#DepressionTip102

Exercise, sounds like a dirty word doesn’t it? Especially if you are suffering from depression.  I know what you’re thinking – how can I think about exercise when all I want to do is crawl into bed and sleep?  Believe me I understand I have been there and still am at times. I fight daily to not let depression into the window of my soul.  

I have always been athletic – not an athlete but I love the feeling I get after a good workout.  Whether that’s a quick walk with my dogs, a swim or a vigorous ride on the recumbent bike.  I love it.  Don’t get me wrong many days I have to force myself out of the house. Some days I will go to a mall and walk.  On those days I get to window shop and be around other people.  I am getting my endorphins going and helping with my feelings of loneliness at the same time.  Win win! 

A study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine in 1999, divided 156 men and women with depression into three groups. One group took part in an aerobic exercise program, another took the SSRI  (Zoloft), and a third did both. At the 16-week mark, depression had eased in all three groups. 

How does exercise relieve depression? For many years, experts have known that exercise enhances the action of endorphins, chemicals that circulate throughout the body. Endorphins improve natural immunity and reduce the perception of pain. They may also serve to improve mood.  Exercise also has these added benefits:

  • Releasing feel-good brain chemicals that may ease depression (neurotransmitters and endorphins)
  • Reducing immune system chemicals that can worsen depression
  • Increasing body temperature, which may have calming effects

Regular exercise has many psychological and emotional benefits, too. It can help you:

  • Gain confidence. Meeting exercise goals or challenges, can boost your self-confidence. Getting in shape can also make you feel better about your appearance.
  • Take your mind off worries. Exercise is a distraction that can get you away from the cycle of negative thoughts that feed anxiety and depression.
  • Get more social interaction. Exercise and physical activity may give you the chance to meet or socialize with others. Just exchanging a friendly smile or greeting as you walk around your neighborhood can help your mood and help lessen feelings of loneliness.
  • Cope in a healthy way. Doing something positive to manage anxiety or depression is a healthy coping strategy. Trying to feel better by drinking alcohol, dwelling on how badly you feel, or hoping anxiety or depression will go away on its own can lead to worsening symptoms.

Starting and sticking with an exercise routine or regular physical activity can be a challenge. The following steps can help you find and stick with an exercise program:

  • Identify what you enjoy doing. Figure out what type of physical activities you’re most likely to do, and think about when and how you’d be most likely to follow through. Doing what you enjoy helps you stick with it.
  • Get your mental health provider’s support. Talk to your doctor or other mental health provider for guidance and support.  It is always important to discuss any new exercise program with your doctor before you start.
  • Set reasonable goals. Think realistically about what you may be able to do and begin gradually.  Never set unrealistic goals that you’re unlikely to meet.
  • Don’t think of exercise or physical activity as a chore. It is better to look at your exercise or physical activity schedule the same way you look at your therapy sessions or medication — as one of the tools to help you get better.
  • Prepare for setbacks and obstacles. Give yourself credit for every step in the right direction. If you skip exercise one day, that doesn’t mean you can’t maintain an exercise routine and might as well quit. Stick with it!

If you are exercising regularly but anxiety or depression symptoms still interfere with your daily living, see your doctor or therapist. Exercise and physical activity are great ways to ease symptoms of anxiety or depression, but they aren’t a substitute for psychotherapy or medications.

With depression there is not one “fix” that fits all.  Since I have added regular exercise to my medication and therapy sessions I have definitely had more good days than bad.  I can only hope that it will do the same for you.

Cheers

Marlene



#AweDepressionandOtherCauses

Depression is an odd animal. My husband and I spent the last few days in Zion National Park, Utah.  I was awestruck by the beauty of nature yet felt sad at the same time. Is that sadness depression? I’m pretty sure that was how I felt. 

I have this need to name my depressive feelings hense “Awe Depression”.  This got me thinking, is there a clinical name for this and other types of depression?  

Google to the rescue! Following are a few of the most common causes of depression, some more surprising than others.

Genetics

Maybe your mother had it. Or your uncle or your sister. Watching a family member suffer from depression can be difficult. But does that mean you also will suffer from the condition?

Clinical depression, also known as major depressive disorder, is the most common form of depression. The Stanford School of Medicine(SSM) estimates that 10 percent of Americans will experience this type of depression at some point in their lives. This type is also more likely to be shared by siblings and children. A person with a relative who suffers from depression is almost five times more likely to develop depression as well.

A British research team recently isolated  a gene that appears to be prevalent in multiple family members. Scientists believe as much as 40 percent of those with depression can trace it to a genetic link. Environmental and other factors make up the other 60 percent. 

One study found that women had a 42 percent chance of hereditary depression, while men had only a 29 percent chance.

Facebook Overload

In a 2010 study, researchers found that about 1.2% of people ages 16 to 51 spent an inordinate amount of time online, and that they had a higher rate of moderate to severe depression. However, the researchers noted that it is not clear if Internet overuse leads to depression or if depressed people are more likely to use the Internet. These individuals may struggle with human interaction and lack of companionship.  Some experts even call it “Facebook depression.”  How apropo.

Poor Sleep Habits

It’s no surprise that sleep deprivation can lead to irritability, but it can also increase the risk of depression.

Summer Weather

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is most commonly associated with winter blues, and it afflicts about 5% of Americans.  But for less than 1% of those affected by SAD, this form of depression strikes in the summer.  “Warm weather depression is caused by the body experiencing a delay adjusting to new seasons,” says Alfred Lewy MD, professor of psychiatry at Oregon Health and Science University, in Portland. Instead of waking and enjoying dawn, the body has a hard time adjusting, this could be due to imbalances in brain chemistry and the hormone melatonin.  next

Rx Medications

Depression is a possible side effect for anxiety and insomnia drugs.  Certain drugs prescribed to treat high blood pressure and lower cholesterol can also be a culprit.  Then there are those drugs used to treat menopausal symptoms. These among many others can cause depression, read the potential side effects when you take a new medication, and always check with your doctor to see if you might be at risk. 

End of Events

When something important comes to an end, like a TV show, movie, wedding, relocation or vacation , it can trigger depression in some people. All the excitement leading up to the event has had your adrenaline in overload. When the event ends the adrenaline levels drop and so does your mood.

Where You Live

You can endlessly debate whether city or country life is better. But research has found that people living in urban settings do have a 39% higher risk of mood disorders than those in rural regions. A 2011 study in the journal Nature offers an explanation: City dwellers have more activity in the part of the brain that regulates stress. And higher levels of stress could lead to psychotic disorders. 

Too Many Choices

The sheer number of options available whether it’s a beauty product, what to eat for breakfast at  a restaurant or simply buying a bathing suit can be overwhelming,  Not a problem for shoppers who pick the first thing that meets their needs.  However, some people respond to choice overload by exhaustively reviewing their options in the search for the best item.  Research  suggests that this coping style is linked to perfectionism and depression.

Lack of Fish in the Diet

Low intake of omega-3 fatty acids, found in salmon and vegetable oils, may be associated with a greater risk of depression. A 2004 Finnish study found an association between eating less fish and depression in women, but not in men. These fatty acids regulate neurotransmitters like serotonin, which could explain the link. Fish oil supplements may work too; at least one study found they helped depression in people with bipolar disorder.

Poor Sibling Relationships

Although unhappy relationships with anyone can cause depression, a 2007 study in the American Journal of Psychiatry found that men who didn’t get along with their siblings before age 20 were more likely to be depressed later in life than those who did.  It’s not clear what’s so significant about sibling relationships (the same was not true for relationships with parents) researchers suggest too much squabbling is associated with a greater risk of developing depression before age 50.

Chronic Pain 

Pain and depression are closely related. Depression can cause pain — and pain can cause depression. Sometimes pain and depression create a vicious cycle in which pain worsens symptoms of depression, and then the resulting depression worsens feelings of pain.  Such fun!  A rollercoaster of symtoms – which is causing which?  

Pain and the problems it causes can wear you down over time, and may begin to affect your mood. Chronic pain causes a number of problems that can lead to depression, such as trouble sleeping and stress. Disabling pain can cause low self-esteem. Depression doesn’t just occur with pain resulting from an injury. It’s also common in people who have pain linked to health conditions.

In retrospect my Awe depression is not all that odd.   If I analyze myself (this happens frequently), it seems to fall under end of event  depression; I tend to worry about the trip being over while it is still happening therefore everything is that much more intense and important.  

It seems self-analyzing can be enlightening.  I am by no means suggesting you fire your therapist!  A little self discovery never hurt anyone.  Does your depression fit any of the categories I have listed?  Did I miss one that you feel may cause depression in you? If so please share as we are all in this depression game together.  I feel the more we learn from each other; the better equipped we become to aid ourselves in our lifelong healing process.


#TheArtisticMindandDepression

I stepped out of my box on my last post “Political Obsurdities”.  Needless to say I did not get many likes and no comments.  Not that I live for likes or comments but I worked hard on that post, damn hard.  I thought I had written an op-ed that would make people think. The cricketts were thinking. 

Strangely, today was a bad head day for me.  I have not “depression” sobbed in a minute and was taken aback when I did.  Am I so entwined in what words I put to paper, so to speak, and the reception received that I will let my whole being be affected?  I would be in good company if I did.  Writing is one of the top 10 professions in which people are most likely to suffer from depression, according to US website health.com.

A 2009 article published by the Association for Psychological Science revealed research that showed a definitive link between creativity and the neuregulin 1 gene, which is also closely associated with psychosis. 

Having hailed from a family with a long history of mental dis-ease — among them bipolar disorder, nervous disorders, anxiety, depression and bulimia nervosa — I fit the bill.  As did this list of a few of my favorite writers who I now feel are part of my dysfunctional family.

1. Sylvia Plath

Plath was known, among friends and colleagues, for her frequent mood swings, tendencies toward impulsivity and a mercurial temperament. She was easily plunged into dejection by even the smallest rejection or perceived failure. 

I am hopeful that when I find my writing voice as she found hers I will survive in tact what she could not. 

2. Leo Tolstoy

Noticeable signs of depression didn’t strike Tolstoy until middle age, but the illness came on with a vengeance. The author considered becoming celibate, questioned his religious beliefs and began giving away his possessions so that he could live like a peasant.


Studies show that both those in the creative arts and those with depressive disorder spend an inordinate amount of time contemplating their own distress. I can relate. 


3. Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf had her first bout with depression at the age of 15.  She battled it throughout her life. Her creativity was frequently compromised by intermittent mood swings punctuated by sleeplessness, migraines and auditory and visual hallucinations.    

 I have Ms. Woolf beat by a year. I suffered my first anxiety attack and pursuing bout of depression at 14. Thank God I do not have auditory or visual hallucinations.  But still I had no idea what the f**k was going on. Nor that I would be writing about it these many years later.

4. Ernest Hemingway

Depression, borderline and narcissistic personality traits, bipolar disorder and, later, psychosis created Hemingway’s personal hell. Hemingway self-medicated, used alcohol, engaged  in risk-taking sportsmanship activities and wrote to cope. 


The author’s mental and physical health deteriorated so rapidly during the last years of his life — primarily due to alcoholism — that he finally accepted electroshock treatments in 1960.


I relate to Hemingway in a personal way. I am a child of electroshock therapy, my mother received electroshock treatments in the early 60’s, while unknowingly pregnant with me. 


 It is undeniable that many prominent writers and poets of the last several centuries have suffered from mental dis-ease. In the words of Lord Byron, “We of the craft are all crazy. Some are affected by gaiety, others by melancholy, but all are more or less touched.”

I tend to agree.  


Cheers


Marlene

#GladToBeHere

I am typing as I prepare to dash out the door for the WordPress Conference.  I am so glad to be here.  Happy I came.  I was hesitant to attend as for the last four years I had let my health and depression define me.  My husband said “Marlene you are going to this conference. You are still that independent woman I married 5 years ago.  You don’t see her, I do.”  He was right.  I had let fear take over my life.  After meeting and interacting with so many wonderful fellow bloggers at the mixer last night I can feel the old Marlene starting to shine through.  Thrilled she’s back.  I could say she never left she was hibernating.  Time to wake up, smell the coffee and enjoy life.  As I have said before I only get to do this once, it’s not a dress rehearsal.  I let five years pass me by in a haze of not caring.  For now, right this minute, I am back and running out the door to do something for myself.  Learn, meet people and have fun.  Woohoo!!!!

Cheers

Marlene

#LivetoLive

“Live to live” my shrink said to me.  I had relayed my story about the surgeon who removed my gallbladder telling me my liver was enlarged which can cause you to drop dead. I have a fear of death, I was having a “moment ” in her office. We are all going to drop dead at some point she retorted.  You have to live to live.  I totally understood.  You are not living if you are worried about dying. It was an aha moment for me.  What do you think?

Cheers 

Marlene