Depression is one of the most debilitating states we can find ourselves in. In our society, sadly, we tend to accept “being depressed” as somewhat of a normal state. After working close to a half-century as a Marriage and Family Therapist based in California, I’ve had the opportunity to help people relieve themselves of depression. In working with my own self, using what I have learned about emotions and depression, my last 25 years have actually been depression-free. Others with whom I have worked have had similar experiences. It can be a new state of being for you. Rather than talking about easing depression, let’s consider sending it packing!
Over the years, I’ve learned three things that contribute to depression.
The first contributing factor is diet.
A significant potassium impairment can leave you depressed, feeling listless, having difficulty taking action, and making decisions a difficult task. While it can take a bit of time to correct, eating potassium-rich foods can help this depression.
According to Webmed.com, here are fruits and vegetables rich in potassium:
Some dried fruits such as prunes, raisins, and dates are also high in potassium.
- Cooked Spinach
- Cooked Broccoli
- Sweet Potatoes
- Leafy Greens
Juice made from these potassium-rich fruits and vegetables is also effective.
Second, certain mental illnesses or mental conditions are accompanied by depression.
Most notable is Bipolar Disorder. Before deciding to “lift” depression, especially if it has persisted for a while, visit your doctor for a referral to a psychiatrist to make sure you’re not wrestling with a powerful mental disorder that may require therapeutic help or medication.
The third cause of depression is created by anger.
This is the cause that I want to emphasize, particularly because it can have such an impact on releasing yourself from depression if you work with it yourself. Depression is seen as anger, turned inward on the self, that you are afraid you’ll get into trouble for expressing. Think about this. Consider that when you feel depressed, you’re really feeling angry about something, and holding that anger inside of you is creating a depressed state!
When I first encountered and worked with this definition, I couldn’t find anything in me that I felt afraid of getting into trouble for expressing. Further examination revealed this: it is often not a fear of getting into trouble for expressing the anger today, but is a fear I had as a child that I would have gotten me into trouble for expressing it during my childhood!
Here’s an example: Years ago, I worked with a man who was plagued with depression. He was one of the nicest, kindest people ever. Exceptionally thoughtful and polite, he’d grown up in the Deep South. After a year of psychotherapeutic work together, he was living mostly depression-free; we were working to help him change damaging habits. I left for a three-week vacation. When I returned, he was once again massively depressed! “What happened? What could you feel angry about?” I inquired. Shortly before I left, a college roommate had contacted him, asking if he could stay a week with him, as part of a potential move to California. My client agreed to share his one-room apartment for that week. After nearly a month of sharing, the roommate showed no signs of departing. Of course, as a person from the Deep South, the man would not think of telling his guest to leave. In therapy, we created a kind way to ask the roommate to move. He left immediately. My client came in for his next session depression-free!
Easing depression and getting it to lift can be quite easy.
When you notice you’re depressed, ask yourself: “What could I possibly be angry about?” Check all through your life, and you will find something that will “click” for you perhaps something you had no idea was angering you. Once found, do the “I’m Angry” exercise.
Sit by yourself and repeat, in a cadence, “I’m angry, I’m angry, I’m angry.” Keep repeating until something comes to your mind. Say that aloud. “I’m angry that I have to take time from my day to deal with anger and depression.” Then, return to your repeated phrase. Keep going until you notice relief that the anger has departed, causing the depression to lift!
Sometimes doing this exercise will cause you to feel even angrier. This is a sign that the anger is “old anger,” from your past. You can complete this anger on your own but it’s usually better to get help from a therapist, coach, or counselor. Old anger is held inside and has the opportunity to grow in power. It can be a crafty adversary! Most depression involves anger we could not recognize or express as children.
Even with the other forms of depression, doing this exercise can offer relief. When you repeat the phrase, “I’m angry,” you face the fact, i.e., look squarely at what is happening. Facing fact sets us free. In this case, it will set you free from depression. Use this exercise with every emotion, such as hurt, jealousy, or fear. Face the fact of what you are or might be feeling and you will soon feel better.
The holidays are rife with opportunities for depression. We miss departed loved ones, don’t get treated the way we want, can’t find the presents we want to give, feel slighted in our interactions, run into old family patterns that have driven us mad for years, over-indulge, and burn the candle from both ends leaving us tired and depleted. To recuperate, look for what might be angering you and release it. The tool offered here will work for you during the Holidays and all through the rest of your life, too!
(This article was originally published on December 25th, 2018)
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Ilene Dillon, MSW, has dedicated her life to helping people resolve personal challenges once and for all, then design life to be what they want it to be. A Transformation Specialist, she has worked 50 years as a psychotherapist and 15 years as a coach. She is a global speaker, Amazon International Best-selling author (The Wellness Universe Guide to Complete Self-Care, Volumes 1 and 2), podcast guest, and plans to give her first TEDx speech (on Anger) later this year. Ilene is also the author of Emotions in Motion: Mastering Life’s Built-in Navigation System and End Manipulation: Stop Being Jerked Around by Toxic, Energy-draining People. With her little dog, Pi, Ilene lives and travels full-time throughout North America in her RV, writing, teaching, and speaking along the way.