Life has ups and downs – peaks and valleys. It is really like a rollercoaster ride – slow ascents and fast descents. Sometimes the descent is so fast that we hit the valley experience of life and get stuck there. This stagnate place is aptly named depression.
Let us be honest. We all have landed in that valley-so-low at some point. It really does not matter how we got there as it is a part of the human experience. But what does matter is how long we stayed there. A long stay can result in a serious emotional illness.
It is important for us, especially as women, to identify when we are having emotional distress that is leading to depression. Sometimes the symptoms can be subtle and manifest into strange behaviors.
Symptoms of depression in women include:
• persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
• loss of interest or pleasure in activities, including sex
• restlessness, irritability, or excessive crying
• feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness, hopelessness, pessimism
• sleeping too much or too little, early-morning awakening
• appetite and/or weight loss or overeating and weight gain
• decreased energy, fatigue, feeling “slowed down”
• thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
• difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
• persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain
It is rumored that healthcare professionals have on the average about 7 minutes to spend with a patient. So, the knee-jerk response to addressing depression, especially in women, is to prescribe anti-depressants. Also, in some cases, middle-aged women with menopausal symptoms have been prescribed anti-depressants instead of hormone replacement therapy.
It is reported that 1 in 3 women have used anti-depressants at some time in their life and that 46 percent of women currently using them have done so for at least five years. It is truly an epidemic.
Plus, the anti-depressants have side effects that can possibly exacerbate the situation. Have you ever really listened to the television advertisements for anti-depressants? The list of the side-effects is twice as long as the description of the benefits!
Of course, there are valid medical (hormonal levels) and psychological reasons (childhood trauma, family predisposition, etc.) for depression but there are also some opinions that many forms of depression are normal and natural – serving an evolutionary purpose as an adaptive response to pain and affliction.
This school of thought indicates that taking anti-depressants can prohibit the mind and body from working through a needed struggle. It is also suggested that one of the best antidotes for depression is a strong, non-judgmental support system.
In other words, you need a strong, caring, trustworthy girlfriend with good listening skills.
This recommendation resonated with me as this has been my approach through those “valley” moments in my life and I have sought to be that type of friend to my girlfriends when I detected they were having “valley” moments.
Here are some other natural methods to combat depression:
• Eat a balanced diet, avoiding foods with high sugar content.
• Take a good multivitamin-mineral combination, including omega-3’s (EPA and DHA).
• Make sure you get adequate Vitamin D, preferably from the natural sunlight.
• Get at least 8 hours of sleep each night.
• Exercise 4–6 times a week for 30–60 minutes, preferably outdoors.
• Avoid alcohol.
• Try drug-free relaxation methods such as transcendental meditation or yoga.
A really good tip is to use this “valley” opportunity to take a view into what is going on in your life and how you are feeling about it. Usually, you will find there are valid reasons for the depression. This realization can prompt you to actively seek the appropriate help and start that “ascent” out of the valley.
Remember, there is a reason the ascent on life’s rollercoaster is slower than the descent. We have a lot to evaluate and retain as we rise up.
Have you ever used anti-depressants for depression? If so, please share your experience.
Have you ever had a girlfriend that really helped you out of a “valley” moment in your life? If so, please share your experience.
Would you rather take anti-depressants instead of hormone replacement therapy for menopausal symptoms?
Do you believe that some forms of depression is normal and natural in the human experience?