You may be down today, but you could be here tomorrow with the right approach! Let’s go!
Photo Luke Palmer from “A life less ordinary”.
There is a lot going on in the world right now and a lot of people are depressed, both young and old. If you are one of the many and don’t know where to turn, what to do, or who to ask for help, then you are in luck because friend of Carve, Katy Griffin, is fully qualified in such matters and runs retreats, workshops and one-to-one counselling as well as working for the NHS.
So we are going to run a series of articles by Katy in the hope it will help those suffering from all sorts of mental health issues. So here we go….
Mental health heavily impacts our quality of life. These are difficult times for a lot of people and this can lead to loss of hope and self-worth.
How can someone reignite their lives and start to fight back when depression seeps in?
Firstly, we need to understand depression better. It’s important to know that people could be in severe depression and remain functional especially if it has been progressive over a number of months or years.
Depression often exists concurrently with other forms of mental health conditions for example PTSD, anxiety, addictions – so these may be confuse the presentation and may present atypically.
As many other conditions may also present with depressive symptoms, this can lead to a wrong diagnosis which is why it’s advisable to get a medical assessment. For instance, depressive symptoms along with fidgeting and poor attention may be due to ADHD. Organic causes also need to be exclude like obstructive sleep apnoea, hypothyroidism, anaemia, perimenopause, low topterone. So the first step in your journey to better mental health is to start talking about it to your GP.
Depression can present in many forms – mild, moderate and severe.
Mild depression – has some impact on your daily life.
Moderate depression – has a significant impact on your daily life.
Severe depression – makes it almost impossible to get through daily life.
Depression is a complex and multifaceted condition that can be influenced by various factors, including genetics, environment, and life experiences. While the exact causes of depression are not yet fully understood, one of the key findings in neuroscience is that depression is associated with changes in brain chemistry and structure.
Neurotransmitters, which are chemicals that help to transmit signals between nerve cells in the brain, are thought to play a key role in depression. Specifically, low levels of certain neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and norepinephrine, are associated with depression. These neurotransmitters are involved in regulating mood, emotions, and motivation, so imbalances can lead to feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and low energy.
Another important factor in depression is the functioning of certain brain regions that are involved in emotion regulation and stress response. Research has shown that individuals with depression tend to have reduced activity in the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for regulating emotions, and increased activity in the amygdala, which is involved in processing emotions and stress. These changes can make it more difficult for individuals with depression to regulate their emotions and respond to stressors in a healthy way.
Here are some of the main ways to treat depression:
Exercise: Evidence has shown that exercise is an effective treatment for depression but this alone will not be enough for severe depression.
Exercise has been shown to increase the release of both serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain, which can improve mood and reduce the symptoms. Depression manifests physically by causing disturbed sleep, reduced energy, appetite changes, body aches, and increased pain perception, all of which can result in less motivation to exercise.
Evidence suggests that the focus should be on frequency of exercise rather than the duration or intensity until the behaviour has been well established, so the key is to pick a type of exercise that’s fun for you and you’ll want to maintain.
Diet: Diet has a significant effect on preventing and treating depression due to our gut microbiome.
Our gut is directly linked to our brain and this connection affects how we think and feel. Researchers are continuing to find links between brain conditions and gut microbes. People with autism and mood disorders, for example, have deficits of certain key bacteria in their guts. A diet that protects from and combats depression should consist of 30 different vegetables and fruits per day as well as fibre, fish, whole grains, legumes and less added sugar, and processed foods.
Sunlight exposure: Exposure to sunlight can increase serotonin levels in the brain, so spending time outdoors during the day can be beneficial.
Medications: Antidepressant medications, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), can increase the levels of these neurotransmitters in the brain. However, these medications should only be used under the guidance of a healthcare professional.
Psychological therapies: All therapies involve the patient and therapist, or practitioner, working as a team to understand the root cause if your difficulties and develop a plan to overcome them. Therapy involves talking, but this alone is not enough to make lasting change so will usually also involve doing practical exercises and tasks both in and outside of sessions to improve the way you live and interact with the words. It is an ongoing process in which the therapist or practitioner will regularly ensure that progress is being made.
Our friend Kwab was really down, he sorted himself out and a few years later he ended up doing this for a living! His story – ‘A life less ordinary’ is on the link below. Photo Frieden.
Optimism: Optimism is a mental attitude that heavily influences physical and mental health, along with how we cope with everyday social and working life. Optimists are significantly more successful than pessimists in challenging circumstances and when life doesn’t go to plan. You can train your brain to be more optimistic. Things that can help can be surrounding yourself with optimistic people. Notice when you have a negative thought and change it to a positive. Turn off negative TV programs and keeping a gratitude diary.
Community: We’re social beings, and we don’t thrive in isolation. Community is critical for positive mental health but it’s not just about being around people, it’s about forming a true connection with others through shared hobbies, values or belief. Our community can change throughout our lives as we out grow old friends, go through breakups and bereavements, change jobs or where we live. If you find yourself needing to rebuild your community, start with self-reflection to find what’s really important to you in life and the types of people you want to be surrounded by.
If you are experiencing symptoms of depression, it’s important to speak with a healthcare professional to determine the most appropriate treatment plan for you.
If you are still struggling with sleep you can speak to your GP, or Katy offers an online consultation service. (Details below)
Please email any questions you have related to mental health that you would like addressing in the next article to Katy [email protected].
For individual assessment please book here: https://www.thera-sea.co.uk/121-assessments-1
For retreats please book here: https://www.thera-sea.co.uk/upcoming-retreats-1
For inspiring stories of victories over mental health issues see
A life less ordinary
The trouble with weed.
The surfer and the sage
Who rescues the rescuers
For more in our series click here