In today’s episode of “Healing from Within”, your host, Sheryl Glick, author of The Living Spirit: Answers for Healing and Infinite Love (April 2014) welcomes Craig Meriwether, author of Depression 180 Turn it Around. Craig is not a psychologist, neuroscientist or brain surgeon, just a person who struggled with depression from his teenage years. In his determination to get out of depression, took massive action but with no money and no health insurance he had to be resourceful and creative. Today, Craig is recognized as a leading expert in mind mastery, eliminating depression and creating deep happiness and success and achieving results that last.
Sheryl and Craig, as well as listeners of “Healing from Within” are aware, we as powerful physical and energetic beings possess the inner wisdom and strength to investigate our own emotions and life situations finding creative ways to master our emotions and manifest through positive thinking and action a healthy and joyful life experience. It is with that knowledge that we may conquer depression and other painful stories that we tell ourselves which then translate into our less than ideal reality. That is just what Craig did as he worked through self-sabotaging behaviors, anger and negative thought patterns discovering the causes of his depression before attempting to make the necessary changes.
In today’s episode of “Healing From Within” Craig will recount his journey back to health..Craig writes, “From the time I was a teenager to just a few years ago, I suffered with depression. For 25 years I searched for an effective way to end the vague but unrelenting mental and emotional pain, be it through religion, personal growth techniques or self-medicating with food, TV and drinking. But year after year I slowly descended into darkness until I woke up one morning 3 years ago and I knew that I just couldn’t make it through another day. It had to end one way or another. I was tired of my life. Failing to go through with a planned suicide, I committed to getting out of depression and to turn my life around. It was time to end the hold depression had on my life…and so I began the hardest work of my life.”
In Depression 180 Turn It Around, Craig writes that over 30 million American’s are diagnosed with depression, that 11 percent of Americans take antidepressants and that in 1/3 of all women who visit a doctor walk away with a prescription for an anti depressant. Sheryl, as an energy practitioner, author and former teacher interacting with many people, personally hears people talk about their Prozac like it’s a badge of honor and a required ticket to feeling well knowing full well that to realize health one must change the patterns of behavior and attitudes that often create health challenges.
Craig explains to us the four causes of depression which includes everything from illness in the body, food allergies, head injuries like a concussion, low Vitamin D, thyroid and negative thinking habits. Addressing the causes of depression one by one until you come to what works for the individual may be a better plan of action than prescribing medication to everyone who presents symptoms of depression. If diet and nutrition are creating the symptoms or mood swings, we might recommend the following:
• Don’t skip meals. Going too long between meals can make you feel irritable and tired, so aim to eat something at least every three to four hours.
• Minimize sugar and refined carbs. You may crave sugary snacks, baked goods, or comfort foods such as pasta or French fries, but these “feel-good” foods quickly lead to a crash in mood and energy.
• Focus on complex carbohydrates. Foods such as baked potatoes, whole-wheat pasta, oatmeal, and whole grain breads can boost serotonin levels without a crash.
• Boost your B vitamins. Deficiencies in B vitamins such as folic acid and B-12 can trigger depression. To get more, take a B-complex vitamin supplement or eat more citrus fruit, leafy greens, beans, chicken, and eggs.
• Try super-foods rich in nutrients that can boost mood, such as bananas (magnesium to decrease anxiety, vitamin B6 to promote alertness, tryptophan to boost feel-good serotonin levels), brown rice (serotonin, thiamine to support sociability), and spinach (magnesium, foliate to reduce agitation and improve sleep).
• Consider taking a chromium supplement. Some depression studies show that chromium picolinolinate reduces carbohydrate cravings, eases mood swings, and boosts energy. Supplementing with chromium picolinolinate is especially effective for people who tend to overeat and oversleep when depressed.
If negative thinking or lifestyle is creating a sense of unease and dissatisfaction with life, medications can possibly help mask certain symptoms, but they cannot cure depression- an ongoing battle that must be managed, while a new lifestyle, attitudes, perceptions, and choices must be made often to eliminate the causes of destructive patterns earlier in life that have been imbedded at the cellular level…in other words, the creation of a better and healthier life of joy releasing past sadness, anger, fear and loss of interest in life creates a more proactive way to manage emotions and relationships.
There is always a discussion that genetics causes depression and if not caused by genetics, then what actually causes depression? Many studies have been done on twins which have confirmed depression may be inherited. However, most results show that the genetic risk of developing clinical depression is about 40%, with 60% due to factors in the individual’s environment. Depression is unlikely to occur without life events, but there also seems to be a predisposition towards developing depression. Scientists have determined that it may be unlikely that any one contributing gene will be identified. While the genetic risk to depression remains of utmost concern to scientists and medical doctors, the specific genes and traits inherited are still under investigation. Scientists look at patterns of illness in families to estimate their heritability or what percentage of the cause is due to genes. Twins help us in this investigation since identical twins share 100% of their genes while fraternal twins share 50% of their genes. So, if genetics does play a part in developing depression, then we expect an person’s identical twin to have a much higher risk than a person’s non-identical twin. Since heritability is probably 40-50%, it would mean that about 50% is genetic and the other 50% is related to psychological or physical factors in the environment. Or, it could possibly mean that in some cases, the tendency to become depressed may be genetic, and in other cases it is not genetic at all. The answer is still unknown. If a biological parent had depression, then there is a greater risk for that child. There are probably many non-genetic factors that increase the risk for depression, such as childhood physical or sexual abuse, childhood emotional and physical neglect, and severe life stress which are most likely all risk factors. Losing a parent early in life also increases the risk to some extent. If someone has a family history of depression, they may also be at high risk and if someone has a parent or sibling with major depression, that person probably has a 2 or 3 times greater risk of developing depression compared with the average person.
It is known that antidepressants are often used for many different maladies. Often when a doctor cannot determine a physical cause for major symptoms of depression, they prescribe an antidepressant knowing that the issues are deep seeded- emotional and psychological conditions that would require deep investigation into the causes. Most mental health experts agree that when depression is severe, medication can be helpful in part of the treatment plan—even life saving. However, research shows that antidepressants fall short for many people. A government study done in 2006 showed that less than half of people became symptom-free on antidepressants, even after trying more than one medication. Many whose symptoms still remain, soon fall back into depression, despite staying with drug treatment. Other studies show that the benefits of antidepressants have been overstated. Antidepressants are only slightly more effective than placebos, according to research. Craig and Sheryl will suggest that it is only through the elimination of long held perceptions of loss, limitation and grief, and the individual recreating themselves as more fulfilled and loving human beings, that the mind may perceive and manifest a better life.
It is known that antidepressants may cause greater depression, violence, and even suicide. For some people, antidepressant treatment causes an increased risk of suicide, mostly true of children and young adults and anyone taking antidepressants should be closely monitored for suicidal thoughts and violent actions towards others. The suicide risk is most great during the first two months of antidepressant treatment. Having a close watch is very important if this is the person’s first time on antidepressants or if the dose has been changed. Signs that the medication may be making things worse include; anxiety, insomnia, hostility, and extreme agitation—particularly if the symptoms appear sudden or are quick to depreciate. If you are able to spot the warning signs, make sure you contact a doctor or therapist immediately. There are even out of control situations where in order to eliminate violence towards others, police will be brought onto the scene.
It is sad to realize that the fastest growing segment of the population that are being put on antidepressants are preschoolers. The manufacturer of a popular antidepressant, known as Effexor, issued a warning based on a study in which 2% of children and adolescents taking the drug reported thoughts of suicide, compared with none receiving a placebo. It would be in the best interests of children for the parents, teachers and medical personnel to look into the family environment and any other environmental problems affecting the child. Greater awareness and sensitivity training by all professionals to address the unique needs of each individual rather than simply prescribing medication, will lead to a healthier approach to parenting and caring for the young. Again, it takes an investigation of what is going on in the lives of people suffering from depression and directing them to therapists, energy healers and social workers. Cooperation and referrals where needed between the medical specialists will create an interdisciplinary direction for healing all emotional and physical illness.
Craig would like to suggest some of the tools to energize and revitalize people’s lives enabling them to move past depression creating a life of happiness. These tools are:
• Turn to trusted friends and family members. Share what you’re going through with the people you love and trust, and don’t be afraid to ask for the help and support you need.
• Try to keep up with social activities even if you don’t feel like it. Being around other people will make you feel less depressed.
• Join a support group for depression. Being with others dealing with depression can go a long way in minimizing feelings of loneliness. Encourage each other and give and receive advice on how to cope and share your experiences.
• Think outside yourself. Stop being so hard on yourself. Think about less harsh statements that offer more realistic descriptions.
• Allow yourself to be less than perfect. Many depressed people are perfectionists, holding themselves to impossibly high standards and then beating themselves up when they fail to meet them. fight this source of self-imposed stress by challenging your negative ways of thinking
• Socialize with positive people. Look on the bright side deal with challenges and consider how you would react in that situation. Try to adopt others optimism and persistence in the face of difficulty.
• Keep a “negative thought log.” Whenever you experience a negative thought, jot down the thought and what triggered it. Review your log when you’re in a good mood. Consider if the negativity was truly warranted. Ask yourself if there’s another way to view the situation. For example, let’s say your boyfriend was short with you and you automatically assumed that the relationship was in trouble. It’s possible, though, he’s just having a bad day.
• Aim for eight hours of sleep. Depression typically involves sleep problems. Whether you’re sleeping too little or too much, your mood suffers. Get on a better sleep schedule by learning healthy sleep habits.
• Expose yourself to a little sunlight every day. Lack of sunlight can make depression worse. Take a short walk outdoors, have your coffee outside, people-watch on a park bench, or sit out in the garden. Aim for at least 15 minutes of sunlight to boost your mood.
• Keep stress in check. Not only does stress prolong and worsen depression, but it can also trigger it. Figure out all the things in your life that stress you out. Once you’ve identified your stressors, you can make a plan to avoid them or minimize the impact.
• Practice relaxation techniques. A daily relaxation practice can help relieve symptoms of depression, reduce stress, and boost feelings of joy and well-being. Try yoga, deep breathing or meditation.
• Care for a pet. While nothing can replace the human connection, pets can bring joy and companionship into your life and help you feel less isolated. Caring for a pet can give you a sense of being needed—both powerful antidotes to depression.
• Exercise. A 10-minute walk can improve your mood for two hours. The key to sustaining mood benefits is to exercise regularly.
• Choose activities that are moderately intense. Aerobic exercise undoubtedly has mental health benefits, but you don’t need to sweat strenuously to see results.
• Find exercises that are continuous and rhythmic (rather than intermittent). Walking, swimming, dancing, stationery biking, and yoga are good choices.
• Add a mind-body element. Activities such as yoga and tai chi rest your mind and increase your energy. You can also add a meditative element to walking or swimming by repeating a mantra (a word or phrase) as you move.
• Start slowly, and don’t overdo it. More isn’t better. Just do your best!
It becomes apparent that anything that takes us from a state of joy and love is indeed a serious challenge which extends beyond our personal condition and affects everyone around us. Depression, which dampens the ability for the soul and body to balance feelings, emotions and behaviors must be addressed, understood and reworked so the individual can achieve and maintain a sense of wellness. It is also the personal responsibility of each of us to recognize when we fall into behaviors that limit our level of enjoyment of work, home and recreational activities and find medical practitioners, spiritual counselors and friends who can help us reassess and perceive what is really happening in our life… then it becomes possible to make the changes necessary for bringing a quality of energetic thought that can ward off negative influences in our environment and in our thinking that may bring about depression. We have seen that a genetic predisposition, environmental influences and challenges in our everyday changing life circumstances sometimes overwhelm the spiritual and emotional body, but our spirit is more powerful than any of those influences and Craig and Sheryl suggest and hope that whatever challenge you are dealing with, you may realize over time and with deep work to trust in your own ability to thrive and you will manifest a good life.