Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Depression and Global Consciousness - A Very Unique Perspective

I recently read an article that described depression as "a psychological reaction to the violent deformities of the modern world." I found that statement deeply provocative and began to ponder it's meaning. "Anger turned inward" doesn't satisfy me anymore. I do not subscribe to the belief that depression is a disease nor am I of the mindset that depression, or any other health issues, are heredity (a belief shared with some of the greatest minds in the mind/body/spirit arena). I've seen brain scans of those diagnosed with depression vs images of those who do not suffer and there is an undeniable difference. But why and how do these changes originate?

First, it's important to understand how the mind/body connection works. Think about something wonderful that has happened in your life: you met the man/woman of your dreams; you're leaving for the vacation of a lifetime next week; your daughter just gave birth to your first grandchild. Each time your mind focuses on something positive it generates feelings of joy, hope, love, happiness, and such. Positive emotions energize the body, help to keep the  immune system working at optimum capacity, alleviate stress, increase the brain's production of endorphins (a feel good chemical), and in general put us in a good mood. We are more productive at work, get along better with people, and by and large experience better overall health. 

Conversely, negative thoughts generate negative emotions which produce a chain reaction in our physical bodies as well. Negative thinking can lead to frustration, lower tolerance levels, angry outbursts, hopelessness, fear etc. It can exacerbate pain, break down the body's natural immune system, increase the production of the damaging stress hormone cortisol ,create physical maladies*, damage relationships, and lead to poor choices in every area of our life. They can generate feelings of fear, jealousy, and anxiety that lead to arguing, fighting, war, and terrorism. 

We live in a world filled with hatred and violence that dominate the news. Every newspaper, TV and radio news show are consumed with broadcasting the worst humanity has to offer. Do we seriously think that being bombarded with constant negativity will not impact our emotional, physical, and psychological well-being? Everything is energy: every thought, every word spoken, every action taken. And energy cannot be contained - it infiltrates every facet of society on a global level. So what is occurring in one part of the world impacts those throughout our planet. It becomes virtually impossible to immunize ourselves completely from what is happening globally.

Moral depravity, political corruption, infidelity, sexual promiscuity and assault, bullying, domestic violence, the breakdown of the nuclear family, drug abuse, muggings, war: regardless of whether you are personally involved, witness it from a distance, know of someone who has experienced it, or are made aware by outside sources, the immorality and evil that is running rampant in our world impacts every member of Planet Earth.  These offenses have been around since the beginning of time. The critical difference is that society rejected them as improper and immoral. Today, people are much more accepting that this is the norm, that many of these actions are now considered ordinary and natural and some even a form of entertainment. This clearly indicates that our moral compass is in desperate need of a recalculation.

Did depression exist fifty years ago? Certainly. But I strongly believe that it has been exacerbated by the "violent deformities" of today's world and it will take a shift in global consciousness to heal it on a universal level. 

So what can each of us do? Scripture tells us in Galatians that "You shall reap what you sow." We must first collectively change our way of thinking. Everything begins with our thought process. Fill your mind and heart with thoughts of love, kindness, forgiveness, compassion, and empathy towards everyone - no exceptions. Those thoughts will generate corresponding feelings that translate into actions.**

We can begin to initiate a global change and reverse the epidemic of depression. "I must first be the change I want to see in the world." - Ghandi  Here are just a few suggestions we can each undertake:
Ø  Treat all whom you encounter with dignity and respect. All.
Ø  Return to your spiritual roots - reconnect with the Divine Source of all love and healing.
Ø  Make gratitude and appreciation a lifestyle.
Ø  Forgive all those who hurt or betrayed you. Ask forgiveness from those whom you have mistreated.
Ø  Rediscover your love of nature. Use her as a source of inspiration for living a fair and balanced life.
Ø  Nurture yourself physically, emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually.
Ø  Family is sacred. Treat yours as such. Heal any rifts that have occurred and vow to remain a loving family.
Ø  Reach out to help others. Be your brother's keeper. Be a part of something bigger. We are all a part of one Consciousness and what affects one affects all.
Ø  Like the Dalai Lama, make kindness your religion. Practice it freely, generously, and daily.
Ø  And most importantly: Live only to please God. In everything you think, say, and do, ask yourself, "Does this please God?"*** If the answer is "yes" then you are making a righteous decision and our entire world will benefit. 

In the words of one of my favorite authors, Dr. Wayne Dyer, "When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change." Be the change. Be a healer to Mother Earth and all of her children. The world will repay you tenfold.

* World renowned medical doctor and leader in mind/body/spirit medicine, Dr. Bernie Siegel, says that all illnesses are psychosomatic: they originate in the mind and manifest in the physical body.
**The Secret Side of Anger by Janet Pfeiffer
***The Great Truth by Janet Pfeiffer

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Conquering Depression: There is Hope

Regardless of how many tragedies occur in this country due to mental health issues, for many Americans there is still a stigma attached to those who suffer. Few are willing to openly address the issue. Tragedies such as Adam Lanza's mass murder of over twenty innocent elementary school children in Newtown, Ct.  stirred nation-wide outrage to curtail the purchase and ownership of weapons by ordinary citizens yet cleverly skirted the more relevant issue of mental health. 

Perhaps the recent suicide of one of the most beloved and brilliant comedians in Hollywood, Robin Williams, will spark a more comprehensive dialogue. While gifted in making others  laugh with his unpredictable and outrageous antics, Mr. Williams himself battled depression for many years. Contrary to some beliefs, depression is not as simple as feeling down or sad. Depression is an intense feeling of apathy and lethargy, feelings of hopelessness and helplessness.  Activities that were once pleasurable lose their appeal coupled with a loss of interest in life. There is no more shame in suffering from depression than having cancer or MS. Depression is a psychological as well as physical condition and if left untreated can lead to suicide. 

Since my teenage years, I have struggled with bouts of undiagnosed depression including postpartum. Although debilitating at times, I always found my way back to wholeness. The most severe episode occurred twenty years ago when I unexpectedly found myself estranged from three of my adult children. The pain was more excruciating than I was equipped to deal with. I prayed daily for the welcome relief (I thought) that only death could provide. To each petition, God replied, "Not yet." But He did not take away my pain. "I don't need your help," I threatened. "I can do this with or without you." He did not reply. Instead, He sent a vision: I looked so peaceful lying in my coffin, finally free of pain. However when I glanced up, I realized that the pain I could no longer bear was now visited upon my mother. The grief that painted her face as she stared at the lifeless body of her second born was worse than anything I had endured thus far. My deep love for her prevented me from inflicting that kind of agony on one so undeserving.  I smugly informed my Creator that although He had won this battle, ultimately I would win the war. "I will not end my life as long as my mother is alive," I promised the One who made me. "But the day she dies, I will bury her, return home and immediately join her in the afterlife." It was the only viable solution to end my ordeal. Thankfully, over the next three years, Father made clear to me the reasons for my current situation, opened my heart so that I was able to fully embrace Divine Love, and directed me on the path He chose for me. The dark veil lifted and once again I could see the Light of the Son.

All healing comes from God: physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual. While there are many treatments available to those who are struggling, it is critical to include God in the process. 

Depression is temporary. Suicide is permanent. There is no need to feel shame or guilt; there is no weakness in being despondent. Remember, where there is life there is hope. Reach out. You are valuable to the world and most importantly to God. 

"I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord: Plans to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you hope and a future." - Jeremiah

For Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment of Depression see below.

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Causes of Depression
Doctors aren't sure what causes depression, but a prominent theory is altered brain structure and chemical function. Brain circuits that regulate mood may work less efficiently during depression. Drugs that treat depression are believed to improve communication between nerve cells, making them run more normally. Experts also think that while stress -- such as losing a loved one -- can trigger depression, one must first be biologically prone to develop the disorder. Other triggers could include certain medications, alcohol or substance abuse, hormonal changes, or even the season.
Illustrated here are neurons (nerve cells) in the brain communicating via neurotransmitters.

Depression Symptoms: Emotional
The primary symptoms of depression are a sad mood and/or loss of interest in life. Activities that were once pleasurable lose their appeal. Patients may also be haunted by a sense of guilt or worthlessness, lack of hope, and recurring thoughts of death or suicide.
Depression is sometimes linked to physical symptoms. These include:
  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Insomnia, especially early-morning waking
  • Excessive sleep
  • Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment
Depression can derail careers, hobbies, and relationships. Depressed people often find it difficult to concentrate and make decisions. They turn away from previously enjoyable activities, including sex. In severe cases, depression can become life-threatening.

Studies suggest different types of talk therapy can fight mild to moderate depression. Cognitive behavioral therapy aims to change thoughts and behaviors that contribute to depression. Interpersonal therapy identifies how your relationships impact your mood. Psychodynamic psychotherapy helps people understand how their behavior and mood are affected by unresolved issues and unconscious feelings. Some patients find a few months of therapy are all they need, while others continue long term.
Research suggests exercise is a potent weapon against mild to moderate depression. Physical activity releases endorphins that can help boost mood.
St. John's wort is an herbal supplement that has been the subject of extensive debate. There is some evidence that it can fight mild depression, pets can ease the symptoms of mild to moderate depression in many people. Pets provide unconditional love, relieve loneliness, and give patients a sense of purpose.

The Role of Social Support

Because loneliness goes hand-in-hand with depression, developing a social support network can be an important part of treatment. This may include joining a support group, finding an online support community, or making a genuine effort to see friends and family more often. Even joining a book club or taking classes at your gym can help you connect with people on a regular basis.

Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS)

Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) can help patients with treatment-resistant depression that does not improve with medication. VNS is like a pacemaker for the brain. The surgically implanted device sends electrical pulses to the brain through the vagus nerve in the neck. These pulses are believed to ease depression by affecting mood areas of the brain.

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation

A newer option for people with stubborn depression is repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS). This treatment aims electromagnetic pulses at the skull. It stimulates a tiny electrical current in a part of the brain linked to depression. rTMS does not cause a seizure and appears to have few side effects. But doctors are still fine-tuning this treatment.
More than 80% of people get better with medication, talk therapy, or a combination of the two.
People who are depressed are more likely to attempt suicide. Warning signs include talking about death or suicide, threatening to hurt people, or engaging in aggressive or risky behavior. Anyone who appears suicidal should be taken very seriously. Do not hesitate to call one of the suicide hotlines: 800-SUICIDE (800-784-2433) and 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255). If you have a plan to commit suicide, go to the emergency room for immediate treatment.

Alternative Treatments for Depression

What Is an Alternative Therapy?
A health treatment that is not classified as standard Western medical practice is referred to as complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). CAM encompasses a variety of approaches. They include everything from diet and exercise to mental conditioning and lifestyle changes. Examples of CAM therapies include:
  • Acupuncture
  • Aromatherapy
  • Biofeedback
  • Chiropractic treatments
  • Guided imagery
  • Dietary supplements
  • Hypnosis
  • Massage therapy
  • Meditation
  • Relaxation
  • Yoga
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Thank you, for providing valuable information and resources.