Browsing: Depression

Depression and the Artistic Process

I have always had an interest in the symptoms of depression and how this condition affects artists and other visionary thinkers differently than the general population. I read an interesting article this morning about President Barack Obama's ambitious $ 100 million project to map the brain. This article “To Crack Human Brain's Code, a Search for Visionaries” explores this search and motivated me go back into notes on visionary thinking I have gathered over the last few decades. Especially notes I had gathered about visionaries who also suffered from depression symptoms.

The best books for depression will typically explore the relationship between highly creative people such as artists of all types while exploring exactly what a visionary is. In my way of thinking a visionary is an individual with clarity of thought, a passion for a clearly defined experience, and foresight on how that passion may manifest. This is a very different way of thinking from the process one has who is content with just having goals? A vision often arises when a person combines a natural curiosity with a sense of deep introspection. In time this evolves into a passion so vast in scope that it can be described as nothing less than a “transcendental vision.”

You can probably recognize a vision at the first meeting. Over time, you notice he is different than the ordinary person. In conversation he may appear particularly intense but not in a negative way. He is not the type of person inclined to banter around light cocktail party conversation or enter into a conversation about the weather. Of course this is all a generalization. Visionaries are unique to themselves and tend to express who they are in different and often unusual ways. Because they are always unsure of what normal reality is the visionary is a focused and skilled visionary is a force of nature. What he has the ability to do is change the external landscape, enroll large groups of people into his vision, and harness as well as utilize formerly dormant resources in the service of that vision. He is able to shift opinion and impact society in ways that the most skilled futurists, economists, and influence peddlers could do effectively.

Why do visionsaries need to create strategies to cope with depression? For one they do not fit in to ordinary situations. How do ordinary people respond while they hear a visionary describe his ideas? It is like conversing with any artist; it is not always easy to follow the stream of thoughts expressed by a visionary and yet you understand that something unique and interesting is being presented. Part of why this happens is because a visionary artist or highly creative person is often inclined to speak of an ideal that seems totally unrealistic. Imagine speaking to the Wright Brothers – two bicycle manufacturers – a year before they took flight on Kitty Hawk in 1903. Imagine speaking to Gandhi or the inventors of the personal computer, the telegraph, the telephone, the ballpoint pen, or robotic surgery before their visions took form.

Even if a vision seems unrealistic these visionaries continue working to bring their ideas to fruition? The perception that a vision is unrealistic does not deny the fact that there is a delight in having the intention for achieving and experiencing that ideal. Often it is the hunger, the desire, the joy and the intention that in the end bringing the vision to fruition.

Now having a brilliant idea does not automatically make a person a visionary. But having an idea can open the door to the visionary process. Obviously the term visionary can mean different things to different people. I have a personal interest in the idea of ​​conservation and balance when I study great visionaries, artists and inventors and this has to do with my interest in healing depression naturally. Being a self destructive, mad genius has a dark seductiveness to it, but I am more interested in what I like to call the balanced visionary. This is the individual who is mentally clear and emotionally balanced. Such an individual must be dedicated, feel secure within himself or herself, and feel safe with those who are committed to working with him or her to bring a vision to fruition, including partners and members of his or her support system.

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What Can I Do To Help Myself When I Feel Depressed?

Did you know that depression is ten times more prevalent since 1945? It did not just jump to that figure in 1946, of course! But the reasons are not too hard to find. Ever since 1945, the speed of life has been gradually increasing, especially until computers came on the scene. Then it skyrocketed.

It is not just depression, but a whole plethora of mental conditions. But in this article, we're dealing with depression.

Broadly speaking, drugs are not the way to go, so far as treatment is concerned. This we'll discuss in future articles, but they do have set setbacks and while they can do good, they also have unpleasant side effects.

We all have our 'off' days. But if these days extend to one or two weeks, then something is certainly wrong. Some of the warning signs are

1. Feeling tired out when you wake up in the morning.

2. Poor concentration.

3. Worrying for no reason, and possibly having upsetting thoughts.

4. Things you used to enjoy no longer give you pleasure.

5. You become upset or emotional for no reason at all.

There are more, but those I've listed give you a good overview. Also, not all people have the same symptoms. I expect, though, that if you have been hit by depression, then two or more of those signs will be familiar to you.

But what can I do to help myself if I feel depressed? Now here, I'm jumping ahead rather, but the main thing is not to ruminate. Do not brood! Dreams play a great part in depression, but again, that's for another article. But while there are other methods about which we'll learn, this business of rumination is certainly one of the most important.

Suppose you've had an awful row with a college at work. As all too often happens when you row with someone, insults can be hurled, hurtful things said, which you would not dream of saying under normal circumstances. Occasionally, you both walk away, steaming. Nothing's been resolved, feelings have been badly hurt on both sides, and a person you looked on as a friend is now no longer.

You drive home, still seething, and your mood carries on through the evening and when you go to bed. You sleep fitfully and have strange, disturbing dreams.

You wake up in the morning, feeling exhausted, but off you go to work. Now the best thing you can do is try to mend wings with your friend. Yes, it's tough, but you'll feel a whole lot better if you do.

So if you do feel depressed, pursue a hobby or better still, mix with people. The other way you can ruminate is if you are on your own, you start to think about things that happened years ago. Some girl that dumped you and you still feel mad about it when you think of her. So swing your mind round to pleasant thoughts.

Believe me, you'll feel better for it.

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Are There Many Causes For Depression?

Before we look at the cause, or more accurately, causes, of depression, let's have a quick look at the symptoms.

We're discussing clinical depression here, not just a day or two of feeling a bit 'down'. Clinical depression is often called a mental illness, but the fact is it can have as many physical symptoms as mental. The mental side comes first, but this can lead to certain physical discomforts.

It's very necessary to understand this mental / physical side of depression and the accompanying symptoms, if for no other reason than you can be blindsided by the physical part, wondering why the heck you've having aches and pains that you've never had before . So let's have a look at some of the symptoms. If you're already depressed, then the following are likely to sound familiar.

1. You have no self confidence.

2. Thinking with any clarity is almost impossible.

3. Feelings of failure, and

4. Burdensome to others.

5. Life is not worth living, especially as you can not see any future.

6. Either you do not want to see other people, or you feel fear if left alone.

7. Rumination or brooding. I know we've covered this, but another look will not hurt. If you prefer to be alone, you may spend a lot of time either thinking about the past; what went wrong and when. What should have gone right, but did not. However, let's turn now to the causes of depression. The three most commonly held views are as follows. What is the cause of depression?

1. That it's a medical disease, the result of a hormonal imbalance.

2. It's caused by certain types of thinking.

3. Bad experiences in the past.

To begin with, depression is not a disease. The physical symptoms of depression are not causes. Mind you, depression can feel like a physical illness, because of the exhaustion, pain and loss of appetite attendant to it.

The second thing to consider is thinking styles. Just because things suddenly go wrong in your life, this does not mean for one moment that depression will set in. People will re-act to adversity in different ways and yes, it can not be denied that there are those who will become depressed for one reason that will leave others completely free of the condition.

You may suffer terrible, traumatic occurrences and become depressed, but this does not mean that the occurrence itself caused the depression. Probably the worst and most horrific conditions endured for years by men and women were the horrific concentration camps like Auschwitz and Dachau.

Now, I have no doubt that many of the poor people in these ghastly places came out in deep depression, but by no means all. What happens to a person, however terrible, and how they relate to it, is the link. I am not suggesting that it's their fault. Nothing could be further from the truth.

When you start thinking in a depressive fashion, it's extremely difficult to break.

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Depression: Feeling Blue?

Many people use the term depression very loosely. We love to say “I am depressed” to mean that we are feeling sad, down in the dumps or simply to be over-dramatic about things. We know that being depressed and being sad are synonymous or rather overlap in meaning (no two words in the English language are perfectly synonymous) but this is far from accurate.

Depression does involve feeling sad but people who are sad are not always depressed. Depression is, to begin with, a much more intense sadness. It is a sadness that is deeper and does not seem to budge. It is haunting for the sufferer and conditions their life in a way that sadness does not. Depressed people lose interest in doing the things that loved, in socializing and meeting their friends, they suffer from insomnia or erratic sleep, feel tired all the time and have memory lapses – this is just to mention just a few things.

Depression is there to stay without you do something about it. It rarely just goes away on its own especially if your situation does not change. You could be depressed because some alcohol abuse or drug abuse but you could also be suffering from post natal depression, depression as a result of a trauma or loss of someone you loved. Depression is such a complex and varied condition of which there are so many different types.


Treatment is one of several. People with depression need someone to talk to and help them out of their state of depression. They could use the services of a psychologist (sometimes psychotherapists or a cognitive behavioral therapist). Sometimes depression is due to patterns of thoughts that become ingrained, ways of seeing the world that need to be changed. A qualified therapist can help change a depressed person's negative views.

Medication could be a very important aspect of treating depression. This is because depression is also a physical condition just like diabetes. It is caused by certain changes in the brain structure and in the balance of special brain chemicals known as neurotransmitters. Prolonged stress on the brain can lead to these changes which make a person depressed. There are various drugs which can be prescribed to you to help you get through your depression.

Tricyclic antidepressants, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors are the main groups. In each of these three, there are many different medications that can used. Many times depressed people need to juggle and try different medications as what may work for one person might not actually work for another person.

Ideally you make the best of both and take medication as well as see a therapist. If you feel alone and constantly wondering whether you are the only one feeling the way you do then you could try group therapy. In group therapy you share your experiences with other people with your same condition. It could be a huge relief and help you deal with it better: to hear people going through those very same experiences that you thought only you had.

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Is It My Fault That I Have Depression?

Until a few years ago, it was often difficult to establish a connection between the mental side of depression and the physical symptoms. Then, along comes Dr. Joseph Griffin of the European Therapy Studies Institute. This brilliant man made a connection between dreams and depression, thereby making the treatment of this disorder far easier.

Now here comes our old friend, rumination. Do you ruminate or brood about things that happened way in the past, or some nebulous future event? As you know, we've covered rumination before, but lt has it must be made quite clear that it achieves nothing whatever.

Did you know that depressed people dream three times more than those who do not have depression? This breakthrough in understanding dreaming, is what makes depression treatment so much easier. The dreaming part works in this way.

Supposing you've borrowed something from your next door neighbor. You know he's a bit mad at your tardiness at returning it. You're a bit nervous about going round to his house, even to return the article, but finally you square your shoulders, pick up whatever it is he may have lent you, and round you go. He's pleased to have the item back again, and you're very pleased that the matter has been put to rest.

But assuming you've been putting it off and off, until it's really worrying you. The concern will be with you all day, and when you go to bed that night, and probably a lot of nights before and after. If you keep worrying about this, or you've been brooding about anything else, then you'll probably have the same dream night after night.

On the other hand, if there's nothing particularly onerous going on in your life, your brain will complete it's work of dreaming and 'repairing' your body. We dream every night, of course, but the chances are you can not remember them when you wake up in the morning. That's a good sign. Under normal circumstances, your mind cleanses your brain of everything that is of no use to you, so that when you wake in the morning, you feel refreshed.

But you ask; 'Is it my fault that I have depression?' No, absolutely not. You dream in metaphor. You may have a dream that comes reasonably close to what you were thinking about when wake. That in itself is fine. It's when you sit there brooding and ruminating that the trouble starts.

The more negative thoughts you pile into your brain, the more you'll dream and the more work the brain has to do. Dreaming occurs during REM sleep, or Rapid Eye Movement. But this is not the good, deep restful sleep that we all need. So if REM is not restful sleep, it does not take a rocket scientist to understand that you'll 'wake' in the morning feeling quite exhausted.

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Is Medication Always The Answer?

Students are more commonly depressed these days than people even imagine. Some will say society is to blame, that students lives are much more complex and challenging than they used to be, while others will turn the blame onto doctors saying they just give medication away.

The argument that children's lives are more complex and challenging these days holds up better than accusing the doctors. In certain situations it very well may be a doctor is looking to promote a certain drug, or may just be careless in who and why they give medication out to. But more often than not these days doctors do not want to prescribe medication, especially to children. Depending on the severity of the child's problem, maybe medication is not the answer. There are many ways a student can channel their anger or sadness, such as joining a team or club, or finding other healthy interests to occupy their time with. Some things can be more effective than a drug, because what do most drugs do to a child anyway? Mask the problem. Parents, along with the help from other outside resources, need to find what the root of their child's problem is in order to help them instead of just sweeping it under the rug.

Sometimes parents are the ones partially to blame for their child's depression, because they do not want to deal with it. As a parent it is easier to prepare the problem is not there, or to have someone else deal with it because it is easier, or the parent is too stressed or busy. But often times it could be something so simple. If we just take the time to talk to our students or children to find out exactly how they feel and what is bothering them we can find a way to deal with it together, and do not have to mask them with medications to put them at ease. Some other alternatives could be signaling them up for a sports team so they can be apart of something, helping them find a club at school that catches their interest, taking them to talk to a therapist without prescription medications. It could be something as simple as the child just needs to talk. Getting them involved with other kids their own age could have been a positive spin to their lives. If they have someone they can refer and talk to that may ease some of their own stress and pressure.

There are just so many different outlets available for kids these days, I think it is a bad decision to automatically jump to medications to fix their problems. Whether we want to face the facts or not, children's lives are more difficult these days, coming out of separated homes, only having one parent in their lives, parents that work too much which forces the oldest child to raise their siblings, drugs, alcohol ; so many stressors around their lives daily that they do not have any control over. But, we need to teach them, they do have control over themselves, and there are ways to be positive that do not involve medicines. They just need the proper help and guidance from loved ones surrounding them to show the healthy way.

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What Are Endorphins, and More Importantly How Do We Get Them?

Endorphins are known as mood enhancers, and these brain chemicals can put us in a better mood and for some even a euphoric state. Knowing what can set off these mood enhancers without taking drugs or medication will be much better for our long-term health. Exactly what are they? Breaking down the word, endorphin means “morphine-like substance produced by the body”.

The reason humans developed this ability to create endorphins is not to get into euphoric state, but as a stress mechanism to reduce our perception of pain. So when we exercise over a long period of time, such as running a marathon (known as a “runners high”), endorphins are released in response to the pain. This endorphin release varies among people. Studies have shown that there are other ways to stimulate endorphin secretion, such as acupuncture and message therapy. The practice of meditation has also been used by some people.

There is one other way that has been known to produce levels of endorphins in some people: food. These are some of the foods that are known to release endorphins.

1. Chocolate. Some people really crave this during times of stress, and chocolate has long been considered the best food to cause the release of certain neurotransmitters. These are the molecules that transmit signals between neurons in the brain. Is what chocolate special is a unique neurotransmitter that is released by chocolate called phenylethylamine. This is known to cause feelings of excitation as it works as an amphetamine. Fortunately it will increase our mood and diminish depression without causing addiction.

2. Oranges. Because they are high in vitamin C, they are a great endorphin producer. They also are excellent sources of antioxidants, the B vitamins and flavonoids.

3. Chili peppers. They actually release endorphins and the hotter the better. It is thought that it is because of the pain factor with hot peppers. (Remember, endorphin release is a response to pain).

To further complicate things, we will bring up another term: serotonin. What is the relationship between this and endorphins? Serotonin and endorphins are two of six main neurotransmitters produced naturally by the brain. Both are known to boost emotions, but endorphins are more intense. Endorphins are more likely to be triggered by physical exercise, along with the foods mentioned above. Serotonin release is more food-based.

There are many more foods that will produce the comforting effects caused by serotonin. Complex carbohydrates consumption has been known to improve serotonin levels, so some people have been known to unconsciously crave high-carb foods when they need rest. Instead of eating refined sugars, opt for complex carbohydrates like starchy vegetables, oatmeal, whole-grain cereals and legumes.

One must be very careful not to eat foods for a “serotonin effect” en masse, as they can become habit-forming and lead to overweight. Even chocolate, which has a reputation for producing the endorphin high, must be consumed in moderation to prevent unwanted side effects. In tests, it was found that the amount of chocolate for optimum health is a very small amount. To give a visual of how much chocolate is the right amount, it is about one square of chocolate a day or half of a small chocolate Easter egg in a week's time. Obviously, more is not better.

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Natural Mood Elevators

Our moods depend on a complicated interplay of factors, but the truth remains that some of us are more prone to mood variations than others. Depression and anxiety are among the most common mood disorders, and those that suffer these conditions may feel they are more easily affected by negative emotions and environmental cues. Do you cry easily during movies? Is a negative encounter at the bank likely to cause you to stress for the entire day? Do you have difficulty lifting yourself out of a depressing mood? Everyone struggles with a bad mood from time to time, but if you want to gain greater control over your mood, there are actually natural mood elevators available to you.

Natural remedies for mood elevation include B Vitamins, Omega 3 Fatty Acids, St. John's Wort, Lavender, and even sound therapies.

B Vitamins

B Vitamins are known to provide a boost to your immune system while also providing natural mood enhancement properties. Some B Vitamins are even converted into serotonin which is a naturally occurring neurotransmitter (brain chemical) that is associated with feelings of happiness. Excellent sources of B Vitamins include lean meats, bananas, beans, and potatoes.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Omega 3 Fatty Acids have received a lot of attention in health news over the past decade. In fact, these fatty acids are great for heart health and can help combat depression. Cold-water oily fish such as salmon, anchovies, and sardines are great sources for Omega 3 Fatty Acids, but you can also find these acids as a supplement in many products including yogurt.

St. John's Wort

St. John's Wort is a commonly used herbal supplement for everything from a topical remedy for wounds to a treatment for depression. In fact, it has been used for hundreds of years in the treatment of depression and is easily accessible at your local drug store.


Used in aromatherapy to improve relaxation, lavender releases an essential oil that is also an effective mood elevator.

Sound Therapy

Finally, extensive research has shown that sound therapies can target brainwave patterns to improve mental states. Combined harmonics and subliminals can improve mood and motivation just by listening to the sounds. Depression may be the result of poor sleep, lack of interest in our usual activities, fatigue, or general sense of dissatisfaction. Sound therapies help to change an individual's mood state, prevent depression, and improve motivation and relaxation.

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Depression and Locus of Control

The concept of locus of control is huge and defines how we approach almost everything in life. It is a thinking style that reflects to how you perceive the cause of life's events. Do you believe that your destiny is controlled by you or by external forces such as luck, chance or fate? Locus of control is very closely tied to depression and hopelessness. Research studies in these areas have long exhibited a direct correlation between mood and these thinking patterns.

There are thought to be two types of locus of control:

1. Internal Locus of control- This is the belief that our opportunities are contingent on what we do to make them happen- our own decisions and efforts. We tend to accept responsibility as well as credit for our actions. This orientation has been shown to generate more effort and willingness to take risk as well as be behind high motivation and perseverance. If good things happen, I deserve credit for my hard work or abilities, if something bad happens, it is due to something I did wrong or could have done better.

2. External Locus of Control- This is the belief that our opportunities are contingent on events outside our control- luck, chance or fate. When bad things happen or we have in a poor fashion we tend not to take ownership of it. “The government was late with my check, it was not my fault I needed money and had to rob the 7-11”. On the flip side, if something good happens or we are successful at something we take no ownership of that either ie, if we get a job we wanted to assume there were no other mandates or the employer was in a hurry to hire someone.

In general it is considered to be more psychologically healthy to possess a certain level of internal locus of control. Locus of control is a large learned concept. It may be a response to circumstances and in the case of toxic environments it is easy to see where this may go haywire. In general people with a more internal locus of control tend to have better paying jobs, be more achievement oriented and more resilient in the face of adversity. They tend to suffer from less depression, anxiety and other emotional ills.

Perhaps you have been told by someone that you have no ability or are no good and worthless, chances are you then did not develop internal locus of control. You felt if something good happened it must be due to luck as you have no ability or innate worth. Not only parents are guilty of this message to young people but sometimes teachers and counselors as well. If this starts at a very young age it is easy to see where the seeds of depression have been planted.

If you were never held to task for actual bad behavior you may have developed an external locus of control. You may also have developed a sense of entitlement. Your ego may not be able to handle the thought of a mistake or failure of some sort. This usually stems from a deep segregated feeling of insecurity and inferiority. Perhaps you have been given the message that your circumstances are due to other's greed, a faulty government or some other perceived unfairness.

It is actually healthy to have a bit of both thinking styles in your repertoire. If you fail and then tell yourself you are totally a loser when sometimes there were some extenuating circumstances then you are not likely to try again. If you are able to say, I did my best but it was hard due to lack of knowledge, or just some specific circumstance like weather you are more likely to believe you will experience success again in the future.

So where are you right now? Do you believe your prospects so far in life have been a product of your own abilities, actions and ideas or have they been a set of random circumstances brought on by fate? Please take a minute and exam where you believe yourself to be. You need to be very honest here with yourself if you are examining less than ideal behaviors and kind to yourself if you have been doing nothing out of a belief that you are not capable.

When something bad happens, you will be able to examine it to see where maybe you could have done better or where you made a mistake. We all make mistakes. If something environmental was taking place it is OK to place some responsibility on that as well. Ie, it was raining and I could not get good footing in the race. I did not do well on my proposal because the kids were noisy and I could not concentrate. Then make sure next time you find a quiet place to work. If there is something to be learned from the experience, learn it and move on. Do not beat yourself up and it's not the end of the world. Maybe you made a huge mistake and it cost you a relationship or savings account. You still have to move on and learn from it. If you lost your job because you showed up drunk, that is your fault and not due to the fact that your friends kept you up partying all night. It was your responsibility to get to work.

When something good happens, you will also be able to take credit for it. The great guy or girl is dating you because they like you not because there is no one else available. You got the job because you are qualified and obviously did well in the interview, not because there were no other applicants or the HR person was sick that day and wanted to get the process over with. You have a nice home because you worked hard to earn the money for it. Taking credit is fine. You are not bragging or being arrogant, its just the way it is. If someone or something else contributed to your success, gives them some credit too, there is enough to go around. But know that you created whatever the event was.

Once you master these two principals it simplifies life tremendously. It gives you the springboards to work from that are now clear. You will learn to remove the cognitive obstacles that keep you from living to your full potential or continuing to live in a cycle of defeatist behaviors. We waste time waiting for luck or chance if we are externally oriented. If we know we have some ability we can act now. Once this concept is clear to you and you have examined and tweaked your locus of control many doors will open that were before closed. Regardless of how your orientation came to be, it can now be right and you do not have to spend a lot of time on it.

Locus of control is a tool and a concept that you can master that opens up the world to you in a whole new light. I know you might think this sounds too simple but it is not. You may need to find a mentor, coach or therapist with knowledge in this area for some ongoing help as you identify your own patterns of thought and try to decide which ones stay and which ones go. Being armed with the tools to be in control of your life feels really good. Locus of control is not a new psychological principle, it has been around for years. Think of yourself as a student learning concepts that your parents could not or did not teach you. Or maybe they did and you just did not grasp the relevance to your life in that moment. You are not being asked to disregard or lose an important part of yourself or change your personality, you are simply adding a cognitive skill base that allows you to be happier and more productive and feel in control of yourself.

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Depression and Disorganization

Although it appears to be a mundane sort of thing, I find disorganization and chaos to be one of the biggest problems reported by depressed and anxious individuals.

The symptoms of feeling overwhelmed and not wanting to face the day often stem from not knowing where to start or not wanting to face the mountain of tasks that lay ahead. I have found folks to be so bogged down with even the everyday task of leaving the house on time that their entire day is a mess before they ever get started and they are frazzled by 8 am. There are children screaming, pets need walking, work begins at a certain time, the laundry is not done and available clothing is something picked out of the bin from the week before that did not make it to the dry cleaner. Stress chemicals are running rampant and irritability and panic set in as well as resentment of the household, job, family and whatever else.

What is worse is that typically if disorganization is a problem at home it is a problem at work as well. A cluttered desk, half finished tasks and deadlines not met are the work version of the problem and are with you all day. Does your car look like a homeless person's shopping cart? If so, none of your major environments is peaceful. There is nothing pleasant about your surroundings and this is a major stressor.

The problem is not that you have too much to do or work full time, it is that you have not found a routine and organizational plan that works yet or you found one but are not consistent in following the plan.

Running around willy nilly, being chronically late, never being able to find things and having a dirty or sloppy house are stressful conditions and contribute to the anxiety depression cycle. Things scattered about affect your ability to concentrate and irritability sets in if not outright anger. Reflect on what your thoughts are while this is going on, those thoughts probably sound something like this:

“I will be late for work and get fired because it happens all the time.”
“My children will be late for school and marked tardy for the 5th time.”
“I can not find that project that needs to be in by 9AM.”
“I am going to have to eat fast food because I do not have time to make breakfast and I am already 20 pounds overweight.”
“I can not find my keys so I can not get to work.”
“I can not even look at the sink because it is so full of dirty dishes.”
“The dog has a snarled hairball the size of Rhode Island and I do not have time to get him to the groomers.”
“Whoops, I forgot the dog at the groomers.”

You get the picture. Not one of these thoughts brings peace and serenity in your brain. They are alarming at best and exhausting at worst. Just think about if you have more than one of them each day just in the first hour of waking up. Your physiological response to each of these involves your brain chemicals and stress hormones and you can see why they are going to be off balance right from the get go. Cortisol is gobbling up serotonin at the speed of sound. Being organized with your things and your time makes you more effective, more peaceful, more efficient and more successful in general. Being organized feels good.
Look around your house. It should be your sanctuary, not a hell hole screaming your name to come clean it. The house and time management issues are all about the planning and execution of a schedule and routine. If something is not getting done or is causing you distress in the household it is because you have not found the right system for you.

Very simply, a place for everything and everything in its place is a good saying to live by and you should consider it your new mantra. Think of the simplicity of that statement. Yet this is the biggest bug-a-boo I see, not knowing where you left your car keys, clothing, sports equipment, check book, you name it. I use to struggle with these issues myself and after getting dressed in the dry cleaners parking lot, having to ask the grocery store to put my groceries besides till I got back with my checkbook that I forgot or lost for the moment and finding a year old half bagel under my car seat I realized there had to be a better way.

We often allow our emotional state to dictate these types of practical matters. “I am so depressed I do not care what the house looks like.” “I am so nervous I can not concentrate.” “I am so ADD, I will never be able to organize myself.” It does not matter if you are depressed or anxious, your house and time need streamlining and with that that comes a lessening of your symptoms. You will feel an immediate shift just stemming from the empowerment you are giving yourself and the taking control of your life. If you really are ADD then organization and time management are the very set of skills that you require.

Getting Started:

To get started take an inventory of the areas where you need organizing. Maybe there is just one area out of control or maybe the entire place needs an overhaul. Either way it can get done and not be overwhelming by breaking it into sections and tasks. The major areas that cause disruption are your house, car, purse or wallet, finances and paperwork. Maybe it is just time management and not organization that will benefit you.

I am now going to take you through a general plan that you can institute immediately.

Get out a pad of paper and look around. Jot down room by room what the major problems are such as laundry everywhere, kid's toys, paper clutter, etc … Where are the major stressors?

1. Now go to where these items would ideally reside. Is there enough room for them all to be put away at once? Do you need to get rid of some of it or do you need more space or better organization of it? If you have enough space then it is probably more a problem of time management and routine, if there is not enough space you may be keeping too much stuff or just do not have the proper storage.

2. If you do not have an appointment calendar please get one now. If you live alone a portable one will be fine, if you have a family please get a big one you can post somewhere as everyone needs to be involved.

3. On your pad of paper list every activity for the week that has to be performed and how long it takes. For instance work-9-5, travel time 30 minutes each way. That is 9 hours of your day plus how long it takes you to shower and get ready. Ballet lessons for daughter one hour plus travel time on Wednesdays only. Put everything down and then write them in pencil on your new calendar. This shows you where your free time is going to be.

4. Dedicate some of that free time to getting yourself together. It will not take that long despite it looks daunting right now.

5. List all chores that require travel such as groceries and dry-cleaning. Can you do those on your way home from work? Can you do them all at once in order to be more efficient rather than make multiple trips? Decide on a good time and put that on your calendar also.

6. Think through your routine routine, this is usually where the day starts to go downhill. How much time do you need to get yourself ready? Pets? Kids? Breakfast? Pick up house before you leave so as not to come home to depressing mess? If you have a family I suggest getting up 2 hours prior to when you need to leave or when they need to be out the door. This gives you time to get ready, get them up and ready, prepare and have breakfast as a family and squeeze in a 30 minute walk or exercise of some sort. In order to do this you will need to have already planned the night before for things such as:

a. Lunches
b. Clothing
c. Homework
d. Projects of your own
e. List of priorities for day, knowing exactly where to focus your energies on any given day.
f. Gas in car

7. Now think through your routine. How do you get the above things done? Is there too much stuff in your evenings? Maybe the kids are in too many activities or you need help getting them around. Are you eating healthy food at night? Are you eating too late and not cleaning up because you are exhausted? Then you have to get up to a mess and again it's all downhill from there. Remember you are in control of your schedule and your life, and sometimes too much is just too much. Even though you are trying to provide a quality of life by having many activities available for your family it is not a quality of life if you are depressed and agitated and the house is a mess and you are eating at drive thrus every night. Think about the memories you are creating.

Now you know where the problems areas are and where your time may be being wasted. Here are some general guidelines that will make a world of difference immediately if you put them to work for you.


1. Keep dishes and plates put away all the time, fill dishwasher after every meal.

2. Do a good cleaning once a week. Enlist the family, including children, to help especially in their own rooms. Many people feel guilty making their children learn chores but there is nothing to feel guilty about. They are simply participating in the household and will have to run their own households someday. If they learn now they will not have to struggle with these issues later.

3. Keep money matters in one place as well as files for all your important papers and issues such as credit card information, taxes, medical, legal, travel, etc … something the minute you want it.

4. A place for everything and everything in its place. It's really that simple.

5. Go with a schedule for cleaning, weekly daily, monthly and seasonally and stick to it.


To be a financial mess is very depressing and anxiety provoking. It also can damage relationships if you and your partner have a very different style of organizing finances. You have to take control of your finances. If your wife or husband does all the financial recording and planning for the family, still make sure you understand what is going on, what accounts you have and whose name is on them. What happens to them if the other person dies or in the case of divorce? There is never a reason in a marriage for each person not to be fully aware of family finances. If you and your mate keep separate finances that is fine, just be in control of yours and ones that your name is on at all times.

Many of us do not learn about money as children or just have never made it a point to learn it as an adult. Some of us feel uncomfortable with it. But every day we have to pay for things, we have to eat and live somewhere and it takes money to do all these things. Saying you are not good with money is like saying you are not comfortable with buttoning your clothes. There are great books and websites written on financial matters, find the system that works for you and utilize it.


Does your car look like you live in it? This too is very stressful and carries chaos from your home into your driving. You will be more distracted and harried while driving if your car is a mess.

1. Clean it out daily from anything you may have eaten, wrappers, coffee cups, etc …
2. Wipe console free of dust and grime with a wipe made for this to free your view of dirt.
3. Take it to car wash once a week if finances right or at least every other. Allow them to vacuum it and wipe it down.
4. Each child riding in car is responsible for their own seat area if old enough.
5. Dog nose prints on window wiped off daily.

Purse / Wallet

Another war zone, filled with extra papers, bunched up money, cough drops, candy with dirt embedded in wrapper, year old receipts, hair items and cosmetics, this is a virtual dumping ground of things we collect daily. None of them should be here.

Go through all purses and wallets and take out all junk.

Vacuum or wipe out purse.

Time Management

Chances are you need some help in this department also. Taking on too much as well as not being organized definitely places you on the road to depression and being overwhelmed. There is only so much time and only one of you. In order to manage time effectively you have to take control of it and yourself, and not allow things to get in your way. Prioritize what has to be done on any given day and do those things first.

Work routines are very important also. Studies have shown that significant amounts of time are wasted daily by excessive email and social media use. If you are checking your face book page you are not getting your tasks done and they are building up, ready to cause you more stress. Set daily goals and priorities, then finish them.

As stated before, these are just general guidelines to gaining peace and control of your life, but they will get you started and provide immediate results as well as significant reduction in your symptoms of anxiety and / or depression.

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How to Spot the Signs of Post Natal Depression

As many as 1 in 10 mothers suffer from post natal depression. I'm not talking about the baby blues, which can leaving you feeling a little low for a few days but soon wears off. I'm talking about a mother feeling consistently down over a period lasting much longer than a week.

Our first son is now 2 and a half years old. The time has flown by. But for most of that time my wife has been suffering with post natal depression. She is only really beginning to get better now. It has been a long road to recovery, but I want to give others hope that it can be done.

One of the common triggers for post natal depression can be a traumatic birth experience. Example of this might be an emergency caesarian, a long labor, large amount of blood loss. Giving birth can be exhausting which can be mentally and emotionally draining. This can leave a new mother feeling vulnerable.

There is a commonly held belief that a mother will instantly bond with her newborn baby when it is first given to her and that magic skin on skin contact occurs. However, these places a lot of expectation on a new mother and if she does not feel that bond straight away, this can easily lead very quickly to a feeling of failure as a mother.

Once a new mother has returned from hospital, a routine is normally established around the new baby's sleep and feeding patterns. This can quickly become monotonous for a mother whoo has not yet bonded well with her baby or over the baby blues.

By the time the father has returned to work, for a mother with postnatal depression, this can lead to feelings of loneliness and monotony. There are signs that would indicate possible post natal depression:

  • low mood
  • anxiety
  • feeling unloved as a mother
  • lack of interest in sex
  • feeling helpless
  • not making eye contact
  • feeling like you're a bad mother

If either you or your partner suspect that the mother has post natal depression, then it is important to ask for help as soon as possible. Sometimes this help can come from family who may be able to help out. Alternately, this can come from friends. However, it is also important to get medical help. Seeking the advice of a medical professional, such as a doctor, nurse, midwife can all be helpful and they may be able to put you in touch with some form of therapy to start you on the road to recovery. There are often support groups available for mothers suffering with post natal depression. Do not suffer in silence, get some help, your family all need it.

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Work and Rest and Being Depressed

“Noble deeds and hot baths are the best cures for depression.”
~ Dodie Smith (1896-1990)

The author of One Hundred and One Dalmatians , Smith, states a rather simplistic suggestion, but one worthy of some thought, especially from the unfortune vantage point of helpless despair. There may just be something in what sees a throwaway line.

There are many forms of depression, as well as many stimuli to it, so simplistic answers are generally an anachronism of sense; they do not help. Instead they infuriate and polarize the sufferer from their seemingly dispersion world.

But let us entertain this throwaway line to see if it helps; let us move cautiously in the direction of a solution, even if a temporary solution, which, for depression, is generally the case in any event.


Many times part of the source of depression may be due to a lack of purpose. Two general causes are in view: a lack of purpose and achievement (task-caused) and a lack of relational satisfaction (relationship-caused). Work can help with both these ends, given that we can work for a purpose, achieve our objectives, and, in combination, it can be a perfect outlet to relate with other people in the completion of our tasks in non-threatening ways.

Work is work, but it has a complete other dimension when that work takes on real tangible meaning; when work is done for a higher purpose or higher calling.

Such a thing as noble work, like serving others in love, by giving them what they can not get without us, may not be the perfect solution, but it has some positive effect.


Sometimes fat plays too big a part in our lives, and many depressions are caused by burnout.

Perhaps it is no coincidence that those who suffer from depression may also suffer anxiety-related problems – they may tend to worry or find it hard to relax. Some of this anxiety is unconscious to the individual. There may be worry and tension underneath without so much as a clue within the grasp of conscious control.

Finding the opportunity, then, to take a hot tub, to get away alone, to have the senses massaged somehow; these and many more are good ideas to explore; anything to escape in healthy ways.


Sometimes, just sometimes, depressed occasions and seasons can be aided by a noble deed or timely restful encounter. These simplistic solutions do not always work, but often what we need is something rather simple; the challenge is finding just what.

Doing something worthwhile – whether it is work or rest – may just be what's needed.

© 2013 SJ Wickham.

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Peer Support For the Mentally Ill

Peer support for the mentally ill can be an important part of a recovery program for those suffering from mental illnesses. Who better knows the loneliness, heartache, and despairs often accompanies the presence of depression, anxiety, and psychosis than one who has traveled that road.

Picture a small child, six years old, who has just experienced a horrific hallucination. She saw a grotesque ant on the sidewalk. Screaming, she runs into her home to tell her mother who looks up from her ironing board and brushes her away. “You saw a large water bug.” The child is confused, frittened, and does not know how to express her inner turmoil.

She grows up not trusting, believing no one will ever understand her situation. Secrecy becomes her mantra when the hallucinations return during her teen years. That child was me, Barbara Altman, musician, music teacher, and psychotic.

She now knows there are plenty of resources, some of which come in the form of peer support, which comes in a variety of contexts including:

Small groups: Usually consisting of six to twelve members, these small gatherings act as a source of comfort, advice, and encouragement for sufferers. Members need not feel alone in these situations. They come together to share sorrows, victories, and plans for their future. Everyone understands their situation in a non-judicial manner.

Consumer providers: People who have suffered serious mental illness reach out to others and help with treatment. They may act as a job coach and as role models. They use their own experience in recovery to assist others in practical ways. Mental illness can be a definite deterant in the job market. Peer assistance can come in the form of looking for a job in line with one's capabilities and talents. Group members may need coaching in appearance, in ways to refer to co-workers, or in appropriate job expectations.

Consumer run services: Consumers plan, assessment, and deliver services. These include peer support groups, live in settings, case management, and obtaining government benefits. Many group members are employed by government agencies set up to help the mentally ill find and keep jobs. Housing also comes under this heading.

Mental illness can be an incredibly difficult issue to carry. Support from families, communities, and peers can be incredibly helpful in the processes of coping and building successful lives.

According to Paul Komarek and Andrea Schroer, authors of “Defying Mental Illness,” battling mental illness focuses on the nuts and the bolts. They recommend five strategies.

1. “Learn about what you are facing.” Get information on your disease. Become informed about its impact.

2. “Find allies to support you.” Get involved in support systems like Nami.

3. “Find resources to work with.” Again, look up community organizations designed to support you in your efforts to cope with your disease.

4. “Plan both long term and short term.”

5. “Follow your plan.”

Mental illness can be challenging, but with help from the community, it can be faced and managed quite well.

Blessings to all who have suffered and to all who are there to help.

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The 11 Symptoms Of Depression

Surely you've heard at least once somebody told an acquaintance that he suffers from depression. With the internet people are more informed and tend to put their own diagnosis of depression.

However, there is a difference between sadness and depression. Mourning the loss of a job, divorce or chronic diseases can lead to behaviors that can be confused with depression.

One of three people suffer from some form of depression and only some of them are treated. It has also been said the most common signs of depression are: loss of form, feeling the blues, morale, and being sad all the time. The main symptoms of bipolar disorder are represented by unpredictable and mood swings.

The difference between sadness and depression is that the first is an emotion, and the second is a disease. Clinical depression has two main components: intensity (strong symptoms interfering with daily life) and duration (symptoms are present most of the time, and the last half lasts more than two weeks continuously).

I present below 11 symptoms that may indicate that a person is not experiencing normal emotions of sadness and fleeting, but with clinical depression. It is important to know that symptoms vary from individual to individual and should not be present all the 11 symptoms at the same time.

Severity is also variable: can be mild or major depression. If found that the presence of these symptoms I recommend you seek psychotherapeutic help. Depending on the severity of depression I would recommend a psychotherapeutic intervention or a combination of psychotherapy and medication.

The 11 symptoms are:

1. Sadness, anxiety, and feeling emotionally confident trusting;

2. Feelings as hopelessness, worthlessness or helplessness;

3. Agitation and restlessness cup;

4. Frequent episodes of crying;

5. Fatigue and lack of energy;

6. Loss of interest in activities that previously created to pleasure;

7. Difficulty concentrating, remembering details and making of their decisions;

8. Sleep disorders – sleep excess / insufficient sleep;

9. Lack of appetite / eating excessively;

10. Thoughts of death or suicide;

11. Persistent pain, headache, muscle cramps or digestive problems that do not go after treatment.

Depression is a serious condition that requires support from loved ones. I know many think it's just lack of will, but in reality is much more complex and difficult. Those who suffer from depression need to be encouraged, understood, listened to and not criticized, minimized or pointing fingers. This disease has grown very large because we live in a society that focuses on competition and the desire to be perfect.

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Lower Your Cholesterol: Drugs or Natural Remedies?

Everyone will agree that good health is a blessing that should be cherished more than all the achievements and material possessions that one may have amassed through the course of life. However, equally true is the fact that there are very few people in this world who can claim to enjoy perfect health. The fast-paced life that everyone leads today has made them adopt incorrect lifestyles and harmful dietary habits. As a result, physical as well as mental diseases are on an increase all over the globe.

High cholesterol is one of the most rampant problems, affecting the young and the old alike. It is not very uncommon to see people who are barely in their late thirties resorting to medications to lower their cholesterol levels. However, not many of them are aware that these cholesterol lowering drugs (they are called statins because the names of all the drugs in this group end with 'statin') are reported to have mood altering effects. The statins block a key enzyme that is involved in cholesterol production in the body. At the same time, the indications are also thought to affect serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that helps maintain your good mood. The cholesterol reducing drugs are even thought to lower the brain's polyunsaturated essential fatty acids. These fatty acids are vital for the health of the brain and for ensuring your good mood. Therefore, their reduction translates into increased feelings of unhappiness and depression.

As people are becoming aware of the potential side effects of the medical drugs, they are turning towards natural cures and holistic treatments. Actually, all the aspects of your life are inter-linked and your overall well-being can not be ensured by treating any element in isolation. The combination of healthy diet, proper exercise and relaxed lifestyle can work wonders in achieving most of the common ailments. The experts of naturopathy claim that even a problem like high cholesterol can be quite effectively treated with the help of such natural remedies.

To reduce cholesterol, you should avoid saturated fats and consume high-fiber, omega-3 rich food. Quality proteins such as nuts, beans, seeds, lean animal protein, etc. should be included in the diet. Good sleep habits are also essential. Daily exercise like walking, cycling, dancing, aerobics, weight lifting, and other moderate intensity activities are beneficial in decreasing the cholesterol levels up to 20%. Moreover, exercising offers the added advantage of improving your good cholesterol level!

Now, what you prefer to lower your cholesterol- medication or healthy diet and lifestyle changes?

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