Tuesday, August 05, 2014

New and very doable way to stop depression....

Tuesday, 8-5-2014

A.  There are many ways to stop depression that work

Unfortunately the drugs most prescribed for depression currently are not among them!

(They have side effects and are addictive and don’t work at all for many people.  The few people they seem to help only get that help after weeks of taking them. There is some evidence even in the initial clinical trials they didn’t test better than chance I’ve read.)

So, effective methods that do NOT rely on those drugs are very important to use in stopping depression.

Roughly speaking they fall into four categories.

1.  Things that stop depression quickly. 

This area has two very promising medical approaches coming along!

One tested to stop severe depression in 24 hours without bad side effects.  (Ketamine does this but causes hallucinations and has an anesthetic effect.  It seems one of its metabolites lifts the depression without those side effects!)

Another tested to stop severe depression in 30 minutes or even less. This one may be even better because it uses low power pulses of magnetic stimulation intermittently.  The direct access to the brain and no need to digest the solution first make it faster.  And, the units will likely go first to emergency rooms and to doctors who specialize in treating depression.  Some suicide prevention centers might get them.

The combination of first telling the patient that these as tested to be that effective and then using both together might be the most effective way to go. That way you add the placebo effect to two real effects.

Many of the things that turn off depression that do work take some extra effort to begin or to do.  Some take a few days or weeks to work best.

Having these two new ways to lift people up enough first to enable them to start and to then have faith they can continue the longer term things may then cause everything else to work for people who  can’t or don’t manage that now!

2.  Ways to think better that move people from thinking like depressed people think to thinking like optimistic and very depression resistant people think. 

Reading the right self-help books can help with this. 

Talk therapy that teaches these skills – both stopping the depressive thoughts and style and teaching and starting people on the optimistic and resilient style can be effective if done well in just a few weeks.  (This is like fixing your brain’s software.) Dr Martin Seligman pioneered this work.

(We’ll have a post in the next few weeks with details on some of these techniques that also show how to perform well under stress and be more stress proof.)

3.  Rebuilding damaged areas of the brain also works.  Depression can and does have physical causes too.  People with PTSD who were treated in a way that caused new nerves and brain cell and effected repair became less affected and less depressed and did so to the extent their brain repairs were working and the protocol to do it was followed.

Regular exercise and taking DHA and eating the wild caught fish high in it release BDNF which rebuilds new nerves and brain cells and does this.  Some studies have found adding the supplement choline and eating foods high in it at the same time enables more repair.  So does adding the supplement bacopa.  (This is like fixing your brain’s hardware.)

4.  Doing other things that help stop depression in practice.

Stephen Ilardi found there was a set of things that if people did them all well resulted in a close to 75% cure rate for depression.

Some of these were:

Getting enough sleep.  Doing regular exercise, which among other things makes getting to sleep and having good sleep quality easier. Socializing regularly. Taking enough vitamin D3 -- 3,000 iu a day or more.  And, for some people, getting enough blue light particularly first thing in the morning. 

B.  The new way fits nearly every category and is far easier to do than many of these.

You can do it at home, do things you like to do or already know how to do, and you can begin right away.

Apparently it can even give you fast results as in the first day or week!

And, by continuing it you get continued protection.

And, by doing new things and getting good at them, you can even do some brain cell repair.

Here’s the article I found.  [The bolding in it I added]

Using Your Hands to Heal Your Head

A psychiatrist and a hand surgeon say to beat depression, it helps to get your hands dirty.

By Dr. Sanjay Gupta

Carrie and Alton Barron met in medical school. They married and made a life together, but they never expected to work together. She is a psychiatrist and he is a hand surgeon. Their two disciplines would seem to be miles apart.

Then they noticed their patients had something in common: When they were using their hands, their mental health improved.

“People started coming in and talking about activities they had done with their hands over the weekend that had lifted their mood,” Carrie says.

She remembers one patient who was struggling with depression: “Something broke in his apartment and he fixed it and he just felt euphoric.” [Of course his success also gave him proof he was competent too.]

Alton saw the other side of that equation — people who lost the use of their hands after an injury. He witnessed “the significant mood depression that occurs when people lose the ability to do what they need to do.” He saw that not only in craftspeople who made a living with their hands, but also in ordinary people who could no longer cook a meal or tie their shoes.

Those observations evolved into a book they wrote together and called “The Creativity Cure.”

They call it a “prescription” for avoiding and alleviating depression.

They say it is no coincidence that modern people use their hands less than our ancestors, and also experience higher rates of anxiety and depression. 

More than half of the brain’s cortex is mapped to the hands. That’s evidence, Alton says, that our hands need to be engaged for our brains to be healthy.

“Really it’s a form of lifestyle medicine, or preventative medicine,” Carrie says. Alton goes further: This is “a matter of life and death,” he says. “We need to be using our hands to keep stimulating our brains.”

They’re quick to point out that texting doesn’t cut it. “We’re now hunched over our smartphones, texting and typing constantly,” Alton says. “We are technologically supersaturated… and we have to draw that down.” He and Carrie own smartphones, but they make a point to put them away.

Carrie knits, plays guitar and writes longhand every morning. Alton repairs furniture around the house and is even using a chainsaw to carve a bench out of an old oak stump. Together, he and Carrie are weeding a plot of ground at their new home for a vegetable garden. They plan with some friends to initiate garden-to-table Fridays, where they make a meal out of only what they have grown.

They encourage handiwork in their patients as well. When a furniture maker came to Alton after accidentally severing three fingers with a table saw, Alton accepted a custom-made chest as payment.

But they stress you don’t need to be a master craftsperson to get the benefit of using your hands: Fix things rather than replacing them, doodle, cook, make music. “It’s not about the product,” Carrie says. “It is really about the process.”


What chores or house work or yard work do you do well?  What exercises do you do at home that you use your hands to do?  Do you have things you like to do that enable you to do skilled things with your hands?  Is there anything that uses your hands to do you could take a class in that you could then do at home?

Start with something you can already do each day even if only for a few minutes and focus on doing it well while you do it and enjoying the fact that you can do it well.  Then do it every day.  If you can, add more such things.  But do something each day.

You can start doing things you already have access to without waiting to see someone or paying them.

So, it’s extremely doable and can take very little time to get started.

Yet this information shows it gives half or more of your brain exercise as you do it.

This combination of this method’s super easy to start doing and massive possible good effects is very good news indeed!

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