If you go to a barbershop long enough you will probably get a haircut. So, if your mental health practitioner suggests medication after the assessment, don’t be surprised. “I don’t want medication,” is something I hear all the time. Sometimes I shudder and sometimes I breathe a sigh of relief. There are different ways to combat depression; there is no one right way. It’s up to you and your practitioner to figure what the best course of action is for you.
Medication- There are many medications out on the market that could help your mood. This is a definite area for you and your prescriber to talk about. Please don’t take the pills that the doctor prescribed for your cousin Ruth. Medications are metabolized in different organs, have different side effects and shouldn’t be used in various health conditions. You will probably need blood lab work done before and during your time on an antidepressant. Ruth means well but, really, she doesn’t have a medical degree. Same goes for when you decide you want to stop taking them. This is just as important as when you start. Don’t catapult your body into a crisis, it just got out of one, don’t go into another if you can help it. And you can.
Exercise- After a physical check up and receiving the “ok” on starting an exercise routine you can actually begin one. Maybe you were running daily, had an injury and had to stop temporarily, but never quite laced up your running shoes again. Your body is probably screaming at you. “Hey where are those endorphins? I love them. I need them!” If for some reason you can’t go back to a previous sport think about alternative routines. Swimming, biking, weight training, speed walking, the list goes on… Walking around the corner to stop at the bank, then the grocery store, with a stop at the pharmacy, is not exercise. It adds to your overall conditioning but there’s nothing like giving yourself your “special time for me.”
Good nutrition- Seriously, that cheeseburger may taste delightful but your body probably needs something different. Fruits, veggies, whole grain foods, yogurts, lots of water…yummy! The last time you made a fruit smoothie, didn’t you feel great? I also think there’s something to preparing fresh food for yourself. It’s a gift. Taking care of yourself I mean.
Alcohol and marijuana- I know, everyone who has a beer or another substance “to relax” will argue the point. That’s okay. Just know that alcohol and marijuana are depressants, voila, “relaxation.” Each time you put some into your body you are laying on the depression. Depending on how many times a day you find you’re “opening up a cool one,” you’ll probably feel cranky and irritable when you stop this form of relaxation, but eventually you will be less depressed. If you’re using these a lot consider asking your doc the best way for you to taper off, you might need professional help.
Therapy- Talk isn’t cheap. Psychotherapy costs but it’s well worth it. I always say there’s nothing better than talking about yourself for forty five minutes at a clip. There are therapists who will offer a sliding scale fee if you think you can’t afford it. There are different types of therapy, cognitive behavioral, psychoanalytic, psychodynamic, different strokes for different folks. Try it. I feel better just thinking about my days on the couch.
Complementary Healing Techniques- Reiki, Therapeutic Touch, herbs, the use of crystals, Tibetan Bowls. These are just some of the forms of healing that can be used with and without medication and therapy. There are complementary healing practitioners that are available to discuss what forms might work best for you. They work even if you might be skeptical to begin with. We don’t stop at our skins. These measures have been used for centuries because they are effective. If you aren’t well versed in these techniques speak to someone who is, I don’t suggest trying them if you have no idea what you are doing.
Meditation- Go inside, people. We learn a lot about ourselves. What we need. Who we are. What makes us feel the fullness and joy of life. By going within we allow ourselves to listen to the inner voices that nudge us into being who we are meant to be and depressed isn’t it.
Figure out the cause- not by yourself though. As I wrote in an earlier segment, depression has different causes. Yours might be long term, chronic, low level or profound. Read up on depression and go to a health professional. Get yourself acquainted with the various ways to feel better. Often times when we’re depressed we isolate and feel alone. That is a symptom of depression. Reach out for help and you’ll be whistling ‘Happy Days are here again!”
Any thoughts? Leave a comment! Would love to hear from you.