Saturday, February 7, 2009

Depression Seminar Session 2

Lifestyle Treatments For Depression

It has been really fun attending this seminar because there have been so many great pointers on how to keep our lives happy and moving forward. I believe that if I implement just one pointer each week into my routine, I will be not just happy, I'll be walking around practically giddy all the time! I find that I do a lot of self-defeating things, not big, just enough to drain me of much-needed cheeriness.

This week was about Life-Style. Right away, Dr. Nedley made a strong statement about physical exercise. He said that if you are not on a regular daily (at least 6 days a week) exercise program, that condition would automatically qualify as a hit. (See Session 1 for the 10 hits of Depression). An optimal combination would be to do exercising outdoors in fresh air and sunlight. The best kind of exercise is aerobic, the best aerobic is good old-fashioned walking. It is actually better than running. Walks should be an hour long for best results. It takes about 7 days of walking outdoors for 1 hour preferrably in sunlight to notice improvement. It takes 3-4 months of regular walking to see a dramatic effect. Only one other exercise was slightly more effective. Statistics show that vigorous gardening is the most effective exercise to alleviate depression. So garden away. Apparently it yields more than fresh fruits, flowers and vegetables!

Interval Training is a very effective way to build up your endurance and fitness to a more advanced level with minimal muscle soreness as an added advantage. Also thyroid function improves with interval training. The simple formula for your maximum heart rate to work at your maximum level is: 220-your age x .8. Dr. Nedley emphasized that you need to force yourself at first to do this. It most certainly isn't at one's comfort level but the benefits are worth it. You can definitely do interval training with walking, as well as many other exercises. Basically, work to your maximum heartrate for 1-3 minutes, then drop back and rest for 2 or so minutes and then back up to your maximum heartrate. Continue for as long as you can.

Bright Light Therapy is important for seratonin and Vitamin D production, both of which help with mood and brain function. It is best to get light directly from the sunlight for at least an hour a day without sunscreen and within 10 minutes of waking. The best sunlight is between 10 am and 2 pm. It works especially well for those who are sleep-disordered, those who suffer from postpartum depression, and those who suffer from Seasonal Depression. In winter months it may be very helpful to get a light therapy lamp. Two references given were and Apollo Light, a company based out of Orem, UT.

Breathing Techniques help to get adequate supplies of oxegen to the brain. Most people breathe shallowly from the upper chest. To get enough oxygen to supply blood to the brain, breathing needs to be from deep in the stomach working up to the chest. Low blood oxygen impairs many things, including mood. You can practice breathing deeply by counting slowly to 8, filling up your stomach, chest and lungs and holding for 4 slow counts. Release slowly for 8 counts. Repeat 4 times.

Circadian Rhythm Hits. Sleep disorders are either getting too much or too little sleep. Even the most energetic and agressive person in the world cannot continually function on less than 6 hours per day. And by the same token, an adult person should not need more than 9 hours of sleep per day.

Many things disturb the natural sleep patterns so necessary for optimal health. Some huge sleep robbers are irregular work hours, shift work, moms with small children whose sleep patterns are irregular, and over-stimulating nighttime activities which make it difficult to wind down.

Work to have regular hours not only for sleeping but for eating and exercise.

While it is true that depression seems to lessen during the later PM hours, thus partially explaining why there are so many night owls who suffer from depression, it certainly doesn't make depression go away and paradixically it comes back twice as bad in the daylight hours. So staying up late actually significantly contributes to ongoing symptoms. It is important to be exposed to bright light within 10 minutes of awakening, either with a lamp or the sun. Maybe have some kind of alarm clock hooked up to a light that comes on gradually....(you can actually get that kind of system). The point is that it needs to be regular and on-going and you will probably have to force yourself at first.

Getting To sleep is just as important as waking up. Sleep's three factor's are: No noise, be still for 15-20 minutes, and sleep in darkness. Do whatever is necessary to create this ideal sleep environment.

Another really important thing to do that probably no one does is to do good things leading up to good sleep. Light from television screens and other bright lights can contribute to sleeplessness. So rather than watch TV, work on computers or play video games, try reading, working on a hobby or journeling. It is much more relaxing.

Optimism vs. Pessimism

A study at Ohio University found that people who looked at things primarily with pessimism had a predictable rise in anxiety-perceived stress and a rise in physical disease.

Those who looked at things through the mythical rose-colored glasses, interestingly enough, had no predictable outcomes.

Those individuals who looked at things realistically--in other words, not being either overly negative or unrealistically positive but just were honest about themselves, others and potential opportunities--had the most positive outcomes in general.

It is very important to be as realistic in as positive way as possible. An exercise to do is to choose 3 different positive things to think about or re-direct yourself to when you find yourself thinking negatively.

Assignment: For 14 consecutive days, don't say anything critical about anyone or anything (that includes even "constructive" criticism). If you mess up, start over again for 14 more days. Having these kinds of real yet positive thoughts will increase the seratonin and dopamin levels in the brain which will, you guessed it, alleviate depression! "Nothing tends more to promote health of body and of mind than does a spirit of gratitude and thankfulness." -Ellen G. White

Additional tips: Laughter is healing to body and spirit--find some; physical touch is great - hugs, massage, hand holding, a pet--find a way; hot/cold showers--some people do really well with this.

By the way, I started out with the 14-day, say nothing negative challenge, with high hopes. I've started over every single day since Monday the 2nd. So I'm starting again for 14 days. Wish me luck! I need my dopamine levels to go up! And good luck in your quest for a Happy Life!


Valerie said...

Good Luck! I really appreciate the things you are posting. This information on depression is so good to have. I still remember my dad...he was always 'fantastic' whenever anyone asked how he was.
And what a good excuse to take a walk with your dog! (Except in the snow. Ugh--okay, positively: it's great to get precipitation in this desert we live in! And it wasn't that deep.)
Love ya!

helena said...

Well, you are a chip off the old block. I've always said that you are so positive and upbeat. You're a great example for me. Thanks for your comment!