Thursday, November 8, 2012

Think About It Thursday

Recently a friend confided in me about feeling depressed and not having the motivation to work out and eat well.  This friend admitted to somewhat hiding from me because it seemed like I was doing great with exercise and that there was a sense of embarrassment in not having kept the workouts up.

When we did talk after way too long, and she told me this, it reminded me of when I was diagnosed with depression about two years ago.  I had been in a very (VERY) tumultuous  time consuming, emotionally abusive relationship and it had really taken a toll on me.  When my doctor diagnosed the depression, I was expecting her to say very mild depression at most but she said in fact it was moderate depression, the level at which they begin prescribing drugs.  Now, I am not against medicating when necessary.  I just couldn't believe that I was that deep in it, and just because of some guy!!! Now I know there was more to it than that but I wanted to try to tackle it on my own.  The two biggest things she recommended were Vitamin B100 complex and exercise.  I was already exercising but I stepped up the stress relieving exercise (weight lifting and stretching) and downgraded the cortisol producing exercise (cardio).  And Vitamin B...well guess where that primarily exists in nature ? In fruits and veggies! So apparently eating well and working out can help alleviate mild to moderate depression! *  In my case, the combo of good foods (which I hadn't been focusing on) and exercise along with completely cutting out the guy, was enough to pull me out of the dark hole but it was it easy? No way!

Here's the hard part.  When we are depressed, we feel sad, lonely, tired and sometimes we even feel physical pain.  Who wants to work out when they already feel pained and exhausted? And when we feel so down and tired, we want carbs carbs carbs! Not a healthy mix of lean protein and vegetables!  It's what we we need, but not at all what we want.

So here's the part to think about: when you feel down and exhausted, what's the cause? And what's the cure?  When depression sets in, even minor depression, your emotions will take a serious toll on you and will often tell you can't or shouldn't or don't bother.  This is the think part - override emotion with logic.  Schedule your workouts and treat them like super important meetings (hint: they are!).  Plan your meals and shop only according to those meals so you have no choice but to eat healthy.  When your emotions are all over the place, you have to use your logic to plan your way into health again.  Don't let your emotions derail your goals.  As hard as it may be in the moment, do your best to make your thinking brain override your emotional brain; planning is the best way to do that.  Exercise and eating well will go a long way to helping us all cope with mild to moderate depression but you have to THINK clearly to make that happen, not let your feelings dominate.   And don't ever be afraid to ask for help - from friends, from family and most importantly, from medical professionals!

Have you coped with depression before? What worked for you?

*Depression is a serious disease and should be treated with the help of a medical professional.  I am not a medical professional and do not claim to be offering any treatment or medical advice.


  1. Julia,

    Very thoughtful post with important information. I can understand your friend's desire to "hide out" as depression often leads to social withdrawal. When you get off track in your personal goals, it's terribly hard to keep from beating up on yourself. That just leads to a downward spiral. It's important to have a true friend who will ask how you are REALLY doing, and support you on your path to wellness. Keep up the insightful posts!

  2. Thank you for the great response. It's amazing how much better you can feel just by saying, hey I need your help!
    Thank you for your support and feedback!