What is depression?
Depression is more than simply feeling unhappy or fed up for a few days.
We can all go through spells of feeling down, but when you're depressed you feel persistently sad, hopeless and lose interest in what you used to enjoy.
The symptoms persist for weeks or months and are bad enough to interfere with your work, social life and family life.
Many people with depression also have symptoms of anxiety.
Symptoms of depression include:
- Continuous low mood or sadness
- Feeling hopeless and helpless
- Having low self-esteem
- Feeling tearful
- Feeling guilt-ridden
- Feeling irritable and intolerant of others
- Having no motivation or interest in things
- Finding it difficult to make decisions
- Not getting any enjoyment out of life
- Feeling anxious or worried
- Having suicidal thoughts or thoughts of harming yourself
- Moving or speaking more slowly than usual
- Change in appetite or weight (usually decreased, but sometimes increased)
- Unexplained aches and pains
- Lack of energy or lack of interest in sex (loss of libido)
- Changes to your menstrual cycle
- Disturbed sleep (for example, finding it hard to fall asleep at night or waking up very early in the morning)
- Not doing well at work
- Taking part in fewer social activities and avoiding contact with friends
- Neglecting your hobbies and interests
- Having difficulties in your home and family life
Depression can come on gradually, so it can be difficult to notice something is wrong. Many people continue to try to cope with their symptoms without realising they are ill. It can take a friend or family member to suggest something is wrong.
Doctors describe depression by how serious it is:
- Mild depression has some impact on your daily life
- Moderate depression has a significant impact on your daily life
- Severe depression makes it almost impossible to get through daily life
What causes depression?
There are many different reasons and triggers for depression - although in my experience I see a strong connection between people who've had a traumatic childhood which often created low self-esteem, harsh self-judgement or a feeling "I don't fit in". Commonly there are further issues: a relationship break-up, divorce, illness, job or money issues.
Some might cope with depression by drinking more, or taking recreational drugs - this exacerbates the problem. Cannabis can be particularly anxiety or paranoia inducing in teenagers, and this goes on to affect them in later life.
You may be more susceptible if there is a family history of anxiety or depression, and/or if there are poor family relationships, this can exacerbate the problem.
Post natal depression is recognised - with the additional responsibility of motherhood, the exhaustion of giving birth, lack of sleep and the hormonal and physical changes.
Chronic illness can also come with emotional issues.
Conventional treatment for depression
There are no physical tests for depression, although the GP may do blood and urine tests to rule out other conditions, such as an under active thyroid.
The diagnosis is generally based on questions about your general health and how the way you are feeling is affecting you mentally and physically.
Depends on the type of anxiety or depression you have, the following are options:
- Lifestyle advice - do more exercise, self-help groups
- Applied relaxation
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
- Antidepressants and other anti-anxiety medications (both short-term and long-term)
- Antidepressants combined with CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) or another talking therapy
- Referral to psychologists, psychiatrists, specialist nurses, occupational therapists or social workers
How do I treat depression?
Muscle test / kinesiology for anxiety and/or depression
I will muscle test to determine whether there are any pathogens which may be causing low energy with low mood, for example candida. I treat with frequency therapy if there are any testing positive.
I will muscle test the thyroid, and other markers of ill-health, eg. homocysteine levels (a precursor of heart disease), toxicity (which clogs the liver and can depress the mood), etc.
I will test for food sensitivities - sugar, alcohol, coffee, artificial sweeteners and booze can all have a negative effect on the emotions, as might other food, drink or environmental factors.
I will test for supplements that might help - anti-oxidants or milk thistle to relieve toxicity; vitamin D; vitamin B; 5-HTP; St John's Wort, or other's which might help boost the emotions.
I might test for a Bach Flower Remedy, these can be helpful with stuck emotional states.
Acupuncture for depression
I generally use a combination of ear acupuncture (I call these my "valium" points) and body acupuncture, and find patients relax and feel much "lighter" by the end of the treatment.
Acupuncture is believed to stimulate the nervous system and cause the release of neurochemical messenger molecules. The resulting biochemical changes influence the body's homeostatic mechanisms, thus promoting physical and emotional well-being.
EFT for depression
In my experience, if you had an unhappy or less than ideal childhood, it is more likely you will be prone to depression or anxiety.
Gary Craig, the founder of EFT, recommends the Personal Peace Procedure (PPP) for everyone - but particularly for those not as emotionally happy, or physically well as they would like to be.
PPP involves writing a list of all the events in your life that you wish had never happened. Next to them, write a number (eg. 9/10) for how emotionally charged you feel when you think of that issue. EFT is used to eliminate the emotional charge on all these issues - whether abuse, failing exams, a parent shouting at you, a school event, a work event, a sibling event, an assault, etc.
Generally there is a pattern to our events - for example - this meant I was unloveable, ... stupid, .... not worthy, ... I didn't fit in, ... the world is a violent place, etc.
EFT means it is possible to have freedom from these beliefs, so self-esteem, and happiness can be experienced.
I find this three pronged approach to treating depression and anxiety is effective, but commonly needs regular treatment to ensure sustained results, ideally weekly. Here is some research in each area:
A study in the Journal of Public Health Nutrition, covered by The Telegraph "Fast food gives you the blues, study finds", indicates a connection between food and mood. Experience in my clinic demonstrates a very clear correlation.
Acupuncture studies indicate that acupuncture can have a specific positive effect on depression by altering the brain's mood chemistry, increasing production of serotonin (Sprott 1998) and endorphins (Wang 2010). Acupuncture may also benefit depression by acting through other neurochemical pathways, including those involving dopamine (Scott 1997), noradrenaline (Han 1986), cortisol (Han 2004) and neuropeptide Y (Pohl 2002).
With EFT - Church, D., De Asis, M., & Brooks, A. J. (2012). Brief group intervention using EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) for depression in college students: Arandomized controlled trial. Depression Research & Treatment, 2012.
Each case is slightly different, so to discuss your symptoms further call 020 7370 4693 or email.
A case study from my clinic
I do not provide a case study since many patients who come to my clinic have depression, some may have been to a doctor about it, some may be medicated and have specialist medical help. However, there is not "typical" case, and the severity of symptoms can vary widely.
One of the over-riding benefits of treatment reported by most patients, whether they've come for their emotional state, or not, is that they feel "just different" in a positive way. Nothing has changed externally, but everything feels different internally.
For some, it feels two steps forward, and one step back. Getting a long-term shift in mood and mental patterns is often not achieved overnight, but little by little there are cognitive shifts that incrementally lead to changes in different parts of patient's lives. It generally takes time to effect long-term change.
Lifestyle advice for depression
- Exercise 3-5 times a week - but not excessively
- Take a walk in nature for 30 mins or more
- Soak for 20 mins in a really hot bath with Epsom Salts (1 handful) and Sea Salt (half handful)
- Write a journal
- Engage with your creativity
- Take up dancing or singing
- Have more physical intimacy with your partner
- Watch a funny film or read a light-hearted book
- Don't overwork and obsess with computer / phone / tablet, etc
- Spend time with a cat or dog!
- Talk to someone
- Sugar (including chocolate)
- Processed foods
- Recreational drugs
Eat lots of:
- Fresh veg and fruit
- Oily fish
- Multivitamin high in Vitamin B
- Magnesium (if difficulty sleeping)
- 5-HTP - if this has no effect try:
- St John's wort
Personal Peace Procedure
This is a method incorporating EFT, whereby we neutralise the emotions of any negative experiences we've had in our life. Once we are liberated from events we wish had never happened, we clear negative patterns and beliefs, which paves the way to health, happiness and limitlessness in what's possible for us.
The process: make a list of events in your life that you wish had never happened - especially those between the ages of 3-25 years.
Either give each event a brief description or a title as though it were a film. Also notice the emotional intensity - if any, that you feel as you think of them (although you may have dissociated from the pain), record any intensity as x/10 - where 10 is maximum intensity.
Now systematically go through the memory of that event, and use the EFT tapping on any emotional intensity any part of the memory provokes. (It may be you need a few EFT sessions to feel confident of the process.)