In August I will celebrate practicing yoga for eight years. As a result of this practice, I have received many emotional and physical benefits. I feel strong, alert and calm during and after I practice. I have also met a lot of really nice people. As I get older, practicing is not always easy but it is always rewarding. Technology is getting better and anecdotal evidence regarding the benefits of yoga is now documented by research. Very cool to know the science behind what I feel. Here is a great video from uplift connect.com showing the science behind yoga. One study has shown yoga helps decrease depression and anxiety. What good news for sufferers of these maladies! Hope you enjoy this clip.
This is an incredibly informative Ted Talk.
If you don't have time to listen to this talk, I am listing the bullet points for you here.
1. The problem:
We have not evolved fast enough to keep up with all the changes and fast pace of our current world. This puts our body in chronic fight or flight mode, which eventually causes inflammation. We also used to socialize more, sleep more regular hours, and move around much more. As well, our food sources were more balanced. All of these change factors contribute to the rise in depression.
2. The solution recommended:
a. Omega 3s- EPA 1000mg daily/ DHA 500mg daily . . . consult your MD of course. Fish oil and flax seed are great sources.
b. Exercise at least 3 times a week for 1/2 hour . . . get your heart rate up.
c. Make sure you get a good nights sleep, no excuses.
d. Hang out with you friends and family, often. Laugh, love, play!
e. Watch your thoughts . . . rumination feeds depression. If you find yourself ruminating, call a friend, switch gears.
f. Finally, get some sunlight, without sunglasses. Our ancestors were outdoors much more than we.
g. Since this Ted talk I have found research that concludes that curcumin, which is found in turmeric, may be as helpful as prozac. I suggest looking it up on the internet. Great news for people who can't medication.
10. Lastly, many people have a gene mutation that affects mental health. It causes methylfolate deficiency. It is called the MTHFR mutation. If you have chronic depression, you may want to discuss this with your PCP. Click here for more information.
Information on Amino Acids and Emotions
Ann Marie, a student, approached me about learning more about teens and depression. To consolidate her learning, we decided to put together an information video. It was fun to do, a learning process.
The NIH notes the signs and symptoms as follows:
This year I am a mentor to a High School student who is studying Major Depressive Disorder. We just finished working on an informative YouTube with her for her senior project. Oh, what a bit of work! While we were doing the research we found a copy of the BECK's Depression Inventory online, which is a great resource for people to take to see if they are feeling depressed. If one has a good idea that he or she is clinically depressed they can take action and get help. I have posted a copy of it on my forms page.
According to National Institute of Health, Major Depressive Disorder affects approximately 14.8 million American adults. This is about 7% of the population age 18 or older. When you add in Dysthymic Disorder or Persistent Depressive Disorder, chronic low grade depression that does not quite fit the bill for major depression, the percentage of sufferers goes up to almost 9%. My guess is that there are many people limping around with chronic low grade depression who don't really even know they are suffering. So maybe the percentage is even a bit higher? I do not know. But it is alarming to me that almost 10% of the United States is struggling with a very painful set of symptoms we call depression. The NIH notes the signs and symptoms as follows:
These symptoms are nothing to take lightly. They can be debilitating and even cause disability. It is not completely clear what causes depression, but it appears when looking at brain scans of a depressed person that they look different from a non-depressed person's. As with many things in life, depression is probably initiated by a combination of interacting factors and systems including genes, biology, environment (stress and trauma), and psychology (inner thoughts and views of self, perception and sense of purpose and meaning). Many illnesses, including thyroid disorders, cause depressive symptoms.
Until recently, nobody really considered the impact our relationships have on our mood and maybe even our brains. This is changing. Researchers such as Jim Coan, Ph.D., Sue Johnson, Ed.D, Wayne Denton, M.D., and others are all looking into this. It appears that relationships and attachments can greatly affect our moods and life, and improving them may help decrease depression. It is exciting to me to know that we have one more option (traditional options are medication and/or individual counseling) to offer people as part of the basic treatment plan for those suffering from depression: family, couple, or relationship counseling.
For more information check out this great article by Russell Collins: Are Relationships the New Prozac?
Good relationships and social support are nature's antidepressants. Who knew? Deep down inside, I think we all did . . . and do.
Depression is a serious problem affecting many people. Having a supportive and loving spouse, in my opinion can help in recovery. I want to say I think depression is complex and probably caused by many factors. Relationship quality perhaps being one possible factor affecting the sufferer. NPR notes some research around this. Something to reflect upon.
There are three basic ways to treat depression: psychotherapy, self help, and medication. Many people respond best to a combination of two or more methods.
Depression is a serous illness, not a harmless part of life. It is a complex disorder with a variety of causes. It is rarely caused by just one thing. It may be a result of a mix of factors, including genetic, chemical, physical, and sociological. It is also influenced by behavior patterns learned in the family and by cognitive distortions.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Reflections on Depression
My husband came home from church today to tell me that he just found out that his favorite author, David Foster Wallace, died by suicide. Even though I have not personally read any of his works or do not know this author, I was deeply anguished upon hearing this.
Evelyn Schmechtig -Cochran
Psychotherapist and Relationship Specialist