Natural Remedies for Depression, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), Anxiety, Grief, Loss, Stress, Overwhelm, Sensitivity, Sadness, Coping

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The Three (Natural) Things that have Helped Me The Most:
  1. Re-evaluation Counseling (RC)
  2. Vipassana Meditation (especially when done out in nature, in the sun)
  3. Light Therapy (I supplement this with winter vacations to sunny locales, and time outdoors in the sun)
  4. Light/Sound/Music Therapy

In the winter, I read for a half hour each morning (take the circadium rhythm test to know the best time for you to do this) while using the bluewave, goLITE P2 light that I got on sale at Costco online <== great deal, currently, while supplies last till 12/18/11!  This gets me reading more, and the light exposure has amazing effects on my sleep at night, and on my mood, motivation and energy levels during the day (especially in the winter).  I also often use my cool ZenFrames system (which utilizes synchronized patterns of light, sound, and music to send verbal messages to the unconscious) either in the morning or evening...which almost always has a positive effect on my current mood (and also on how I go about my day, how well I sleep, the mood I'm in when I wake up, and my energy level).

Re-evaluation Counseling (RC) and Vipassana Meditation have also been key, extremely empowering, and liberating allies for me...both of which are pretty much free and available almost anywhere in the world.  A psychotherapist who specialized in depression and eventually prescribed Wellbutrin/Bupropion during a prolonged suicidal depression a couple decades ago, before I had discovered some of these other resources, probably saved my life — tho I should emphasize that it was the combination of both the medication and the therapy that created the positive shift.

In my personal and professional opinion (having also worked with many teens and adults experiencing depression...as a life coach, mentor/tutor, meditation instructor, and an emotional counselor), the biochemical imbalances that accompany depression are a symptom -- not the cause -- of depression.  As such, I believe medication to be a great tool for temporary symptom relief as part of a larger solution.  Since medication alone does not address the root cause of depression, however, I don't believe it to be a "cure," nor do I believe it promotes genuine, long-term liberation from the condition.

As most forms of psychotherapy are expensive, slow, and not accessible to everyone, Re-evaluation Counseling (RC) is a powerful alternative that, in my experience, can produce genuine healing/liberation sometimes more quickly and without all the hassle and expense of the health care/insurance world (for those in the US, anyway :-).  Should both be within your means, some of my clients have found therapy and RC together to be a powerful synergy that produces genuine healing and liberation much faster then either alone.  A meditation practice and/or working with the right life coach can further amplify and synergize the positive results...thereby empowering folks to create the life experience they most desire with the increased alacrity, deeper life-long learning and more profound joy and excitement.

The other thing is that if you rely solely on medication to manage depression or anxiety, for example, you have done nothing to train the mind, so that when you come off the medication, you are just as vulnerable to a relapse as though you had never taken the medication.  ~ Daniel Goleman

Depression:

Winter Blues / Seasonal Depression / Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) Resources :

Loss / Grief / Overwhelm / Sensitivity / Anxiety / Stress / Coping:

Quotes about and Tips for Depression:

Depression can seem worse than terminal cancer, because most cancer patients feel loved and they have hope and self-esteem.  ~ David D. Burns

Depression is often a healthy response to a sick society or environment.

Depression is a disconnection from oneself.  It is a temporary forgetting or misplacement of one's true nature.

Depression is a sort of possession by an entity that is NOT you, but convinces you that it IS you, while feeding off your pain and disillusionment.

{ This "non-you entity" (what Eckart Tolle calls "the emotional pain body") wants and needs a steady stream of pain and illusion to survive and maintain control over you.  Just as a hi-jacker gains full access to all the functions of the plane, while the "non-you/pain body" hi-jacker is flying your plane from behind the scenes, it has access to and will use your own inner voice against you.  It also has access to and will utilize all your creativity, brilliance and cunning...while simultaneoulsy exploiting all your fears, weaknesses and vulnerabilities...in order to get you to buy into its lies.  In this way, it can remain at the helm of your being, all while convincing you that it's really you who's flying the plane(!)...and all for the sake of maintaining a steady flow of pain and misery for the non-you/pain body entity to feed upon. (This process happens not just on a personal level, but on a global level as well.)

This stealthy hi-jacker of your will and thinking needs you to believe things like, "nobody really cares about you," "things are hopeless and only destined to get worse," "you'll never figure what's happening to you nor why you're feeling so inexplicably horrible, so you're at the mercy of this unseen monster," "you'll never be happy again," "nothing matters, especially you and your life...which all you've done is waste anyway--just look at what you've done today--nothing!", "you're stupid, worthless, useless and have nothing to offer anyone," "you're weak and wretchedly pathetic--ugly inside and out," "nobody wants to be burdened by you or your shamefully dark, horribly depressing and ugly mood," "someone like you should be shut away so that you don't infect the world with your contagious negativity," "you don't deserve to be here, nor to be treated with the least bit of dignity or kindness,""...in fact, you probably don't even deserve to continue living," "...but while you are here, you definitely deserve punishment, because you're bad, a horrible person," "you'll never love or be loved again," "you're fucked up, completely alone, disconnected from everyone, and so completely different from everyone that nobody, not even you, will ever be able to truly understand or help you," "you don't belong here, nor will you ever really fit in or belong here," "did I mention how hopelessly pathetic and grotesquely ugly you are?" ... and on, and on, and on, and ON... until by believing enough of the barrage of these negative thoughts, you're nearly paralyzed, miserable and incapacitated on every level.  You can imagine what feeding the mind a stream of thoughts like that will do in a very short time to the emotional body, especially if the thoughts are believed as truth and the person unknowingly seeks out and creates more experiences and interactions to reinforce those types of thoughts.  As you know, this process can progress to the point suicide, with the person completely immersed in the illusion and believing these lies to the end...and even wanting death, as it seems like the only way out of this terrible agony.

This process is unconscious, of course.  No one would consciously think and do things to create more pain and suffering for him/herself.  As such, depression can only occur when one is not fully conscious...ie, one is unawarely caught in believing/becoming their thoughts, and in becoming/believing their emotions.  This is why meditation is such a powerful prophylactic and antidote to depression, since the most basic form of meditation is just observing the thoughts going through the mind.  While you're meditating, you can no longer "be" your thoughts/emotions, because you are consciously "BE-ing" the observer of them.   Take a minute and sit back, as a 3rd-part observer, and notice the thoughts going through your mind...and notice, when you believe a  thought or become the thought (ie, get lost in the thought and can't get back to "being the impartial witness of of the thought"), what emotions follow....  And, what happens to those feelings when you notice this and either stop the thought or just stop believing it...?

One's ability to quiet the mind, or at least to remain a consciously aware and present witness of what the mind is doing, is like a muscle, however.  The "muscle" of one's concentration grows stronger the more one meditates and, thus, their ability to not be unconsciously lead astray by the mind is usually directly porportional to how "strong" and "in shape" their meditation/focus/concentration "muscles" are.  Since whatever thoughts one believes lead to the emotions s/he experiences, this normally unconscious process plays a huge role in creating and prolonging states of depression--or joy.  More on this here.  The stronger/deeper the depression, the stronger/deeper the concentration/focus/meditation "muscles" need to be in order to pull one out of it.  As such, regular physical exercise AND regular mental exercise (meditation) are both great preventative measures against depression.  Once a severe depression gets control of someone with an out-of-shape or poorly developed "meditation muscles," meditation can still help, though they will most likely require a meditation retreat of 1 to 10 days in duration order to pull out of it.  (One of the reaons that physical exercise hinders depression is that it draws energy from the mind and puts it into the body.  The "dis-identification" from the mind, slowing down of the mind, and "dis-empowering" of the mind that happens during most physical activity is somewhat of a natural state of meditation for most people...often breaking or preventing the depression thought cycle described above.) }

Depression is anger turned inward.

The opposite of depression is not "happiness."  The opposite of depression is "expression."

{ "Expression," of course, can be when someone talks, writes, does art, dances, makes music, exercises, plays a sport, etc.  It implies action and "externalizing" something -- especially an emotion or intention.  In this context, "expression" also includes "creating" and, especially, "giving one's gifts," "being engaged in a purpose greater than oneself...a cause that one truly believes in," and "using one's special skills, strengths, or talents to help others or improve any situation, be it at the interpersonal, familial, community, or global level."  (DOing these things is the opposite of depression.  THINKING about doing them, on the other hand, can cause even more depression, since the depressed person rarely feels capable nor has the energy to even make the attempt.  Don't buy the "I can't; I don't feel like it" line: This is part of the illusion.  I've had to sometimes physically drag someone out the door, whining and moaning and resisting me the whole way, and after 30-40 minutes of sun and activity they were out of it...like a completely different person.   Key points to remember: "Motivation follows action," "Inertia and momentum are incredibly powerful allies to have working in one's favor," and "Opportunity happens much more frequently to someone who's in action."  Happiness, a natural state, will return once whatever's trapped inside the person has found a way out and the voice of the inner critic is either silenced or no longer taken seriously.)

Said another way, people who are here creating their dream and actively engaged in expressing their true life purpose, rather than just "going through the motions," "getting by," or "making money," are rarely, if ever, depressed.  More on that here. }

I cry a lot. My emotions are very close to my surface. I don't want to hold anything in so it it festers and turns into pus - a pustule of emotion that explodes into a festering cesspool of depression.  ~ Nicolas Cage

Sometimes, there's nothing at all that you can do to help someone who's depressed, except to not let them go through it alone.

{ Even as much as they may try to convince you they want to just be left alone, and however nasty they may get in their attempts to push you away and make you see them as ugly and hopeless as they're currently feeling and seeing themselves, don't be confused:  What's being displayed is the depression, not the real person.  You know who they really are.  Do not, for one second, be seduced by the depression into thinking otherwise.  As per the quotes above, do encourage them to express anger or any other emotion, and don't take ANY of it personally.  If you can't get the person into expression (ie, through their speaking, dancing, writing, making music or art, movement, etc. via your listening, paying attention, patient encouragement, or participation), then remind them, in a genuine and authentic manner, of the magnificent, deeply precious, highly valued, important, unique, cared for, and uniquely special being you know them to be, using specific examples whenever possible.  Do not be attached to them appearing to have heard you...it's more important that the person feel heard and seen than it is for them to hear anything you have to say, however wise, loving or insightful it might be.  :)   (People don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care...and one of the most caring gifts one human can give another is the gift of listening.)  Or, just sit with them in silence, perhaps rubbing their feet or back if they let you.  Again, any moment that they're not alone with the depression is a moment you've eased it for them a bit, even if they're not able to articulate this (or anything that looks even remotely like gratitude) at the time.  I've also found it helpful, occasionally, to allow a depressed person to help ME...ie, I may shift the conversation to something that's genuinely challenging or painful for me that I know they could help me with, and allow them to feel the pride, sense of purpose, and self esteem that comes from giving their unique gifts and helping me...as long as I make sure to keep it to something small and uplifting for them that doesn't deplete their energy further.  Be sure to express your gratitude, especially of who they had to "be" (rather that what they did) to help you in that way, and how it made you feel to receive that from them. }

It's almost always the wrong thing to do to try to cheer up a depressed person.

{ Similarly, "trying too hard" or "doing things that are outside of your normal value system" to help someone who's depressed out of your own sense of worry/urgency, can also be counter-productive, since it merely reinforces their illusion that there's a problem.  (Their believing the negative thoughts and feelings inside them is the only problem.  If you believe these, too, then you become part of the problem.  Stay calm, relaxed, compassionate, gentle and connected...yet be strong, maintain your healthy boundaries, and don't be seduced by the negativity or scared by the intensity of the experience.) }

If we admit our depression openly and freely, those around us get from it an experience of freedom rather than the depression itself.  ~ Rollo May

Depression is the inability to construct a future.  ~ Rollo May

The question is: What is the psyche doing by presenting the patient with a depression?  ~ James Hillman

Instead of seeing depression as a dysfunction, it is a functioning phenomenon. It stops you cold, sets you down, makes you damn miserable.  ~ James Hillman

Depression opens the door to beauty of some kind.  ~ James Hillman

You probably heard that depression is worse in the morning. Why is depression worse in the morning? What does it say about the day you are about to enter?   ~ James Hillman

The other thing is that if you rely solely on medication to manage depression or anxiety, for example, you have done nothing to train the mind, so that when you come off the medication, you are just as vulnerable to a relapse as though you had never taken the medication.  ~ Daniel Goleman

Planning is an unnatural process; it is much more fun to do something. The nicest thing about not planning is that failure comes as a complete surprise, rather than being preceded by a period of worry and depression.  ~ John Harvey-Jones

Recovering from the suicide of a loved one, you need all the help you can get, so I very much recommend a meditation program. The whole picture of how to recover from this has to do with body, mind, and spirit. That's applicable to any kind of depression.  ~ Judy Collins

To act wisely when the time for action comes, to wait patiently when it is time for repose, put man in accord with the tides. Ignorance of this law results in periods of unreasoning enthusiasm on the one hand, and depression on the other.   ~ Helena Petrova Blavatsky

There's a difference between the feeling of grief and the feeling of loss: The feeling of grief arises because of a non-acceptance of the feeling of loss, because it's so painful. To the degree that we cannot open to the pain of loss, it rebounds into the feeling of grief. This is natural. But, there is another possbility in examining how to accept the loss--it's not denying the loss at all--can we be open to that feeling, as painful as it is? That's what equanimity in that situation would mean: It doesn't mean not feeling the loss, it means accepting the loss. Please don't believe this; this is merely an invitation to look for yourself for a new possibility.  ~ Joseph Goldstein

"Compassion" is the willingness and ability to be close to another's pain.  To open to and feel it deeply...without the self-focused need to change it in order to make oneself feel safe or comfortable...yet coupled with the willingness to act to alleviate that suffering from a deep sense of empathy.  ~ paraphrased from a talk by Joseph Goldstein

Should you desire to help someone who's suffering from depression:
Depression has been around for hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years.  Psychotherapy has been around for about 100 years.  Yet, thousands of loving people helped thousands of people through episodes of depression before the business and legal enterprise known as "Western Medicine" claimed this as their sole domain, and convinced the public that it is illegal, immoral, irresponsible, or dangerous for you to try to help someone without the proper training and piece of paper on your wall...thus, proliferating their business through fear and misinformation.  "Credentialism," as I've observed it in my lifetime, is mostly an economic tool masquerading as a measure of quality and competence.  The truth is that there is a healer inside each of us, and that much less damage is ever done by inexperienced loving people being there and doing their heart's best to help, than by someone being left to suffer alone (isolation is a huge component to every emotional distress).

The truth is that there are many talented, credentialed healer/therapists out there doing fantastic and admirable work to hold a space for people to heal themselves.  These healer/therapists use their hearts and love more than their minds and data.  My belief is that they'd probably have been doing almost exactly the same thing 150 years ago, before "therapy" was "invented."  It's also true that there are many wounded, dysfunctional, and ego-driven therapists with PhD's doing damage to the human psyche.  (Self-esteem is the #1 psychological need.  It is the foundation upon which our entire sense of self and well-being is built.  It affects nearly every facet of our internal and external lives...and anything that diminishes a person's concept of him/herself, or in any way leads to, encourages, or requires the deterioration of one's self esteem, is, in my opinion, hurting that person at the most core level.  Anyone, professional or otherwise, operating under the belief that people are "broken" and "need professional help to be whole again"...is unawarely sending their patients the same message by treating and interacting with them within a context that is not only disempowering and dependency-based, but damaging.)  Similarly, I've observed that many of these same credentialed doctors believe that the books they've read and training they've received (ie, the information in their brain) have granted them a unique "power to heal," and operate on the ego-trip of deluding themselves that they're "fixing people who would be lost without them."
(In my opinion, those struggling with depression are not, nor ever have been, "broken" in any way.  In my personal and professional experience, this paradigm of "crazy" or "broken people who need professional fixing" is just another false concept created to serve the economic purposes of an industry that requires "sick," "crazy," and "broken" people in order to continue...hmm, sounds a little like "depression" itself...and to support the lifestyle of a culture in which "community" has broken down, and people are so economically oppressed and brainwashed that they believe they "no longer have time" to truly care for and support their brothers and sisters, let alone their children and elders.  To me, "crazy" is sending someone you love to a stranger and paying them to raise that child, nurture that elder, or help that brother or sister feel loved, beautiful, safe, whole and good about themselves in a capitalistic society that requires them to feel the opposite of all those things on a regular basis...in order to create motivation for buying its endless stream of products.  I'm digressing a bit, here.  But, if you *really* want to attack the *root* of depression, I believe it's origin is a societal one.  What I've mentioned here is just one facet of what's meant by the quote, "Depression is often a healthy response to a sick society," or "Depression is a Disease of Civilization"  Watch a video on this from a spiritual teacher.)

Getting back to supporting an individual with depression...
Your ability to hold a space for someone to heal or work through something difficult on any given day has less to do with what information is in your brain, than on your intention, how present you are able to be with that person, and what's in your heart.  What a depressed person mostly needs is love and connection.  All you need to do is figure out what form that love needs to take so that it reaches that person and makes a connection between you...and to be able to give them your caring and compassionate attention in the process, while having the patience and belief in them to hang in there.  This may not be easy.  But, there's often just as much likelihood that you'll be capable of this as will a "professional"...and a "professional" probably won't allow him/herself to touch the person physically (which can be a hugely helpful).  Further, a hired "professional" may not have anywhere near the level of caring in their heart that you have for this person.  Lastly, given the direction things are headed on this planet, there simply may not be enough therapists to serve the crescendo of depression that we're likely to see (already seeing?) before a critical mass of humans wake up and turn things around (which, of course, we will...but, I think the conditions on this planet are going to get increasingly more challenging to cope with between now and then. :)   What I'm saying is that there's no reason that you and several others (including, but not limited to, a therapist) can't be supporting the depressed person...nor that anyone should need to suffer alone if a "professional" is not available...IF you're able to be truly present, confident, calm, relaxed and unreactive in the midst of the intensity of the depressed person's experience.

But, again, we're now back to fear...and, as you may know, fear is the opposite of love.  (One you learn, the other you're born with.  One comes from your head, and the other comes from your heart.)  So, if you're unable to get past your own fear of the depression, your confusion or sense of personal inadequacy in the face of it, or whatever other emotions you have that come up (such as anger/frustration at the person for not cheering up, changing, or doing something despite everything you try) all of which put your attention/focus back on YOU, instead of on the person who's suffering whom you're supposedly there to help...and stay in your loving heart with your attention on them...then you're probably not a good candidate to try to help that person at that time.  Here's a simple test: Do you see the depressed person as a "problem," "fucked up," "an annoyance / a pain in the ass / a burden," or have any other sort of negative judgment or assessment of their experience?  If so, you're not in the right space to be supportive to them.  (In short, you're coming from fear, not love...and the energy vibration of "love" is what creates the space for healing to occur.)  But, this is still not an inherent deficiency on your part.  There is a fearless, loving healer inside you, even if you're not able to access that healer at any given moment. (And, if you're not, it's probably because there's some healing being called for within you...ie, there's some way that you actually need the attention you're trying to give.  You won't be able to give your full, loving attention to someone else, while some old hurt or fear inside you [probably triggered by your interaction with depressed person] is calling out so strongly for attention itself. :-)

Take care of yourself first, so that you're sure to always be giving positive energy out of a state of personal abundance (personal needs overmet), rather than giving negative energy out of a state of personal deficit (personal needs unmet).  [ If your needs are overmet and you have, say, 3 extra units of energy...you can safely give 2 units of positive energy, and still walk away in +1 abundance, feeling just fine.  This is love and genuine generosity, since no one, neither the giver nor the recipient, is harmed or deprived of anything they need.  If, on the other hand, your needs are undermet and you need, say, 1 unit of energy to regain your healthy/needs-met balance, you're at a -1 state of deficit.  Since you can only give what you have, you will give 2 units of negative energy (that you really need for yourself), and will walk away in a -3 state of depletion--probably feeling resentment (since you gave away something that you really needed for yourself).  This is not genuine love nor generosity (probably "guilt", "obligation", "fear", etc.), since this type of giving harms someone in the process--you! ]

Throughout the trainings I received at The Centre for Living with Dying, there was an emphasis on doubling the amount of personal nurturing and self care we did for ourselves (ie, dedicating twice as much time to those things that nourish, rebalance, energize, rejuvenate, uplift and heal us...as we need just for ourselves when not supporting another) any time we attempt to support another through a significant transition, loss, crisis or emotionally-intense time.  (Hint to "givers": This can be your biggest challenge/lesson!  Hint to "takers": Balancing your normal self focus to truly be there for another can be your biggest challenge/lession!)


Bringing Out Your Inner Healer:  Should you want to develop your ability to be fully present, either for yourself or another, I'd suggest taking a meditation course (see link at the top of this page, or do a web search for courses near you).  Should you wish to build confidence and fearlessness in the face of intense emotions so that you can hold a space of focused, one-way, loving attention for someone to heal themselves, I'd recommend taking a class in Re-evaluation Counseling and/or some workshops at KARA or The Centre for Living with Dying (see links for all 3 at the top of this page).

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