A Natural Approach to my Depression is not Working, What am I doing wrong?
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I've been trying to manage my clinical depression for years. I do my best to exercise, eat well, meditate, make art, and all the things that make me feel better. But it always seems like it's such short-lived relief. What am I doing wrong?
Dear Still Depressed,
You are doing nothing wrong. You have healthy coping mechanisms and for that, I must applaud you. I know how difficult it is to cope when all you want to do is curl up into a ball and shut down.
Now, I hate to be the one to break this to you, but sometimes these healthy coping mechanisms are no longer helpful. And that is not because of you or you doing anything wrong. As we mature from youths to adults, our growth becomes more nuanced. And unfortunately, so does the depression. Does this mean you have to change your routine completely? No!
Here are some suggestions that you can try. Many studies have illustrated people following a Mediterranean diet — which emphasizes fruits, vegetables, and fish, and limits meat and dairy products – found their depression much more manageable. Find a sport that you enjoy doing (it doesn’t necessarily have to be a team sport - although it may not be a bad idea because you can make new friends) to raise your serotonin! Serotonin is the brain chemical that brings us feelings of happiness!
Now I’m not sure which art medium you explore, but break out of the box! Fill balloons with paint and throw darts! Explore clay! Pottery! Use your body as a paintbrush! Paper mache everything! Pull a Yayoi Kusama and stick dot stickers on E V E R Y T H I N G! (I’m not joking, it’s a thing. And yes, I stood in line for 3 hours to do it). Have a dance party in your room.
Now, here is the moment when I suggest scheduling an appointment with your doctor to discuss antidepressants. Maybe you need to explore that option, or perhaps you need to increase your dosage. It’s entirely okay to explore and practice holistic and medicinal approaches to improve your quality of life. Maybe even seeing a therapist will help, if that is a possibility for you.
Regardless of what you decide to do, I want you to know this: you are strong and amazing! And I am glad that you are here.
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BETHANY KILLEN - RESIDENT ADVICE COLUMNIST & SEX THERAPIST
Bethany Killen (she/her), whose time spent finding ways to navigate through her own personal struggles led her to pursue a career in social work.