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6 Steps to a Healthy Brain & Curing Depression

6 steps to a healthy brain & curing depression
6 steps to a healthy brain & curing depression

In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to reveal simple but highly effective ways to protect yourself from mental illness, maintain a healthy brain and potentially cure depression.

First a quick update:

“The top 20 psychological issues of celebrities”
Yes, celebrities face very different issues from the average person – 20 actually. However, there is also one of them that we all share – even celebrities: Click to find out.

Follow me on Twitter – You can now choose to follow me and receive a few words of wisdom on Twitter: @Behavior_Expert

Now, let’s talk about simple but highly effective ways to protect yourself from mental illness, maintain a healthy brain and potentially cure depression.

Why do we believe that we are not impacted by our lifestyle – by what we consume, the air we breathe, the water we drink, the way we move or do not move, the relationships we have or the isolation and disappointments we experience, and the levels of stress that we undergo?

The answer is not that we are stubborn or close-minded, but rather, that since we keep functioning (i.e. waking, walking, sleeping and performing most required daily tasks) we conclude that everything is okay – we are okay. Of course, many of us choose to ensure the continuation of the functioning by ignoring the physical, mental or emotional pain, or by numbing it.

Only when we become seriously ill and can no longer function, do we stop and consider if we need to change our entire lifestyle, i.e. address the root cause of the problem.

Almost nine percent of the US population was diagnosed with depression in 2013, and that is almost three times higher than in 1991.

“US states with higher rates of depression also show high rates of other negative health outcomes, such as obesity, heart disease, and stroke. Individuals suffering from depression are more likely to be unemployed or recently divorced than their non-depressed counterparts.”

So is there any answer? Is there a cure for depression?

Dr. Stephen Ilardi believes our lifestyle is toxic and he and his team developed a new, highly effective program for clinical depression: Therapeutic Lifestyle Change (TLC). It is grounded in the insight that human beings were never designed for the sedentary, indoor, socially isolated, sleep-deprived, fast-food-laden, frenzied pace of 21st-century American life.

“Hunter gatherer lifestyle is profoundly anti-depressant…They do things that change the brain more powerfully than any medication.”

The Depression Cure: The 6-Step Program to Beat Depression without Drugs by Stephen Ilardi, PhD

I understand and concede that Dr. llardi’s program below consists of 6 simple exercises and tasks but not necessarily easy ones for people experiencing major depression.

1. Dietary omega-3 fatty acids
“Because the brain needs a steady supply of omega-3s to function properly, people who don’t eat enough of these fats are at increased risk for many forms of mental illness, including depression. Across the globe, countries with the highest level of omega-3 consumption typically have the lowest rates of depression.

“British researchers recently studied a group of depressed patients who had failed to recover after taking antidepressant medication for eight weeks. All study patients stayed on their meds as prescribed, but some also took an omega-3 supplement. About 70 percent of those who received the supplement went on to recover, compared with only 25 percent of patients who kept taking only the medication.”

My note: Your entire food intake is critical. Dr. Mark Hyman, an 8-time NY Times bestseller treats depression, ADD, ADHD, mood swings and a host of other mental illnesses by treating the body: “Treat your body and you treat your brain. ONLY when you fix your body will you fix your broken brain.” Further, a recent study reveals the link between pesticide exposure in pregnant women and autism.

2. Engaging activity
Rumination is the obsessive focus on the symptoms of your distress rather than the solution. Rumination plays a huge role in depression.

“The biggest risk factor for rumination is simply spending time alone, something Americans now do all the time. When you’re interacting with another person, your mind just doesn’t have a chance to dwell on repetitive negative thoughts. But, really, any sort of engaged activity can work to interrupt rumination. It can even be something simple.”

My note: We are more isolated than ever before. Dealing with rumination requires specific steps and Dr. Ilardi offers techniques. Read my article which also reveals other specific steps to overcome rumination.

3. Physical exercise
“Researchers have compared aerobic exercise and Zoloft head to head in the treatment of depression. Even at a low “dose” of exercise – thirty minutes of brisk walking three times a week – patients who worked out did just as well as those who took the medication. Strikingly, though, the patients on Zoloft were about three times more likely than exercisers to become depressed again over a ten-month follow-up period.

“Exercise changes the brain. Exercise also increases the brain’s production of a key growth hormone called BDNF. Because levels of this hormone plummet in depression, some parts of the brain start to shrink over time, and learning and memory are impaired. But exercise reverses this trend, protecting the brain in a way nothing else can.”

4. Sunlight exposure
“Without light exposure, the body clock eventually gets out of sync, and when that happens, it throws off important circadian rhythms that regulate energy, sleep, appetite, and hormone levels. The disruption of these important biological rhythms can, in turn, trigger clinical depression..and a few hours of exposure [on even a cloudy day] provide just enough light to keep circadian rhythms well regulated.”

5. Social support
“The research on this issue is clear: When it comes to depression, relationships matter. People who lack a supportive social network face an increased risk of becoming depressed, and of remaining depressed once an episode strikes.”

My note: Reach out to people; to your friends and to professionals for help. Also for more understanding, read my article, “Stress shrinks your brain”.

5. Sleep
“Disrupted sleep is one of the most potent triggers of depression, and there’s evidence that most episodes of mood disorder are preceded by at least several weeks of subpar slumber.”

My note: If you wake up in the middle of the night with thoughts – this means you are not dealing with the thoughts and emotions during the day; if you wake up in the middle of the night with no thoughts, the same principle applies. In other words, you must deal with the mental and emotional root cause also – challenge the unhelpful, wrong and negative thinking. Resolve the problems you are facing.

Trust yourself. Avoid negative mental food i.e. news. Develop emotional intelligence; accept and work through emotions such as sadness, fear, loss, disappointment and so forth.

Now compare the six pillars of a brain-healthy lifestyle designed to prevent and slow down Alzheimer’s ( Click to read more ):

  1. Regular exercise
  2. Healthy diet
  3. Mental stimulation
  4. Quality sleep
  5. Stress management
  6. An active social life

Interestingly, Dr. Mark Hyman, Dr Stephen Ilardi and the above program for brain health all intersect: treat the body and treat the emotions. Dr. Ilardi also reveals that antidepressant medications can cause emotional numbing, suicidal thoughts, and cognitive disturbances.

For more insights and strategies to conquer depression, read my article “Conquering Depression”  and consider help one on one with me: Click here to schedule an appointment

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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist

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