This is a come-to-Jesus meeting.
First, let’s set the record straight. This is not one of those “fixing your depression is so easy! Just follow this 50-step program and think positive thoughts and you’re healed!” type of messages. Today, I’m sharing real tips for people with honest, immobilizing depression to recover or stay afloat. So much of how we’re culturally groomed to handle mental health crises make our conditions worse. That ends here. Once we know better, we do better, and we share. I’m sharing. Your life is worth too much to me not to share.
What are the signs of depression?
Sadness is normal. We all experience it. When that sadness and lack of energy linger longer than you’re used to, it becomes alarming. It’s as if your ankle-biting, nit-picky relative who breathes down your neck and doesn’t believe in personal space is staying way longer than you agreed to and you cannot get rid of them no matter how hard you try.
You might not recognize impending depression immediately though. It’s more of a drifting feeling.
Aside from prolonged sadness, tell-tale signs include:
- Feeling worthless
- Extreme negative thoughts (including thoughts of suicide)
- Disinterest in everything
- Change in eating habits/cravings
Where does depression come from?
Strained mental health is often stigmatized as a stress-based situation. While that can be true, you might wonder why doesn’t everyone face depression even though everyone faces high amounts of stress at one point or another throughout life. It’s because different aspects of your lifestyle and environment directly affect how you process stress.
Hormone imbalances can be pretty easy to diagnose. If you eat an overly acidic diet or eat on an inconsistent schedule, there is a good chance your hormones are out of balance.
Each of your organs controls different emotions. Alcohol weakens your liver. Your liver regulates anger. When your liver feels spent, that’s when you will start to notice moodiness, and possibly feel like you’re losing control of everything. Do you ever notice that slightly cloudy feeling after a couple of drinks? Alcohol can intensify negative feelings rather than melt them, contrary to cultural beliefs.
Depression is inflammation on the brain. Not in your brain, on your brain. That inflammation can wreak havoc on your entire body and cause all of the above problems and then some; sadness, mood swings, nutritional deficiencies, malabsorption, memory loss, increased chances of life-threatening diseases, autoimmune deficiencies, and the list goes on.
Unresolved trauma or unrecognized cycles.
This is one of the hardest ones. The average person is only aware of 20% of their actions and thoughts. Herein lies the value of having a therapist or someone you trust to talk through all of life’s craziness. Not just someone you can vent to and feel validated by. That is a “yes person” and that doesn’t help you break the unseen patterns or cut the environmental toxins in your life.
You need someone who will celebrate your mountain top experiences with you, support you in your valleys, challenge your perspectives, and help you grow. That should be your standard for all of your close friendships, otherwise, they’re acquaintances. Friendships like these keep peace and love in the center of their community. Over time, you will begin to look back and see all of the healing that took place just because the quality of the conversations changed and you became more self-aware.
How can you heal?
Depression can feel dark, hopeless, and lonely. You might feel confused about what you’re experiencing in your head which makes things even more frustrating, especially when trying to communicate to others what you’re experiencing. It might seem convenient to hole up and shut the world out so you don’t have to try. You might feel like you’re useless or a burden to others.
Let me tell you, my friend, those are all lies from the pit of hell. Your brain isn’t working properly, so you cannot believe the negative things it tells you. If you slam your arm into a metal pole, the pain your arm feels isn’t its true condition. It is temporary. Your arm eventually heals and gets back to its true condition, finally able to properly do its job.
There is plenty of advice out there for what to do when you’re depressed, but that’s the problem. Often, you don’t feel like doing things. If your brain is laying in your head telling you “We’re not doing this today. I dare you to test me.” something as simple as getting out of bed and showering takes every ounce of effort you may or may not be able to muster. I’m going to give you a cheat sheet to the ultimate self-care when experiencing bouts of depression.
1. Avoid sugar.
Avoid sugar like the plague. Sugar is the top comfort food in America. We have normalized reaching for ice cream and cake in our darkest moments because they set off our dopamine receptors. However, sugar shoots our dopamine levels so high that the aftermath is worse than where you started.
Sugar is typically defined as the white or brown granules you get in a bag at the grocery. You might also correlate sugar with pastries, soft drinks, and candy. However, you should also watch for it in:
- Popular branded juice
2. Minimize dairy.
Dairy is another inflammation sponsor. We’re told that dairy is healthy and should be a staple in our diets, but that’s actually not true. Traditional dairy is inflammatory and heavily engineered. Comforting as they may be, treats like cheese, ice cream, and yogurt have the potential to cause more problems than they supposedly solve. In the event that you must have dairy, grass-fed cheese and fermented dairy like kefir is going to be your safest bet.
Healthy things to eat with minimal prep.
If you’re someone who likes to eat when sad, these steps will be easy peasy for you.
While fresh is best, it is totally okay to peel open a can of salmon, sardines, tuna, or any of the other Atlantic wild-caught pre-packaged seafood you can find. The healthy fats will envelop your brain in love and care.
Grass-fed beef jerky is a delicious no-thought snack that provides energy and promotes serotonin. Other simple eats include nuts, seeds, and leafy greens. All of these come in ready-to-eat boxes that you can keep close by.
If your appetite is usually suppressed when your mental health takes a downward turn, you can utilize the following herbs to make teas, take as supplements, or diffuse as essential oils to restore balance in your body.
- St John’s Wort
- Roman Chamomile
You are not alone. The saying sounds cliche, but you truly have someone to reach out to here and here! Depression is curable. You have hope. If you feel like you’re in over your head, please reach out!
Bringing the family back to the table,
The Substance Agenda: Why You Can’t Quit Sugar
Sakinah is an Army Veteran, Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and Wellness Advocate, Best Selling Author, Keynote Speaker, and Home Grown Chef.
After the untimely death of her husband and business partner and autoimmune complications suffered by her daughter, Sakinah realized life was no longer business as usual. She made the collective decision to redefine how she and her family approached health and healthcare. She has a passion for helping families come back to the table by restoring healthy relationships with food, others, and self. Sakinah believes when women, the cornerstone of the family, learn to restore healthy relationships with food, others, and themselves, it creates a ripple effect for the entire family and generations to come.
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