10 Steps to Naturally Treat Depression
I didn’t know what depression was until one day it hit me. I was young and should have had energy but I didn’t. All I wanted to do was sleep. I noticed that I had days of feeling hopeless about my situation. Just out of grad school, and recently married I moved to a new city with my new husband. That would have been enough of an adjustment, however my new life in Seattle began just as the rainy season started.
How do you know if you have depression? Here are some signs and a link to help you assess if this is your case. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, symptoms of depression may include the following:
Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions.
Fatigue and decreased energy.
Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and/or helplessness.
Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism.
For more information on signs of depressions click here.
I’m an east coast girl who loves the sun and doesn’t really care for dreary, rainy days. Although it was a big shift to go to a college in the midwest, it was a much bigger shift to end up in the Northwest. I was newly married in Seattle without my network of family and friends, with one car between my husband and I for transportation. I drove my husband to work every day, then went home to look through the want ads for a job. I soon discovered that few people in Seattle heard of the University I went to, even though it was one of the top colleges in my profession at the time. Job interview after job interview, there were no openings and I heard a lot of “where was it again that you went to college?”
My husband had started a job at Boeing the last semester I was finishing up my thesis and comprehensive exams in grad school. He seemed to be fine in his world at work, meeting new people, making friends and socializing. He was happy. I drove him to work every day, picked him up and continued to look for a job.
This was the first time in my life that I felt unproductive, out of sorts, and out of place in the CONSTANT rain in my new environment. People said why don’t you relax and put the T.V. on and sit back. That was foreign to me since I’m always a hard worker, productively learning and creating in my world. I didn’t know anything else until my world as I knew it came to a screeching halt. I had lost my sense of purpose and was feeling lost inside. My reference of who I thought I was was gone, and all I could do was listen to the rain on the roof wondering what I had done.
As I reflect back on those years, I realize that I didn’t have the inner tools to understand my feelings of unhappiness and lack of motivation. The rainy season continued and after not seeing the sun for nearly four weeks I fell into SAD (Seasonal Affect Disorder). I wasn’t able to wait another month or two for my heaviness to go away. And I soon learned that Seattle is known for gray and rainy days even after the rainy season. What was I going to do?
I had talks with myself. Then I decided I was going to get my life together. At the top of the list I had to keep a routine or create of new routine (Step 1). I got up every morning at the same time, ate my meals at the same time and went to bed at approximately the same time. Every afternoon, as difficult as it was, I contacted people for jobs and went on job interviews. I learned that it’s important to keep your responsibilities (Step 2) even when you are depressed which included looking for a job, cleaning the house, grocery shopping, cooking, etc.
It’s hard to get enough sleep (Step 3) when you’re depressed, so you may have to really focus on accomplishing this. Restful sleep will help balance your brain and body systems, and allow them to repair and rejuvenate while you’re sleeping. I started unwinding about an hour before bedtime, releasing the computer, phone and other mental distractions. I did a visualization and meditation (Step 4) before sleep to relax my brain and body and to go into deep sleep. Everyone should have a form of meditation to release stress, calm the mind and balance the body. Meditation over a period of time will support chemical balance in the brain, helping to treat and prevent depression.
I was sure to eat healthy foods, 3 x’s daily to keep your chemical balance (Step 5) and stay away from the comfort foods. This is not easy when you are feeling down and depressed, however eating those heavy foods are only going to take you down more and imbalance your brain and body chemistry. I always enjoyed eating healthy but now I had some cravings for a first time in my life, so I had to be extra disciplined to eat healthy meals per day in the middle of the depression.
Since my brain and body chemistry were affected by the weather and stress in my life I knew that I needed to keep up on food supplements (Step 6). I changed my supplement program to help support the neuroreceptors in my brain and brain chemistry, and keep my immune and organ systems strong through the stress.
I decided to set goals (Step 7). At this point I had to set new goals. I had accomplished my goals of getting married and moving to Seattle, but now I needed the next big step. I wanted to have a good job in Speech Pathology, and I wanted to make some new friends that were like-minded. I was getting together with my husband’s friends from work and their families. They were very nice but did not have the same interests as me.
I needed to get out and do some movement (Step 8). Movement allows your blood to circulate and your oxygen to flow throughout your brain and body. You’ve all probably heard of how exercise increases those endorphins to make you feel happy! We joined a fitness club and my husband and I had lots of fun playing racquetball together. I started swimming laps and working out! Once I started moving my body again I thought, do what everyone else in the Northwest does: don’t let the rain stop you from going outside. When you’re feeling depressed, it’s important to do something new (Step 9). So we started camping, hiking and boating even when it was drizzly and gray. We would bundle up and be ready for the rain and hiked in many national forests and enjoyed the beauty of the rain forest!
Then I decided to rekindle my dance background since this was my favorite form of movement. I created my own modern and aerobic dance company, and began teaching dance classes in the area. Before you knew it I was receiving calls to teach dance/movement at major airlines, fitness and senior centers. It was a lot of fun and I began meeting lots of new friends,I made these friends because I was doing something that I enjoyed.
In the middle of the rainy season and taking steps into my new life, I still needed to challenge negative thoughts (Step 10) when they surfaced. You can’t let the mind lead you astray into negativity. I came up with a method to redirect my mind when it became negative. I found my inner strength and continued to move forward looking for a position as a Speech Pathologist. As I persisted, I met a wonderful group of doctors, Speech Pathologists, and physical and occupational therapists who owned a private clinic in Seattle. All trained in Europe with exceptional skills, I was honored to join their team. I worked 30 hours a week in pediatrics with amazing experts in my field helping children to walk, talk and grow developmentally.
I couldn’t be happier in my profession, teaching dance, playing racquetball and hiking with my husband and socializing with my new community of friends. The rainy season was lifting after 8 weeks of rain. Even though other rainy and dreary days occurred in between a few days of sun, I wasn’t down and depressed! I conquered my depression and found my way back to happiness and balance!
These 10 steps to naturally treat depression that helped me can help you too. There are many types of depression and it usually creeps up slowly over time until you feel non-functional. Try even 1 or 2 steps to get started. Take a step at a time and you will find yourself feeling happier and moving out of your slump.
As a Holistic Health practitioner over the past 32 years I have supported hundreds of women and men suffering from depression using holistic health programs. It is possible to conquer your depression and well worth trying natural methods to find your balance. It may take you longer to reach your long term goal than it did for me, however you will have your own journey to reach your empowerment. Some have used traditional medicine combined with Holistic Health, while others have used Holistic Health solely. There is help for you, after trying some of these natural steps to treat depression let us know what additional information you are needing to conquer your depression.
Please share what has helped you the most with your depression, or any other experiences to support others through their depression.