Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Feel better right away with no drugs needed....

Today's Post: Tuesday, 6-22-2010

With anti-depressant drugs, some people feel better and some don’t. And, even for the people they work for, they don’t begin to be effective for up to a few weeks.

Many of the antidepressant drugs have undesirable side effects. These include sharply worsening your sex life, disturbing your sleep, causing involuntary movements, and even causing you to gain weight

So, even if they work for you after a few weeks, you may find yourself wishing for something better. And, if they don’t work or you run out of patience waiting for them to work, they are addictive and you’ll feel WORSE for a time if you quit taking them.

So, if you are mildly or badly depressed, you may well wish for a better alternative. Clearly if there was one, it would be a far better choice!

There ARE several alternatives and one works virtually when you start doing it.

Even better, if you use several of these alternatives at the same time, they work better and more reliably than the drugs.

This is NOT a guess. It has been tested to work.

There are 8 ways to do the job.

1. The most effective and the fastest to work of these 8 methods may be exercise.

Last Sunday, TIME online posted an article titled, “Is Exercise the Best Drug for Depression?” that included several points from recent research.

a) For example, you’ll be less depressed if you aren’t over-stressed. And, since you often cannot control the amount of stress, if you can increase your ability to deal with it without it making you FEEL overstressed, that clearly would be a great help at times.

It’s been known for hundreds of years that regular exercise works to do this. It’s one of the reasons armies always get their soldiers in shape and have them get regular exercise. The TIME article has one of the reasons why this is so.

University of Georgia researcher Philip Holmes and his associates found that after a few weeks, regular exercisers trigger your brain to produce a chemical messenger called “galanin” that keeps norepinephrine, a kind of speed, from getting so high you feel over-revved.

We already knew that people who become fit can stress their bodies more and have their heart rate slow after exercise more quickly than unfit people. That too reduces the impact of stress as your heart rate speeds up less when you experience stress or if it does it goes back to normal more quickly.

b) Next, the article points out that also exercise boosts the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor, BDNF for short. This repairs nerves and grows new brain cells. And, since mild brain damage can cause depression, often the repairs caused by the BDNF generated by exercise can reverse the problem.

c) For several reasons, vigorous exercise is FAST acting against depression. Instead of waiting passively for weeks hoping to feel better, you can literally feel better in a few minutes.

In the TIME article, Dallas researcher, psychologist Jasper Smits from SMU, notes that, ".... for most people, when they exercise 30 minutes - particularly when it's a little bit more demanding, and they get their heart rate up - they feel better," "You get an immediate mood lift."

And, it need not take 30 minutes either. A very vigorous or demanding strength training set can take 30 seconds. Similarly, a very vigorous 10 minute set of interval cardio can get your heart rate up and cause massive circulation increases in your whole body.

So, if your brain’s neurotransmitters were quite low and your brain was a bit deprived of oxygen or had too much CO2 built up, after such vigorous exercise, that all goes away and you feel better right then.

There is also a second reason vigorous exercise is so instantly effective against depression.

Stephen Ilardi, PhD, author of The Depression Cure found that one of the direct causes of depression is having your mind stuck on going over how bad things are without anything else happening. If you go for a long and slow walk as exercise, that can get worse. But when you do really challenging and vigorous exercise, that kind of useless ruminating stops almost instantly as your brain is forced to give its whole attention to doing the exercise and then recovering from it.

Last and far from least, by successfully doing vigorous exercise, you experience yourself doing something a bit hard to do on purpose and succeeding. That makes you feel more in control which Martin Seligman, PhD found tends to turn off the “learned helplessness” that causes depression.

Stephen Ilardi, PhD, author of The Depression Cure found information that hunter-gather peoples did not and do not get depressed. He then found five other ways besides exercise to make people’s lives simulate that life style better. Regular vigorous exercise every week and on most days clearly fit.

(When he checked people who did all 6 of the things he found, three times as many stopped being depressed as were helped by drugs! Even better, the better you do each of the 6 things, the more reliably you’ll stop being depressed.)

2. The second thing he found was that hunter-gather peoples got a balance of omega 3 and omega 6 oils while people today who don’t know how to avoid it get far less omega 3 oils and massively too much omega 6 oils. He suggests taking purified fish oil omega 3 supplements and eating wild caught fish like sardines and salmon that are high in omega 3.

And, you can triple this effect if you eat no oils high in omega 6 such as corn, or soy, or canola or foods containing them and only use the neutral extra virgin olive oil. It also helps to only eat meat from naturally or 100 % grass or pasture fed animals or eat less of the most fat trimmed versions of foods from grain fed animals since the fats in the meat and milk from the grain fed versions have 15 times too much omega 6 oils. And, it helps a lot to stop eating and refined grains or foods many from them virtually 100 % and to be quite moderate in eating whole grains. (Grains are quite high in omega 6 oils.)

Even better, if you eat this way with far more omega 3’s and far less omega 6’s, your health will better, your inflammation levels will be low, and your chances of heart disease go way, way down.

And, all that’s in addition to feeling better.

3. He also found that it’s important to avoid ruminating on negative thoughts. It seems obvious that if you think only about negative things, you will feel depressed. But it can be hard to break out of. Vigorous exercise is one fast way to do this. But simply mentally yelling STOP! to yourself when you find yourself doing this can also help.

Being active, purposeful, and appreciative and doing each often to compete with such thoughts can also work.

If you are always engaged in solving problems or working to achieve specific things or in helping people or in noticing and being pleased with those things that you like or are going well, it’s much easier to not be depressed.

4. Get enough daily vitamin D3. Most people who do are not depressed. All too often people who are deficient are depressed. Short noontime walks outside if they are safe in the winter can get vitamin D from sunlight even though there is less sun. It’s known that taking walks in parks or meadows or woodlands also work to improve people’s mood in addition to the sun exposure.
But the most effective and time efficient lever on this is to take at least 2,000 iu a day of vitamin D3 year-round and consider taking 5,000 or more during the winter.

In addition to its known effect on improving your mood such ways of getting enough vitamin D3 and doing them also protect your heart, make your immune system more able to keep you well or get well faster, keep your bones strong, help prevent autoimmune diseases, help prevent Alzheimer’s disease, and help prevent at least some cancers!

Best of all, 1,000 and 5,000 iu capsules of vitamin D3 are some of the very least expensive of all supplements.

If you can afford food to eat, you can afford to buy them!

5. “Emphasize social connection in order to avoid the harmful effects of isolation.” Dr Ilardi noted that hunter gather peoples were rarely alone and were part of groups of 30 to 50 people who all knew each other.

Some people find this kind of community by attending church each week. This almost always doable too. Even if you don’t believe in the ideas of most religions or accept that you must do so to belong there and aren’t very religious in a conventional way, there is a church that you can go to that supports and accepts you thinking for yourself or not being that into religion called, the Unitarian Universalist church. Most larger cities in the United States have one and many have more than one.

There are also special interest groups you can join that meet once a week. Toastmasters to learn and practice public speaking is an excellent group. Taking a class on Tai Chi also will get you some exercise and stress relief.

Even better, instead of being unhappy no one is being nice to you and waiting for someone to fix it for you, find someone you can be nice to and do it.

No waiting is needed and it’s under YOUR control. You’ll feel good from doing it even if it doesn’t work that great. And, when it does make the other person feel better, it can make you feel a LOT better.

On successful businessman put it this way, “When I wanted people to encourage me it didn’t work very well. But ever since I decided to make a strong effort to always encourage the people I worked with I became successful.”

This set of things reduces stress. The conversations we now know provide much greater mental exercise than people might imagine. And, in addition to reducing depression, doing this set of things even lowers high blood pressure.

6. Get enough good quality sleep.

Getting regular exercise and either not getting too fat or permanently reversing it if you have both can and will improve your sleep quality.

a) On weekdays, have a time each evening by which you are always in bed and set your alarm for exactly the same time each morning if you possibly can. Such very regular sleep times make your body more efficient at sleeping and getting you the rest and repair you need.

b) Unless you have found you are one of the very few people who only needs four hours of sleep a night to feel completely rested (There are some.), make a strong effort to always get at least 6 hours of sleep and an even stronger effort to get at least 5 to 5 and a half hours of sleep. And, if you can possibly manage it, get closer to 6 and a half to 8 and a half hours of sleep at least two days a week if not more.

On most days, that will mean you will be decently well rested. And when you are, you are less depressed and more easily able to make good things happen and feel the energy to do so.

c) Few people today can get 7 to 8 and a half hours of sleep at the same time each night and do so seven days a week; but do it if you can.

Dr Ilardi found that few people who get regular exercise and that much quality sleep get or stay depressed.

The last two ways to avoid being depressed or to feel better, I’ll post on later this week as I’m out of time today.

Dr Martin Seligman discovered them. Doing the 6 things above AND using his two methods is VERY effective at turning off depression.

Both your physical brain and the “software” you think with will work right and you’ll feel better.

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