Every now and then, we all feel low, often it passes quickly, and we get back to our normal routines. However, for some a low mood can last a long time, leaving you feeling like you're stuck under a dark cloud, hopeless and isolated. It may have started gradually and over time depression causes you to lose interest in things you used to find enjoyable and it's a struggle to carry out day-to-day activities.
How do you know if you're depressed?
It's important to know the signs, for example if you feel miserable and bad about yourself or guilty most of the time, have increasing negative ideas about your life and the world, don't feel motivated to do the things you used to enjoy or were good at, find everything an effort, have no energy and sleep poorly, then you may have a form of depression.
The Role of Serotonin?
Sometimes called the happy chemical, because it contributes to our wellbeing, when we have a constant flow of serotonin a natural chemical produced in the brain, we feel more positive, calm and act positively. It helps us cope with day to day life. Every thought and emotion we experience changes our brain chemistry and so the level of feel-good serotonin fluctuates constantly. When we feel depressed, serotonin is low, so it's no surprise that we see life from the worst possible perspective.
One of the aspects that helps my clients break the depression cycle in the therapy room is exploring the ways they engage with life and how doing things differently in day to day life, such as the way we reflect, interact and take action can have their brain chemistry. The subsequent changes are often very rewarding to see!
If you're low, depressed or know someone here are five things which can you do which to help you break the cycle of depression and boost your serotonin levels:
Five ways to break the Cycle of Depression?
1. Challenge Negative Thoughts
Recognise and challenge negative thoughts running through your head. Tune in and hear what you're saying to yourself. If you're telling yourself 'I always get that wrong', tell yourself 'it may be wrong this time, but I did it correctly last time'. Switch the polarity around and focus your thought energy and what you do well, rather than what you don't.
2. Practice Gratitude
Neuroscientists often describe the brain being like a muscle, so when we practice kindness, gratitude and compassion regularly, we can make these regions of the brain stronger, a phenomenon known as neuroplasticity. It means we can more easily focus on the positive things in life and maintain a healthy cycle of positive thinking. When we reflect on the positive things in our life and the things we've achieved - it helps build lasting patterns of behaviour which can boost Serotonin.
3. Visualise Change
Find solutions and harness the power of expectation. What would life be like tomorrow if you felt more positive about life? What would you be doing differently? What would friends and colleagues notice about you? Creating a positive expectation for yourself, visualising that actually happening will strengthen the likelihood of a positive outcome. What one thing could you do tomorrow to show you were feeling more positive?
Laughter is a powerful tool we can all use to feel more positive. We get a mini workout from a good laugh; the lungs work harder, and blood flow is boosted - it breaks through low mood and you get that feel-good sensation. Just smiling is good for you too! The muscle action required for a smile creates a calming effect on the nervous system. Try recalling at least five funny events in your life and relive them as you do.
5. Movement & Exercise
Exercise fires up the recovery process in our muscles and neurons. It means our body and minds are stronger and more resilient, better able to handle future challenges, to think on our feet and adapt more easily. For some this can be as simple as walking to the corner shop, gardening or even riding your bike. The more stress your encounter the more you need to move to keep your mind running smoothly.
What else can you do boost your progress?
Make changes to your daytime routines such as reducing caffeine consumption, limiting the use of mobile phones and tablets before bed and going to bed at a reasonable time and getting up each day at the same time can make a big difference to how well you sleep. As we sleep, our bodies repair and restore themselves. The REM phase also replenishes helpful hormones such as dopamine and serotonin which helps us feel good and more able to cope.
Seek Help and Support
When you're ready, Solution Focused Hypnotherapy can help you relieve the symptoms of depression and anxiety in a natural, positive and uplifting way. Research shows that hypnotherapy is a highly effective treatment for helping people suffering from the symptoms of stress, anxiety, panic and depression.
I'm passionate about what I do, and it's been very rewarding seeing the transformation in clients as we work together online and in the clinic. If you'd like help with depression for a better enjoyment of life, please contact me for a chat in confidence and explore if solution focused hypnotherapy is a good fit for you.
Feel free to schedule your initial chat or get in touch to ask for advice or ask questions