What to Expect as You Overcome Major Depression

Learn what to expect as you go through treatment and recover from major depression.

After a bout of major depression, it’s a relief when you start to feel like your old self again. Overall, you’re improving as you go through treatment for major depression, “but it’s often two steps forward and one step back,” says Shoshana Bennett, PhD, a clinical psychologist. “It’s rarely a straight line up.” Just knowing to expect some bad days with the good can help you be more patient with yourself. “These are dips, not relapses,” Dr. Bennett says.

A risky time during depression recovery is when you start having several good days in a row. It’s easy to think that — since you’re not having symptoms — you don’t need treatment for depression anymore, but going off medication or quitting therapy for depression too soon can lead to symptoms coming back.

American Psychiatric Association guidelines recommend that people with depression who have been successfully treated with antidepressants keep taking them for at least four to nine months, and sometimes longer. Similarly, people with depression who have fewer symptoms with talk therapy should talk with their therapist about how long to continue treatment.

Keeping Depression Symptoms Away Besides sticking with your depression treatment, you can take steps to keep symptoms under control. Connecting with friends and family, thinking positively, staying active, eating well, and getting enough sleep all help, but there’s a catch, says Jon Allen, PhD, senior staff psychologist at the Menninger Clinic in Houston: “The nature of depression makes it difficult to do those things.”

Don’t be surprised if these healthy steps feel unnatural at first. Depression fosters hopeless thinking, so you may have trouble believing that they’ll ever get easier. “They will,” Dr. Allen notes, “as you pull out of depression.”

Friends and family might see a change in your depression symptoms and depressed behavior before you do. “It’s remarkably common,” Allen says. “People will say, ‘Gosh, you look better,’ or ‘You sound better,’ and the depressed person is thinking, ‘Well, I still feel terrible.'” It can be very frustrating for the depressed person, who ends up feeling that other people don’t understand how tough things really are.

Building a Depression Support Network A support group is one place to find other people who know what you’re going through because they’ve had depression themselves. To locate in-person and online depression support groups, call the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (800-826-3632).

If you pulled away from friends and family while depressed, now is the time to start rebuilding those bonds. Allen suggests making concrete plans; for example, to meet a friend for coffee. “By making that commitment to someone else, you may feel obligated to show up,” he says. It’s added motivation to get out and rejoin the world. Friends and family can also be a source of encouragement on days when depression symptoms or worries about symptoms get you down. Gradually, you’ll start to feel more hopeful, too.

Filter Out Distractions and Interruptions to Improve Memory

Filter Out Distractions and Interruptions to Improve Memory

By Mehmet C. Oz, MD, and Michael F. Roizen, MD

Feeling scatterbrained? If you’re having difficulty focusing on a good book, the nightly news, or even your spouse because the kids, pets, phone, TV, flashing e-mail, and more are driving you to distraction, don’t blame the interruptions. It turns out that a prime reason for midlife concentration lapses and late-life memory problems is an increasing inability to filter out the clutter — both human and digital distractions.

A growing stack of studies shows that although 30-something brains can focus on a topic with laser-beam precision while ignoring multiple distractions, older brains have frayed mental filters that let other information in, no matter how hard they’re trying to concentrate. It’s like looking at the world (or at least that pile of paperwork) through a wide-angle lens that also sees the unwashed dinner dishes, the beautiful sunset, the accountant’s memo, or the article you’ve been meaning to read.

Try This 4-Step Meditation Plan for Sharper Focus

American and Canadian researchers stumbled onto this concentration issue while using MRIs to scan people’s brains as they performed memory-related problem-solving tasks. Older people in the study couldn’t concentrate inside the banging, clanging MRI machines, even when wearing earplugs. Their brain scans revealed the extra mental effort used as they tried to filter out the distracting noise, tipping off researchers to the mental challenges of concentrating.

Here’s how to both minimize age-related distraction problems when you need to focus and how to put them to use when you need to think and see the big picture:

  • Turn off distractions. You can recapture much of your sharp focus by removing distractions when you have to do mental work. Don’t pay bills while watching TV. Turn off the radio when you’re starting an important conversation with your spouse or when you’re loading new software onto your computer.
  • Clear your desk, organize your house. Visual clutter can slow down your mental capacity so that decision-making takes more time and effort. Give your brain cells less to ponder by sweeping unnecessary stuff from your workspace, cooking area, computer desktop, closets, and even your car.

Banish Interruptions: 7 Steps to a More Organized Life

  • Turn distractibility into a mental asset. Harness your well-seasoned brain’s ability to retain lots of information by giving “multisensory learning” a whirl. That’s when you use several senses at once to enhance learning and memory. Instead of reading a long magazine article about the growing list of presidential candidates, watch an in-depth TV show about them. Getting the audio and the visual is an asset in this case.
  • Enjoy seeing the forest, not just the trees. Having a more flexible mental filter in place means you take in more pleasure, too. Whether you’re walking in the woods, biking on the boardwalk, or people-watching, chances are you’re noticing more than you did in your 20s and 30s. Savor it!

How Stress Affects Major Depression

Stress can trigger clinical depression, but taking steps to reduce stress is an important part of getting better.

Without some stress, we’d be little more than slugs (minus the motivation to do the things that enrich our lives), but too much stress can affect our health and even contribute to major depression (also known as clinical depression, major depressive disorder, or MDD). “If prolonged, stress can lead to headaches, muscle aches, fatigue, and gastrointestinal problems,” says Simon Rego, PsyD, director of psychology training at Montefiore Medical Center and assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, N.Y. “It can also affect appetite, sleep, and mood, generating anxiety and depression.”

For people predisposed to depression — especially major depression — or who are already depressed, stress can be overwhelming, triggering a downward slide. “Depression is like kindling on the forest floor,” says Daniel Buccino, MSW, clinical supervisor and assistant professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University. “Stressors can sometimes be the spark that ignites the vulnerability to depression.”

In part that’s because chronic stress may change behavior in ways that fuel clinical depression, Rego says. “For example, people who are stressed tend not to go out as much or sleep as well, or they may overeat or drink too much. Those things can generate symptoms of depression.”

Try these strategies to help reduce stress and overcome major depression:

  • Recognize what causes your stress. “Each person needs to know [his or her] particular vulnerabilities to certain kinds of stress,” Buccino says. Maybe too little sleep or too many commitments at work put you over the edge. “Figure out your limits and then try to manage them,” Buccino says.
  • Exercise. Moderate-intensity exercise, such as walking at talking speed, can help lift people out of anxiety, stress, and depression, Rego says. Exercise isn’t a substitute for medical treatment for major depression, but it can help support your recovery.
  • Tap into social support. “People who are stressed and depressed tend not to use social support networks,” Rego says. “Reaching out to friends or trusted colleagues can buffer stress and offer an outside opinion on stressors, and connections can create a sense of belonging, which lessens depression.” Connections don’t always have to be in person: Start out with a text or an e-mail, or Skype.
  • Challenge your perspective. “When people stress, they tend to see only threatening information,” Rego says. “Examine your thoughts to see if they’re as negative as you think.  For instance, if you’re stuck in a traffic jam, instead of thinking you’ll never arrive on time, ask yourself, ‘What’s the worst that can happen if I’m late?'”
  • Sign up for therapy. If you have clinical depression, psychotherapy is probably part of your treatment. It’s a great tool to treat major depression and address stress, Buccino says. “You’re forming a useful working alliance with another person, whether to gain insight or make changes.”

What is Major Depression?

Major depressive disorder is a serious condition that affects all aspects of your health and well-being.

If you suspect you suffer from depression, including major depression, you’re not alone. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), major depression — also known as clinical depression or major depressive disorder (MDD) — is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States. By some estimates, up to 10% of Americans have major depression at any given time, and up to 25% will suffer from MDD at some point in their lives.

MDD affects your mood, body, behavior, and mind to impact all aspects of your life. Major depression can interfere with your ability to work, sleep, and interact with family and friends. In the workplace alone, depression costs an estimated $34 billion annually in lost productivity and absenteeism.

No one knows exactly what causes major depression, though most experts believe it’s due to chemical changes in the brain triggered by your genes; stressful events, such as the death of loved one, job loss, or divorce; or a combination of the two. Substance abuse and poor sleep can play role, too, as can certain medical conditions, such as an underactive thyroid.

Depression can be a chronic disease, and a person who has one episode of depression has a 50% risk of suffering another. That makes recognizing and treating major depression all the more important. Here’s the good news: More than 80% of people with major depression can be successfully treated with a combination of medication and psychotherapy. Here’s the sad news: An estimated two-thirds of depressed people don’t seek treatment and, therefore, suffer unnecessarily, according to the NIMH.

The first step to feeling better is to recognize that you may have symptoms of major depression. Then seek diagnosis and treatment so you can begin to reclaim your life.

Are You Positive? How and Why Affirmations Work.

I was cleaning up my inbox and found this from Sophie, who had posted it on her blog a few days ago.

As they say “we are what we think we are”.

Today’s Inspiration: Thewellnesswarrior.com.au

“Until a few months ago I never really got into affirmations. However, after reading Louise Hay’s books  I started to understand the power of affirmations. I loved this article, written by Jessica, describes how affirmations work and why they are so powerful.”
~Sophie

 

“An affirmation opens the door. It’s a beginning point on the path to change.”
– Louise Hay

 

Are You Positive? How and Why Affirmations Work.


I talk to myself a lot. Most of the time I do it in my head, but some times I will do it out loud. The latter is usually only in the company of my dog. I’m not crazy. Not by clinical standards, anyway. I simply understand the power my words and thoughts have over my life. Constantly repeating positive affirmations has had a major effect on my life.

According to Dr Bruce Lipton, most of our beliefs are formed when we are children. Perhaps it was said that you are stupid, lazy, selfish, or shy. This affirmation would have left an imprint in your mind, during the years that are most formative. And then these unwholesome statements can stay with you in the conscious or unconscious mind, only to be reinforced throughout the rest of your life. Unless you do something about it. The core beliefs that we have in this moment are the results of our past experiences – things we heard, things we’ve seen, and things we were told. This doesn’t make them real though.

The unconscious mind cannot tell the difference between a real or imagined idea, so it responds to whatever suggestions you give it. So, if you’re constantly telling yourself that you are stupid, fat, lazy, or shy – that is the reality you are going to create for yourself.

The awesome and empowering part of this is that we can turn it all around. When we are aware of the mind’s powerful ability to create whatever it is we tell it to, we can go ahead and do just that.

By repeating positive affirmations you can actually retrain your mind to create a reality that matches your goals.

By changing your perception, you change your reality. It all starts with the thoughts you think. These thoughts become your feelings, these feelings become your vibration and your vibration ultimately becomes your life. It is your vibration that determines whether you are attracting what you want into your life or not. So, as simple as they are, affirmations can transform every aspect of our lives including our health, relationships and success.

 

Affirmations. Whether you think you can, or think you can't. You are always right.

 

How to make affirmations work

 

For affirmations to be effective they must be written in the first person, be in the present tense, be goal orientated and be written as though they have already been achieved. So don’t go around saying things like “I wish” or “I will” or “I want”. You need to act as if.

You affirmations must be followed through with some kind of supporting action. You need to walk your talk. There’s no point in affirming that you’re a Power Ranger if you’re not prepared to go out and hire a coloured suit and helmet.

 

Here are some of the affirmations I repeat every day:

• I have a perfectly healthy body and mind
• I am healing now
• I love and approve of myself
• Abundance flows into my life in surprising ways every day
• Life flows effortlessly
• All my relationships are harmonious

 

 

 

 

Add power to your positivity

 

Repeat your affirmations as often as possible. The more you repeat them, the deeper they will be ingrained into your mind, and the faster they will be implemented in your subconscious.

You can speak them out loud, repeat them to yourself, write them down over and over again in a journal and write them on post it notes and stick them all over your house. I have mine written on the mirror in my bathroom, inside my diary, on my computer screen saver, on my vision board, and I even set reminders on my phone throughout the day so I am randomly greeted with something telling me “You look beautiful today, Jessica!”

 

 

New Feel-Good Worksheets are up!

New Feel-Good Worksheets are up!.

I have to reblog  Sophie’s Feel-Good Worksheets.  I think it’s a great idea and can come in handy on these blue days.

New Feel-Good Worksheets are up!

Hi All!

First of all.. lots of ♥ for everyone for following/commenting/liking/reading my blog! It is so exciting & humbling if you see that there are so many people that enjoy what you put out there. I only started this blog about 2 1/2 months ago and am soo thrilled by all the lovely responses. I’m having so much fun in discovering interesting content for the blog, its a blast!

More exciting news is that I am working on my own articles that are mind-body health related. As you all know I am all about creating health the not-so-obvious way; by creating more happiness & love in our lives. It’s amazing how much effect we can have with out mind over the body (for example, think placebo effect). I believe that our bodies are a reflection of our minds. At every moment, our bodies are continually responding to the messages from our minds.

Be careful what you tell yourself, our cells are always listening
~Sophie 

And… I created more worksheets! I like to print them out and keep them in my organizer and fill them out every morning.

How you start your day is how you live your day, and how you live your day is the way you live your life. ~Louise Hay

 

Feel Good Worksheets Color

You can also find them under the ‘worksheets’ tab, they are also available in black & white.

Exercises That Reduce Fibromyalgia Pain and Fatigue

I don’t have Fibromyalgia Pain and Fatigue however I came across this article and thought I pass it one maybe it will be helpful to others.

Exercises That Reduce Fibromyalgia Pain and Fatigue

 

Move Past the Pain

 

No doubt about it — physical activity can sometimes be tough when you’ve got fibromyalgia. You can’t do much on the days you’re feeling drained. And on the days you’re feeling good, you may be tempted to overdo it. But to cope better with your condition, you’ve got to exercise, even if it’s just a little bit, because grinding to a complete standstill is only likely to make your symptoms worse. But the trouble is, there’s no one-size-fits-all exercise guideline for folks with fibromyalgia. And strenuous activity may set you back. So you’ve got to be smart. But with a bit of trial and error — and guidance from your doc — you can determine what type of physical activities make sense for you, as well as how much, how often, and how intensely to do them.

 

Try Gentle Water-Based Workouts

Whether or not you’re a water lover, you’ll want to at least try water exercises. Numerous studies report that this form of low-impact exercise — especially when done in warm water — can help reduce pain, stiffness, fatigue, and depression in many people with fibromyalgia. And you don’t have to endure the back-and-forth monotony of swimming laps if that’s not for you. There are a variety of fun, get-wet workouts to choose from — including music-based aqua aerobics, underwater walking or jogging, strength training, stretching, and water-based relaxation therapies like yoga, tai chi, and Watsu. Heck, some spas and fitness centers even offer pool-based Zumba, hip hop, and country-western line dancing.

 

Aerobics for Land Lovers

If working out in water is not your thing, plug into a beginner fitness video a few nights each week. Research suggests that cardio-based aerobic exercise can be an effective way to curb pain, fatigue, anxiety, and depression in people living with fibromyalgia. Better yet, the options are endless. If you prefer group workouts, you can choose from a variety of low-impact dance-based aerobics classes, step classes, spin classes, kickboxing classes, and more. Prefer solo workouts? Try treadmill walking, elliptical training, or even roller-skating, hiking, or biking. Whatever exercise you try, check with your doctor first, and stick with low-impact aerobics done at light to moderate intensity. No aggressive workouts; you’ll just exacerbate your symptoms that way.

 

Strengthen Your Muscles for Relief

You don’t have to be a body builder. But lifting light weights or doing other types of resistance-based strength training might improve your symptoms. Fewer fibromyalgia studies have been done on strength training than on other exercise forms, but resistance training shows equal promise in its ability to relieve pain and fatigue, improve sleep, reduce the number of tender points, and dampen depression in people with the condition. Strength training also may prevent weakening and loss of muscle mass (atrophy) to boot.

 

Step Away from Pain

One of the easiest things you can do is lace up your walking shoes and hit the sidewalk. Research suggests that mildly to moderately intense walking may dial down pain and fatigue just as well as other forms of aerobic exercise do. But ask your rheumatologist or physical therapist how fast, how far, and how often you should walk when starting out. And build up your walks gradually. How much you should ultimately walk will depend on several factors, including your age, your fitness and activity levels, the severity of your fibromyalgia symptoms, and whether the activity worsens or improves your pain and fatigue. Keep in mind that it’s probably also best to do mini walks here and there rather than take one long walk.

 

Stretch It Out

Compared with aerobics and strength training, less research has been done on the benefits of stretching for people living with fibromyalgia. But a smattering of findings do suggest that stretching exercises, including those used in physical therapy and yoga, may help reduce overall stiffness, improve muscular flexibility, and enhance well-being in people with fibromyalgia. Consider consulting with a licensed physical therapist for prescribed stretching exercises that are safe for people with fibromyalgia.

 

Work with a Physical Therapist

If you’re new to exercise or just not sure what kinds are safe for you, ask your doctor or rheumatologist for a referral to a licensed physical therapist — one who is trained in working with fibromyalgia patients. This is not a fitness trainer, but a medically trained physical therapist. Working closely with this kind of expert may help prevent you from aggravating your symptoms with the wrong kind or intensity of exercise. That’s especially true if you have other physical conditions or injuries to work around. Plus, some studies do suggest that physical therapy helps improve flexibility and range of motion, emotional well-being, and muscle loss and weakness in people with fibromyalgia

 

Tai Chi and Chi-Gong (Qigong)

These two forms of ancient Chinese medicine combine gentle martial-arts-based movement, postural exercises, breathing exercises, and mindfulness meditation. Tai chi is one of many types of chi-gong (qigong), and both disciplines were developed centuries ago as techniques for enhancing the body’s vital life energy (or chi) as a way to heal disease and increase well-being. Both activities have received some serious attention of late from fibromyalgia researchers. More study is needed to confirm whether the exercises have a direct effect on pain, but findings do suggest they might enhance the ability to cope with it. And both exercise forms have helped relieve anxiety and depression in people with fibromyalgia. Tai chi seems to enhance balance and lower body flexibility as well.

 

Stick with It

The best way to ensure exercise improves your fibromyalgia? Don’t stop once you start. Getting fit and controlling symptoms does not have a beginning and an end. And being a faithful follower of your exercise program is what brings continuous results. Research suggests that the symptom-improving benefits of any exercise program may take up to 4 weeks to fully kick in, so be patient. And remember, whether you are just starting out or have been at it for a while, if exercise ever hurts or makes your symptoms worse, stop. Break it up. Exercise in small spurts. And keep it low-key. The last thing you want is to overdo it. And if you can’t find anything that works for you, check in with your doctor or physical therapist as soon as possible to find out what other treatments you might need to get back on a more active path.