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How to Fight Depression and Feel Awesome without Drugs

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In today’s society, almost everyone is on, or knows someone who is on antidepressants, but these medications only treat the symptoms of depression – not necessarily the causes.  There are several Bulletproof ways to treat the causes of depression so that you can avoid those miserable moments altogether.

  • First, be happy. If you actively choose to focus on the positive in the situation (even when the negative is bogging you down), your serotonin levels naturally increase – which is exactly what many antidepressants try to make happen.
  • Second, get outside more. All the exposure to light can also increase your serotonin levels.  At the very least, have bright halogen lights in your workplace if you have to work indoors.
  • Next, exercise.  While the Bulletproof lifestyle doesn’t push for over-the-top amounts of exercise, there is a healthy balance.  Studies show that exercise can be just as effective as antidepressants, and without all the annoying side effects.
  • Finally, adjust your diet.  The foods you eat are determining factors for your mood and irritability level.  The Bulletproof® Diet is high in the fats that boost your mood, low in fats that make you feel crappy, and has a just the right amount of protein to keep you feeling your best.

If you’re like most people, some days just rock. Sometimes you feel superhuman, other times it can just feel like something is just missing.  Most people go through these times and rationalize them away as something that’s just part of life. Instead, biohackers learn to reject the idea that most of the these “normal” things are unexplainable, preferring instead to find solutions rather than suffer from the same problems over and over.

For example, most people know that low amounts of sleep make them perform poorly, and that’s just a part of life, or they believe that in order to be thin, you should just get used to being hungry all the time. We’ve seen how those ideas stand up to Bulletproof methods.

Sadness and depression are no different.  It is normal to have small amounts of sadness or depression, and they manifest themselves in different ways.  Or maybe you’ve experience a loss and it’s totally normal to feel sad and grieve. In those cases, if you don’t feel sad, you’re probably not processing an emotion so you can let it go.

However, sometimes sadness and depression are there for no good reason.  When this happens, some people feel lethargic, others tearful, or maybe you just lack your normal level of motivation.  Or maybe it manifests as irritability or even numbness.  Whatever it is, at the end of the day, it saps your performance and makes you feel less Bulletproof.

So maybe it’s not full-blown depression, but hey, what if you could avoid those little grumpy moments that make your kids stay away from you, or those times your co-workers get coffee from a different floor instead of the coffee bar next to your office?  What if you could build your resilience and even prevent it before it starts?

This post will give you some ideas to help transform the type of mild depression that sucks your energy into simple feelings you can work through and release, bringing you back to full strength.

The traditional approach to treating depression is to balance certain neurotransmitters with drugs.  Drugs have their place, but many of the ones targeting depression are failures.  They often work only as well as placebos, and they have a lot of unwanted side effects.  Just like statins, these drugs don’t target the real cause of the disease – just the symptoms.  They might help in the short term, but to really solve the problem you need to fix it with a more holistic systems thinking, Bulletproof methods.

While researching the Better Baby Book (due in January!!!) I came across a study on the topic of depression. The study focused on mothers, but the recommendations in it apply to us all.

This study’s four main recommendations for how to fight sadness without drugs are: happiness, spending time outside, exercise, and diet.

I used to have serious mood swings and unjustified bursts of anger that impacted my own health and my relationships with people I care about.  That was until I hacked my brain and Bulletproofed my body.  I started eating the Bulletproof Diet, lost 100 pounds, and used advanced technology to work my brain into a high performance state.  Now, I’d be shocked to feel myself wasting that much productive energy on being angry or depressed. Here’s how you can do the same:

1. Be happy.

Studies have shown that when choose to redirect your attention to the positive, your serotonin levels increase.  It’s been known for years that your thoughts can alter blood flow to the brain, but only recently have scientists discovered that how you think can also alter neurotransmitter levels.  Meditation has been shown to increase dopamine levels, and feelings of happiness also alter serotonin levels in your brain.

Low serotonin receptor function is associated with poor mood, and high serotonin levels are associated with better mood.  Basically, while low serotonin may cause you to feel sad, feeling happy may also increase your serotonin levels.  It’s not clear which is more powerful, but one way to increase serotonin may be through psychotherapy methods like cognitive behavioral therapy, meditation, and my personal favorite, HeartMath training.

Doing Heart Math training literally strengthens the part of your brain responsible for turning on the “happy state.”

2. Get outside more.

a photo of a lake framed by trees

photo by baaker2009

Mark Sisson has written some excellent articles on the importance of sunshine and light exposure.  He’s made a great point about how working outside can increase your productivity, happiness, and health.  The problem is that it’s hard to move your office outside (although there are some tricks you can use to make it work).  Nevertheless, working outdoors is not something most people are going to do.  However, other research is showing that bright light exposure may be a way to help increase serotonin levels and alleviate depressive symptoms.

Bright light therapy is especially effective in pregnant women.  On a slightly macabre note, autopsies have shown that people who died in the summer have higher serotonin levels than those who died in the winter.  In studies where they purposely restrict tryptophan to lower serotonin levels, bright light prevents the normal drop in serotonin levels.  If you’ve been suffering from depression or unexplained sadness, try to get outside more often.  If you can’t, think about getting a wakeup light or installing some halogen bulbs in your work area.

In fact, since I live in Canada where it gets dark in the winter, I have 1000 watts of halogen light mounted above my desk, which serves nicely to stave off the winter blues.

3. Exercise.

If you’ve been reading the blog or listening to the podcast for any length of time, you’ve probably figured out that excess exercise is not Bulletproof.  However, the right kinds of exercise can be beneficial for a number of reasons.  A massive review of most of the available evidence found that exercise is extremely good at improving depressive symptoms and increasing mood.  Some forward thinking agencies are even prescribing exercise instead of antidepressants, because “the risk–benefit ratio is poor for antidepressant use in patients with mild depression.”  In other words, exercise is more effective and safer, at least for people with mild depression.  In animals, exercise increases serotonin levels and the firing rates of serotonin neurons.  Does this mean you should start training for the Boston Marathon?  No, but it is evidence you might benefit from a strength plan like the one we’ve laid out here.  To learn more about the benefits of Bulletproof exercise, listen to our interview with Dr. Doug McGuff, M.D.

4. Diet.

The last, and possibly most effective way to increase serotonin levels in your brain and improve your mood is to eat the Bulletproof Diet.  In animals and humans, tryptophan increases serotonin levels.  In cases of light to moderate to depression, tryptophan can also improve mood. Even in healthy people who are ranked as slightly more irritable than most, small amounts of tryptophan can make them more agreeable and less irritable.  However, there is a difference between dietary and supplementary tryptophan.

Tryptophan supplements raise serotonin levels, but dietary tryptophan does not.  If you do take tryptophan as a supplement, don’t take it when you have recently eaten protein, the other amino acids in protein compete with the absorption of tryptophan in the brain.

There is also evidence that a high tryptophan diet may be bad for you over the long-term.  However, there are a few foods that may increase serotonin levels.  Some of the proteins in whey can improve mood in humans after just a few hours.  This might be one of the reasons people feel so much better eating Upgraded Whey.

In the end, changing the types and amounts of protein you eat is probably less effective than the types and amounts of fat you eat.  Studies have shown that consuming omega-3s improves mood.  On the other hand, consuming large amounts of oxidized artificial trans fats can decrease your mental performance and hurt your mood.  When you eat these fats, they’re assimilated into your brain and other tissues.  They replace the fats that you need like omega-3s, and make you more irritable, less intelligent, and less Bulletproof.

The Bulletproof Diet is high in omega-3 fats, clean saturated fats, and moderate amounts of animal protein to give your body what it needs for a stable mood, but not too much to cause inflammation.

 

How to Bulletproof Your Brain Against Depression without Drugs

Like most recurring problems, the Bulletproof approach is to try what should work, if that works, great.  If no, then do what “shouldn’t” work.  Drugs are supposed to be some sort of cure all for depression and mood disorders, but most of them don’t work very well.  Here’s what you can do to help prevent and fight depression without turning to medication:

1. Practice pleasure. Use meditation or Heart Math training to learn to “turn on” a state of happiness that can replace sadness. At a minimum, take some time out of your day to focus on everything you love in life.  Get therapy if these things don’t help.

2. Be in nature, or at least pretend to be.  Humans evolved over millions of years living outside.  Only in the last several thousand have we migrated into the sheet rock caves that we now call offices.  Bright light therapy has been shown in several trials to helps alleviate depressive symptoms.  If you can, install some bright lights inside your workspace.  Being outside is even better, because you’ll also increase your vitamin D levels naturally. At least add a few plants to your work space.

3. Exercise.  The right kind of exercise can do wonders for your body and mind.  Not only will it get you leaner, stronger, and help you live longer, it also improves your mood.  Use a plan like the Bulletproof Body or Body by Science to strengthen your mental and physical abilities.

4. Eat the Bulletproof Diet.  Avoiding toxins and getting enough – but not too much – tryptophan will help your mood.  The Bulletproof Diet also optimizes your omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acid ratios, which improves your brain performance and overall health.

Using a combination of high doses of fun, bright lights or nature exposure, the right kind of exercise, and the Bulletproof Diet, you can help fight mild depression and optimize your mental  performance.

How do you take care of yourself when you are down?  What has worked for you?

 

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Andrew-Reece/1031331117 Andrew Reece

    I’d like to suggest a possible mechanistic explanation for how exercise helps in alleviating symptoms of depression: exercise increases hippocampal neurogenesis in (at least) the dentate gyrus in mice:
    http://www.jneurosci.org/content/25/38/8680.short
    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1460-9568.2003.03041.x/abstract?deniedAccessCustomisedMessage=&userIsAuthenticated=false
    http://psycnet.apa.org/psycinfo/2003-08567-013
    (Find more here: http://scholar.google.co.uk/scholar?hl=en&q=exercise+hippocampal+neurogenesis&btnG=&as_sdt=1%2C5&as_sdtp=)
    That is to say that exercise increases the rate that neurons are created in the hippocampus. Hippocampal neurogenesis (again, at least in part specifically in the dentate gyrus) is one of the current theories in clinical psychology as to what may make current medical treatments for depression work. It has been suggested that without hippocampal neurogenesis, antidepressants don’t work:
    http://stke.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/sci;301/5634/805
    http://www.nature.com/neuro/journal/v10/n9/abs/nn1969.html
    It would make sense that if exercise increases hippocampal neurogenesis and hippocampal neurogenesis is a pathway by which depression is alleviated, it would make sense if that is at least part of the reason why exercise helps with depression.

    (While process studies (looking at how things work) may not be as helpful in the short term as outcome studies (looking at if things work), I think people would do well to look at them and try to understand them both for academic interest and because it’s more helpful in the long term if we know how things work – we can make better predictions as to what might improve the effects.)

  • Chris

    Dave,

    Working out has the most beneficial effect for me. I do short, intense workouts (20-30 minutes) a few days per week. I focus on strength, speed and mobility.

    I find the blue light exposure is even more important than light in general. Blue sky is the best. Setting a blue background on my

    I have noticed some benefits from using the holosync meditation CDs as well.

    I also seem to notice that I am happier when I set up my day to day routine so that I constantly have enjoyable things to look forward to.

    Even something as simple as planning a dinner with close friends makes hard stretches of work more manageable.

    Dark chocolate (larger quantities, like a whole bar of 88%) really seems to give me a boost. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there is definitely an effect.

    Thanks for the great info Dave.

    -Chris

    • Tofuface

      Chocolate really helps me from dropping when I know my mood might fall. I started making my own healthy versions: cocoa powder mixed with organic peanut butter, and homemade dark chocolate bars with stevia, currants, and coconut oil. Chocolate is the only thing I’ve found that is ingestable and helps my mood.

      On another note: the reason I’m here reading this blog is because after about a year without, I’m experiencing depression again. I’m in my second week and I’m really worried. I worked out regularly for sixty days previous and now can barely get out of bed. I can’t leave my apartment and when I try am filled with anxiety. I need a solution, but don’t trust medication.

      • Laura Grace

        Watch out for the peanuts. Can be high in toxins. How about cocoa and grassfed butter and coconut?

        As far as not trusting medication…might be worth it to consider “short term” medication if prescribed by a doctor. If your anxiety is manageable for 3 months on medication then you can do a lot of work to change your life, talk to a therapist, get better, etc.

        At the very least, try to see professionals even if you choose not to take their advice about medication.

  • http://www.sixpacksuccess.com/ Victor Dorfman

    Great post Dave, albeit unfortunate that you’ve had to write it. After all, happiness is our natural state. Depression, disease, malaise, lethargy…these are all unnatural states of being. Of course, there’s very little that’s ‘natural’ about the way the human animal lives today — divorced from our ecological niche, bombarded with unprecedented amounts of stimuli, forced into indoor confinement to survive, and thrust into dirty, overpopulated cities that look nothing like the small tribes in which we’ve evolved to function.

    But we’re all doing the best we can and I guess that’s what becoming ‘bulletproof’ is all about! ;-)

    One thing I haven’t heard you discuss too much yet is cultural conditioning, the poisoning of our psychology by religion, ‘parenting’ and culture. I believe this is the fundamental aberration that underlies most of our ills, and perhaps I’m not alone when I say I’d love to hear you touch on those points more in depth at some point.

    Peace!

    • Derek

      It’s probably not the case that depression and disease are unnatural. Depression actually has value when looked at from an evolutionary psychology perspective. It is a time for us to remove from our usual social space and re-group in our head, so to speak. It is only maladaptive when these things occur without provocation or when they linger excessively…

    • Laura Grace

      Why on earth would you assume that happiness is our natural state? I suggest taking a look at our mammal and especially primate mammal friends as a starting place. Plenty of stress and fear there, even about social dynamics. I agree that happiness should be the goal (happier people and animals weigh less and produce fewer stress hormones).

  • cogrick2

    Strong post. Like Chris posted, short, intense workouts work the best for me multiple days per week as a mood-enhancer. I actually should probably train everyday for that mood boost, especially in the cold Winter. I just started wearing Gunnar or UVEX glasses from Amazon (experimenting with both – currently prefer the much more affordable UVEX) and believe they are making me sleepy at a good time instead of the frequent late-night (>10 PM) awakening I experienced.

  • Nate

    I use the Bulletproof Diet to treat my depression too but I also use it treat my anxiety, OCD and dyslexia. I believe inflammation in brain specifically the basal ganglia is the problem. It is the part of the brain that controls those functions. If you want to see what swelling of the basal ganglia does check out Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal infections or P.A.N.D.A.S.

  • Liz

    Wow, just when I was going to thank you for your previous response, I saw this new post. This was just what I was hoping to see, not necessarily for me, but because many people have to deal with this and there’s so much you can do to sort things out before it goes crazy.

    As for me, I’ve been trying for a couple of years all the advices you give. Unfortunately, with all the effort, my body started to stop listening to my orders (panic attacks), due to some childhood issues, thus my medication (which actually got me scared first, since I try to avoid this).

    To your article, I would add:

    MAKE PEACE WITH YOURSELF! If you’re having difficult issues or you find it hard by yourself, please, please search for a therapist (as in a doctor to talk to, not one who would just push tablets on your throat). If you’re not at peace and have sorted in your mind and spirit the source of your depression, no matter how hard you try, it will come back and mess up the way you act, think and feel.

    I had been trying to deny it and fix it by myself for 10 years and it just got me to the point of breaking, when your subconscious has to yell at you to listen and fix it.

    Also, I have found diet, exercise, meditation and a positive outlook on life to help me a great deal. Instead of wailing over me being here, I started to think that while I’m at it, I may as well enjoy it and live it (life, that is) > Albert Camus, “The Myth of Sisyphus”.

    A proper diet and exercise will do wonders for your mind and body and this will change your outlook (this, besides what Dave wrote). I cannot stress this enough. Also, meditation/prayer, the daily exercise of gratitude and an effort – at first – to focus on the good will, in time, change your habits and therefore your feelings.

    One of the first things I did when I realized I was “in danger” was to start weight lifting. The discipline, endorphins and progress affect your habits and make you realize that you actually CAN and you are a beast! :)

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  • Bryan

    First off, I’d like to state that my anxiety and depression
    is so bad that I wouldn’t be able to work without treatment. I have been
    biohacking in this area for almost my whole life to remain functional. Other
    people may be able to use this treatments to go from normal to bulletproof
    while I have to use them to go from disease to normal. Here is the results I
    have received from the following treatments along with their side effect
    profiles.

    EEG Neurofeedback at home w/ daily use Effectiveness: High
    Adverse Side Effects: Low

    CES (Craniel Electrical Stimulation) Effectiveness: High Adverse Side Effects:Low

    Bulletproof Diet: Effectiveness: Medium Adverse Side
    Effects:None

    Cognitive Behavior Therapy: Effectiveness: Medium Adverse
    Side Effects:None

    Body Centered Object Relations Therapy: Effectiveness:Medium
    Low Adverse Side Effects: Low.

    Pyschotropic Medications. Effectiveness: Medium High Adverse Side Effects:Medium to Medium High

    Brahman Spiritual Comtemplation: Effectiveness:
    Medium High Adverse Side Effects:Low

    Heartmath Emwave2
    Effectiveness: Medium Adverse
    Side Effects:none

    20-30 Excersice Effectiveness:
    Medium High Adverse Side Effects:none

    Body Scan Meditation Effectiveness: Medium Adverse Side
    Effects:none

    Implement GTD System by David Allen at work (Critical if you
    have a demanding job) : Effectiveness: Medium
    High Adverse Side Effects: none

    • kalidestroyer

      Bryan: Do you have specific recommendations for an EEG Neurofeedback and Cranial Electrical Stimulation machine. thanks

    • catblueriver2006

      Thank you for this, have been battling the same for years myself.. never tried any of these but its really affecting my ability to work, etc

    • Rebecca

      my friend was diagnosed and now she keeps trying to commit suicide. what can i do?

      • Monica

        Please find someone to help your friend. I have no idea how old you are or your living situation but you can call a suicide prevention line and ask for help if she wont. I have had two friends commit suicide and the pain does not leave…it gets easier to bear(i know because the first one was 13 years ago) but never really leaves. Please try everything to help… but, if you do lose your friend, please do not beat yourself up(you probably will anyway). My second friend to commit suicide occurred on Aug 25 2013 and it is still pretty raw. Still secondguessing myself and wishing i could have done something. Love to you and your friend.
        Also- i suffer from major depression, but on medication i feel better and normal… so i stop taking the medicine and spiral down over a period of weeks or months…i hate taking pills and although i know i probably need them i am again(i cant believe this) contemplating going off meds and trying natural treatments. I was ready to kill myself by the middle of November and realized that my life is pretty darn good… why am i feeling this? i must be really depressed again, in spite of the diet corrections and exercise i had been doing for. months. So, back on meds again, for the last couple of months…and here i am on this thread reading about natural cures… my point-no one really wants to admit it that they have a chemical imbalance that is causing their thoughts, taking pills sucks, but the alternative is much worse. My heart goes out to you.

        • Monica

          just reread that and wanted to clarify, that you would be beating yourself up if you lost your friend, NOT that you were going to probably lose them, darn english language.

  • duffney

    In my youth meaning highschool I was a very depressed person, as I’ve started to learn more about how much eating the right things effect the body. I have realized how deficent I was in so many areas. This blog post has a lot of great information and I’ve used all of them to improve my mood.

    • god

      I gave you depression because you touch yourself too much. nah mate avoiding gluten was my one much better and lots of veggies

  • Kim

    How do you feel about St. John’s Wort?

  • Rob

    I love your treatment for depression – just decide to be happy! wow why didn’t i think of that??!

    • abright

      Heh. I can relate to your sarcasm.

      I interpret that section as you can choose where to direct your thoughts… it takes effort to remember to do so, however there is a difference between getting stuck in the cycle of “why me” or “I feel like crap” to shifting your focus, even just a little to something more positive like “This is really hard for me right now.” Or choosing to distract

      • abright

        and choice, at first is only sorta. because depressive habits of thought pop up without “your” choice.

        • Diggs

          I’ve been devastated and my brain didn’t seem to care that I wanted to focus on happy thoughts. It takes effort, and it takes TIME. A year or two with “Major Depressive Disorder” can feel like an eternity, but it may help to be reassured that this too, is temporary

    • Reka

      If you keep trying it for a long long time, it sucks at first but then it gets better. One of the biggest changes for me was when I decided that I am responsible for how I feel, and nobody else. What also helped was to realise that everybody has their own sets of problems, and mine are not determined to be worse than other people’s problems. Keeps a long time of trying and failing and starting again, but it worked for me. :)

      • Michael

        Sounds like good advice to me :-)

    • Lexy Jackson

      i know right? it’s not something you can decide! i mean why else would we be looking at this? if we could do that we wouldn’t BE DEPRESSED

    • Brian Gailliot

      hahaha. i know i should have too

    • Colin Nickerson

      Actually you nailed it Rob. The first step is deciding to be happy and convincing yourself that you can be. Great point.

    • Michael

      A professional I see. It’s like telling someone to breath who ran out of oxygen. Yeah, great advice mate. Give that man a cigar for the great work…

      • Liudas Valan?i?nas

        It’s actually a very good steps in fighting depression. Ofcourse, depressed people simply don’t understand how you can decide to be happy or find meaning in simple small things. But you have to do it. Against your will, without any joy or significant results. But if you vill continue to eat healthy, exercise and be around caring friends, you reach very good results. In time. You have to be patient. I did it. I’m makink progress. And most of the mjilder cases can do it, they just don’t want to because they’re depressed. But it’s possible to heal. Really. While all the depressed ones act the biggest victims in the World and always complain about ,,stupid” advices like this one, I’m becoming more and more sick of that negative attitude and mazochistic talks. No one can cure you. Friends can be a big help, but there is no pill form depression. You and only you have to fight it.

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  • Lena

    These are helpful ways to fight depression. Check out this link to find more helpful tips! http://www.psychalive.org/2009/12/eight-ways-to-actively-fight-depression/

  • Amanda

    Being someone that has fought depression on and off for many years, I found this article to be very informative and definitely has some good ideas for the next time I need to get out of a funk. I also recently found this article – http://www.psychalive.org/2011/10/eight-ways-to-actively-fight-depression-2/ which was really helpful.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mrdavidcox David Cox

    You find happiness when you stop looking for it. It’s the peace within. Took me a while and a lot of reading to get simple! ;o)

    • god

      eat raw veggies yum yum

  • Salina Gomez

    Thank you for your post – change has to come from within and with increasing your serotonin levels – you automatically feel better and when you feel better – you want to continue eating right, exercising, getting out and choosing to be happy. You may enjoy this article on Training the Subconscious. Thanks for sharing..

  • jack

    face your fears – do the things that you don’t want to do…

    Its the only way to be free…

  • http://twitter.com/Beat_Depresion Overcome Depression

    looking in the mirror and liking what you see is the first step to overcoming depression

    • jordan

      Easier said than done, thanks for the useless tip

      • Lioness

        Of course it is easier said than done. Nobody ever said fighting depression is easy. But if you begin the fight by saying “nothing helps me” you’ve already lost. Fighting depression is like climbing out of a deep hole. You have to cling to anything you can and pull yourself up inch by inch. Every inch gained is a success.

        That is not to say that everyone can do this or that everyone has the same level of depression. Those who cannot make any progress should seek therapy or medications or both. But for many the first step is to acknowledge that you are depressed and then to understand that this is not some outside force victimizing you. It is you how you think about yourself and the world. You have to force yourself to change your thinking. That might include changing jobs or locations or other factors in your life.

        I have suffered from depression and pushed it back more than once in my life and I saw my father give up living because of it. So, please don’t tell me I don’t understand depression. It absolutely can be conquered but it takes a tremendous amount of personal work to make progress.

  • dottie Luster

    are there any foods that contain these vitamins naturaly.

  • Anon

    If it was that simple i’d be saving a lot of money on therapy

  • onefreekonline

    I’m so sick of all the people around me who think that depression is just in your head, and that people make it up. They’ve never experienced it, so it must not be real. Well they’ve never experienced panic attacks, insomnia, athsma, schitsophrenia, ect. so are those not real either?
    I’m sick of it. Sick of feeling judged because of something I didn’t controll.

    • Chuck

      Loneliness sucks, it is hard to describe to people who
      aren’t experiencing it. Advice like
      “stop being so negative”, “just feel happy” and “think positive” aren’t really
      options when you feel buried by life…

      Self-love and self-nurturing are the way to remember our
      wholeness. If you can find a way
      to pick up your violin and play (like in the movie the Titanic) you are on
      your way. The ship is sinking anyways,
      why not!

      After 46 years of chronic anxiety, depression and suicidal
      thoughts, I finally waved the white flag on the whole thing. Here is a link to a YouTube video about
      it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O-cHLUGiyxk&feature=youtu.be

      Chuck
      http://www.theendofloneliness.net

      • Lucy

        Hi just reading this because I have recently been diagnosed with depression and was sent out of the doctors clutching a resceiption for antidepressants and no other advice for anything I can do to help myself let alone a natural way of relieving my symptoms. Just thought I would respond with your reference to panic attacks to which my partner has previously suffered with. He tried the Charles Lyndon method and for thelastfeemonths now has not had an episode. Like what has been mentioned in this post it includes a lot of no longer accepting you are a sufferer of anxiety attacks but along with his book and DVD he explains the physiological processes of anxiety attacks. Which has helped my partner to understand what is happening to him, the triggers for his anxiety and in turn has helped him to control his anxiety to the point where even I am convicted it has worked (and I was massively taking the mickey when my partner put this DVD on!)
        I know that people who haven’t been in our shoes think we should be able to just snap out of it and this trivialises our condition but I do believe that to an extent we are able to re-programme our minds to focus on happier events and in addition to the other steps, maybe we can go some way to improving out state of mind

    • Brian Gailliot

      your so right alot of people do act like it is something u can change automatically or that it is all in your head. B.S

    • D

      I totally agree. I am tired of it too. And although my family and friends try to understand, they just can’t. But even though they can’t understand it, my family, friends, and boyfriend are my rock. They are there when I have my panic attacks and do whatever they can to help. And I thank God for them everyday.

    • Steve Borkowski

      These same people would tell a diabetic to just think less sugar, and you and your kidneys and heart will be fine. Think your way to a low A1c. Yeh.

      • bogolosa

        Bad example.. If most diabetics stopped eating carbs they could control their bloodsugar. It worked for me. They just choose not to. Depression isn’t that easy.

    • Gavin

      Well technically it is in your head. Athsma as you so eloquently put it, is not. Asthma is in the lungs. I was in Afghanistan and suffered from crippling PTSD, Anxiety, depression, insomnia. I beat it, mostly with the exact methods listed above. I spent some time on mood stabilizers after my son died because my PTSD progressed to full on bipolar disorder. But I’ve been completely medicine free for some time now and finally enjoy life again with my beautiful wife and our perfectly healthy son.

      Stop playing the victim, get the help you need. You are stronger than depression, my problem with psychiatry is it makes people feel weak and helpless without medicine. TAKE THE MEDICINE allow it to work, the majority of human brains were never meant to have depression or anxiety in day to day situations. These are physiological responses to stimuli. Break the cycle get outside the world is a beautiful place. I decided that I was not going to let my sadness and anxiety define me and I’m living proof that it worked.

  • ethan chong

    Wow, I realized that depression can sometimes also cause insomnia. Do you want to know the secret natural cure for insomnia? Simply go to http://www.SleepWellSecrets.com to discover the secret source to getting you to sleep faster than ever before!

  • rawr

    if you are just now hearing that exercise and eating healthy will improve your mood that is insane.. these steps are so extremely basic this is like depression 101

  • Aurelius Terminas

    Depression is not an illness. It’s a state and you can change your state in a matter of seconds. http://tonyrobbinspersonalpower.com

    • Catz

      Either you’ve never had depression, or you only had mild depression.

  • helpmontnana
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  • Acorp

    “Be Happy” Oh really? I’m sure nobody ever tried that one. Thanks for that very helpful suggestion.

  • Alpha Elite

    As far as Dietary Supplements go I have found Acetyl L-Carnitine (1-4 grams a day depending on the individual) to be extremely helpful in increasing energy levels as well as focus and memory.

    Because Acetyl L-Carnitine makes your body utilize fat for energy, I have seen the effects become extremely amplified since adding 2/3rds of a stick of kerry gold unsalted butter to my morning protein shake!!!

    It increases both Dopamine and Seretonin for a pleasurable and more balanced feel. Its a great add on for those taking an anti-depressant too.

  • jack

    You’re dumb you know nothing about real depression

  • Cathy

    you can also use music as a therapy. I came across a website, Muzikool.com which features a mood wheel where you can draw a playlist path from sad to depressed to calm to pleasant to happy ! its not instant design to get away from sad/depressing mood….everybody needs a time. take a look at this pin : http://www.pinterest.com/pin/335447872216361496/

  • Engels’ Friend

    I just had to drop this here as it is sort of relevant. It might help somebody.

    “The secret of being miserable is to have the leisure
    to bother about whether you are happy or not. The cure for it is
    occupation, because occupation means pre-occupation; and the
    pre-occupied person is neither happy nor unhappy, but simply alive and
    active. That is why it is necessary to happiness that one should be
    tired”

    “How to stop worrying and start living”. Excellent 9 hours material. Look it up on youtube.

    • paul

      So what about when you stop the 14 hour days for 5 years and realise you are depressed?! You can’t be too busy and occupy yourself for the rest of your life so that you don’t realise your loneliness and depression.

  • shel

    I decide to FIGHT back against depression & take charge of changing myself and how I think/view the world. It’s not easy, but I’ve been fighting depression for ~40 yrs now & haven’t given up yet. I also analyze what I’ve recently eaten, how much I’ve slept, etc. Small changes can go a long way to help balance hormonal problems for me. I can’t say everyone’s cures are the same, I’m just suggesting that these things have worked for me so far… Good luck to you all. I empathize.

  • Liz

    For about 10 years I was on a constant combination of meds and therapy. For the past 2 and 1/2 years, I have been without therapy or medication. There are some weeks/months that are worse than others. These are the practices that help me with my struggle:
    1)Choosing to be happy (it may sound dumb, but you do have work practice this choice, read Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl)
    2)Lots of exercise, this helps so much
    3) Diet- eat healthy, don’t smoke, don’t drink alcohol, don’t do do recreational drugs
    4) volunteer, give back, socialize

  • sonya

    the best way for enjoying your life is just to be happy and to take it easy in any situation. that’s life.

    otomatik kap?lar

  • CarbSanity

    Denounce Jimmy Moore and Richard Nikoley and then we’ll talk.

  • Chris

    This is complete babble. Just be happier? Really? And I’m sick of people telling me I just need to go outside in the sun more, or diet and exercise to be less depressed. I HATE the sun. It kills my eyes and I get wicked headaches if I am in it for any extended time. There is a reason I don’t go in the sun. And as far as the diet and exercise, this past summer I got a job where I was on my feet for 10 hours, then I would walk 4 miles 6 days a week and I ate the healthiest I’ve ever eaten in my life. I lost 20 pounds AND came within an eyelash of committing suicide for the first time in my life. It was the worst my depression has ever been. So….yeah

  • Vickie

    After reading a lot of the responses here, I must share my thoughts. I too have suffered severe depression/anxiety for years. I have been on medication for both and got some relief but did not want to depend on foreign substance as a cure. I “made the CHOICE” to get busy trying to be happy! It is not easy, especially in times of self despair, but it is a “choice” to sit and wallow in it! It really is! The above list is a very realistic way to put that depression to bed! It takes courage! Nothing works for you naturally, if you do not put in the effort. Be strong, believe in yourself and get busy LIVING! Change your perception, change your life! PMA (positive mental attitude)

  • Jaycee

    bullshit… Depression is a mental disorder that needs drugs and or therapy to feel better. This article is complete bullshit. -.-

    • Lioness

      You could not be more wrong. There are many things a depressed individual can do to break the cycle of depression and this article touches on a few of them. Get out and help someone you don’t even know. That is a good start. Depression is a horrible state but pouring drugs that can lead to more harm than good is not the answer for everyone.

  • PeteH

    The teachings of eckhart tolle I found profound and full of integrity. They guided me to my own wisdom. I found that feelings lumped under the umbrella term ‘depression’ become a meaningfull part of moving forward and learning. The suggestions in this point are also excellent except the first recommedation could be counterproductive. For most people happiness is associted with a high which in turn means there is a low. True inner contentment and joy, that comes from knowing who you are, has no opposite. Excellent blog. keep up the good work!

  • Richard Hashimashi

    Thanks for this article Dave. I have been struggling with depression for way too long for too many reasons. I have found that eating a clean diet and working out seems to help the most. I am down 55lbs now and working on losing the last 20. Have not seen your bullet proof diet yet, but am definitely going to look. http://hashimashi.com

  • Brian Gailliot

    what i hate is i feed myself all these healthy foods and vitamins for like a week. and then i for some reason want to just be high for the next few days on like pills alcohol and coricidin and snorting ant- depressants and i can never seem to break that cycle for some reason

  • heather

    it`s a holistic approach. The right food,supplements,exercise,prayer,mixing with friends,find out from the net what you can do to make yourself better, Read the research.. turn negative thoughts into positive thoughts, forgive yourself. I worked on my depression and it came right. Our poor western diet has a lot to do with it.

  • Amra

    Can any one know wy I fill so bad When I drink omega 3 fish oil .thank you

  • Amra

    For depression and nerve I know Gout fat and milk is so good it will help for depression relaxing music, and long walk in forest, listening beard voice .

  • Veronica

    Great article. I heard Ziglar talk about studies done after listening to something motivating and how it impacted his audience by raising dopamine, seratonin levels 300%. I have been putting a lot of this into practice over a year. It wasn’t easy at first but now it is natural and things have drastically changed for the better.

  • Sarp
  • Liz

    It sure is not easy. I need Florida, the sun, smell of the rain and having coffee in the little cafe. Anyone to join me? Without this, I am so sad! California a dream come true but would settle for Florida! I stay fit, eat right, excercise and dream of those days but still depressed. Will be until I find my home in Florida!

  • Wesley Teasley

    How do you defeat doctors, friends, family, who want to “stuff” the meds down my freaking throat

  • Lilith

    I can say, this is inaccurate. Depression is a lack of the chemical Serotonin in your brain, the only way to treat it is to increase the Serotonin levels, which can only be done with anti-depressants. Pick up a psychology book sometime before giving out advice about a mental disorder!

    • JB

      Bollocks – you suffer with depression do you? I do and due to taking anti depressants those bad boys nearly tipped me over the edge several years ago. Exercise, light, diet and self worth are just a few of the elements needed to dig yourself out of the pit of despair.

  • D

    I don ‘t know about others, but for me it is not a choice. I can just decided to be happy. This is bullshit and insulting.

    • D

      I mean I can’t just decided to be happy

  • Chelsea Sawyer

    Great post. Being happy can indeed help you in relieving depression. I agree it must be the number one. I also agree with going out since this will allow you to forget the things that make you depress or even get away from the places, things or people who make you feel hopeless and depress. – http://www.sadlightsreview.com/

  • Ryan Gilbert

    Eat bulletproof, exercise, force yourself to make a running graditude list and most importantly, STOP FOCUSING ON YOU. Self-absorption was a huge hurdle I had to overcome.

    Living in downtown SF, I was bombarded daily by homeless people asking me to donate to their cause, because of their problems and their struggles.

    It finally hit me. These people were helpless because they were so focused on themselves that their problems seemed 100X worse than they were in reality .

    whenever you’re down, make the effort to help someone else. You’ll realize that your problems aren’t that important and they suddenly become a lot less threatening.

  • Jonathan Ballam

    Be Happy is the first step…next it’s about searching for it and internalizing it. Perhaps something you can add to this article under the ‘be happy’ section is one should create a dream board (or vision board) for oneself.

    Essentially, you grab a whole bunch of magazines and start to set your intentions (Dr Wayne Dyer, speaks better about intention setting than I do). The idea is the dream big. Say for example you live in a crappy apartment, and one of your goals is to get a better house. Don’t cut out a modest middle-class apartment. Find a mansion – you might think you’ll never own – and cut it out. You can dream big in all the areas of your life.

    I’ve been on anti-depressants now for (roughly) six years. One major combatant is exercise and diet. Exercise, Diet, and (most important) consistency. I made it my goal to wake up early in the morning and run on the beach at 4:30am. I can’t say I always stick to it…but minimum of 4 days a week I’m out there. It’s just the ocean and me…it’s wonderful. Running, for me, is about the exercise and what you speak of just “getting out”. Once you start to find an exercise routine…eventually it becomes a meditation of sorts.

    This year my goal is to be anti-depressant free, provided I stick to Exercise, Diet, Meditation and Happiness in a consistent manner. Thank you for this wonderful post! It can confirmed much of my thinking.

    I will be back to dig into other avenues of this blog/website. :D

  • Stephen

    this is a good topic to use for a school for write and thanks for all the help and all of these tips that i can use for my paper and i got a A+ thanks alot :)

  • Pillsburryyoboy

    lol obviously this person has never been depressed, maybe sad, but not depressed. When you’re depressed you can’t be happy, go outside, or even eat anything that you have to wash, because that is too much work, this should be called how to fight boredom, or maybe how to fight the i’m feeling like its a 7 day instead of my normal 9 day and its been 2 in a row, i must be depressed, boo hoo.

  • thehillcenter

    I just love your depression treatment. It’s really wonderful article for depressed people. Thanks for sharing these points with us.

  • robin

    I’m very happy when I just watch movies, browse web pages.
    But I cannot get job if I just do those things. So it makes me depressed.
    What I gonna to do?

  • The hill center

    Your treatment for depression is really awesome. By implementing these treatments in one’s life they can handle depression very easily and effectively.

  • Scroogerry

    If I don’t have sex with a woman in the next month or sooner, I truly believe I will do something horrible. Why does not having sex make me feel like this shit? I wish I could take a pill to stop this desire. WTF?

  • Qwerty

    I don’t think the author “gets it” . . . I’m stuck in a position where I get no sun, I have tried exercising, and I cannot go get therapy or drugs… When depressed, one cannot simply “Be Happy”. It sucks everything out of you to the point where you don’t even have the WILL to do so. You just don’t have the energy to try. There needs to be some other methods where you don’t need to see a professional or use any of the above listed methods…

  • Phee

    I don’t mean to be rude, but I know this from experience, its hard to be happy when your depressed

  • Michael

    It all sounds so simple. Emotions drive people and when you feel nothing for anything then how do you maintain normality? Loss of control is the whole problem. Get your five a day (protein, vitamins, minerals, oil, H2O, carbs), smile, exercise, go outside, think positively. Yeah, cheers for that! Will do!?!

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  • Trent

    Start a gratitude journal. It can help you “see” things differently. Just search for gratitude journal online. I did this and created a new habit. I did make a difference.

  • Jeff

    You seem to bunch being ‘depressed’ and actual Depression in the same boat because I can tell you right now: I lead an active, health live style by a lot of peoples standard guidelines for food, activity and social life but yet it’s the same battle every night and every moment I spend not keeping busy.I refuse to believe or accept that simple life style changes ‘fight’ depression because it’s not an illness. It’s a literal chemical deficiency in the brain. It’s not some, disease or sickness you can cure. It’s a state of mind for some people and I, myself’ find this entire article insulting because I jump through all of the hoops and still find a lack of hope for humanity or hope for myself. I understand this all seems mundane and ‘depressive’ but the people who truely have depression and read this will know what I’m talking about. You cant jog, smile and ‘healthy lifestyle’ depression away and you push the agenda that it’s just something you GET over through physical activity and types of food consumption. You seem to ignore the literal emotional complex of some people by saying ‘just be happy’ in your first tip. You think if it was so easily ‘fixed’ as this article makes it out to be a lot of people would do it more? This doesn’t help someone be emotionally stable. It keeps their mind busy from stagnating so they cant notice what the world/people are around them by changing their lifestyle. I do admit the tips here are generic (quite obvious) health tips but really? To ‘fight’ depression? The redundancy of this entire article just.. Blows my mind. You dont know where depression even begins’ let alone how to ‘fix’ it.

    Have a beautiful day and I wish you all the best.

  • http://hashimashi.com Hashi Mashi

    You asked “How do you take care of yourself when you are down? What has worked for you?” It would be quite a long answer since I have been fighting depression for so long, but here are some suggestions from what I have experienced over the last too many years:

    10 Day Emotional Cleanse – thoughts, speech

    1. Say to yourself and say it out loud: “Zehhu! That’s it, I have had enough!). Tell yourself that you want to enjoy your day and that you will accept small victories, whatever those might be.

    2. Never Give Up, Do not Lose Hope, Be Optimistic.

    3. Stop trying to change others and depending on them for your happiness. Stop looking at them to be the light that brightens your day.

    3. Change yourself. Stop thinking about how others should be different. Make the changes yourself and be your own light that brightens your day. No one can take that away from you.

    4. All the shoulds that you want others to shoulder, shoulder them yourself. Whatever you can control, do it, make the effort to do the things that you believe others should be doing.

    There is great amazing relief in stopping pushing against a brick wall, other people that are not changing as you want them to. If the wall is brick and you tried 3 times to knock it over, most likely it is not going to budge, so stop beating your head against that wall.

    Instead, find exciting , fun, projects for yourself to do, because you can change yourself. You can control what you say, what you eat, what you drink, how you move, so you can start to rack up small victories for yourself. As you are successful, you will be hungrier for more and keep becoming more confident. Yes, you will see some curve balls, but so what? That is part of this game. Keep getting up to bat and you will eventually be hitting home runs.

    5. You must get control of your thoughts. Take out the video tape that plays in your head showing you as the victim, as the one who has been wronged. Replace it with the good affirmations, think of every success that you have had in your life, whatever it might be. You have to walk out of the room of depression, close the door, lock it and open up new doors and build new rooms, build a new home, build a palace!

    6. Speak good about yourself. Stop maligning yourself. Only say good things. Words are powerful. Nobody builds anything without first thinking about it and speaking about it. Start speaking about what you want to build, not what you want to destroy, because both are true by our thought and speech.

    7. Get more physically fit for a better functioning brain, as a stronger mind will be the result of a stronger body.

    How?

    8. Eat real food. In approximately 6 months, eating real food helped me go from a 48″ waist to a 32″ waist.

    9. Do real strength exercises mainly using your bodyweight or free weights.

    10. Think about new projects that you can do, get excited about a new project or a goal which you can handle over a 3 or 6 month period and start focusing on that, stop replaying all of the bad images of your life in your mind.

    I have alot more to say about fighting depression with food and exercise at http://hashimashi.com

  • Sara Ladig

    be happy……..hmmm if it were that easy i’m sure there wouldnt b a thing called depression. so i agree with Rob on this.

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