According to recent research by researchers, most treatments for depression, including cognitive behavioral therapy, diet and antidepressants aren’t enough. The only lasting solution is the oldest of all – a supportive relationship.
Antidepressants were hailed in the 80s and 90s as the cure-all for this rapidly growing problem, particularly after the best-selling book Listening to Prozac. To make matters worse, researchers have now discovered that the real culprit in depression is probably not just insufficient levels of serotonin in the brain, which the antidepressants target, but a surfeit of the stress-related hormone, cortisol. We now also know that the brains of depressed people are not only out of balance chemically, they also tend to have a smaller hippocampus, which controls emotions and memory, and a less active frontal cortex.
Natural remedies for depression, which have the advantages of fewer side effects, arent the answer for everyone either. St Johns Wort is only suggested for mild depression, and many other supplements and foods can only help at best, not heal. In a calm, supportive, safe environment, the depressed person has a chance to heal, and to learn new cognitive patterns. But heres the catch: the depressed adult will have sought out or recreated in their life many of the abusive or traumatic elements of childhood. This again is not their fault, or even the result of conscious decisions.
Psychotherapy – Depression may indicate that something isn’t right with our relationships, our lifestyle or even our perceptions of ourselves. Consulting with a mental health practitioner can help sort things out in a caring setting. Studies indicate that those taking medication and participating in psychotherapy do better than those that rely only on drugs.
Exercise – Scientists have extensively studied the role of exercise in decreasing depressive symptoms. Aerobic and anaerobic exercises have both been found effective in combating depression. Walking, jogging, tennis, weightlifting, etc. are all great ways of counteracting the lethargy and helplessness of depression.
Diet – Eating a diet balanced in protein, complex carbohydrates, and essential fatty acids is important to maintaining healthy brain function.
Socialize – Depressed people tend to isolate themselves. This reinforces feelings of hopelessness. A good antidote is to get out and socialize with people you trust.
Support Groups – Being in a group helps people to verbalize their emotions, feel connected to others, and give one a new perspective. Sometimes just joining a club or civic organization is sufficient.
See a Physician or Naturopath – Depression may be caused by physical illness. If you feel depressed it is important to seek assistance from a physician or holistic medical practitioner.