Ever experienced negative thoughts? an overwhelming sadness? an aversion to answering the phone or being around other people? and maybe even paranoia? It’s not fun and it’s often misunderstood, especially when these symptoms last for an extended period of time. And if you’ve ever felt the highs of severe mania, you also know the lurking fear that comes with it – the dread of the extreme lows of depression that follow.

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In this article, I’ll discuss 6 things that have helped me to change my focus & stop depression in its tracks, including:

  • Staying hopeful in spite of ignorant comments.
  • Remembering nothing ever stays the same. This too will pass.
  • Reviewing my Emergency Checklist (free download)
  • Practicing gratitude by writing down 3 things/experiences I’m thankful for each day.
  • Using my imagination for good – planning a trip! or setting a goal & starting to do the steps to attain it!
  • Working along with a skilled healthcare practitioner for help with the physiological causes of depression:

Good Intentions Lacking Understanding

Some people try to help loved ones who struggle with depression by saying things like, ‘snap out of it’, ‘it’s just in your head’, ‘it could be worse’. While that last statement may be true in some instances, it is NOT helpful when the cause of your depression is physiological. So what helps me?

"With each breath, each moment comes change" - AnGela Reinhard

When I’m feeling the lowest of lows, in the deepest pit of depression, I remind myself that nothing ever stays the same. With each breath, each moment comes change. Change in our bodies, change in our circumstances, change in the environment, especially the weather here in Florida.

Write It Out

Emergency Checklist Workbook Cover Page

But sometimes when I feel down, I’m also listless – not knowing what to do or even where to begin. That’s when I refer to my Emergency Checklist (get instant access by clicking through that link.) It includes 5 ways to get centered and stop the downward spiral. And even has room for you to list a few of the things that help you personally. Expressive writing is one of the things on my list.

Writing helps me to let it all out. Whatever it is that I’m facing becomes more tangible, more manageable.

Also a simple writing exercise that I strive to do as part of my nightly routine is to write down at least 3 things that I’m grateful for. Often those things aren’t objects but are more likely to be people & experiences.

There’s an abundance of research that suggests that we find more happiness in experiences than we do things. (1) And the anticipation of those experiences may provide just as much happiness as actually experiencing them. (2)

Use Your Imagination for Good

So why not plan a trip? or set a goal? Spend time using your imagination for good rather than worrying about something that is out of your control. And the memories from these experiences can do a lot of good too. A few years ago we backpacked a portion of the Appalachian Trail in North Carolina & Georgia. What made this trip memorable was what some might consider a bad experience – rain! and lots of it!

Outstretched hand wet with rain

Yup, on our second day hiking through, just a mile or so from our goal mark for the day, it started raining. And this wasn’t just a light sprinkle. While our packs were covered by our ponchos, our shoes, socks & even pants were soaked by the torrential downpour! We continued trudging through the hills until we found a clearing. I almost didn’t want to stop because I knew my body would get chilled.

Our campsite, tent & sun finally peeking through as it set over the mountain

Thankfully the rain let up & we were able to set up camp and get a small fire going. Which came in handy to cook our freshly caught dinner – snails! I know, they don’t look very appetizing.

Freshly caught & cooked snails

But believe me when I say this was the best escargot I’ve ever had. A seasoning packet & a little butter was all it took.

This might not seem like the perfect hike, but the memories & stories are so priceless! What fun adventure could you plan? Having something to look foreword to, whether it’s a trip or a specific goal, helps me to stay focused.

Practice Gratitude

And when I’m so glumful that it’s hard to list even one item that I’m grateful for, that’s when I remind myself of the basic necessities of life that we often take for granted – like the air we breath and kittens, cute & snugly, purring kittens!

Snugly Kitten

There’s something about creation that always makes me crack a smile, all-be-it small at times. Doing this gratitude exercise really helps me to change my focus and be more positive.

Addressing Physiological Causes

Thankfully my lows are few and far between now because of addressing the underlying physiological causes of my (bipolar) depression, which included:

  • Nutrient Deficiencies: Iron, Folate & B12
  • Food Sensitivities: Gluten, Cheddar Cheese, Egg Whites & Lentils
  • MTHFr Genetic Mutation

Depression? Check nutritional deficiencies like Folate & B12

That’s right – its not in your head!

You’re body may not be getting the nutrition it needs to support your mental health. Having suffered from PTSD since I was a child, there’s no way I was absorbing enough nutritients with being in a constant state of fight or flight. Blood tests backed up that hypothesis; revealing that I had multiple nutritional deficiencies including iron, B12 & folate.

Along with supplementation, my doctor recommended that I avoid gluten & other foods that I am sensitive to. A 2011 study documented that 102 individuals with bipolar disorder had an immune reaction when digesting gluten. (1) This is true for me too. Gluten, casein from dairy, cheddar cheese & a few other foods will exacerbate my condition.

One of the most significant changes I made was changing my diet. If I accidentally ingest gluten the almost immediate bloating & weight gain is frustrating yet bearable; however, within 2 weeks I hit the lowest of lows. It’s like my brain experiences that same bloat & overload.

When it comes to supplements that help me with depression, folate (2), NAC (3) and magnesium (specifically Neuro-Mag) (4) seem to help me the most. If the depression is brought on by hypomanic racing thoughts then I also up my organic lithium orotate (up to 4 of the 5mg capsules per day.)

In Review

If you want to stop depression in its tracks & change your focus for good, these 6 things have helped me:

  • Staying hopeful in spite of ignorant comments.
  • Remembering nothing ever stays the same. This too will pass.
  • Reviewing my Emergency Checklist (free download)
  • Practicing gratitude by writing down 3 things/experiences I’m thankful for each day.
  • Using my imagination for good – planning a trip! or setting a goal & starting to do the steps to attain it!
  • Working along with a skilled healthcare practitioner for help with the physiological causes of depression:

Share What You’ve Learned

I’ve shared what’s helping me. Please share what has helped you beat depression. Any of the things mentioned above or something else? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!