Lifestyles

Fighting depression without meds

I went to my doctor and he said that I was depressed. He wanted to put me on anti-depressant medication. I don't want to take any pills. What can I do instead to get rid of this depression?

There are a whole lot of people in this world who find anti-depressant medication helpful. And a whole lot of people who would rather not take meds.

It really doesn't matter why a person chooses one thing or another. What does matter is the realization that one actually needs to be making some choices in order to stand up to depression.

Depression likes to suck the energy out of a person.

It tries to make everything seem dark and low. It also tries to hang around as much as it can, so it encourages a person to think of all the reasons not to do the things that are helpful. Or, it gets a person to do things that strengthen depression, rather than the person, as much as it can.

So, be aware as you read the rest of this, that depression will be trying to convince you not to do the things that will be suggested. It doesn't want to go away.

So be aware of all the thoughts that it gives you as to why you can't do one thing or another, or why it won't work. They will sound very convincing.

Then ask yourself which of the things you can do five per cent more of than you currently do, anyways. Start from there. Do that five per cent. It will start to turn the corner towards you being more in charge of depression, more often.

I call this the "Say it ain't so" list because depression will tell you that these things won't make a difference — or it gives all kinds of reasons to keep you from doing them.

Exercise

It is indisputable. Depression may want to say, "It ain't so," but exercise is very helpful.

A tipping point seems to be 20 minutes of activity, which raises your heart rate, three times a week. That may be your goal.

On the road to that, being aware of what your current activity level is, ask yourself, "What five per cent more than that would look like?" and maybe start there.

Food

There are reasons that we are encouraged to eat well and regularly ( starting with breakfast!). One of them, is that it helps to stand up to depression.

Regular intake helps to stabilize the body's blood sugar levels. This helps to regulate mood. Depression will "Say it ain't so," though.

So, noting the way you eat now, where is the place where you can possibly shift it five per cent towards being more regular, or eating more nutritiously? Maybe this will be where you begin to stand up to depression more often.

Social life

Have one, even if you don't want one. This can mean maintaining those connections you now have with friends and family. It can also mean that you take a class, go to community events, reconnect with your church.

Whatever five per cent more means to you.

And, yes, depression will try to "Say it ain't so." It may give you nasty thoughts about how others feel about you, to keep you from a social life. Remember, that is depression talking, and connect anyways.

Kindness

Random acts of kindness help to stand up to depression.

The thing about a random act of kindness is, that one does not feel used, or depleted by doing it. If you do, that is a trick of depression to get you to "Say it ain't so."

Be thoughtful, and look for opportunities that, all things considered, bring good feelings, rather than take them away, in any way.

Just as anti-depressant medication doesn't suddenly make depression go away with one pill, neither do these things. For a medication to work, a person needs to decide to take it every day, and do that.

No different for these things. One chooses every day.

By choosing, you are putting yourself in the driver's seat more often, on the road to feeling better. You are choosing more often, rather than depression choosing for you.

These are just four things on a very long list of things that depression tries to "Say it ain't so" about. They are a terrific foundation with which to begin making the choices that you want, more often, starting with five per cent.

To ask a question of the counsellors, for a response in future columns, e-mail  info@pacifictherapy.ca. Consult a Counsellor is provided by registered clinical counsellors Nancy Bock, Diane Davies Leslie Wells, Andrew Lochhead and Sara-Lynn Kang at pacific therapy & consulting inc. It appears every second Thursday in the Record.

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