EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique or Tapping) to treat depression
‘When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.’
I imagine we all have our own very individual definition of depression; for most it will be based on what we “think” we know and not on what we actually know.
We’ll mostly have heard that at the first sign of depression (you’ll be talking about feeling down, low, not quite yourself, lacking motivation, miserable and so on) your doctor will rush to prescribe medication in the form of anti-depressants. Some won’t. but in a ten minute consultation it is a tall order to explore the complexities of what may or may not be depression.
Although we have been told that drugs seem the solution to depression and anxiety, in many cases, the cause is not in our biology but in the way that we live. Being depressed or anxious does not mean that something is weak or broken in the brain, rather, that your natural psychological needs are not being met. Think about it – we are the loneliest society there has ever been and it is becoming more and more difficult to meet our deep psychological needs through meaningful, beneficial interaction with others.
With more than 300 million people worldwide diagnosed with depression (and many more who aren’t!) – why do we suppose one kind of pill (there are different kinds of anti depressants and other medications) can be expected to treat all of them? What, that one little pill can do it for all those millions of people who are all so unique and probably have many unique reasons as to why they are feeling down and low and depressed. There’s got to be another way of looking at depression. (If you want to cut to the chase – then click on the video opposite with Dr Kelly Brogan. She talks just so much sense. Listen to her and you’ll almost feel your depression evaporate.)
What is depression? A gift
“Official” websites in Scotland have it that depression is a common disorder of mood affecting one in five people in Scotland at some point in their lives – that’s twenty percent of the population. Many people who experience depression will not seek help mostly because they are misinformed and mistaken and believe that depression is a sign of weakness, or an inability to cope, they feel shame, and rather than realising that depression is the body’s way of getting your attention, that something is out of balance, and can be treated. It does not mean you are insane or stupid.
Hence why, a good starting point is simply this. When you feel anything that can remotely be described as depression, before you accept the label and all the negative feelings that then get associated with it, ask yourself this – if this is a messenger come bearing gifts, what are the gifts?
You see we tend to shoot the messenger, or treat the symptom ie we take meds, when in fact if we look at the gifts, well, that’s a different story we can tell ourselves. So, what could be the gifts? A chance to stop and re-evaluate your world, a chance not to rush to prescribe but instead to describe a new way of life, a chance to learn what’s caused these feelings and therefore an opportunity to treat the cause, to address what’s missing in your life. Now what if the cause were food related? You could enter a whole new world of nutrition. What if your symptoms were caused by side-effects of other medications – wow, maybe you could come off those meds and be med free. What if your down feelings are because your life has become so sedentary you hadn’t noticed and now it’s a wakeup call to move - move environment, shift jobs, move the body, and if exercise is not your thing, get out in nature and walk in the hills. What if you had few people in your life and those who were in it were actually quite toxic, getting you down. What if the gift was a chance to open up to finding new relationships, ones that are nurturing and supportive.
Notice how the picture changes, how your mood is changing, even just in reading this paragraph?
Signs and symptoms
Whilst depression will affect everyone differently, typical signs of depression can include any of the following particularly if they last more than just a few days ie days, not weeks:
aches and pains that can’t be explained
anxiety, feeling anxious
appearance, lack of care in your appearance
eating too much or too little
guilt, condemning yourself for thing you did or didn’t do
less enjoyment in things than you usually have
loneliness or feeling miserable
not looking forward to things the way you once did
sex problems eg lack of interest, lack of ability
sleep issues – too much or too little, or disturbed
stomach problems that cannot easily be explained
suicidal thoughts in severe cases
thinking badly of yourself or not liking yourself
The NHS website lists the following as symptoms:-
Psychological symptoms include:
•continuous low mood or sadness
•feeling hopeless and helpless
•having low self-esteem
•feeling irritable and intolerant of others
•having no motivation or interest in things
•finding it difficult to make decisions
•not getting any enjoyment out of life
•feeling anxious or worried
•having suicidal thoughts or thoughts of harming yourself
Physical symptoms include:
•moving or speaking more slowly than usual
•change in appetite or weight (usually decreased, but sometimes increased)
•unexplained aches and pains
•lack of energy or lack of interest in sex (loss of libido)
•changes to your menstrual cycle
•disturbed sleep (for example, finding it hard to fall asleep at night or waking up very early in the morning)
Social symptoms include:
•not doing well at work
•taking part in fewer social activities and avoiding contact with friends
•neglecting your hobbies and interests
•having difficulties in your home and family life
Causes and risk factors for depression
Alcohol or drug abuse
Break up of a relationship
Early childhood trauma or abuse
Family history of depression
Financial strains and difficulties
Health problems or chronic pain
Lack of life coping skills
Lack of social support
Marital or relationship problems
Rape or other forms of abuse
Stressful life experiences
Unemployment or underemployment
Work place bullying
Treating depression with psychotherapy or counselling
All psychotherapies are not the same; when considering the treatment of depression with psychotherapy, it is important to make some distinction in the types of treatment. While some have been shown to have high success rates, others are shown to be less effective than actually leaving the depression untreated.
Therapy for depression works in many ways - emotional support, problem solving, examining and changing thinking styles, checking basic needs are met, looking at behaviour, teaching social and other skills and so on...it should involve exploring your situation, helping you reach an understanding of your situation, considering options for moving beyond depression, enabling you to make choices to test out new ways.
Treating symptoms with drugs is not treating what is causing the symptom.
So understanding the underlying cause of your depression will help you decide where best to put your efforts, at a time when you probably feel like doing nothing. But it may help you overcome the problem. For example, if you are depressed because of issues at work or with your boss, the best treatment might be finding a more satisfying career, not taking an antidepressant. If you are new to an area and feeling isolated, lonely and down, it is important to get out, discover the area, find new friends ether through work or through a hobby. So often depression is remedied by changing the situation.
Depression and your gut
More and more I read research into inflammation which confirms gastrointestinal inflammation and the critical role it plays in the development of depression, and that healthy bacteria in the gut microbiome (the microorganisms that inhabit the gut for our well-being) may be an important part of the treatment. For example, a Hungarian scientific review published in 2011 made the following observations:
1. Depression is often found alongside gastrointestinal inflammation; and in addition chronic low-grade inflammation is a significant contributing factor in autoimmune, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases. Thus, it says, “depression may be a neuropsychiatric manifestation of a chronic inflammatory syndrome"
2. A number of clinical studies have shown that treating gastrointestinal inflammation with probiotics, omega-3 fats and vitamins B and D also improves symptoms of depression by constricting pro-inflammatory stimuli to your brain
3. Research also suggests the primary cause of inflammation may be dysfunction of the "gut-brain axis" ie the biochemical signaling that takes place between the gastrointestinal tract and the central nervous system often now referred to as the microbiome-gut-brain. Thhe term microbiome-gut-brain axis is sometimes used to describe paradigms explicitly including the gut flora.The gut-brain connection is well-recognised in medicine. Your gut acts as a second brain, (ever wonder why we talk of “gut instinct” “a gut hunch” ) and is in fact created from the identical tissue as your brain during gestation.
4. If you eat loads of processed foods and sugars, your gut bacteria will be severely compromised because processed foods tend to wipe out healthy microflora. This leaves a void that is filled by disease-causing pathogenic bacteria, yeast and fungi that instead promote inflammation which in turn triggers conditions such as candida, celiac disease, vasculitis, lupus, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), irritable bowel disease, atherosclerosis, arthritis, and psoriasis.
5. Previous research has also demonstrated that probiotics (defined as live microorganisms that are believed to provide health benefits when consumed) have the power to alter your brain function.
6. Strong connections between the gut microbiome and schizophrenia and bipolar disorder have also been found.
So, feed your stomach well. What you eat is important not just to your physical well-being but also your mental health.
Top Ways for Overcoming Depression Naturally
You may have been prescribed medications, and they haven’t worked;
no surprise there because they do not help you address the underlying
cause that is triggering the depression. They simply mask the problems,
and often have more debilitating side effects such as lethargy, brain fog
and so on which are worse than the depression itself. Sometimes,
however, they can temporarily give you the break or lift you need to be
able to deal with your depression naturally. But if you end up being on
them more or less permanently you need to ask (a) is this what I want
for my life, ie lifelong medication, simply managing your depression,
not creating health and (b) what can I do instead?
Here are some natural ideas
Address your stress – Depression is a very serious and debilitating condition, however it is not a "disease." This is important to acknowledge, because as soon as you start to view depression as an "illness," then next is, you think you need to take a drug to fix it.
Rather, depression is a sign, telling you that your body and your life are out of balance. In reality, you need a way to return balance to your life, and one of the key ways to doing this is addressing stress.
What were the key events, which happened maybe some time ago, which threw your life out of balance, and which you maybe did not deal with or could not face at the time, or could only do the best you knew how? Dig deep and find what the unresolved fears and other emotions are that will subconsciously be playing out in the background of your life, causing stress on the body systems. These are what you need to address, perhaps through some form of talk therapy such as counselling (but make sure you get the right type of counsellor – one that you feel a resonance with and who practices a form of counselling – there are many – that suits you. Do your research.) Perhaps you may find EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) more relevant if you are ready to release old emotions and hurts.
Eat healthily – Please do not overlook the important connection between how what you eat, the state of your gut microbiome, and your brain, seriously impact your moods. At a simple level, I am aware that if I eat potatoes or lots of starchy carbs, within half an hour I feel heavy (in my mind), a kind of brain fog descends, I can feel woozy, and then my mood gets more and more down and negative. And that’s just from eating carbs! So, a key factor that cannot be overlooked is what you eat. Foods have a huge impact on your mood and your ability to cope and be happy. See the various pages on this site addressing food issues. Essentially, eat natural, fresh, unprocessed foods; avoid sugar and grains to help normalise your insulin and leptin levels. Avoid too artificial sweeteners.
EFT – Emotional Freedom Techniques EFT (a mix of European psychology
and Chinese Acupuncture – but without the needles!) is based on the notion that
the cause of all negative emotions is a disruption in the body’s energy system.
All our body systems work because of unseen energy in motion.
EFT relieves symptoms by a scientific routine of tapping with the fingertips on a
short series of points on the body that correspond to acupuncture points on the
energy meridians. Where there is an imbalance in life or health, a dis-ease so to
speak, there is a corresponding blockage in the flow of energy through the
meridian system; a life event contributed to emotions which you have probably
long forgotten and but are et still swirling around as energy in a blocked pool
somewhere in the body…imagine a stream where all the upstream debris becomes clogged in a bend in the stream.
The tapping is akin to clearing the debris and letting it flow away. In EFT, the tapping serves to release the blockages that are created when a person thinks about or becomes involved in an emotionally disturbing circumstance. When this blockage is released, the emotions come back into balance. Once balanced, the person cannot get upset about the circumstance no matter how hard they try.
The memory remains but the charge is gone. One does not always need to remember the specific event that caused the emotion which is trapped in the body system. Typically, the result is lasting and the person’s awareness usually changes in a positive way as a natural result of the healing. It is hugely effective in the treatment of depression and often reduces the need for many hours of therapy.
Exercise – and if that makes you think of the gym, it doesn’t have to. When you are feeling down then the gym is the last thing one can contemplate. For exercise, read move – which can be done through breathing, dancing, gardening, housework, qi-gong, swimming, walking, water exercises, yoga etc.
Whether serious depression or, or even if you just feel down from time to time, exercise is a MUST. Movement increases the level of endorphins, the "feel good" hormones, in your brain. And again, helps normalise your insulin and leptin signaling. Some of these activities involve being out in nature, breathing in the air, having sun on your body (well, maybe not so much in northern winters) – as you look up and out, rather than down at your feet as you walk, physiologically shifts are taking place in the brain. Some of the activities can also be done with others – e.g. walking groups, water splashing and aerobic groups, dog-walking, qi-gong and yoga classes or clubs, “men’s sheds” - check in your local authority area if these exist – they may not provide much movement but they get you out, and involved. Remember the old Chinese proverb, “the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.” Just get moving.
Gut Genius – make the most of your gut microbiome. Your microbiome is like a community of tiny organisms, which play a key role in your health. The gut microbiome is involved in many physical processes, like absorption of nutrients, your digestion, and it aids your immune system and its responses to invading attackers. Checkout fermented foods, not the latest fad but a natural process of fermenting vegetables that’s been around for eons and which is crucial to optimal mental health, stemming from optimal gut health. Your gut actually produces more mood-boosting serotonin than your brain does. What goes in your gut, the state or health of the gut community (the microbiome) significantly influences your brain, which influences your mind, your motivation, your mood, your choices, and your behavior.
Love yourself – depression often kicks in after a period when we have not been particularly loving towards ourselves. We may have lots of mantras or phrases that run through our minds, especially at a sub-conscious level, which we picked up at an early age and have since been reinforced by life circumstances and people. We may, for instance, believe we don’t deserve to be happy, that nothing good ever happens to us, that no-one loves or has ever loved us or will love us again. The latter may kick in after a significant break up in personal relationship. We may have been brought up in a very frugal or poor family and so learn all sorts of depressing values about our right to financial abundance.
All of these kinds of thoughts certainly affect our mental health, can make us depressed, and that will affect our physical health and the way we act out in the world. If we feel undeserving, we may turn up for a job interviewing with no expectation that we will get it and so behave in a way that almost ensures we won’t be successful. You can tackle this by cognitively working out what your limiting beliefs are and attempting to counter them with more positive life affirming beliefs. This can be a tough process. Often you will find EFT works beautifully. (See above.) And you could set yourself up with a self-made plan to learn to love yourself – small steps every day. A good read on this is Dr David Hamilton’s “I Heart Me!”
Meditation - I am convinced, from personal experience, that meditation is helpful in the treatment of depression, whether the depression is situational (caused by external events) or organic (caused by chemical imbalances in the brain). Research also shows that learning to meditate can dramatically reduce the chances of relapse into depression for those who have suffered repeated bouts. That said, there may be times when it’s best for those who are depressed not to meditate — for example when experiencing an extreme bout of depression. If you can then do, but if some days you simply can't, ease up, don't.
Prayer - never underestimate the power of prayer to help you manage and treat your depression. Clinical studies have demonstrated that people who pray are:
Less likely to get sick
Better able to cope mentally and emotionally with their illness
More likely to recover from surgery
More likely to recover from illness
Evidence exists for the power of prayer to maintain and improve the function of the immune system.
Beloved, show me the source of my depression that I may root out all causes from this and any other lifetime.
Beloved, please give me the resources to relieve me from this depression that I may be returned to good health and able to play my part in the world.
Sunshine (Vitamin D) – you probably already are aware of the difference it makes to you if there is sunlight around rather than dark, relentless rain and cloud. Vitamin D deficiency is more the norm than the exception; an estimated one billion people worldwide have vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency. Those at high risk include those living far from the equator, (hallo Scotland!) those with medical conditions (such as celiac disease, liver disease, obesity, and renal disease), the elderly, and those with darker skin. Vitamin D deficiency and has been implicated in both psychiatric and neurological disorders. Making sure you're getting enough sunlight exposure is a crucial factor in treating depression or keeping it at bay.
If natural sunlight is in short supply, as it often is here during Scottish winters, some of us have to resort to Vitamin D3 supplementation (taken simultaneously with Vitamin K2) – or have occasional sessions of artificial sun tanning but check with the salon exactly the science behind their particular system. Remember, tanning beds pump out huge amounts of Ultra Violet Light - UVA and virtually no UVB (which stimulates vitamin D). Both UVA and UVB, play an important role in conditions such as premature skin aging, eye damage (including cataracts), and skin cancers. They also suppress the immune system, reducing your ability to fight off these and other conditions. Some people also benefit from the use of a Seasonal Affective Disorder (SA) Lightbox.
Get out into nature
Kick up the leaves
Listen to music
Soak in the sunlight
Metaphysically, ie beyond the physical, depression is a pulling us into a deeper place, inviting us to sink and deepen, further and further into ourselves, moving us down and within, reconnecting us on ever deeper levels with WHAT we are - OUR TRUE NATURE ... Spirit, God, Presence, Awareness, Stillness, Silence, Consciousness. It is beyond our Ego self.
The route cause of depression is a dysfunctional connection with the divine. So we are dealing with a spiritual malady.
Depression undermines our soul life and heart activity and drags us, painfully, to our inner world, down into the deeps, to the foundations and fundamentals and bases of all life and all activity. Where before we walked through life as if on solid ground, we realise we were living only on the surface of existence. Suddenly in depression we fall into the cave of the soul, the abyss of the heart where we either get stuck, unable to let go of the old, physical ways, or we become born to the new, living life from the heart and soul. That is both the challenge and gift of depression.
If we feel disconnected and isolated or can’t find inner peace and contentment with our divine connection, then this is highly likely to lead to bouts of unhappiness and depression, of leading an unfulfilled life. But if we recognise this underlying cause and commit to addressing the spiritual side of life, then we can certainly kick depression into touch and turn our lives around.
However, it takes, dedication, commitment, unlearning, and new learning. It needs you to feel into the experience of depression, accept it without needing to flee from it, thus becoming ‘as-one’ with it; we need to face it, embrace it, and not so much replace it as to welcome a new way of seeing the world and living it ie a spiritual way – which does not mean religion and being terribly, awfully serious!
Medication is no solution to a spiritual dilemma. It just makes things more tolerable in the short term. And that may be okay – but not long term.
We just have to be patient and trust in the Inner Guidance Mechanism of the Soul.
Whilst conventional medicine would mostly have depression as an error in the brain, a chemical imbalance, metaphysical medicine would see it more as an error in thinking, in your thoughts and particular your beliefs.
Mental Health Disclaimer: Attaching spiritual meaning to physical imbalance is normal for those who realise that most physical illness is preceded by some form of emotional, mental or spiritual crisis or break in normal energy flows. But you may be new to this way of thinking. Recovery and restoring wholeness as a spiritual being having a physical experience involves noticing the spiritual meaning of depression and what imbalance it may be pointing toward in our emotional lives and belief system.There are many different approaches to good mental health and it may take some work with qualified professionals, both allopathic and non-conventional, to find your best path to healing.
Spiritual depression is a time of feeling emotionally alone at a very deep and often traumatic level. Often called the dark night of the soul which can last a few days to a lifetime. You feel severed or separation from the God of your understanding or simply because the notion of a God is alien to you; the ability to reconnect to your Divine essence feels out of your grasp.
The reasons for such separation can be one of many; maybe a challenge to one’s theology or an incident where a person feels God did not act, respond or provide, prayers went unanswered, we ask why God allows bad things to happen to good people. We are devastated, we blame God and our relationship suffers a split. Whatever the scenario, the overriding emotion is “I’m alone” otherwise called loneliness.
The idea of broken dreams, hearts and relationships all ending in depression are common in human psychology but when carried into the spiritual realm brokenness takes on a new, more bitter meaning. The relationship you have with the Creator, no matter how tenuous, is something that when broken…shatters every aspect of your being.
Life is not lived; you only exist. The reason for living has been put in suspended animation; there is no sense of purpose or meaning.
For a person to truly come alive they must find their passion and joy. True love consumes, love of a child consumes, a cause or calling from God consumes but most of all a relationship with God consumes.
But unlike with conventional medicine, there is no spiritual Prozac or anti-depressant. The prescription instead is a combination
Addressing your fears
Bringing light to your darkness
Bringing your darkness to the light
Compassion – especially self-compassion
Understanding God’s plan
It means taking the following personality descriptions and belief suggestions, understanding what resonates for you, and re-writing your new life-story, creating new more healthy beliefs.
When it all comes together spiritual depression falls away, new life and purpose replace it. Darkness has no place to dwell and it leaves. Your life comes into alignment again with the Divine.
Spiritual depression is the ongoing act of spiritual maturity.
A sense that life is hopeless
No one understands or cares
The give and take of life has ceased
Self-worth is about outer appearances
Disconnection to inner self and Divine
Anger turned inward toward one's self
Anger one does not feel one deserves
Unexpressed grief stemming from loss
Doesn't deal with life's stuff - quickly moves on to "next"
Goes along with family / societal expectations
Suppresses one's inner needs
Difficulty in leading an authentic, genuine life
Acts as if always misunderstood
God has abandoned me, God says "no"
I am angry at ...
I am afraid of ...
I am depressed ...
I can't change things
I feel nothing
life has no point to it
I am weak
I can never do enough
I can never meet others' expectations
I don't know how to love myself
I don't know what joy / Love / happiness feels like
I really don't want to feel
But I feel sorry for myself
I get Love and attention through my appearance not for who I am
I give up
I dislike / hate myself
I have no direction / purpose
Identify your own negative beliefs
What's the pay off? Eg attention
How can you achieve the payoff eg attention in a healthy way?
How can you reframe your limiting beliefs to life enhancing ones?
Identify your own descriptors.
Decide how to deal with them eg
If you tend to judgementalism - how could you be less so and instead be more accepting
If you are not leading a life true to you, what will it take to be authentically you
Be prepared to seek professional help
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