MEDICAL DISCLOSURE:I am not a medical professional or clinically licensed in any way. This post features referenced research from medical professionals and is a combination of that research and my personal experiences with mental health dilemmas.
Science, in any form, is interesting because it’s so mysterious, and yet, despite the gargantuan amount of unknowing that exists in every single scientific field, there’s also a level of wisdom exuded by those within it and that wisdom often seems unbreakable.
Add to this wisdom the fact that most of us are not raised to be scientific with every detail of our lives, we’re taught to accept whatever wisdom our scientific leaders present us with, and you’ve got yourself an entire culture of ants scurrying about to the tune of someone’s misunderstood science.
Even when it’s obvious that the science is flawed.
Even when it’s obvious that the science is biased.
And so, it serves as no surprise to me, nor I’m sure you, that for decades, if not millennia, the squishy clusters that make up mankind have been taught to believe in a set of theories when it comes to mental health, one of which being that depression is a chemical imbalance that can only be helped by leveling out chemicals in the brain.
After reading Kelly Brogan’s A Mind Of Your Own, I was enlightened at once to read that everything I had learned and trusted about depression and mental health was a farce.
It only took a few minutes of followup research and historical comeuppance to finally see what I’d been missing all along: your truth shall, of course, set you free.
“Depression is not a chemical imbalance. Rather, it is the result of a number of stressful life events.”Kelly Brogan, M.D.
What those researches found was that some people had naturally low levels of serotonin and other people had higher levels, which inevitably made finding an “average” baseline an impossible feat.
Likewise, stressful life events that occurred during the study did not correlate to an increase or decrease in serotonin levels.
Thus, depression is not occurring because of the amount of serotonin our brain produces, and it is not happening because we’ve experienced stressful life events that may or may not have caused a fluctuation to those serotonin amounts.
Think of it like a hike gone awry. What was supposed to be a light jaunt through the forest is now an uphill trek across the Rockies. What should’ve been a breezy meander, has now become quite the battle through sheer wilderness. Now, how do you go about handling the stress of this upgraded demon of a hike?
If you find yourself often depressed by life’s stress, then the first place to look is at your own habits and routines for managing those stressors.
Are you coping with your stress, or caring for yourself through your stress?
EXTERNAL FORCES THAT MAGNIFY YOUR DEPRESSION
According to Brogan, “depression is often caused by inflammation, a problem that begins in the gut.”
When stress hits, one of the first responses to it is an addictive reaction. Eating all the bad foods, drinking alcohol, doing drugs, lounging couch-side and ignoring your physical health, these are all typical responses to feeling stressed.
But bad habits only exacerbate the issue and lead straight into depression:
According to Brogan, leaky gut is one of the primary culprits to feeling depressed. If you don’t feel good on the inside, it’s real tough to feel good on the outside. This bad habit includes things like eating junk food to improperly using drugs or alcohol (because yes, at this blog, I encourage intoxication within limitation).
Poor Stress Management
Not having healthy ways to manage stress throughout your life leads to two problems: a shitty day to day existence, and ongoing mental exhaustion from mismanaged thoughts and emotions.
Inconsistent Physical Fitness
Exercise helps the body eliminate toxins and alleviate the effects of stress. Not following through on exercise causes the body to hold onto those toxins and all of that stress.
A Negative Environment
Sitting in a negative rut instead of working your way out of it is a sure way to maintain a state of depression.
While adjusting your diet and stress management routines is all well and good, I found myself wondering if there’s more to depression than meets the gut.
Could it be that the modern society within which we all find ourselves trapped is spewing toxic masculine behavior in an effort to control the uncomfortable feelings we all experience everyday?
After reading Brogan’s A Mind Of Your Own, it occurred to me that what most people are lacking in this world – something that habit and diet adjustment cannot resolve – is someone to talk to. Someone trusted to support our feelings and help soothe our thoughts.
DEPRESSION IS MORE THAN JUST POOR MANAGEMENT OF STRESSFUL EVENTS…IT’S ALSO THE RESULT OF HAVING NO ONE TO CONNECT WITH
Every single person I know whose had depression, including myself, all have one thing in common: none of us had someone in our life whom we could unravel in front of and still feel loved.
And it’s not even that we don’t have that person so much as perhaps that person doesn’t know how to hold space for our unraveling and so we feel like we have no one, even when we do.
So what’s the solution?
“The best way to solve problems and to fight against war is through dialogue.”Malala Yousafzai
There’s a reason talk therapy is one of the most popular forms of therapy today: it effectively helps patients process their reality simply by talking it out.
Communication is the best solution to any depressive stint.
Think of anyone you know, yourself included, who has experienced depression: would they, or you, have benefited from having someone in life who loved, respected, and LISTENED to their turmoil as it happened?
Someone who didn’t try to minimize the pain or change the attitude being expressed, someone who heard every word and provided love and nourishment, someone who embraced the sadness knowing that a hug and some love is all anyone really needs…
A HOLISTIC APPROACH TO HEALING DEPRESSION
Nowadays, I stick to a holistic approach to treating depression when I noticed it in my life or that of my friends and family.
The first step is to acknowledge that sometimes life is so stressful, you or your loved ones will inevitably fall into depression. If you can accept this fact, then the next time it happens you can begin to treat the moment with more empathy and attention.
In this modern age, I’ve yet to meet anyone who hasn’t experienced depression and its side effects at least once as an adult.
The next step is to acknowledge whether or not you have someone in your life who wants to be a support system for you when you’re feeling low. If you don’t currently have anyone who can act as your support system, please visit a website like 7Cups.com to find a supportive new friend.
BOTTOM LINE: depression is a result of having experienced stress AND having no one to offer support through that stressful time.
When we start treating depression like the warning sign it is, we can begin to facilitate global healing on an empathetic and ancestral level. Because as much as we know nowadays about depression and mental health, our ancestors knew so so little.
The tactics we were taught for managing mental health have been passed down from those who knew even less than us!
So please, begin to flip the switch. Begin to treat your depression for what it really is: a need to express your stress to a community, be that one person or several, who can relate to and nurture your growth through the process.