Sadly, the medical world's solution to depression is medication.
But, is there a better way?
One in four people suffer from clinical depression, largely stemming from loneliness and the feeling of disconnection from the world.
Tragedy, trauma, rejection, and abandonment are leading contributors to this psychological problem.
Unfortunately, when medical professionals don't know how to treat a problem, their solution is always to medicate the patient with antidepressants.
While antidepressant drugs have been known to help relieve symptoms of depression, their side effects are often numerous, and can lead to other, more serious medical conditions, including high blood pressure, constipation, insomnia, blurred vision, and chest pains (just to name a few). Antidepressants can also be addictive, and once a patient stops taking them, they can become suicidal or aggressive.
If you struggle from depression or loneliness, it is important to know there are alternatives you can pursue prior to relying upon medical treatment.
And, I can vouch for their effectiveness because in 1992, I suffered from deep depression following the loss of my mother and family. Immediately, the doctor prescribed antidepressants. Thankfully, I knew there was a better way, and refused to fill the prescription.
Dr. Laura Schlessinger, a renowned marriage and family therapist and radio talk show host, says, "Sometimes you don't feel the weight of something you've been carrying until you feel the weight of its release."
Following are some of the ways I overcame depression and methods I continue to use whenever depressive thoughts or moods creep in:
Disconnect from Darkness and Re-connect with the Light
Jesus said, "I am the Light of the World. He who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life." - John 8:12
The world is a dark place. Our souls often feel the heavy weight of darkness because of the continual chaos, negativity, and stress we experience in everyday life.
When we unplug from the world and plug into the Gospel, it will have a profound effect on your mood, attitude, and thinking. How do we disconnect from darkness and re-connect with the Light?
Avoid negative people and negative information by surrounding yourself with optimistic and positive people who lift you up, encourage you, and support you through the difficult times. And, for Pete's sake, cut off negative influences that include electronic devices, television, news programs, social media, or other sources that feed your soul darkness and suck the life out of you! Our souls were not designed to bear the saturated weight of consistent negativity!
Prayer is of critical importance and our connection with God - the Light in our darkest night!
Jesus first departed from the disciples and then went to pray. You have to remove yourself from your surroundings so you can hear the voice of God, feel His presence, and connect with Him through prayer.
"What if I don't hear from God?" some ask. The answer is simple. Don't expect to hear a resounding, thunderous voice from Heaven or seek a burning bush. God speaks in so many ways, and sometimes when you don't hear the voice of God immediately, it is because He is going to answer you in another way that your spirit is most attuned to hear. For instance, God speaks to me often in the middle of the night through visions and dreams because I am a very visual, creative, and artistic person who learns best through visual demonstration.
Just be assured, He is speaking. You may have to simply ask Him to reveal how He is speaking to you so you can recognize His voice.
Isolation is an easy temptation, but you must choose to resist it! There is a difference between taking a break from the world and having healthy "alone" time to refresh, renew, and revive ourselves. Isolation is not about renewal or refreshment, it is about self-destruction!
Depression increases the desire to escape the pain by shutting ourselves in and shutting the rest of the world out. The reality is isolation can lead to deadly consequences, and is not the solution.
If you have ever watched a nature show on National Geographic Channel or Discovery Channel, you will learn that lions strategically isolate their intended prey - usually the weakest among the herd - and go in for the kill once the individual is separated from its protective pack. Isolation is the devil's way of singling you out and moving in for the kill while you are in your weakest state.
Surrounding yourself with positive influences, prayer warriors, mature counselors, and overcomers, will help you avoid isolation and self-destruction. This can be done by going to church, joining social networking groups, participating in fun activities, volunteering for charitable organizations or events, and engaging with others.
Change Your Environment
Environmental conditions impact your mood. Be sure to pull up the shades or pull back the curtains in your rooms so natural lights can illuminate your home. Better yet, on good weather days, open your windows to allow both light and fresh air to enter!
Fill your space with music that energizes, soothes, or uplifts your spirit! (I recommend one of our Spotify playlists to help you out.)
Get out! Your home is supposed to be your sanctuary, not your prison! While it may be tempting to lock yourself away (going back to isolation), by doing so, you will eventually begin hating your own home because it will feel like a correctional facility rather than your refuge.
Doing activities outside your home will help you keep your home in proper perspective. They say, "There is no place like home," and you want to keep it a place you long to be because it provides refuge, rest, and sanctity, not hate it because you feel incarcerated.
Examine Your Health & Fitness
Exercise is not only an excellent way to stay fit, improve your health, and lose weight. Regular exercise has been proven to profoundly impact depression (even better than some antidepressants), anxiety, ADHD, and other mental health issues by relieving stress, improving memory, aiding in better sleep, and overall boosting your mood.
And the effects of exercise are not just psychologically. Exercise promotes positive brain activity and function including neural growth, reduced inflammation, and activity patterns that promote calmness and confidence. By releasing endorphins, exercise aids in making you feel better and energizing your soul! It can also serve as a distraction, allowing you to break away from the cycle of negativity and thoughts that feed depression.
When possible, enjoy outdoor exercise and gain the full benefits of fresh air, sunshine, and physical activity. Even simply taking a walk outside will dramatically improve your attitude and greatly diminish depression.
If pent-up anger is part of what triggers your depression, find ways to release your anger in a healthy way. Join cross-fit, a martial arts or self-defense class, boxing, or a competitive sport that allows aggression to be transformed into healthy energy.
The second part of this is reviewing the foods you are eating. Diets high in saturated fats, high calories, sugars, and preservatives can increase depression. When I have experienced depression, all I wanted to do was eat comfort food - a fancy term we give junk food so it sounds better.
Despite wanting to eat an entire cake when struggling with depression, force yourself to eat healthier options, and maintain a diet that will nourish your body and not add to your state of mind or waistline. Trust me, nothing is more depressing than enjoying comfort food for a moment and days later realizing you gained ten more pounds and nothing fits!
Take a Vacation
I must confess. I'm a workaholic. I often don't feel productive if I don't work. I was raised in a hard-working family where rest was often considered a "waste of time," or "being lazy."
But, there is a difference in resting and being indolent. Rest is greatly needed in order for our bodies to rejuvenate, refresh, and renew cells that have been damaged by stress and expending of energy throughout the day. After all, even God rested.
While there are some who are on permanent vacations (lazy), the majority of Americans neglect taking regular vacations. Everyone wants and dreams of having a vacation, but studies have shown 54% of American workers ended 2016 with unused time off, collectively sacrificing 662 million vacation days (U.S. Travel Association)?
AAA reports that only 35% of Americans usually take their families on a planned vacation (50 miles or more from home) per year!
We Americans are missing out on a priceless opportunity to create lasting memories, dramatically decrease stress, boost morale, and alleviate burn-out! Not to mention, vacations are an amazing adventure of exploration and broadens your perspective on the world by giving you an opportunity to encounter other cultures, expose you to sights and sounds you have never seen, and educates you on things you would never realize you didn’t know! Not to mention, it helps you relax and just be yourself for a change, without all the distractions and demands of regular life!
Although almost everyone says their vacation time is extremely important to them, most waste their time on non-productive activities with few long-term, sustainable benefits. It doesn’t help that many corporate cultures seem almost ambivalent toward vacation time and send mixed messages, including concerns about mounting workloads in one’s absence, often requiring a co-worker to fill in – thus adding to his/her already heavy workload, which leads to your feeling guilty and avoiding vacations.
Vacations are priceless, memory-making explorations that will do more for your mental health, personal relationships, and self-esteem than any other thing in the world!! Plan and take a vacation, and watch depression disappear!
Because of my love for travel and desire to see others benefit from this great opportunity, I own a travel agency. We would be happy to help you discover your next escape and enjoy the healing benefits of your next adventure. Call us at (321) 529-2700 or firstname.lastname@example.org
In conclusion, remember that depression is curable. You are not alone. And before immediately giving into pharmaceuticals, be sure to try healthier alternatives first. Seek counseling or therapy when needed. Don't be afraid to share your struggles with those closest to you. Everyone has issues of some sort, and you might be amazed how sharing your struggles will in fact help someone else who is silently suffering learn how to overcome their own.
Depression makes you feel alone, as if no one else in the world understands or sees you. They may not know the details of your pain, but when you confide in someone respected, you will often learn you are in the same boat with a lot of people, and, together, you can help each other overcome the darkness and reconnect with the Light.