Sneaky sleep saboteurs
by Amanda MacMillan
Getting a good night’s sleep is important for your mood, your energy levels, and your overall health. It’s also dependent on what you do during the day—how much physical activity you get, what you eat and drink, and how mentally stimulated you are—especially in the hours before you crawl into bed.
Use an e-reader or smartphone
Several studies have suggested that using electronic devices like e-readers and smartphones, or even watching television in or before bed can disrupt sleep. Robert Rosenberg, DO, author of Sleep Soundly Every Night, Feel Fantastic Every Day, recommends avoiding any light-emitting technology for at least one hour before bedtime.
Take certain medications
If you take medicines or supplements on a daily basis and you’re also experiencing sleep problems, ask your doctor whether the time of day you take your dosage may be keeping you awake. “The effects may be subtle, but some medicines can make you alert for several hours after taking them,” says Grandner. For example, antidepressants can have strong effects on sleep in either direction, and some pain medications may upset your stomach and make sleep more difficult. (On the other hand, some other medicines—such as some types of blood pressure pills—have been shown to work best when taken at night; talk to your do about when to take yours.)
Text a friend
You may think a text is less disturbing late at night than a phone call, but think twice before you message a friend or family member, or get involved in a group text conversation, shortly before bed. If you sleep with your phone in or near your bed, you could be disturbed by replies after you’ve already retired or fallen asleep.
Drink coffee (maybe even decaf)
A cup of coffee contains anywhere from 80 to 120 milligrams of caffeine per cup, and you probably already know you should avoid it right before bed. But some still like the idea of a hot drink after dinner, says Grandner, and may not realize that although they’re still several hours away from turning in, their habit could disturb sleep. Truth is, caffeine can stay in the body for up to 12 hours. “Even caffeine at lunch can be too close to bedtime for some people,” says Grandner.
Even if you do avoid coffee, you may not be as careful about another major source of caffeine: tea. Drinks labeled as “herbal tea”—such as peppermint or chamomile varieties—are probably caffeine-free, says Grandner, but varieties that contain black, green, or white tea leaves do indeed contain the stimulant.
Another sneaky source of caffeine is chocolate, especially dark chocolate with high cocoa contents. “People might not think about ice cream that contains chocolate or coffee as something that might potentially keep them awake, but if they’re sensitive to caffeine that could definitely do the trick,” says Grandner.
Skip your wind-down time
When people say they can’t shut their mind off in bed, it’s often because they haven’t given themselves adequate time to relax in the hour or so beforehand, says Grandner. “When you’re going from one distracting activity to another and not giving yourself time to sit back and reflect on your thoughts, it’s no wonder that your mind is racing when you finally climb into bed,” he says. He recommends taking at least 30 minutes before you head into your bedroom to put away anything that’s too stimulating, thought-provoking, or absorbing—anything from action-packed TV shows to work that you’ve brought home with you. Instead, focus on activities that relax you and bring closure to your evening, like making a to-do list and packing a bag for the next day.
Check your work email
Aside from the fact that a blue-light emitting device can mess with your body’s natural sleep rhythms, there are other potential problems with checking your email too close to bedtime. “Unless you’re waiting for a specific email that’s going to put you at ease and help you sleep better, I would advise against it,” says Grandner. Checking in with the office too late at night is more likely to make you nervous or agitated, or fill your mind with things you’ll need to do in the morning. In a 2014 Michigan State study, people who used their smartphones for work purposes after 9 p.m. reported being more tired and unfocused the next day.
Eat spicy or fatty foods
Having a large meal too close to bedtime can make falling asleep uncomfortable if you’re bloated or painfully full, Spicy or fatty foods may be particularly risky because they’re associated with acid reflux, which often rears its head when a person lies down at night. Ideally, you should have dinner at least two hours before going to sleep says Grandner, to give your body enough time to begin digesting it. If you’re used to eating something right before bed, stick with sleep-promoting foods like simple carbs or a glass of milk. (And ask yourself if you really need it: If you’re not careful, late-night snacking can lead to weight gain.)
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Different Stages Of Thyroid Weight Loss Workouts
The Weight Loss Journey With Thyroid Disease
It’s been 4 years since my diagnosis of Hypothyroid/Hashimoto’s and about 3 years since I wrote my first article about exercise intolerance. Much has changed since then, so I decided to get it all down in writing to share with all of you.
This is a personal story, my personal experience and please understand that this disease takes on many different paths for each person and what works for one person may not work for another. I am hoping my story will bring some clarification for anyone looking for a direction.
Physical activity is a challenge for most people in general, but for me it has been a way of life since I was 19 years old. I started to notice changes in my strength, endurance and even desire to exercise in my mid 30’s. Around this time I started to have fluctuations in my weight for no apparent reason. By the time I was diagnosed with Hypothyroidism in 2012, I had put on 20 lbs. The desire to train became a daily chore, I barely broke a sweat and my heart rate would not get above 125 bpm.
Once I was diagnosed and started medication, my hopes of losing the weight and getting my drive back to exercise regularly was a pipe dream. I soon discovered that this was going to be struggle and possibly for the long haul. Don’t get me wrong I have had it much easier than most of the people in the thyroid community. My personal challenge was the vision of myself of what I used to be able to do and what I was able to do now. For others with this disease, daily moving was hard enough let alone considering a workout.
In my earlier writings, I discussed the scientific reasoning as to why exercise with thyroid disease is challenging and why some people have harder times getting back into it than others… and how even many cannot even start an exercise program. I am not going to get in all the mumbo-jumbo this time. What I would like to share is a view from several perspectives.
The Athlete – Weight Loss Stage
These thyroid patients have been very hard on themselves. They have been fit and in most cases very fit. Their activity level consists of many hours of training weekly, eating incredibly clean and resting accordingly. Gaining weight and losing energy just is not something that happens to them and when it does it is debilitating. Mind, body and soul is destroyed. Their outlook once being diagnosed is one of promise and goals – and disappointment can lead to drastic measures to get back to where they once were. The good news is… these are the group of people who may actually be able to make a full recovery to performance if healing is done appropriately. The reason is that they had built up a level of stability at the cellular level where the reversal of damage to the mitochondria is minimal. The key here is time, patience, stamina and not over doing it or doing anything drastic that might be dangerous.
The Fitness Guru – Weight Loss Stage
This is an interesting group of people. These are your educators, personal trainers, yoga instructors, P. E. teachers and Gymnastics instructors. They have real education under their belt. They may also fit into the Athlete category or somewhere in between. I believe this is more where I fit in. Since, I most likely had hashimotos since my mid 30’s, training competitively never suited me. I enjoyed motivating others and helping other learn the safe way to get fit and heathy. These thyroid patients, tend to take a pragmatic, scientific approach to exercising with thyroid disease. They have a need to understand the how and why’s to figure out the path that works. The fitness guru will find the answer and be patient with every step. They will carefully document what works and what doesn’t.
The Fitness Enthusiast
I love this group of people. They are adventurists and love variety. They will try anything that looks fun and will make them break a sweat. They follow the latest trends and have lots of energy. These are the individuals that have the hardest time adjusting to thyroid disease and exercise emotionally. They are also the ones that tend to try every diet and may have had issues with weight gain and weight loss. Consistency may be difficult for them. Yoyo dieting is common and periods of no exercise is also common. Typically this group wants fast results and they want them now. Thyroid disease and losing weight will be very frustrating for this group, as weight loss will be first on their list to tackle. Acceptance of a new normal is not something easily accepted by the fitness enthusiast.
The Novice or Sedentary Person – Weight Loss Stage
This is the group of thyroid patients that have a mixed set of results with losing weight and exercise. In most cases, since they have never really eaten healthy or exercised can have the best chance of losing weight with thyroid disease, but the hardest time with exercise. These individuals may actually have the most mitochondria damageand moving may be very painful for them. On the subject of losing weight, their lack of movement and eating habits may benefit them. Most thyroid patients learn early on that changing their diet is going to become a very important part in the healing process. Since, eating healthy is something very new to them… it is like a shock to their bodies. The weight loss may come easier to this group because this is something drastic and new to their bodies and the weight may just come off more easily than for those who have been eating cleaner most of their lives. If they can somehow find the way to gradually start walking a couple times per week… this too can enhance the weight loss. The muscular pain may be the only issue for this group.
Optimal thyroid levels are so important in having the ability to move. Healing our bodies to a level where movement becomes more pleasurable takes patience and time. We have to re- learn what intensities we are able to push ourselves at without having any negative repercussions. Most of all we cannot expect this to result in weight loss, especially not at first.
I have been at this for 4 years now. This is nothing in compared to so many of you. I have done everything right and I have yet to see the 20lbs I gained come off on the scale. My thyroid levels are optimal, I am on t4 and t3 medications and sleep 7-9 hours a night. I am not over or under eating and my balance of micro-nutrients is complemented for my activity level. Not over or under supplementing for my disease and not over stimulating my system – preventing adrenal fatigue. I am training 4-5x per week 30 minutes to 90 minutes and I base what I do that day on exactly how I feel. Making the adjustments in activity, intensity and duration so that on a not so energetic day – I do not overdo it. I am not crashing and I am able to fully recover in 12 – 24 hours depending on the intensity.
As of late, I am noticing an increase in lean body mass and my hopes is that I am finally in a stable place of consistency where the body fat will slowly come off. This is what I have learned in this process and I hope the take away for all of you – will be a reflection of what your path may be.
It has taken me 3 ½ years to find a Doctor that will treat me the way I need to be treated. My TSH needs to be below 1.0 as this keeps my cholesterol in good range. I finally started Cytomel in December in 2015 and I realized that the effects of adding the T3 is not immediate as many would think. I have only really started to feel consistently stable with energy after almost 4 months on the combination of T4/T3. This stability has most recently enabled me to be more consistent with training as well as intensity of training. Before now, I have been inconsistent with how many days I was able to exercise. Consistency is key in getting results.
The new normal is at the forefront now for me. I have a doctor willing to help me keep my thyroid levels where I need them – the added T3 is working in my body and my lifestyle of eating healthy, sleeping and exercise is just starting to feel normal again. I believe I am in a place that real change can actually happen.
The lesson for me with this journey – has been listening to my body. Understanding what needed to be addressed first, next and so on in order to get to a place where the focus may now actually be weight loss.
Weight Loss For All Thyroid Patients
So for the Athletes, Fitness Guru’s, Fitness Enthusiast and the novice…. Weight loss and training the way you once did…needs to be placed toward the end of the path as a goal to be attained. If you put this front and center you will have a very hard time healing and an even harder time understanding why.
A “Piercing” New Alternative for Anxiety and Migraine Relief: New Findings
According to the National Headache Foundation, more than 29 million Americans suffer from migraines and anxiety, and women are three times more likely to get them than men.
They can be triggered by normal day-to-day tasks, such as eating specific foods, watching too much TV, fluorescent lighting, and excessive noise. They’re different for everyone and the yearning question is; what can you do to get rid of them?
Of course there is the obvious medication route, neurologists often prescribe anti-depressants to relieve them, and there are over the counter pills like Excedrin, which seldomly cut it. With much frustration migraine and anxiety sufferers have tried any alternative in the book, from switching their diets, to acupuncture, to meditation, to yoga, and back again with some success.
With an open mind these alternatives are capable of being the answer, and there is a new one on the market, which is simple, inexpensive, and doubles as a piece of jewelry.
The daith piercing is a small ring that pierces the inner cartilage of either ear, running through a pressure point, which for some will relive migraine and anxiety pain. It is a relatively new procedure, mainly preformed at tattoo and piercing shops with not many statistics to back it up yet.
Tammi Bergman, NP, of ERiver Neurology, who specializes in headache relief, says that she always encourages her patients to try things like this as alternative relief measures to medication.
“I haven’t really heard of it yet, none of my patients have done it,” she said. “It could just be too new, and in the blogs, but often that’s where these things get started.”
Medication for migraines and anxiety is not always the only answer, just like the alternative relief measures the medicine doesn’t always work, and many people are opposed to taking medicine on a daily basis.
“We don’t even have hard statistics on the medications for migraines and anxiety that are approved by the FDA, so whenever you can do without it, it’s always a great thing. So if a patient is open minded I say go for it,” she said.
Kimberly Glatz, 24, has been suffering from migraines and anxiety for over a year now. She got the daith piercing done last month.
“Before I got it done my headaches were really, really bad. Terrible. Just extremely painful,” she said. “Now, I’ve seen some difference, I don’t know if it’s from the piercing or not. I can’t exactly pin point what changed my headaches, but I’ve definitely seen an improvement and it’s worth trying,” she said.
Dave Kurlander, owner of the Tempest Artistic Studio in Hopewell Junction, NY performs the daith piercing on clients, and he truly believes it’s the way to go.
“I’ve had many people come to me looking for migraine relief. It’s a much cheaper alternative to medicine and even acupuncture, and many of their doctors recommend it to them, and if you’re into piercings that’s even better.”
The piercing from start to finish is about a 10-minute process, it’s a one-time deal, and costs approximately $45. As opposed to acupuncture, which can become a lengthy, time consuming process, and be quite expensive.
“Essentially it’s the same concept as acupuncture, the piercing hits a pressure point which then relieves the pressure in your head. I recommend getting it done on the ear that corresponds with the side of your head where most of your migraines hit,” he said.
But the pressing question is, if there are no facts behind this than how can we know if it really works or not. Tammi Bergman says that you have to believe in migraine and anxiety relief, in the alternatives and in the medication.
“Sometimes relief of migraines and anxiety is psychological, but that’s not a bad thing, it’s a mind-set. Sometimes you really have to believe it for it to work,” she said.
In the long run it’s a toss up, it may not cure your headaches but you will be left with an ear piercing. Hey, you win some you lose some right?
Mom Designs Special Harness To Let Children With Cerebral Palsy Walk
Meet Rotem. He was born with cerebral palsy, a permanent movement disorder that affects motor skills, muscle tone, and posture. His condition means he has no conscious awareness of his legs.
His mom Debby Elnatan found out about her son’s condition when he was just two years old.
Rotem spent his days seated or sleeping — but Debby was determined to get him up and moving so he could enjoy life more.
And so she would walk and stand with him, guiding his arms and legs with hers. But constantly having to stoop and kneel with her son was too physically strenuous.
The mobility device is worn by an adult around their waist with the child strapped into the harness. The grownup and child share sandals which allows the adult to guide the feet of the little one.
The Upsee allows children with neuromuscular disorders to do ‘normal’ things like walk down their street and hug their brother or sister for the first time.
“They are just little steps,” the Upsee website states, “but they mean the world to someone.”
Cerebral palsy is a group of disorders that can affect a person’s posture and their ability to move. It’s caused by damage to the brain either during pregnancy or shortly after birth. There are 17 million people with cerebral palsy worldwide.
Despite that number, a lot of misconceptions exist around CP, even among friends and loved ones of people with it. The Mighty partnered with the Cerebral Palsy Foundation to ask our readers: “What do you want your friends to know about living with cerebral palsy?”
This is what they had to say:
1. “It is a journey of stumbles and falls, and it has you see the little things in a day that others might miss. Little miracles like being able to stand without any pain, reaching for something that might take you 10 minutes to pick up. Celebrate the little victories.” — Ashley Harding
2. “I believe that having cerebral palsy has made me a more accepting and compassionate person. I can relate to other people who are different, even if it’s not in the same way as me.” —Karin Willison
3. “The one thing most people don’t understand is that I am almost always in pain, but I rarely let it stop me.” — Jim Huffer
4. “I live in pain, I live in discomfort, but I wake up every morning thanking God for another day. As with anything else, I try my best.” —Kevin Abstance
5. “Remember that everyone wants to have friends and be a friend… So make friends with people you might not fully understand.” — Shelia Baxley Sanders
6. “It is not always noticed, but it is there.“— Antonia Faisant
7. “Because of cerebral palsy, I do not take things for granted, I’m grateful for my ability to see, to run, to move, to be independent. I’m more compassionate, open-minded and patient. ” — Alma Elizondo-Bailey
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8. “No one wants pity. If I need help, then I will ask. Never pity me or feel sorry for me.” — Trisha Douglas
9. “You’ll know when true friends/significant others come around when your wheelchair or walker won’t be an issue for them!” — Dartania Emery
10. “It makes you appreciate the small things in life that are easily taken for granted: breathing, eating, sitting, walking, etc.” — Ashley Prang Huffman
11. “We are still people. We have feelings. We want to be happy.” — Becky Orchard
12. “It has given me a stronger sense of humor in dealing with being in this oftentimes nutty world.” — Vincent Franklin
13. “My friends already know. That’s part of the reason they’re my friends. But one of the good things about having lived with cerebral palsy all my life, is that is has made it necessary for me to look for creative ways to get around obstacles most people don’t even have to give a second thought about.” — Robert Reynolds
14. “It’s a 365, 24/7 battle.” — Sherry Writes
15. “It’s not the end, it’s only the beginning.” — Mickey Hardin
What do you want your friends to know about living with cerebral palsy? Let us know in the comments below.
Psychological treatments for depression
Psychological treatments (also known as talking therapies) can help you change your thinking patterns and improve your coping skills so you’re better equipped to deal with life’s stresses and conflicts. As well as supporting your recovery, psychological therapies can also help you stay well by identifying and changing unhelpful thoughts and behaviour.
There are several types of effective psychological treatments for depression, as well as different delivery options. Some people prefer to work one on one with a professional, while others get more out of a group environment. A growing number of online programs, or e-therapies, are also available.
Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT)
CBT is a structured psychological treatment which recognises that the way we think (cognition) and act (behaviour) affects the way we feel. CBT is one of the most effective treatments for depression, and has been found to be useful for a wide range of ages, including children, adolescents, adults and older people.
CBT involves working with a professional (therapist) to identify thought and behaviour patterns that are either making you more likely to become depressed, or stopping you from getting better when you’re experiencing depression.
It works to change your thoughts and behaviour by teaching you to think rationally about common difficulties, helping you to shift negative or unhelpful thought patterns and reactions to a more realistic, positive and problem-solving approach.
CBT is also well-suited to being delivered electronically (often called e-therapies).
Do you live in Adelaide, Canberra or North Coast NSW? NewAccess is a free and confidential service that provides support in the form of a coach. The program includes six free sessions tailored to your individual needs.
Interpersonal therapy (IPT)
IPT is a structured psychological therapy that focuses on problems in personal relationships and the skills needed to deal with these. IPT is based on the idea that relationship problems can have a significant effect on someone experiencing depression, and can even contribute to the cause.
IPT helps you recognise patterns in your relationships that make you more vulnerable to depression. Identifying these patterns means you can focus on improving relationships, coping with grief and finding new ways to get along with others.
While behaviour therapy is a major component of cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), unlike CBT it doesn’t attempt to change beliefs and attitudes. Instead it focuses on encouraging activities that are rewarding, pleasant or satisfying, aiming to reverse the patterns of avoidance, withdrawal and inactivity that make depression worse.
Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT)
MBCT is generally delivered in groups and involves a type of meditation called ‘mindfulness meditation’. This teaches you to focus on the present moment – just noticing whatever you’re experiencing, whether it’s pleasant or unpleasant – without trying to change it. At first, this approach is used to focus on physical sensations (like breathing), but then moves on to feelings and thoughts.
MBCT can help to stop your mind wandering off into thoughts about the future or the past, and avoid unpleasant thoughts and feelings. This is thought to be helpful in preventing depression from returning because it encourages you to notice feelings of sadness and negative thinking patterns early on, before they become fixed. As a result, you’re able to deal with warning signs earlier and more effectively.
Therapy, Medication, and Lifestyle Changes That Can HeWhen you’re depressed, it can feel like you’ll never get out from under a dark shadow. However, even the most severe depression is treatable. So, if your depression is keeping you from living the life you want to, don’t hesitate to seek help. Learning about your depression treatment options will help you decide what approach is right for you. From therapy to medication to healthy lifestyle changes, there are many effective treatments that can help you overcome depression and reclaim your life.lp Depression
Exploring your depression treatment options
Just as no two people are affected the exact same way by depression, there is no “one size fits all” treatment that cures depression. What works for one person might not work for another. The best way to treat depression is to become as informed as possible about the treatment options, and then tailor them to meet your needs.
Depression treatment tips:
- Learn as much as you can about your depression. It’s important to determine whether your depression symptoms are due to an underlying medical condition. If so, that condition will need to be treated first. The severity of your depression is also a factor. The more severe the depression, the more intensive the treatment you’re likely to need.
- It takes time to find the right treatment. It might take some trial and error to find the treatment and support that works best for you. For example, if you decide to pursue therapy it may take a few attempts to find a therapist that you really click with. Or you may try an antidepressant, only to find that you don’t need it if you take a daily half hour walk. Be open to change and a little experimentation.
- Don’t rely on medications alone. Although medication can relieve the symptoms of depression, it is not usually suitable for long-term use. Other treatments, including exercise and therapy, can be just as effective as medication, often even more so, but don’t come with unwanted side effects. If you do decide to try medication, remember that medication works best when you make healthy lifestyle changes as well.
- Get social support. The more you cultivate your social connections, the more protected you are from depression. If you are feeling stuck, don’t hesitate to talk to trusted family members or friends, or seek out new connections at a depression support group, for example. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness and it won’t mean you’re a burden to others. Often, the simple act of talking to someone face-to-face can be an enormous help.
- Treatment takes time and commitment. All of these depression treatments take time, and sometimes it might feel overwhelming or frustratingly slow. That is normal. Recovery usually has its ups and downs.
Lifestyle changes: An essential part of depression treatment
Lifestyle changes are simple but powerful tools in treating depression. Sometimes they might be all you need. Even if you need other treatment, lifestyle changes go a long way towards helping lift depression. And they can help keep depression at bay once you are feeling better.
Lifestyle changes that can treat depression
- Exercise. Regular exercise can be as effective at treating depression as medication. Not only does exercise boost serotonin, endorphins, and other feel-good brain chemicals, it triggers the growth of new brain cells and connections, just like antidepressants do. Best of all, you don’t have to train for a marathon in order to reap the benefits. Even a half-hour daily walk can make a big difference. For maximum results, aim for 30 to 60 minutes of aerobic activity on most days.
- Nutrition. Eating well is important for both your physical and mental health. Eating small, well-balanced meals throughout the day will help you keep your energy up and minimize mood swings. While you may be drawn to sugary foods for the quick boost they provide, complex carbohydrates are a better choice. They’ll get you going without the all-too-soon sugar crash.
- Sleep. Sleep has a strong effect on mood. When you don’t get enough sleep, your depression symptoms will be worse. Sleep deprivation exacerbates irritability, moodiness, sadness, and fatigue. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep each night. Very few people do well on less than seven hours a night. Aim for somewhere between seven to nine hours each night.
- Social support. Strong social networks reduce isolation, a key risk factor for depression. Keep in regular contact with friends and family, or consider joining a class or group. Volunteering is a wonderful way to get social support and help others while also helping yourself.
- Stress reduction. Make changes in your life to help manage and reduce stress. Too much stress exacerbates depression and puts you at risk for future depression. Take the aspects of your life that stress you out, such as work overload or unsupportive relationships, and find ways to minimize their impact.
Ruling out medical causes of depression
If you suspect that you may be depressed, and lifestyle changes haven’t worked, make an appointment to see your primary care doctor for a thorough checkup. If your depression is the result of medical causes, therapy and antidepressants will do little to help. The depression won’t lift until the underlying health problem is identified and treated.
Your doctor will check for medical conditions that mimic depression, and also make sure you are not taking medications that can cause depression as a side effect. Many medical conditions and medications can cause symptoms of depression, including sadness, fatigue, and the loss of pleasure. Hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid, is a particularly common mood buster, especially in women. Older adults, or anyone who takes many different medications each day, are at risk for drug interactions that cause symptoms of depression. The more medications you are taking, the greater the risk for drug interactions.
Finding a therapist to treat your depression
If there is no underlying medical cause for your symptoms of depression, then finding a mental health specialist is the next best step for treatment. Although there are many types of mental health professionals, one of the most important things to consider when choosing a therapist is your connection with this person. The right therapist will be a caring and supportive partner in your depression treatment and recovery.
There are many ways to find a therapist. Word of mouth is one of the best ways to find a good therapist. Your friends and family may have some ideas, or your primary care doctor may be able to provide an initial referral. National mental health organizations can also help with referral lists of licensed credentialed providers. If cost is an issue, check out local senior centers, religious organizations, and community mental health clinics. Such places often offer therapy on a sliding scale for payment.
Psychotherapy for depression treatment
Talk therapy is an extremely effective treatment for depression. What you learn in therapy gives you skills and insight to help prevent depression from coming back.
There are many types of therapy available. Three of the more common methods used in depression treatment include cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, and psychodynamic therapy. Often, a blended approach is used.
Some types of therapy teach you practical techniques on how to reframe negative thinking and employ behavioral skills in combating depression. Therapy can also help you work through the root of your depression, helping you understand why you feel a certain way, what your triggers are for depression, and what you can do to stay healthy.
Therapy and “the big picture” in depression treatment
One of the hallmarks of depression is feeling overwhelmed and having trouble focusing. Therapy helps you step back and see what might be contributing to your depression and how you can make changes. Here are some of the “big picture” themes that therapy can help with:
- Relationships. Understanding the patterns of your relationships, building better relationships, and improving current relationships will help reduce isolation and build social support, important in preventing depression.
- Setting healthy boundaries. If you are stressed and overwhelmed, and feel like you just can’t say no, you are more at risk for depression. Setting healthy boundaries in relationships and at work can help relieve stress, and therapy can help you identify and validate the boundaries that are right for you.
- Handling life’s problems. Talking with a trusted therapist can provide good feedback on more positive ways to handle life’s challenges and problems.
Individual or group therapy for depression treatment?
When you hear the word “therapy” you might automatically think of one-on-one sessions with a therapist. However, group therapy can be very useful in depression treatment as well. What are the benefits of each? Both group and individual therapy sessions usually last about an hour. In individual therapy, you are building a strong relationship with one person, and may feel more comfortable sharing some sensitive information with one person than with a group. You also get individualized attention.
Don’t rule out group therapy, however. Listening to peers going through the same struggles can validate your experiences and help build self-esteem. Often group members are at different points in their depression, so you might get tips from both someone in the trenches and someone who has worked through a challenging problem. As well as offering inspiration and ideas, attending group therapy can also help increase your social activities and network.
When the going gets tough in therapy…
As with remodeling a house, when you take apart things that haven’t worked well in your life, it often makes them seem worse before they get better. When therapy seems difficult or painful, don’t give up. If you discuss your feelings and reactions honestly with your therapist, it will help you move forward rather than retreat back to your old, less effective ways. However, if the connection with your therapist consistently starts to feel forced or uncomfortable, don’t be afraid to explore other options for therapy as well. A strong trusting relationship is the foundation of good therapy.
Medication treatment for depression
Depression medication may be the most advertised treatment for depression, but that doesn’t mean it is the most effective. Depression is not just about a chemical imbalance in the brain. Medication may help relieve some of the symptoms of moderate and severe depression, but it doesn’t cure the underlying problem, and it’s usually not a long-term solution. Antidepressant medications also come with side effects and safety concerns, and withdrawal can be very difficult. If you’re considering whether antidepressant medication is right for you, learning all the facts can help you make an informed decision.
If you are taking medication for depression, don’t ignore other treatments. Lifestyle changes and therapy not only help speed recovery from depression, but also provide skills to help prevent a recurrence.
Should you get antidepressants from your family doctor?
Family doctors might be the first professionals to recognize your depression. However, while they can prescribe antidepressants, it’s a good idea to explore your options with other mental health professionals who specialize in depression. Ask for a referral. You might end up working with a therapist and not needing medication at all. If you do need medication, a psychiatrist has advanced training and experience in depression, treatments, and medications.
Alternative and complementary treatments for depression
Alternative and complementary treatments for depression may include vitamin and herbal supplements, acupuncture, and relaxation techniques, such as mindfulness meditation, yoga, or tai chi.
Vitamins and supplements for depression treatment
The jury is still out on how well herbal remedies, vitamins, or supplements work in treating depression. While many supplements are widely available over the counter, in many cases their efficacy has not been scientifically proven. If your depression symptoms are in part due to nutritional deficiency, you may benefit from vitamin supplements, but this should be on the advice of your healthcare professional.
If you decide to try natural and herbal supplements, remember that they can have side effects and drug or food interactions. For example, St. John’s Wort—a promising herb used for treatment of mild to moderate depression—can interfere with prescription drugs such as blood thinners, birth control pills, and prescription antidepressants. Make sure your doctor or therapist knows what you are taking.
Other alternative depression treatments
- Relaxation techniques. As well as helping to relieve symptoms of depression, relaxation techniques may also reduce stress and boost feelings of joy and well-being. Try yoga, deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or meditation.
- Acupuncture. Acupuncture, the technique of using fine needles on specific points on the body for therapeutic purposes, is increasingly being investigated as a treatment for depression, with some research studies showing promising results. If you decide to try acupuncture, make sure that you find a licensed qualified professional.