Aug 13, 2019

It’s NOT All In Your Brain! What YOU Can Do About Feeling Depressed…

You might be feeling “down in the dumps” lately, even like you have “lost your old self”. You may have noticed that you are sleeping quite a bit less than you used to, or are sleeping a fair bit more. Your eating patterns might have changed. You might be finding it harder to concentrate at work, or that you are more irritable with loved ones. You might even have noticed that you have lost your sense of hope for the future, or are feeling helpless about your present circumstances.

When you are experiencing a group of symptoms like this, you might be dealing with depression. In addition to consulting with your trusted primary care physician, you can benefit from educating yourself about behavioral, psychological and interpersonal changes you can make in order to feel better again.

Change is possible. You can feel well. I can help.

Where Does Depression Come From and What Can You Do About It?

Professionals and researchers have developed multiple maps of the territory of depression, including physiological, psychological, interpersonal, existential and socioeconomic areas. Each of these maps has some important information that should be included in a comprehensive approach to addressing your concern. For this post, I am drawing on the work of Elliott Ingersoll, PhD, who wrote an article entitled “An Integral Understanding of the Etiology of Depression”

(from Integral Theory in Action: Applied, Theoretical, and Constructive Perpsectives on the AQAL Model; 2010: Suny Press; Esbjorn-Hargens, S. ed.)

Is depression caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain?

You may have heard that depression is caused by a “chemical imbalance in the brain”. While this has become a popular idea, in part due to the marketing efforts of pharmaceutical companies, it lacks a strong scientific basis. There is in fact no single biological correlate that has been found for the experience of depression.

Instead, what we do know is that we can alleviate some symptoms of depression through chemical interventions, some of the time, with some people. Therefore, I do recommend you consult with your trusted physician or naturopath with respect to medicines, including plant medicines, that might be helpful to you.

How Medicines Work

The most promising biological theory for how antidepressant medications might help you is the following: these Selective Serotonin or Norephinephrine Response Inhibitors increase the levels in the brain of something called “cyclic AMP”. If your eyes have not already glazed over from this obscure language, what might be helpful to know is that this “cyclic AMP” is responsible for the production of a very important protein in your brain called “Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor”, or “BDNF”. BDNF is responsible for the survival of existing neurons, and the growth of new ones!

By taking medicines appropriately, then, you may be assisting in the growth of new neurons in the brain. And that is good news.

Train Your Body, Change Your Brain

Dr. Ingersoll makes the important point that if you believe that your depression is caused by a “chemical imbalance” in your brain, you may respond by feeling helpless or hopeless because it may seem like a state of affairs that you have no control over. He goes onto to note that these feelings themselves are psychological correlates of depression.

So not only is this theory not proven, it’s not particularly helpful or useful to you in addressing your suffering, beyond motivating you to see your doctor about medication.

What do you have control over, then, that can help you heal from depression? You have control over the limbs of your body and thus you can choose to exercise. We have great evidence that regular exercise helps alleviate depression, with the likely cause of this change being an increase in the vary same substance in the brain that we discussed as being involved in how antidepressant medications work: BDNF.

Take Home Message: What can you do about the physical causes of depression?

Consult with your physician or naturopath. If you can find a physician who is willing to acknowledge multiple causes of depression, that is better. Your physician may prescribe you medications that can increase the amount of certain brain chemicals that may help you to feel less depressed; if she or he does, then it is important that you follow through on the physician’s recommendation.

Alternatively, plant medicines are quickly emerging as viable options for the body-brain component of your challenge with depression.

Set your intention to increase the amount of physical exercise you are doing. Plan for a small change, like walking rather than driving to do an errand. And most important, schedule the new activity in your calendar. Tony Schwartz, author of The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working, makes the case that setting aside a particular time for practicing a new habit greatly increases the chance that an intended change in behavior will become a real one.

When exercising, and following your doctor’s — or shaman’s — recommendations regarding medicine, remind yourself that these activities encourage the growth of new cells in the brain. You could affirm, “By doing this, I am helping grow new cells in my brain”.

Originally published at

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Do I Like Me?

Do I like me? Galatians 1:10 ~ “Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.” Do I like me? I’ve heard it called the 8th deadliest sin...vainglory.  When we seek others approval over the approval of God two things can happen. #1- They will refuse to give it, leaving you to question if or why you’re not enough.  #2- They will give it conditionally, then take it away, leaving you to question if or why you’re not enough.  Do I like me? At some point we all should look in the mirror and ask, “Do I like me?”  So ask yourself, do you like you? The answer to this question gives insight to your relationship with your Creator, and all other relationships as well. Relationships begin with and within ourselves.  If I look in the mirror and don’t really like who I see, there’s no way I’m giving that person permission to represent me as a friend, a parent, a wife or husband, son or daughter, an employee, or any role in any relationship. Why would I?  No way! Wait!  I want relationships!  I need relationships!  So who will I be in them if I can’t or won’t be me? I’ve got it!  (...or do I?) I’ll be the person each friend needs me to be by comparing myself to their other friends, especially the ones they like most. And if I don’t know for sure, I’ll be who I think they want me to be.  I’ll be the parent they need me to be by comparing myself to other parents, especially those “poster parents” that never make mistakes. And if I don’t know for sure, I’ll be the parent I think they want me to be.  I’ll be the husband or wife that they need by comparing myself to other husbands and wives, especially those perfect marriages I see in church. And if I don’t know for sure, I’ll be the husband or wife I think they want me to be.  I’ll be the son or daughter they need by comparing myself to others or my siblings, especially the ones who they favor. And if I don’t know for sure, I’ll be the son or daughter I think they want me to be by doing whatever it takes to make them proud of me.  I’ll be the employee they need by comparing myself to coworkers that seem to get all of the approval, or continually change to fit any role they put me in. And if I’m not sure, I’ll be the employee I think they want me to be.  Yes!  I’ll be whoever I need to be in any relationship by comparing myself to others who are awesome in that relationship, especially the ones I see on social media. And if I’m not sure, I’ll be who I think they need me to be.  Do I like me? Sounds ridiculous on some level doesn’t it?  Yet how many of us can relate?  Maybe not to all, but most likely one or two of these situations.  When we don’t know or more often don’t believe that we are enough, these are the relationships we forge. Living life constantly changing who I am, seeking approval that rarely comes, never knowing who I really am.  I know.  I’ve done it most of my life.  Each relationship described above is a relationship I’ve tried to live...and failed at miserably.  There are two ways to learn a lesson, through teaching and through experience.  When we are faced with a challenge, there is usually a lesson to be learned. Once faced with a challenge, there’s really no way to avoid it.  We can try to ignore or deny it, only to face it repeatedly.  The challenge remains until the lesson is learned. I’ve learned that when we don’t begin each of these relationships with a knowledge of who we are and a belief that we are enough, we miss out on the real love and joy within them. Or worse, we set the relationship upon a destructive path full of hurt, betrayal, and loss.  I’m so grateful that we serve a God who allows us to learn hard lessons but who doesn’t leave us in our own heap of brokenness that results. He’s a God of restoration. He’s a God of reconciliation. (But that is a story for another post.) So the question remains.  Do I like me? Do you like you? If the answer is “Yes”, reach out.  I’d love to hear your story. There is power in our stories. Power to rescue others.  If the answer is an emphatic “No” or “I just don’t know”, that’s ok and here’s why.  The moment we truly seek to determine if we like who we are is the moment we begin to discover who we really are. The truth is that some of you reading this know who you are and don’t like it. Some of you have no idea who you are because like me, you’ve lived a life of constantly trying to be who others wanted you to be or who you thought you needed to be. Wherever you land the greatest news you’ll hear today is that you don’t have to stay there. There is FREEDOM.  Wherever we are, there is always a NEXT STEP.. What is your NEXT STEP?  Your NEXT STEP will bring you closer to liking who you are or it won’t. Your NEXT STEP will reveal the very real truth that no matter who you are, no matter what you’ve done, you are enough. The choice is yours to make.  Psalm 119:105 ~ “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.”  I love this passage because it tells you that not only do you have a NEXT STEP, but that God has designed it and is trying to reveal it to you.  In the search to know who you are comes the desire to know what you’re made of. There’s a desire to know who made you. There’s a desire to know why you were created. Every desire to do something or find out something points you to a NEXT STEP.  In life, the more you tell someone who they are the less you have to tell them what to do. To know who you are is to know Whose you are. To know Whose you are reveals the truth that even in your imperfectness, you are enough. The moment you begin to see that you’re enough in spite of your mistakes, every reason to not like yourself begins to fade. Tests become testimonies. Messes become messages. Pain becomes your platform.  Ready to take your NEXT STEP? Not sure what your NEXT STEP is? Want to experience the moment when you can look in the mirror and say, “I like you!” - and mean it?  Walls come down when you know that even though you’re not perfect, you are enough.  You can!  You will!   Walking with you.  Don (Thank you for taking time to read my post.  In life, we are rescued to rescue. I do this as a writer, a speaker, and a Life Coach. If you’re ready to take your NEXT STEP but not sure what it is or how to take it, a Life Coach can provide focus & clarity. Reach out to me at and simply say “I’m ready to find my NEXT STEP!”  I’m ready if you are. Let’s go!)
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Captain Your Life With Affirmations

Seems like everyone is talking about positive visualizations and affirmations these days, and for good reason: they work! They work on the days we are feeling happiest and they work on the days we are feeling the blues.  If you haven’t jumped on the bandwagon yet, read on. I’m going to share some valuable information about how affirmations can boost your confidence, just when you need it most. How do I know? Because I use affirmations in my life, too.
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