A Body in Motion Stays in Motion

Who would have thought that Newton’s First Law of Physics was going to be useful in helping to understand the cycle of depression? But his Law of Inertia is often a good way to comprehend how depression can take hold of us.

Depression uses two ways to keep us in it’s grip. One is through isolation; it likes to isolate us from the activities we like to enjoy and the people we like to spend time with. The second way is that depression kills effort; we often feel a change in our levels of motivation when feeling blue. Take isolation and no effort and we have the perfect recipe for disengagement.

What is interesting about this, is that disengagement itself can lead to feeling blue. If we purposefully stayed in bed for days (when we weren’t in a depressed state), we would soon begin to experience the symptoms of depression! And so we can turn to Newton for some advice when it comes to beating the blues – get moving! Get up, get showered, make plans, get outside (even if you don’t feel like it); for a body in motion stays in motion and you will feel better for it at the end of your day.

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Loneliness or Depression: Chicken or the Egg?

When we begin to explore loneliness more closely, we can also recognize its close relationship to depression. But what comes first – depression or loneliness? Well, I suppose that it depends. 🙂

We are a relationship species and seek connection in order to feel secure and safe. This doesn’t always mean an intimate partner; however, living without someone to share life with can often increase the amount of time we may have to battle the blues. When we seek solitude, that feels very different from loneliness, and we can spend time alone and be content. Loneliness tends to be more pervasive; a feeling that we are alone and struggle in feeling disconnected. Over time, this can easily lead to depression.

Depression is also an isolating illness and we tend to cocoon when feeling blue. The longer we stay disengaged, the greater the chances will be that loneliness also takes up space as we deny invitations out and spend more time alone.

Perhaps what tends to be most important is to identify how you are feeling and move from there to battle the blues. If loneliness has crept in, the best course of action is to build your time; making sure that you are spending enough time with people you care about in order to feel connected and secure. And if depression is setting in, act as if you are better – accept the invitations, attend regular activities, take the phone calls.

In either case, you will be putting your emotional health first when struggling with the side effects of what isolates us naturally.

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Mood Matters; Videos for Teens

CAMH (The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health) has created two videos to help adolescents better understand depression. Meant specifically for young people, the first video talks about what depression looks like, what are it’s potential causes and what teens can do to recognize and then treat the symptoms. To watch or share Mood Matters: Describing Depression: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6xONySz9XLk

The second featured video is called Mood Matters: How Food, Movement & Sleep Can Have an Impact on You. This is a great video that introduces to young people the concept of making choices that will better support our mental health: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qMnQFTy3t30

In my work with adult clients, they often speak of having memories of depression beginning in their teenage years. By openly speaking to our adolescents about moods, we allow them to greater understand themselves, feel validated for their emotions, and know that there are steps they can take to begin managing their symptoms. It also gives them permission to ask for help. 🙂

To visit the CAMH website: https://camh.ca/

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Depression Fact #5

Alcohol and marijuana are depressants. As much as we want to lean into the argument that having a glass of wine relaxes us or that marijuana has beneficial effects, it can’t take away the fact that both alcohol and marijuana depress the brain. Seems pretty counter intuitive when dealing with depression doesn’t it?

Unfortunately, self-medicating is not going to get you well; you are much better served to talk to your doctor about medication therapy, seek counselling, and get outside into nature on a daily basis.

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Depression Fact # 4

Chronic pain can result in depression. Actually, so can having a chronic condition. Sometimes we don’t realize how being in continual discomfort can cause us to become depressed. We may choose to stay home one day due to increased pain levels; heightening the isolation factor. We may have to cancel plans because we are experiencing a flare up; leading to feelings of discouragement and disappointment. Potentially, we become so focused on what our physical bodies are putting us through that we may not realize the toll it is taking on our mental health as well; leading us to find ways to manage our chronic pain/condition that includes our emotional health as well.

A great online course that helps with this very topic is found through Living Healthy Champlain: https://www.livinghealthychamplain.ca/en/betterchoicesbetterhealth

If you would like more information about depression: http://depressionhurts.ca/en/default.aspx

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Depression Fact #3

Persistent irritability can be a symptom of depression. Typically when we think of depression we tend to consider first the classic symptoms of depression such as low mood and motivation, changes to our sleeping and eating habits, etc., yet irritability can be an indication that you are depressed; especially if it is persistent.  This can be especially true for men, who may not show the visible signs of emotion linked to depression; the same goes for children or adolescents who may act out behaviourally as an indication that something is wrong.  In any case, if depressive symptoms are interfering with the day-to-day functioning of your life, a proper diagnosis is important.

For more information about the symptoms and treatment of depression: http://depressionhurts.ca/en/

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Depression Fact #2

Depression is sometimes experienced as anxiety. Because depression and anxiety share the same biological basis, people often can experience symptoms and not be entirely sure of the direct cause. Feeling nervous and irritable for example, can lead one to thinking they may have anxiety, but those are common in depression as well. Lack of concentration and difficulty sleeping can also indicate depression; very often if what we associate to depression (sleeping all the time and low mood) are not directly present, we may in fact be blue but are experiencing it as anxiety. Either way, figuring out this mixed bag of symptoms begins with the same question: “Is this affecting my day-to-day function?” And if it is, an accurate diagnosis is important.

A good self-help website for depression and anxiety: https://moodgym.com.au/

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A Great Resource

A website recently came to my attention. It is called Big White Wall and it is an online peer support and self-management tool for youth 16+ and adults experiencing mild to moderate depression and anxiety. What I really liked about it was that it is available around the clock, it is anonymous, and is staffed by “Wall Guides” who make sure the community is safe and supportive. They have a section where you can post questions and get feedback, a creative section where you can post pics and see other people’s contributions as well, a section called “Useful Stuff” which has many articles to choose from, and a section where you can sign up for courses (usually 3 to 4 weeks) on a variety of topics. All completely free to those living in Ontario!

These are some of the stats:

  • 70% of users saw improvement in at least one aspect of their well-being
  • 46% of users reported sharing an issue for the first time
  • 51% of users reported less mental health-related time off work using Big White Wall.

Here’s the link: https://www.bigwhitewall.ca/v2/Home.aspx

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Depression Fact #1

Depression makes it hard to give. I often see clients who come into therapy because they live with a person who is struggling with depression and they are looking for ways to cope. One of the things that is quite common to hear is their perspective that their loved one “doesn’t contribute very much” which in turn places a greater weight on them to manage the household and family. And, as sympathetic as they attempt to be, resentment eventually plays a role in the dynamic between them.

The fact is, sometimes it is hard to think of other people when you’re wrapped in a prickly blanket of sadness, and yet being able to invest in others, to minister to not only your family but to the community as well (even in small ways), helps to lift that weighted blanket. In turn, it often takes only a little bit of give for the loved one to begin to move from their own growing feelings of exasperation and withdrawal to one of greater hope and reciprocity.

Follow the link for a great self-help guide for depression and anxiety: https://www.moodgym.com.au/

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