Episode 38 More Ways to Deal with Depression


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to learn more. Hi everybody and welcome to happiness isn’t brain surgery
with Doc Snipes: Practical tools to improve your mood and quality of life.
Today we’re going to be talking about 10 ways to prevent depression in this
holiday season especially but even if you’re listening to this and it’s not a
holiday season there are things you can do to help sort of head your bets
against getting depressed or if you’re starting to feel depressed there are
things that you can do in order to prevent yourself hopefully from going
deeper into that depression so we’re going to look at some tips and tools
obviously if you are feeling depressed like you are going to harm yourself or
if you’re feeling significant depression you need to consult with a mental health
provider this is not a replacement for working with a mental health provider
these are just some tips that you can use in order to help you better deal
with your depression and prevent it when possible so the first thing is to get
enough sleep and you might think well when I’m depressed I sleep all the time
well one of the things that you’re going to be looking for is to make sure that
it’s quality sleep and there are other podcasts that I’ve done on sleep hygiene
and how to get quality sleep but if you’re not getting good quality sleep
you’re going to feel tired you’re going to have trouble concentrating it life is
going to seem a whole lot harder so it’s important to figure out how you can get
enough quality sleep and keep your circadian rhythms in sync so you don’t
want to be napping all day long you don’t want to be sleeping at weird times
you want to try to go to bed about the same time each night and get up about
the same time each day give or take obviously you’re not going to get up at
the same time on the weekend probably as you do on the weekdays when
you’ve got to go to work but you want to try to keep it as steady as possible and
you’ll find that when your circadian rhythms are more in sync your body
secretes a hormone called cortisol which we normally think of as our stress
hormone but it’s also our energy hormone and your body normally secretes it
multiple times during the day it goes through peaks and valleys so if you keep
your circadian rhythms straight and you know stable you’ll have those peaks and
valleys but you’ll start feeling a little bit more energetic and your body
will get used to when it’s supposed to sleep and when it’s supposed to be awake
the second thing is to get regular physicals there are a lot of physical
conditions and physical things that can cause or contribute to depression so you
want to make sure that you’ve got enough vitamin D you want to make sure that
you’re not anemic you want to make sure that your hormones are in balance
whether you’re a man or a woman low levels of your sex hormones estrogen or
testosterone can lead to symptoms of depression so it’s important to get
those regular physicals the nice thing with getting regular physicals is a lot
of times you can prevent problems from happening and a lot of the things that
cause symptoms of depression are really easily fixable
either with small dietary changes or the addition of supplements or or something
like that the next thing you can do is eat a healthy diet and I’m not saying go
crazy with it I want you to enjoy what you eat so you don’t feel like you’re
being deprived but you need to have good protein your body makes the
neurotransmitters that help you feel happy and energized from protein and
tryptophan specifically but that’s not really all that important just make sure
that you’re getting enough quality protein per day and the recommended
guidelines for most people are generally about point 4 grams of protein per pound
of body weight so you know I rounded up to 0.5 just
the sake of ease and doing my math but if you’re a hundred and fifty pound
person that means 75 grams of protein a day or a little bit less that is really
not that hard to get most Americans get way too much protein unless they are
vegan or vegetarian in which case you may struggle a little bit more to get
enough protein but make sure you’re getting good quality protein the next
thing you want to have in your diet is complex carbohydrates and I know the
c-word scares a lot of people I’m not talking about sugars here and I’m not
even necessarily saying go out and eat bread what I’m saying is it’s important
to have those complex carbohydrates like come from vegetables and fruits and
legumes and a variety of other other things in order to help your body break
down the proteins to make the neurotransmitters there are all kinds of
vitamins and minerals in the foods that have complex carbohydrates you have to
have carbohydrates to live now you don’t need to have 400 500 600 grams a day you
know some people can do just fine with lower levels of carbohydrates and that’s
gonna be between you and your medical provider but it is important to have
some carbohydrates especially if you struggle with depression you know try it
if you’ve been on an extremely low carbohydrate diet and you feel more
depressed try adding a little bit more carbohydrate back in and see if it helps
you feel better you may not have enough of the vitamins and minerals needed to
make the neurotransmitters with the low levels of carbohydrates think about
vitamins and minerals kind of like spark plugs they help the body initiate those
chemical reactions that break down the proteins and make the neurotransmitters
if you don’t have a spark plug in an engine the engine ain’t going to start
if you don’t have a spark plug in your body then the process is needed to make
these neuro chemicals that’s not going to work either so protein carbohydrates
and remember carbohydrates are in just about everything except for your meats
what you’re looking at it is grains vegetables fruits even your dairy
has a fair amount of carbohydrate in it so you know you can get them on a
variety of different meal plans water is really important and you’re like oh I
hate water well try to figure out how to get some in carry a water bottle around
with you try adding some lemon or some lime juice to it and you know worst case
scenario look at things like Powerade or Crystal
Light or some of those things that can help you get at least 64 ounces of water
in a day one percent dehydration and you don’t even notice that can lead to
problems in concentrating and decision making five percent dehydration leads to
sluggishness fatigue foggy headedness when you’re five percent dehydrated is
when you start feeling you know I’m really thirsty I’m parched right now if
you get to that point you’re already probably dehydrated so it’s important to
make sure that you’re getting water frequently and if you drink caffeine
caffeine is a diuretic so for every glass of caffeinated beverage you have
you have to have another glass of water on top of your 64 ounces as a general
rule that we’re going with so remember that simple dehydration can cause you to
feel sluggish tired have difficulty concentrating and may feel somewhat
depressed you may not be as enthusiastic about things and finally minimize sugar
and caffeine both of these cause surges in different excitatory chemicals in our
body and they also cause drops so if you can maintain your energy level without
artificially spiking it with sugar or caffeine you’ll feel more stable so your
highs may not be quite as high but your lows aren’t going to be as low either
you’ll feel more level or even keeled and for many of us you know giving up
caffeine completely is a really difficult thing to do so do it slowly
work with health care provider and when I talk
about minimizing sugar you know there’s sugar in a lot of
things I’m not saying to give up all processed foods cuz that’s not realistic
for a lot of people but I am saying you know look at how much sugar you’re using
in your coffee try not to add additional sugar to things and choose lower sugar
options when you’ve got the ability to such as the low sugar jellies and jams
and the low sugar ketchups and things like that alright so those are the
physical ways and physical things you can do to help prevent depression if
your body is running well if you have all the necessary nutrients to make the
neurotransmitters if your hormones are in balance then you are not as
vulnerable to depression okay so but you still may be depressed or you may be
struggling with depression what else causes it well another big one for
people is your internal critic that voice inside your head tells you you’re
not good enough you’re stupid you shouldn’t have done that what we just
need to silence that internal critic and again there are other podcasts on how
you can do that the short version it’s just tell it to shut up when your
internal critic says you are never going to amount to anything
tell it to be quiet or ask yourself who says who says I’m not going to amount to
anything you need to stand up to it because your internal critic is nothing
but an internal bully it may have come from something somebody said to you when
you were younger or it may be something that you’ve always had you’ve just
always been really hard on yourself another thing you can do to silence your
internal critic is when you hear those words in your head think to yourself
would I say those words to my friend or to my child would I ever say that to
somebody I care about and if the answer is no then don’t say it to yourself what
would you say to your best friend or your child if they failed at something
or if they were getting ready to embark on a new task and they’re a little bit
anxious are you going to tell them well you’re gonna fail at this like you fail
at everything else or would you give them a pep talk so treat yourself at
least as kindly as you treat everybody else number five practice dialectics
that means look at both and there are it’s possible that two things that
seemingly contradict can both be true you can be strapped for money but still
be able to pay all of your bills you know it’s not the ideal situation
obviously you don’t have a lot left over for extras you can be happy and in
general but be angry about a particular thing so practice dialectics the other
thing you want to add to that is gratitude during the holidays especially
but these things can come up you know throughout the year finances and
commercialization can become a big humbug for people a lot of people get
really frustrated around the holidays because it’s all about buy me this buy
me this buy me this you’ve got to buy this and they’re looking at their
finances going I just can’t afford it and I feel like a failure
because I can’t afford these things I feel like I’m letting people down
because I can’t buy them things so we want to look at that and say is there a
both/and can you be in a position where you can’t afford to buy people things
but still make them feel like they are loved and appreciated yes the other
thing you can do during this time is use the attitude of gratitude you know your
finances are strapped yes maybe you can’t buy the presents that you want to
buy maybe you can’t buy a new car maybe you know whatever the case may be if
your finances are tight but what are you able to do are you able to keep a house
over your head are you able to put food on the table you know again you may not
be eating prime rib but are you able to eat every night so be grateful for what
you do have instead of focusing on what you
don’t have which you know I’ll just jump ahead and say when you start feeling
down and negative make a list you know for everything you think of that well I
don’t have this or I wish this were different make a list of what you do
have and what’s going well in your life so you can focus on the positives
because the more you focus on the positives the less time you have to
focus on the negatives another thing that kind of bums people out around
holidays and Valentine’s Day is a big one but Thanksgiving and Christmas and
and Hanukkah also can come in here relationships maybe you are estranged
from your family or your family is lives far far away and you’re alone on the
holidays or you don’t have people to spend the holidays with that can be
extraordinarily depressing for people so again focus on both and can it be the
holidays and you can’t spend time with your family or you don’t have the family
that you wish you had and can you still enjoy the holidays so what can you do
can you spend time with friends what can you do to help yourself get through the
holidays and what do you have what relationships do you have that are good
and important to you another thing that comes up during the holidays is lost
loved ones this is a time when you think you know I wish that so-and-so was still
here or you remember holiday traditions with your parents or your grandparents
who are no longer with you so focusing on what they brought to your life and
what they taught you and passing that on you can miss them and still cherish them
at the same time and a final thing that kind of gets people depressed sometimes
especially when it you start looking at New Year’s resolutions if you look back
over the year and you look at your accomplishments and you’d be maybe like
hey I don’t know where the year went and be I didn’t accomplish a tenth of the
things that I wanted to or I should be further along with X Y Z than I am well
you can focus on what you didn’t do and what you don’t have or you can focus on
what you did do so you can focus on but things that you did accomplish and
if you didn’t accomplish everything you wanted to what did you do instead was it
worthwhile sometimes it may be sometimes you know you thought you were gonna get
these six things done and you only got one of them done but three other
opportunities came along that were really beneficial or you can look at it
and go well this is a learning experience I wasted a lot of time last
year so let me plan for the next year so I don’t waste as much time I don’t make
the same mistakes again getting angry and sourpuss over the fact that you
didn’t accomplish stuff over the year ain’t gonna change it so the only way to
do it to change the situation is either look back and identify what you did
instead and how that was meaningful and or look forward and figure out how you
can avoid falling into those same traps and you can get more accomplished in the
upcoming year all right that’s a little bit of the cognitive stuff number 6 is
just to add happy it’s really difficult to be angry and curmudgeon assess if
that’s even a word and happy at the same time so find things that make you happy
find comedies on television find comedians that you can listen to in the
car do things that make you happy if you like going rock climbing go rock
climbing for goodness sake if you’re doing things that make you happy you’re
getting those happy hormones going so I suggest to people regardless of whether
you’re depressed or think you’re getting depressed add 15
minutes of happy every day anybody can find 15 minutes so you know if that’s
doing something on the internet or reading a book you like or even just
enjoying a really good cup of coffee and focusing on the savoring it instead of
drinking it while you’re doing six other things add happy to your day number
seven is know your triggers what makes you depressed we all have things that
can trigger a sense of hopelessness and helplessness
know what yours are you know they maybe they are different for everybody once you identify what your triggers are
then you can start doing your best to either prevent them or figure out how to
deal with them so we’ll use Valentine’s Day again as a trigger for a lot of
people because there’s expectations that you’re supposed to have this Disney
storybook hallmark relationship and if you’re not in a relationship or if your
relationships not you know Disney Princess worthy it can be a trigger for
depression so what can you do about that Valentine’s Day comes around whether you
like it or not and I encourage you know my children and people I know who also
don’t like Valentine’s Day instead of focusing on Valentine’s Day the holiday
focus on the benefits and one of the things with Halloween and Valentine’s
Day in our house we focus on the day after because that’s 50% chocolate you
know everybody else can spend a buttload of money on flowers and candy leading up
to Valentine’s Day but we are going to get the 50% chocolate and then on
Valentine’s Day we go out and do something enjoyable you know if my kids
right now they’re just now getting to the place where they’re dating and maybe
wanting to be in relationships but we’ve always sort of done something a little
bit different on Valentine’s Day identify what’s different when you’re
not depressed is another thing you can do so think back to you know during
times when I’m not depressed what’s different maybe you’re not
working as much I know I can get into a groove where I’m just working 16 18
hours a day coming home sleeping you know saying hi to my kids and then going
back to the office and I realize in a very short order that I’m not happy
because I miss doing my gardening I miss spending time on the farm I miss hanging
out with my kids so identifying what’s different when you’re not depressed is
a really important thing to do because you can focus on making sure you create
that situation that supports your happiness so when I notice that I’m
getting in a funk I look and I say have I been doing the things that make me
happy have I been doing the things that are important and meaningful to me and
if not then I stop right there and I say how can I change that how can I get back
to doing what it is because life’s short I could work 18-hour days for the rest
of my life and still not have everything done that I want to accomplish because
things are gonna always keep adding to that list but my kids are only gonna be
little for a while the farm you know there’s only a period that’s a planting
season each year so I try to get more done during the holidays and during the
winter when it’s too cold to be out it out on the farm
planting doing all that kind of stuff so then when it’s really nice weather I can
spend more time outside which takes me to number 9 get sunlight vitamin D
deficiency leads to seasonal affective disorder people who don’t get enough
sunlight tend to feel more depressed especially because they don’t have
enough vitamin D but even if they’re taking vitamin D supplements and
theoretically they have enough vitamin D if you’re not getting enough sunlight
your circadian rhythms can get out of whack which will negatively impact your
sleep which will leave you feeling fatigued foggy headed and sometimes
depressed so make sure to get sunlight and you don’t have to be bathing in it
you know I am a Sun phob to a certain extent my daddy had melanoma so you know
I try not to go out without sunscreen but you want to get up in the morning
and get into a bright room preferably by a window spend at least 15 minutes
throughout the day outside so your body knows oh hey it’s still daylight and you
know focus on doing that even during the summer even during times when you know
you could be outside even times when it’s sunny if you’re working in
side in a building and you’re not sitting right in front of a sunny window
you’re probably going to be more at risk for seasonal affective type symptoms
even if it’s like I said even if it’s not that season even if it’s perfectly
sunny outside if your work keeps you inside too much of the day and you’re
not getting that sunlight you may start to feel depressed work it in it’s not
that difficult all you’re asking yourself to do again is 15 minutes so
five minutes in the morning you know on the way to work spend a little bit of
time outside enjoy the sunlight five minutes at lunch time five minutes on
the way home gives your body enough you know you’re not having to spend hours on
hours exercise exercise releases serotonin exercise
helps people reduce anxiety exercise gets oxygen throughout your body more
efficiently and when you’re more oxygenated you have more energy when you
are oxygen deprived you feel foggy headed tired difficulty concentrating
etc I’m not saying again you have to go to the gym and workout in your target
heart rate zone for 40 minutes or something no I want you to get your
blood movement get up off the couch move around bonus if you do it outside but
get some exercise get your blood moving if you can get some exercise whatever
you and your doctor determine is safe for you 30 minutes a day it will greatly
help reduce your stress levels and I can let you can walk around the neighborhood
at a leisurely pace or you can run a 5k it depends on your fitness level and
what you’re willing to do if you’re able to run a 5k but you’re not willing to do
it then it does no good so I would rather you go out and walk for half an
hour then do nothing even if you’re able to do more than that and to little
bonuses here essential oils you don’t have to put them on you matter of fact
it’s probably better if you in most cases you can inhale them the
essential oils work by targeting some of the sensors in the nose and they can set
off feelings of relaxation they can help with depression particular essential
oils that can be really helpful include Clary sage chamomile lavender catnip
believe it or not and valerian now catnip and valerian have very unique
smells so you want to kind of test those out before you order them because
they’re also a little more on the expensive side than something like
lavender but those essential oils among others
you can go online and Google essential oils for depression and you’ll get a
whole list can be helpful if you just keep them in keep a little bottle with
you and you can take the lid off and sniff it every once in a while or I
sprinkle it on my pillow at night when I have foster cats that come in when they
first come in I sprinkle it around their room that helps them feel more calm it’s
not going on them essential oils are highly toxic to cats but it’s going in
their room so they can smell it and they can feel more relaxed the other bonus
and this is kind of goes without saying minimize anxiety and stress when you are
revved up when you are stressed when you are anxious for a long time eventually
your body’s gonna run out of gas and it’s gonna go I gotta have a break and
you will start feeling energy lists you will start feeling flat you will start
feeling fatigued you will start feeling depressed it’s your body going I’m going
to shut you down so I can rest and rebalance whether you want to or not
because you’ve been going for too long so it’s important to make a list of the
things that are causing you stress mark off the things that are irrelevant you
know it’s like you know this isn’t worth my energy this isn’t worth my stress
this isn’t worth worrying about whatever is left figure out how to deal with it
when it comes to anxiety use some anxiety control techniques because
anxiety is really worried or energy tied up in the
future things that could happen but haven’t happened yet you don’t know what
to expect so when you’re dealing with your anxiety figure out what can I do in
order to help myself feel okay with this situation avoid things that trigger your
anxiety avoid high-stress situations when you are thinking that it might be
you might be getting ready to get depressed if the holidays are really big
triggers for depression for you then try to minimize your anxiety and stress
during the holidays that way you can focus on having more happy feelings and
doing more happy stuff to avoid or to counterbalance those feelings of grief
or loss or depression that you may be experiencing if you like this podcast
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