many diseases such as cardiovascular problems, diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, neurological diseases and disorders affecting cognitive functions.
Rich in ‘ginsenosides’ but also rich in vitamin B, vitamin C, amino acids and minerals, Ginseng stimulates the central nervous system, endocrine glands, cognitive functions and reduces significantly psychological stress by increasing neurotransmitters: GABA, dopamine and serotonin. (see this study)
How to use?
Ginseng can be consumed as capsules or as a baverage (boil 1 g to 2 g of Ginseng roots in 150 ml of hot water for 10 to 15 minutes). The quantity can be up to 3 g, 3 times a day.
4.6) PASSION FLOWER ‘PASSIFLORA’
Passion Flower or Passiflora is a plant known for its medicinal properties. Among its components, ‘chrysin’, a natural flavonoid that acts on specific brain receptors in the same way as benzodiazepines. This makes it an excellent natural antidepressant.
In addition to its sedative and calming properties, taking Passion Flower is very useful for depressed people because it allows a rapid reduction of nervousness, anxiety and stress. In addition, it helps to soothe irritability during periods of depression and helps to alleviate sleep disorders.
However, Passion flower interacts negatively with other medicines such as contraceptive treatments or anticoagulants.
How to use?
Passion Flower can be taken in the form of capsules, tablets or infusion. In general, the recommended quantity is between 0.5 g and 2 g of Passion Flower per day.
4.7) LEMON BALM ‘MELISSA’
Lemon Balm or Melissa is a natural antidepressant with anxiolytic effects used as a regulator of cognitive functions and has an effect on the limbic system, a cerebral region responsible for the management of emotional behaviors: moods, emotions, etc. It is known to be a nervous tonic with a relaxing tendency. Its use is recognized for relieving nervousness, restlessness, irritability, and sleep disorders and also stress, anxiety, excessive emotionality, melancholy, and bad mood.
The effectiveness of Melissa to relieve the symptoms of anxiety and depression is clinically proven. In many studies, researchers demonstrated that taking 300 to 900 mg of Melissa per day reduces stress, brings more calm and promotes sleep.
The sedative effect of Melissa can be accentuated if it is consumed in association with other plants such as Valerian, St. John’s Wort, or Passion Flower.
How to use?
Melissa can be consumed as a tea: simply infuse 2 to 4 teaspoons of Melissa leaves into a cup of hot water for 5 to 10 minutes.
For external use, it can be used as an essential oil: massage of the arms and temples with a few drops of essential oil of Melissa diluted in a vegetable oil can relieve insomnia, nervousness and irritation.
Valerian has been used since Roman antiquity for its sedative and relaxing properties. It is among the most beautiful natural tranquillizers because it does not weaken the mind and does not destroy organism as do many chemical tranquillizers. Moreover, it does not create addiction. The World Health Organization recognize the use of Valerian to help reduce nervous restlessness and stress as well as the resulting sleep disturbances. According to researches done on Valerian, the roots of the plant contain more than 150 chemical agents that are recognized for their sedative virtues. Valerian can be used for several conditions such as:
- cardiac disorders of nervous origin, palpitations,
- spasms, cramps, irritation of the colon,
- smoking cessation,
- nervousness and psychological stress,
- overexcitation, excitability,
- fatigue, exhaustion,
- vomiting, bloating, intestinal parasites,
- mild to moderate depression,
Valerian is therefore a very interesting calming plant, producing an anti-stress and sedative effect without causing addiction.
How to use?
Valerian is used as an infusion (2 to 3 g of dried root infused for 5 to 10 minutes in 150 ml of boiling water), up to 5 cups per day, but it can also be consumed as a standardized extract (250 to 400 mg 3 times daily).
4.9) OTHER NATURAL ANTIDEPRESSANTS
- Magnesium : found in nuts, green vegetables, avocados.
- The triptophan : found in cocoa.
- Omega 3 fatty acids : found in flaxseed or fish.
- Vitamin B12 : found in sardines, eggs and milk derivatives.
- Folic acid : found in fruits and green vegetables.
5. How to Help Someone With Depression?
The depression is terrible to undergo for the person who suffers from it, but it is not easy also to live for his relatives, who see him / her sinking in a great sadness, without being able to extricate himself from it. How to deal with a person who suffers from depression? Here are a few tips:
- If someone close to you seems depressed and does not talk about it, then take the lead and ask him / her what is going on. Then go on and try to figure out how long he’s been depressed. Indeed, knowing exactly when the depression has started, it is easier to find the origin. To encourage your loved one to speak to you, it is preferable that you keep an “open” attitude, and that you listen to him / her with care and patience.
- To be effective, such support involves respecting a “good distance” from the depressed person, a benevolent but not “stifling” presence, affection, listening and patience. Try to create a safe atmosphere.
- There is no point in overwhelming your loved one and minimizing the problem with remarks such as: “You have no reason to be depressed” or advice such as: “If I were you, I would do …“, injunctions like: (“Do not let yourself go!“, “Move a little instead of hanging out in bed every morning!“).
- Do not offer a ready-made solutions like: “you know, you just have to do this or that”. Instead, let the person find his own solution. Try to get him / her to find solutions and remember that depression can be defined as a lack of interest in all things.
- It is in the best interest of the depressed person to see a doctor as soon as possible. You can help him / her by encouraging him / her to do this. You can also help him / her to find a health professional, make an appointment and eventually accompany him / her.
- The depressed person may need you to support him / her in the care project. You can support the patient if necessary to properly follow the treatment that was prescribed and to encourage him / her to consult again before making a decision to stop.
- If hospitalization has been advocated by the doctor, ensure your relative that you will be present and you will support him / her during the period of hospitalization.
- You can help and motivate your loved one by inviting him / her to take walks, outings. Encouraging him /her to pursue certain activities that gave him pleasure.
- Finally, do not forget that depression is a disease with multiple origins. Never feel guilty about his condition and never make him understand that he /she is guilty of this disease.
Depression is a largely under-diagnosed condition, not well treated, and when it is, is often incomplete. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that by 2020, depression will be the second cause of global disability, behind cardiovascular diseases. It should not be forgotten that depression is a disease that can be treated. We presented in this article a general view of how to overcome depression, attitudes to be followed and possible treatments (medical, or natural). We hope with this contribution help the maximum of persons to get out of this condition.
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