Anxiety and Depression Healing

Healing Personal Depression And Anxiety For Good

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Book Review published, December 2012 in Journal of Family and Child Studies

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2012: SERIOUS ALERT: Click Recent research confirmed an increase in risk of stroke, in addition to other multiple side effects in  people using anti-depressants.

Is “Depression” A Real “Disease”?
December 18, 2007
{© Jasenn Zaejian, 2007, originally published at Holistic Junction}

The feeling of “depression” may affect individuals as a result of many factors. The biopsychiatric-pharmaceutical industry would have us believe that every mood change or psychological problem is a result of a “chemical imbalance” that can be treated by a pharmaceutical prescription.  However, the concept of “chemical imbalance” has yet to be scientifically verified. In other words, there is no such thing as a "chemical imbalance" accounting for a "mental disease." However, research has established that constrictive emotions negatively impacts the immune system.

Chronic bitterness, hatred, anger, prolonged grief, and worthlessness are some ot the constrictive emotions. When chronic or ocurring most of the time, a negative effect on the immune system is one result. We become susceptible to diseases and infections when our immune function is lowered.

Holidays call up feelings of longing, remembrances of loss of loved ones, loneliness for those who are temporarily without a significant other.  Knowing this is temporary and lessening the attachment to the loss is healing.  So is forcing oneself to reach out to friends or attend group activities designed to promote relationships, .

If feeling "depressed," especially if no apparent associations or cause can be attributed to the feeling, it is important to first see a physician for a physical exam. Depression can be symptomatic of an underlying organic disorder, a cardiac problem or metabolic problem. 

Differing treatment philosophies

The foundations of current psychology and psychiatry practice can be traced to the philosophical roots of either structuralism or functionalism.  Bearing with me for a few paragraphs, to understand a bit about the history of psychology and healing, can clarify the differences among the many approaches offered by professionals. Keep in mind that there are theoretical disagreements in definitions. 

Mechanistic approaches, associated with structuralism and the behaviorist schools, are what most of us are familiar with.  The term mechanistic stems from the root, mechanics, described by Sir Isaac Newton in the late 17th and early 18th centuries e.g., Newtonian mechanics or classical physics. Newton has been considered by many to be the father of modern science.  He described the theories which explain phenomena in purely physical terms.  

The founding of structuralism is credited to Wilhelm Wundt of the University of Leipzig, in the 19th century.  This was the first major school of thought in psychology, separating it from philosophy.   Structuralism attempts to break down mental events or consciousness into it’s smallest elements through the use of introspection. 

Behaviorism considers an organism’s behavior to be a result of conditioning and responses to stimuli (disregarding introspection).  While behaviorism represented an initial reaction to structuralism, it has recently morphed into a more structuralist perspective with the advent of the cognitive-behavioral schools.   

The majority of contemporary medical and psychiatric thinking, as well as contemporary cognitive-behavioral approaches in psychology can be categorized as mechanistic, or subsumed under structuralism.   

The medical physician you visit for your annual physical, approaches your organism from a mechanistic perspective. Not unlike that of a machine.  This approach is crucial for detecting anomalies, irregular or broken parts.  Included in the history are a review of symptoms.  Symptoms are signs that something is amiss, yet not truly diagnostic of a disease until physical tests, many of which are analyzed by a computer, are conducted to confirm the origin or cause of the symptom.  Much like when you take your car into a mechanic and ask for a routine maintenance.  With modern cars, the mechanic hooks a computer with a cable into a port of your car.  The diagnostic computer connects to the car’s computer, producing a computer or screen printout review of the internal workings, highlighting any problems.  Same with modern humans. There is no physical test for depression.

Once the problem is diagnosed, the physician chooses from the armamentarium of established physical treatments, including pharmaceutical preparations that are thought to be specific to your problem. 

The diagnosis of depression is subjective, given no physical test.  The research literature cites a great range of variability in the effectiveness of pharmaceutical treatments, while other mechanistic approaches, e.g. the treatment of broken bones, certain forms of cardiac disease, some variations of cancer, etc., through physical procedures, are more consistently effective.   Nonetheless, the advertising and commercials we are exposed to from the pharmaceutical industry would have us believe otherwise. 

The advertising gambit of the “magic pill” has come to predominate, especially when it comes to “mental” problems.  Recent studies have shown that pharmaceutical treatments for depression are just about as effective as sugar pills or placebos. The difference being the pharmaceutical treatments frequently cause serious unrelated side effects for the "patient."

A functional approach is essentially the opposite of a mechanistic or structuralist approach. Basic to variants of functionalism is the view that the facts of human life are not perceived as a collection of separate elements. The internal human dynamics, including physiology and “mind,” are intricately related to the environment and social factors. We are seen as interacting with, affecting, and changing our environment and, the environment interacting with, affecting, and changing us. 

As quantum mechanics and relativity theory superseded Newtonian mechanics in the physics of the 20th Century, the field of psychology grew in a similar direction. 

William James, a  Harvard trained physician and professor in the late 19th Century through the early years of the 20th Century, is credited with founding the functionalist approach, an alternative to the structuralists.    In 1904, Dr. James wrote that structuralism had “plenty of school, but no thought.”  While Wilhelm Wundt dismissed functionalism as “literature.”  James focused on the wholeness of an event, including the effect of the environment on behavior and emotions.  

While there is some professional disagreement, biological psychiatry, cognitive behavioral approaches, dialectic behavioral approaches, behavior modification, and certain ways that psychoanalysis is delivered, all with philosophical roots in mechanistic science, can be subsumed under structuralism

Functionalism, on the other hand, is endorsed to some extent in psychoanalysis.  More so in it’s offshoots of those pioneers who theoretically broke away from Freud in the first half of the 20th Century.  These approaches include character analysis (addressing the formation of character from childhood resulting from interactions with the environment or the social sphere); core energetics, bioenergetics and gestalt therapy (all with roots in character analysis); existential-phenomenological analysis (with roots in the philosophy of existentialism and phenomenology - addressing an individual’s  responsibility for their own actions and the study of phenomenon or things as they are perceived); depth psychology (addressing the unconscious in dreams and fantasies, as well as different aspects of the personal and collective unconscious manifesting in the social sphere), and individual psychology (the first holistic psychology addressing the relationship between the individual and society as well as the individual’s creative power).  Eastern approaches, including meditation, yoga, taoist practices, tai-chi chuan and other more contemporary humanistic or holistic approaches evolving since the 1960’s, can be subsumed under the category of functionalism, given their pragmatic intentions and practice results. 

The perception of a phenomenon determines how we relate to it, what we do about it and how we can resolve it.    If a physical cause can be effectively ruled out, the perception of “depression” from a functional perspective, as an energy problem, can help our chances of overcoming it.  There is more empirical or scientific evidence for this view than for the perception of “depression” as a “disease.”    

Many psychologists, non-biopsychiatrically oriented psychiatrists and holistic physicians utilize an energetic approach or energy psychology to treat psychological problems, including depression. These usually occur in weekly or bi-weekly visits. 

Certification by one’s physician to begin an exercise program is the usual first course.  The introduction of an aerobic exercise program enhances visits to the therapist, shortening the total number of treatment sessions.  

If followed, conscientiously, research from the Mayo Clinic supports that aerobic programs can provide relief from depression.  The key is to integrate such a program into a daily life practice.  Healing depression requires will. You have to will yourself to change patterns and movements. Depression is a pattern of behaviors.  Human will can change the pattern by adopting a few strategic exercises, leading to new patterns.

Research has demonstrated that daily yoga practice can alleviate depression and anxiety.  Devoting as little as 15 minutes a day can result in a positive effect.   Many disregard yoga practice because of it’s  eastern mystical associations. Yoga has evolved over 5000 years.  One can easily set aside the mystical aspects.  The physical and psychological benefits, from daily practice of hatha yoga, are many.  Review an inexpensive guide on yoga and depression. Review an integrated text on Yoga, the path to holistic health and a DVD of teaching exercises. The text and DVD can start you on a simple, daily routine.  You select the postures you are comfortable with.  Consistently adopting a practice of less than twenty minutes per day can relieve depression, saving money you'd pay for a therapist.  In addition, yoga stretches tendons and muscles, releasing built up toxins from the tendons and joints, while toning the muscles.  Arthritis is markedly reduced with yoga practice. 

Diet and nutrition are often implicated in depression.  Consumption of a large proportion of carbohydrates in the diet, including high glycemic sweets (fructose), white flour and grain products, will affect the regulation of insulin by causing spikes in blood sugar.  This can create mood fluctuations and eventually lead to the development of diabetes. 

Replacement of a fast burning, high glycemic index carb diet (the intake of which rises dramatically during holidays) with a slow burning, gluten free, low glycemic, low carbohydrate diet is reported to enhance overall health.  

Charts listing the glycemic index or sugar content of fruits and vegetables are helpful to determine the lowest glycemic fruits to eat..   

Some practitioners may suggest a regimen of full spectrum vitamin therapy to supplement a nutritional diet.  Recent evidence that vitamin supplements can alleviate symptoms of depression can be found at BMC Psychiatry, a peer-reviewed net journal.   Vitamin D deficiency has been implicated in depression. It has been reported that Vitamin D deficiency can be remedied by short daily exposure to sun light (but far less than it would take to burn.) or nutritional supplementation. Daily sun exposure can prevent expensive visits to a therapist and enhance overall health.

Recent research has concluded that Bright Light Therapy or exposure to bright lights for prescribed periods, beginning in the early morning hours on awakening, can alleviate the symptoms of depression, especially with folks living in the northern latitudes or cloudy/rainy climates where sunlight is diminished.  Bright Light Therapy is now accepted as a research-proven strategy in traditional medical circles, for treating depression.

A month or two of regular practice of these suggestions can provide the relief you are seeking.  A feeling of renewal can result.   But know that individual differences in commitment, dedication and response to different programs determine the length of time for positive feeling change to occur. The more intense you focus on the new program, the less time you will take to feel a positive effect. Of most importance is your will.  You will yourself to undertake these activities. 

Intention, Mindfulness, Will, and Focus if engaged, can lead to a pleasurable existence and relief. At bottom, depression is a cellular energy problem. Nutrition and exercise positively impacts cellular energy.

Healing Personal Psychology contains more detailed healing strategies for depression in hard cover and e-Book.

Healing Personal Depression And Anxiety For Good, an e-Book published in 2012, contains detailed exercises and strategies for healing.

Addendum 2012

This is not an attempt at humor, but a statement of fact. Click to read the article: Research by evolutionary psychologists have recently discovered that male semen has significant anti-depressant properties. 

The authors arrived at their conclusions from the biochemical composition of semen, including anxiolytic chemicals and associated psychological research with couples using unprotected sex, and episodes of depression severity with women ending relationships where they routinely had unprotected sex with their partners. The authors do address the STD problems from unprotected sex.  The same properties are not contained in species who have cyclic or seasonal sexuality, only humans. The Scientific American article cites the chemical properties as follows: 

"Such anxiolytic chemicals include, but are by no means limited to, cortisol (known to increase affection), estrone (which elevates mood), prolactin (a natural antidepressant), oxytocin (also elevates mood), thyrotropin-releasing hormone (another antidepressant), melatonin (a sleep-inducing agent) and even serotonin (perhaps the most well-known antidepressant neurotransmitter)."

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Jasenn Zaejian, Ph.D. 949-371-3997