Anxiety and depression has been a hot topic with my clients and in my inbox lately and if you’re going through it, I want you to know that you’re definitely not alone. And this is something that you shouldn’t feel ashamed about or have to do it all alone.
Firstly, I want to begin by saying that through my research and studies, working with clients, and going through anxiety and depression myself, I’ve come to understand that there’s different types of anxiety and depression. And everyone deals with these symptoms differently. Yes, I said symptoms because anxiety and depression are not a disease like diabetes. And if you have anxiety, you’re likely to have depression, both feed on one another.
We’ve been misinformed that depression is a chemical imbalance, that we don’t have enough serotonin and so we need to get more serotonin into our brain, but lets disregard childhood trauma, that abusive relationship, toxic repetitive thoughts, a deficient diet, entrenched wounds from being bullied or raped or other heart wrenching experiences we’ve been through and then told we are left with one “cure.”
WARNING: I am in no way saying that you should or shouldn’t take any medication for your anxiety or depression. (Please read disclaimer at the end of this post.)
I’ve worked with clients who were simultaneously working on thoughts and healing wounds while on anti-depressants and anxiety meds and working with their doctors to wean off because they wanted to. If you’re wanting to get off meds please do so with a care of a medical professional. Again, I’m not saying or advocating to get off or on medication. I’m purely being a source of support and providing information for your interest.
If you’re working with your doctor to wean off meds, here’s a book by Dr. Peter Breggin: Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal: A Guide for Prescribers, Therapists, Patients, And Their Families
Back to the scientific evidence, according to Dr. Caroline Leaf a leading mind and brain specialist, there’s actually no scientific evidence on depression. “There’s no evidence that has been proven for depression, there’s no biological test, there’s no blood test, no scan, there’s nothing that can show you that you have depression. What people see from brain imaging which is very inaccurate anyway, is that there’s something going on, your brain responds to your mind, your brain doesn’t produce your mind. The physical cannot produce the nonphysical. The nonphysical controls the physical so therefore when we see something on a brain scan and you’re going to someone who’s saying you have depression from a brain scan, that is a dangerous thing to say. What we are seeing from a brain scan is a result of years of inaccurate thinking. And so we have to tackle our thinking before we can move on.” Dr Caroline Leaf
I would add to that, changing our thinking requires patience and commitment. And it’s more than possible to achieve a healthier mind with some work. Please don’t tell me that it’s easier said than done, or it’s hard to do. Anything worthwhile takes energy and effort. (This is another blog post on its own!)
If you’re thinking, “Well, I was just born that way. This is who I am. I can’t help but think this way.” No. You became that way. And so therefore you can change it. The mind changes the brain. And therefore you have the power to change it.
And then I hear, “But you don’t know my story Irene or what I’m going through.” You’re right, I don’t know your story. I don’t know what you’re going through or the severity of your anxiety or depression because I’m not in your head, no one truly knows what’s going on in someone’s head.
But I honor you and see you and open my heart to you and I respect your story and what you’re going through or been through, and we all have a story. But what if there’s a way that you can get to the root of your mental distress?
We all experience life challenges, life can be hard, and so we have to learn how to move through the storms. And that’s why I so believe that every single one of us on this planet needs a good therapist and/or coach to help cultivate the right skill set to navigate life’s disappointments and be able to understand and grow from hardships. This to me shows strength.
I had a client who was on anti-anxiety medication and she agreed that it did help numb her emotions, but it didn’t change her thoughts that were causing those negative emotions in the first place. So in a way, the bandaid was disabling her on how to cope with life.
We weren’t born depressed or with anxiety. And here you might say, “Well my depression or anxiety is genetic.” And if that’s the case we’re in the territory of epigenetics – the signal that switches your genes ON. And when the genes are switched on you physically change your brain. And for structural change to happen in the brain you have to ACTIVATE your genes.
And what activates your genes? Your thinking. And then these patterns pass through to the next generation and to the next. So we might be born with stuff that comes from our parents, or grandparents etc. but it’s not something we have to be stuck with.
How is this possible? Whatever you’re born with that’s not part of your natural design is lying dormant. Either it will remain dormant or you’ll wake it up or destroy it. You have the ability with the power of your choices to either follow the patterns of your parents and family bloodline or choose to change them.
By choosing to change them you embody empowerment and feed faith which then creates new brain patterns, which then changes your brain, and ultimately changes how you feel/view yourself and the kind of life you experience.
An example on a physical level, we all have the bacterium that causes pneumonia but it stays dormant until our vibration (energy) becomes low. I can remember being diagnosed with bacterium and it was during a stage in my life where fear was ruling my mind. I had to turn that fear into faith asap as I knew I was going to be in big trouble.
So as you can see, we do have the power to change our lives. Sometimes we don’t always have control over what happens to us in our life but we do have the control with how we respond and what we make it mean which is key.
Something else that’s important to add and not talked about enough that attributes to depression and anxiety are our emotional wounds; heavy metals in the body; a severely deficient diet – where you’re not rejuvenating neurotransmitter chemicals, brain cells, neutrons, and central nervous system in general. And I can speak from personal experience. I wish I knew this information along time ago. For many years I was nutrient deficient and eating and drinking crappy.
Unknowingly, we continue on with our lives eating a crappy diet for years, and then we go through some emotional trauma and anxiety can arise by all that alone.
You’re living on adrenaline that burns up the neurotransmitter chemicals to release and sets you up for anxiety and depression. For example, let’s say you went through the experience of losing a loved one to a sudden death and that made you run on adrenaline, you’re possibly going to be depressed.
So the picture looks something like this: emotional trauma not being dealt with, not releasing emotions in a healthy way, equals to long term adrenaline that’s amped up, released and pushed into the bloodstream and causes long term damage.
And then lets say you’re not eating right, not sleeping well, not living in joy, drinking too much coffee or alcohol, or your diet is deficient in crucial vitamins, eventually the adrenals start burning up the neurotransmitters and before you know it you’ve got anxiety and at the doctors office wondering how the heck you ended up there.
The good news is you ARE NOT your anxiety or depression. Instead of saying, I have anxiety or I have depression which only gives you a feeling of hopelessness, rephrase how you express to yourself and to other people. For example you might say, “I am feeling really anxious because I’m just not sure what the future holds for me“, or “At this time I’m really depressed because I’m having a hard time letting go of the death of my friend.”
You are not your anxiety or depression. These are signals that something is going on inside you that needs attention and care. And no doubt fear has a lot to do with it.
This is a pretty big topic to cover but lets go over some 5 tips that may help you cope better with your anxiety or depression (again, keeping in mind that everyone’s experience is different).
1. Release emotional trauma
Trace back to when all this anxiety and depression started. Do you have emotional trauma that needs attending to? And emotional trauma doesn’t have to mean you fought in war. It could mean you’re carrying trauma from a divorce or a breakup or a death etc. Get this attended to, please. What needs to be expressed?
2. Be in the present moment
If you know that your anxiety is stemming from fearful thoughts, try bringing your focus on your breath. Usually we are fearing the future or stuck in the past. Take a nice long, slow breath through your nose and hold it for a couple of seconds. Then exhale slowly through your mouth (or nose). And do this three times. This stops the fight-or-flight response and activates the rest-and-restore parasympathetic nervous system.
If you notice you can’t be in the present moment because you keep thinking about the past and it’s making you feel sad or depressed or whatever, just give yourself permission to feel. And ask yourself why you keep going back into the past? Do you still need to grieve from that relationship? Or do you need to let go of the guilt and forgive yourself?
What do you need to FEEL in order to be able to move on from the past? Go where you’re being led so that you can get the soul message but don’t stay there.
Or is there something in your future that you’re not trusting or feeling safe about? If that’s the case just repeat this mantra, “I have everything I need within me to feel safe, secure, and loved.” Whatever it may be, when you notice yourself time travelling come from a place of being the observer instead of judging yourself for feeling the way you do, and again, never stay there. Remember, you always have the choice to choose another thought, to choose to change the way your mind is operating.
3. Prayer helps
There have been many studies on the healing power of prayer regardless of your religion or belief system. Could you utilise prayer more? For example you could use a daily prayer like this (change it in the way you feel most comfortable), “Dear Lord, I ask that you strengthen my faith in you and help me stay connected to the light within me. Help me overcome my fears and negative thinking and ignite the belief within that all things will work out for me and that I am safe.”
4. Health check-in
For me when my health was at an all time low my body was not functioning at its optimal state. I was nutrient deficient and found myself feeling depressed and anxious but thought it was everything around me. Once my mind began to heal and feel alive again, this was massive for my happiness.
Are you nutrient deficient? Do you need to build up your nervous system and take care of your adrenals? Your adrenal health is important for anxiety and depression. Also, a build up of environmental toxins (car fumes), house toxins (cleaning products, personal care), stress (cortisol) and a lack of rest, deep breathing, exercise and self-care practices can lead to a build up of toxins in the body. This toxic build up, which cannot be eliminated effectively by the liver, kidneys and lymph system, then creates symptoms, illness and disease in the body.
Do you need to go on a little detox? Remove certain foods? Take supplements? According to Anthony Williams, mercury and heavy metals is a big one for depression (do your own research).
5. Spirit deprived
I came across a quote by Marianne Williamson that says, “We are often tired and imbalanced not because we are doing too much, but because we are doing too little of what is most real and meaningful.” Are you neglecting your spirit? When was the last time you connected and expressed in a way that brings you joy? Do you love cooking, singing, writing, painting, reading, sitting in nature, playing a sport, taking up a new class of interest?
With our endless “to do” list we can get swept away and don’t give ourselves permission to just take the day off to just relax. It can be challenging because we’ve been trained otherwise. Sometimes the most powerful thing you can do is step back and ask God what would bring you joy in this moment of your life? And your answer might be, take a half day off and do something you love. I know this can be challenging – I find it challenging sometimes but your spirit needs some self-care and fun.
So, with a peppermint tea to finish off, 1 hour left of work, and nothing planned as such for the rest of my afternoon (apart from cooking a delicious organic meal), I send you all my love from my happy and peaceful heart. I prayer you find the peace and joy you’re looking for.
Disclaimer: Please note that I am not a doctor or a psychologist or psychiatrist and these statements have not been evaluated by a medical professional or the FDA. I am speaking only from my studies, experience and what has worked for me personally and for those I’ve worked with closely. If you have any questions, I am more than happy to try to answer them for you.