Once you have determined that you or the person you are willing to help does not have a severe or dangerous depression, feel free to consider the following alternatives:
1. Physical Exercise: as intense and long and as frequent as you can stand! Exercise releases your natural endorphins, morphine like substances that improve your mood, instantly. Another huge plus would be to do your exercise outdoors. Nature is a great cure-all for the human spirit. Get out of your artificial, surreal plastic existence and go immerse yourself in really real physical reality.
2. Go be with someone! Someone who cares about you. Do something together, or just sit and talk, or just sit. Practically anyone else is going to have a better opinion of you than you do when you are in the grips of a depression!
One of the most healing things you can do for yourself is to go and be of service to someone else. Sometimes, it is just easier to care about someone else than it is for you to care about you. It is usually not too hard to find people dealing with much worse circumstances than you have ever faced…and darn it all, they aren’t even depressed about it! Be careful, though. Do not use your immersion in service as a way to deny yourself the help you need.
3. Please go online to feelBach.com, or go to Sprouts or Whole Foods Market to look at the Bach Flower Essences. The Rescue Remedy plus Wild Rose are the best essences to take when there is depression. If the depression is a dark melancholy that seems to come from out of nowhere….meaning it does not seem to have a direct cause…the Bach Flower Essence called Mustard is helpful. If the depression is combined with huge stress and the person is feeling overwhelmed by their life situation, it is good to add Elm to the combination. Up to 12 different flower essences can be combined for a personal “recipe” according to how someone is feeling. The essences are homeopathic in nature and are NOT associated with bad side effects. I teach classes on the fine art of using the 38 flower essences; and my blog has several articles on the use of them. Feel free to look them up on my website: lifemotivationssa.com.
4. Supplements: I find the supplement 5HTP, 5 hydroxytrytophan, to be a very useful, over-the-counter resource to battle a mild depression: especially if you are prone to carbohydrate (sweet or salty) cravings to comfort you. 5HTP can be taken in 100mg capsules… One to four a day. Either spread throughout the day, or all of them can be taken at bedtime, if there is trouble falling asleep.
Another very useful supplement is Sam-e. This is more expensive than 5HTP, and it does NOT help with carb cravings. However, it is helpful for muscle or joint pain. Perhaps, overall, Sam-e is a stronger natural alternative than 5HTP.
While I have heard a great deal about St. John’s wort, I do not personally recommend it, because it has a potential for the same side effects as the prescriptions called SSRIs: Selected Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors. These include Prozac and Paxil and Zoloft and several others.
5. STOP thinking. Yes, I mean it. Your awareness does not require you to think. Try it sometime. There are hundreds of ways to do this. Any form of meditation, yoga, contemplative prayer. The simplest way I know to gain instant control over your runaway mind is to hold your breath. When you hold your breath, you can stop your thinking. Inhale slowly. Say the first half of any mantram you prefer. Hold your breath. When it is time to exhale, do so. There is no force in this exercise. Exhale slowly, say the second half of your mantram, and hold your breath again. Repeat. Hundreds of times, thousands, practice, practice. A mantram is a phrase, holy or profane, that you can repeat over and over to fool your mind into thinking it is thinking! If the mind thinks it is thinking, it will leave you alone and let you get some peace!
If you are not interested in prayer or meditation or mantrams, get a fish acquarium and stare at it…works in dentist offices, right? Or go fishing! Or take up knitting. Go sweep out a large room. Get fully present to the moment. In the here and now of the present moment there is nothing wrong. Seriously. What’s wrong has either happened or is about to happen. It’s never NOW. The pinpoint NOW is just what is.
6. STOP procrastinating. I have often observed that depression is directly related to someone procrastinating on something they simply must do that they are simply refusing to do. Usually it is something onerous, difficult, or even embarrassing or painful… This un-done must-be-done turns into an overhang of doom! Depression is often a suffering that occurs when you are avoiding a suffering that needs to be dealt with, now or yesterday. M Scott Peck did an excellent job of describing this kind of depression in his classic work: The Road Less Travelled By.
7. Forgive yourself, or someone else…maybe even God? Depression has been called: Anger turned Inward, a type of smoldering resentment from the past.
Perhaps someone is too afraid or passive to speak their mind, defend themselves, or get what they want? Tough thing about resentment is: you are drinking the poison and waiting for the one you resent to die. Do whatever you have to do to release that poison! Find your spiritual mentor or coach or therapist or prayer to clean your heart out of that. Incidently, the Bach flower for resentment is Willow.
8. The Golden Key is a short essay written by a famous Christian minister named Emmett Fox. It contains a wonderful piece of wisdom. No matter what your difficulty: scientific prayer can deliver you safely out of it. The method of applying this kind of prayer consists in simply this:
Stop thinking about the difficulty, whatever it is…. And think about God instead.
Placing your mind and immersing yourself in the goodness of God instead of dwelling in the muck of human problems, complaints, limitations, etc..ad nauseum..provides not only dramatic relief, but often miraculous transformation of difficult circumstances. And what is the goodness of God? Simply anything you have ever loved, enjoyed, been inspired by, and all the virtues you have ever known. God is , for the Christian mind, Light, Power,Love, Grace, Kindness, Joy, Happiness, Bliss, Wisdom, Knowledge, Peace, Justice and Mercy..etc…. If you can truly dwell on these things, you can discover new roads to healing and hope. I highly you recommend you get a copy of this gem and keep it close to you. Take the Golden Key on as a life discipline.
Finally, once you have applied First Aid, please go into the depths of discovery of who you are and what you are called to do and be. People who are called into higher levels of consciousness, often fall prey to depression and despair, an existential angst sometimes known as The Dark Night. Ken Wilbur does an excellent example of describing this phenomenon. Don’t ever waste your suffering. Make it work for you and your fulfillment. There are many, many professional resources available to you, as well as community movements. If you need to know more about them, or about me in particular, please let me know.