In our western society, we focus a lot on our potential and self-actualization. Do you remember Maslow? He created the hierarchy of needs. According to Maslow, basic needs, such as food, water, and shelter, need to be fulfilled first before we can reach the ultimate state of self-actualization. While this might help us to understand our needs and create goals to experience individual satisfaction and sense of well-being, it might also make us focus too much on our own life. As a result, we might focus too much on our own issues and challenges and fail to see the big picture – we are all connected and the only way we can survive and thrive is by understanding the inter-connectedness of life.
1.Not Everything that Happens is About You
Many times, when we are struggling with issues in life, such as traffic, rude people, or not getting that well-deserved raise, we feel that the world is against us. What we fail to see often is that this “egocentric” view does more damage than good. When we were infants, it was natural that we understood as if the world revolves around us. As adults, we need to understand that some things have nothing to do with us, and that most people are not rude on purpose but because they are dealing with their own agenda. We need to learn how to react less and respond more.
2.Focus on Other People Without Dwelling on How They View You
Have you heard this saying “other people’s opinions are none of my business?” Many of my clients struggle with being liked and accepted and therefore they worry all the time what others think about them. According to Matthew Hutson, “people do not notice us nearly as much as we think they do.”
3.Realize that You Don’t Have to Act the Way You Feel
I say to my clients, feelings are what they are. They are neither good neither bad. They help us determine our experiences. At the same time, we don’t need to dwell on them as they are continuously changing. When we are dealing with a challenge, or experiencing a difficult emotion, techniques such as guided meditation, or reframing thoughts can help, as well as taking a walk in the nature.
4. Reframe and Manage Disappointment and Adversity
People who are optimistic and resilient know that things are usually not as bad as they seem, and they also don’t blame themselves when the situation is out of their control. For example, Seligman talks about “learned helplessness.” Do you see job loss as the end of the world and blame yourself for it, or just note that while it’s not a pleasant experience, you will find the solution.
5. Know How to Solicit Honest Feedback
If you are not sure about something, find people that you value and trust and have the humility to ask them specific questions as to how they perceive you and use this knowledge to improve yourself. Be selective. There is no need to go around and give everyone too much credit.
6. Stay True to Your Own Values Despite What Others Expect of You
I used to be a people-pleaser until I learned how to love and accept myself, and the same goes for many of my clients. Peer pressure can be strong, however if we constantly do that, we lose ourselves, and the result can be chronic depression or anxiety. We can never please everyone.
Bottom line is – while we depend on others for survival, we need to find a balance between our own self-perception and how others view us. Seeking feedback from others is healthy, but we don’t need to dwell on other people’s opinions. Sometimes feedback can help us when we are stuck and need a new direction. It’s important to stay open-minded and flexible and continue to learn about who we are and what makes us unique.
Reference: Matthew Hutson, Life Skills, Psychology Today, May/June 2018, pp 55-59
May is “Mental Health Awareness Month”. In this modern society, we experience much more stress due to information overload, traffic, deadlines, and financial burdens. Many people simply don’t have the resources to seek help with their mental health. On the other hand, mental illness or even going to a psychotherapist is still stigmatized.
In this article I share some of my tips on how to break negative cycles. Those negative cycles include judging oneself for having negative thoughts related to past challenging situations. As someone who has struggled with mental illness all my life, I can attest that changing my mindset and my “story” about negative and traumatic events was crucial in my healing process. We don’t need to remain the victims of our past.
Most people are tired of suffering. Dr. Henriques points out that people enter therapy because they are suffering. They find themselves stuck in the cycles of negativity (2018, p. 51). What makes the situation worse is that they develop negative reactions to their negative feelings. It’s no wonder as our Western society promotes quick fixes and makes one feel that having negative feelings is abnormal.
Specifically, people are taught from a young age that negative feelings such as anger and sadness are not acceptable and thus they become afraid of their negative feelings. In my clinical practice, what I’ve found to a large extent is most of my clients try to numb those feelings. They do that by replacing them with substances, relationships, work, or anything else to avoid looking within.
So why do some people judge themselves for having negative feelings? According to Dr. Henriques, there are several reasons.
First, having negative feelings is painful. Most people don’t want to experience negative feelings. As we know, there are two main forces at work. We want to avoid pain and seek pleasure.
Second, negative feelings can cause problems. For example, anger can lead to domestic violence, or if turned inwards, it can lead to chronic depression and even suicide.
Third, blocking and repressing negative feelings causes these feelings to build up. We can become sick, as our immune system becomes compromised. Sometimes those feelings lead to rage or some other type of impulsive display of feelings. Repressing anger is equally damaging as allowing it to escalate where someone attacks somebody or it leads to property damage can occur.
Finally, people tend to react badly to anyone expressing negative feelings. Again, there is a lot of pressure to appear “on top of one’s game” and to constantly exude confidence and success. People tend to shy away from somebody who is often anxious or depressed as it makes them uncomfortable.
Dr. Henriques developed the “CALM” approach with the purpose of teaching clients how to change their negative reactions to their thinking (2018, p. 50).
1. “C” stands for curious Client asks himself or herself several questions from a standpoint of curiosity, rather than self-blame and trying to avoid negative feelings. Let’s take an example of somebody who is feeling upset about recent disagreements with a loved one. Questions would include: What really happened? How did I contribute to the disagreement? Why I am getting upset about this situation? How can I resolve this situation?
2. “A” stands for acceptance When I studied Zen Buddhism, one of the first things I learned is that “things are what they are.” The sooner we can accept ourselves including our feelings, the sooner we can let go and move on with our life. Judging ourselves for having those feelings in the first place will just delay the process of moving on and healing the situation.
3. “L” stands for loving compassion towards ourselves and others Nobody is perfect. We’re all doing the best we can. Many times, we have more compassion for others than for ourselves. Therefore, this step is important in being able to move beyond challenging situations. When we are able to fully accept ourselves, including our strengths and weaknesses, then we will feel more in control of our lives.
4. “M” stands for motivated. Motivation is the driving force behind any change. That change takes self-reflection and observation. Who do I want to be? What’s important to me? What are my values? If we use the example of somebody being upset. Motivation would encourage that person to think about the value of harmonious relationships. Is it worth it for me to get upset? How can I shift my thinking so that I minimize feelings of being upset and feeling “wronged” in this particular situation?
To summarize, we want to break the pattern of negative thinking and judging ourselves for having those specific feelings in the first place. It’s important to practice self-compassion and realize that while negative feelings can be unpleasant, they are also our guides. They can inform us about the outside world and about our relationships with others. They can be great motivators for change. However first we need to accept and understand these feelings so that we can find a solution for a challenging situation.
References: Henriques, G., Ph.D. (2018). The Root of Suffering. Psychology Today, pp. 48-50.
If you have been following my articles, then you know my personal challenges related to my childhood abuse and trauma and particularly my challenging relationship with my own mother who was emotionally, mentally, verbally, and physically abusive to me while on the other hand, my father was submissive and never protected me from her rages.
Letting go off the past and forgiving my parents has been an ongoing journey which continues. In this article I am sharing some of the tips that helped me any my clients live happier and more peaceful lives while having a cordial relationship with the parents. My father died almost 20 years ago in a hiking accident when I just arrived to the US so I was not even able to be present at the funeral. He was only 52 years old and as I am writing this I am approaching my 50th birthday. A few days ago I had an unpleasant phone conversation with my mother who was her usual negative, critical self, and at times like this what works best for me is to take care of me and detach from my mom until I feel stronger.
I started better understanding the dynamic when I entered my graduate school at the University of Miami pursuing my Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapist. Having started my own therapy and healing process, I finally understood my purpose for being here – while healing myself, it became evident that my joy and passion is to help others find love, peace, and harmony and learning how to let go off the past and the victim role.
Forgiving your parents is more about YOU than your parents. As Harold H Bloomfield says in his book Making Peace with Your Parents, p. 9, “there are emotional wounds and even health burdens that we suffer from the unfinished business with our parents.” We all have deep desire to be loved by our parents who for the most part fall short of our expectations and this is the reason that we suffer. Until I truly understood that my mother did the best that she could under the circumstances (her father, my grandfather was a violent alcoholic who suffered from untreated PTSD related to 2nd World War) I was not able to start healing the relationship. While we have a cordial relationship, I still struggle with her negative thinking. She hasn’t changed, but I have because I didn’t want to be miserable all the time and worry constantly. I understand now better that her way of showing love to me is by expressing worries/concern and by sending me gifts including money in the past when I lost my job.
Here are some suggestions that might help you as well:
1. Heal your resentments
Make a list of your resentments in detail. Let any feelings come up and do not be afraid to release and cry. You can also write a letter and don’t send it; It’s for the purpose of your healing. Remember, it’s never too late to forgive and let go.
2. Learn to express difficult emotions in more neutral way and set healthy limits
Use active listening skills and “I” statements. Example, I felt hurt when you did this…instead of blame and defensiveness. Make conscious effort to stay relaxed, attentive, and receptive. Also learn to let go of your feelings of anger or even rage safely and privately. I use breathing techniques, journaling, or going for a walk.
3.Avoid getting caught in melodrama
Dr. Bloomfield says, p. 113 “If you conscientiously work through your resentments, learn to express love and constructive anger, and defuse the guilt and intimidation, what your parent does or says will no longer have the power to control your health and well-being."
In some cases, you will need to detach from your family to provide the time and distance necessary to heal yourself and the relationship with your parents. Also, before a visit, set a definite time limit, set some ground rules (such as what topics you will not discuss in my case pretty much anything related to finances, my love life, or legal issues) and stay healthy and fit during the visit.
4. Communicate your needs and desires clearly
You can choose to replace irrational beliefs and beliefs that are different from what your parents had taught you. You are the creator of your own life.
5. Become your own “best parent”
Dr. Bloomifeld says (p. 194) “crucial to making peace with your parents is discovering that you are responsible for your own health and happiness. Do what makes you happy and don’t stay with people that are toxic out of obligation. Find ways to nurture yourself and have fun. You deserve it!
As a holistic psychotherapist, my approach not only relates to my clients but also to pets, and life in general. My 18-month-old Westie Terrier named Sammy is a Registered Emotional Support and he changed my life. I was like many new pet owners brainwashed with the need for excessive vaccines and convinced by my vet to use a brand of heart-worm medicine, which now I am learning can contribute to poor immune system and even cancer due to preservatives and even toxic chemicals. He was also vaccinated while he was just a few months old and neutered. Luckily, he is very healthy so far and has not had any health issues.
Recently I watched 7-part documentary series titled “The Truth About Pet Cancer” by Ty Bollinger. It was not a complete surprise, but very educational and eye opening nevertheless. Most of all, my suspicions were confirmed. Same as with treating patients where the traditional medicine approach calls for the excessive use of medication instead of looking at root causes, pet food industry and pet medication and vaccines due to profit interest mislead many well-meaning pet owners to follow their veterinarian’s suggestions to over-vaccinate and use heart-guard medication that contains Mercury and even Arsenic. Here are just a few highlights and suggestions how you can improve your pet’s life and reduce the risk of cancer NATURALLY.
1. Try to stay away from processed pet food, such as kibble, which contains meat that has been contaminated and exposed to mold and then cooked and additives added. If you do buy kibble, buy organic one and add fresh vegetables and eggs and flaxseed to supplement for poor nutrition. Make sure that you read the labels. Watch for toxic ingredients such as BHA, BHT, Glyphosate, and Melamine. Also, give your dog the same water that you drink as tap water contains Fluoride which is potentially toxic. Dogs are supposed to eat species appropriate food which is meat and some vegetables (and not grains and corn). Personally, I swear by Primal Raw Food and I also supplement it with greens and fish oil. As per Ty, in 2007 5 major pet food companies that control 90% of the market had to recall their pet food.
2. Use vaccines sparingly. Issue is that many dogs are over-vaccinated and on top of it all, the vaccines are not tit rated which means they are the same for 15 lbs. dog or 50 lbs. Talk to a holistic vet and find out if they test for anti-bodies and based on that, most of the time vaccines will not be necessary. By law dogs are supposed to be vaccinated for Rabies but even that is not necessary yearly, every 3 years should be sufficient. Side effects in dogs may include aggression, social phobia, and cancer. Same as with vaccines we do for humans, now they are finding out for example that they may have contributed to increase in Autism. The only 3 vaccines to consider as suggested by the documentary include: Rabies, parvovirus, and distemper.
3. Make sure your pet is not exposed to environmental toxins found in house cleaning products, pesticides (think lawn/grass), plastic containers (BPA), and even cheap toys and wi-fi. Another important issue is to use natural ways to prevent heartworm disease and flees/ticks. Living in Florida unfortunately we don’t get a break and until I watched these series I used brand name, as recommended by vet.
I learned that instead of potentially harming chemicals, there are a variety of options including essential oils (such as Cedar oil and D-Limone) and DE (Diatomaceous Earth) – suggested to add half of a teaspoon to one teaspoon added to your dog’s food. Make sure you get FOOD grade DE. DE is basically . When sprinkled on a bug that has an exoskeleton (such as bed bugs, ants or fleas) it compromises their waxy coating so that their innards turn into teeny tiny bug jerky. But it doesn't hurt mammals. We can eat it! It has plenty of uses even for humans. I also use another product to prevent heartworm disease it’s called HWF and is manufactured by Amber Technology. It was recommended to me by a holistic pet store owner who had been using this product with success for over 3 years in a row with all her dogs.
4. If, unfortunately, your dog/pet has cancer, the same as with humans, the traditional approach such as surgery and chemotherapy has not proven to be successful and ruins the immune system as it kills “good cells” in addition to cancerous cells. Here are some other suggestions:
Music therapy, esp. 396 Hz
Add cancer fighting foods and herbs such as kale/spinach, blueberries, carrots, raw eggs, almond butter, medicinal mushrooms (and avoid grains, rice, corn, and soy)
Essential oils such as D-Limone, Lavender, and Sandalwood
Homeopathic remedies such as Thuja and Nosodes (speak with a doctor trained in Homeopathy)
CBD - Cannabis oil – the most potential compares to any other plant as it stops the growth of new cancer cells
Add supplements and herbs/spices including Turmenic and Fish Oil
Key is to educate yourself and ask questions. Many veterinarians, same as traditional medical doctors, do not have training in nutrition and rely on medication to mask the symptoms instead of looking at a whole picture and create an optimal environment for health.
Due to my challenging childhood and adolescence, I have alwaysbeen interested in learning how to heal myself naturally from chronic depression and anxiety and have been on a spiritual path for last 20 years. I tried many different things, and yet still had to take anti-anxiety and anti-depressants on-and-off for almost 20 years. Things changed when in 2011 I met my fiancé who is my best friend and my rock and who gave me a real possibility to follow my heart and I was able to stop working in a toxic corporate environment. I also started working with a functional medicine doctor and changed my lifestyle as well as really worked on changing my limiting beliefs and negative programming that have been with me for over four decades, since I was a child. Meditation, however, is key to my well-being and it saved my life.
This weekend I completed the Art of Living Happiness Course. I did the first one back in 2000 and this past October I recommitted to daily practice. I have seen miracles happen - not just more happiness, also lost 20 lbs. (including healthy low carb diet) and less pain. I highly recommend it. My fiancé Steve and I took it together and I think it will be awesome for our relationship as well. I have tried different meditation techniques over 20 years but this one seems to work best due to its emphasize on breathing as some of you know I suffer from chronic anxiety/depression. What I love most is that we have weekly FREE sessions to stay on track and this is something that has been missing in my life.
Just little bit about the background. The Art of Living was founded by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar (not the musician). He was already born with innate desire to help others and started talking about it and visualizing it when he was only 4 years old. Sri Sri has brought yoga, meditation and practical wisdom to millions of people in over 150 countries until now. In Sri Sri’s words, "The Art of Living is more of a principle, a philosophy of living life to its fullest. It is more a movement than an organization. Its core value is to find peace within oneself and to unite people in our society – of different cultures, traditions, religions, nationalities; and thus reminding us all that we have one goal to uplift human life everywhere." (see website for more information https://www.artofliving.org/us-en/about-us).
There are three main practices:
The first one is a 3-stage breathing - PRANAYAMA which is a special type of yogic breathing (UJJAI). My friend Steve who conducts Happiness Program likes to say think of Darth Vader from Star Wars. You need to do all these training by a certified teacher and these techniques are hundreds of years old.
The second one has to do with “Bellows Breathe” (“Bastrika”) and involves intense breathing combined with arm movements which helps clear out any toxins. For example, I noticed that my allergies and sinus headaches have drastically improved.
The third, and probably the most important one, is Sudarshan Kriya Yoga which involved breathing at three different speeds so to speak: big, medium, and small circles. You really need to experience and be instructed by a certified teacher. You cannot just go on YouTube and learn from it.
What amazed me most is how effective for example Sudarshan Kriya Yoga (SKY) is in treating clinical depression and anxiety not to mention stress. There are now over 70 independent studies over four continents that have shown over 70% remission rate in depression only after one month. The studies also show reduction in anxiety by 44%. Furthermore, stress has been shown to have been reduced by 56%.
Don’t take my word for it – check out the website, read amazing testimonials, and talk to a certified teacher. I am excited to be embarking on this journey with like-minded people. It’s more than just a spiritual practice, Sri Sri’s foundation works with United Nations and they work with people affected by natural disasters. Furthermore, the program is now taught in prisons as well and helps in transforming many lives.
Feeling stressed or overwhelmed? Call today for a complimentary 15 min phone consultation 561-299-1028.
Are your thoughts keeping you awake and not being able to sleep, or are obsessive thoughts interfering with your daily life, jobs, relationships, happiness?
You are not alone. As somebody who has been struggling with chronic anxiety and depression all my life, this presented a challenges to me until I learned tools and techniques to finally heal my chronic insomnia and not react to things as much. Many times we are not aware the power of our subconscious thoughts and wonder why we keep attracting negative or toxic people in our lives, or why we are always worrying about something. Most of us have grown up having some degree of negative programming that we learned from people closest to us, including our parents.
Key is to realize that we have a CHOICE and that we don't need to remain the victim of our past.
Here are a few suggestions that helped me and my clients. I strongly recommend if you have not been able to succeed to find a qualified clinician who can help you break the pattern and keep you accountable for your progress. It's very important that you practice DAILY as our thoughts are the result of HABITUAL thinking patterns and they CAN be changed.
1. Replace obsessive and negative thoughts with happy thoughts/images.
For example, think about your favorite place, whether real or imaginary. Use all your senses. See, feel smell and imagine yourself being transported to this place. Be mindful that you don't do this when you have to drive or be conscious as images help you access deeper level of consciousness and make you feel more relaxed.
2. Visualize a stop sign
Simply visualize a red stop sign and command your unconscius mind to stop. This might take some practice but don't give up.
3. Do something physical, such as taking a walk or doing crunches
Physical activity will not only help you to focus on something else, it will also help you create more of the hormone Serotonin which is crucial for well-being and feeling happier.
4. Do EFT-tapping
This technique is what I call "emotional version" of acupuncture. It's simple to learn and you can do it anywhere! You can check the founder's website, Gary Craig (https://www.emofree.com/). I incorporate this in my sessions with clients.
5. Write down all the thoughts/journaling
When we are overwhelmed, we may even get tension headaches. Instead, try to get all your thoughts out of your head and don't worry about editing them. I used to journal from age 9 until late 30's and my journals even served as a basis for my book.
All hypnosis is self-hypnosis. Sometimes people are concerned with loosing control. However, don't worry - you will be completely present and in charge, you will be just more open to suggestions and positive thoughts. On my website I have several examples, here is one specifically for obsessive thoughts by Michael Sealey, World-known clinical hypnotherapist.
Don't give up on yourself, play with these techniques and see what works for you. You might need to do different techniques for different situations. I find that self-hypnosis is really effective first thing in the morning or before you go to sleep. Call for a complimentary consultation today! 561-299-1028.
We recently celebrated Valentine’s Day.Even though it’s become too commercial in my opinion, I do enjoy certain aspects of it. We are social beings and the need to belong is deeply ingrained in us even though some people who are considered introverted might experience that need as less important. Bottom line is: we could all learn more about relationships and how to make them more loving, harmonious, and peaceful. Many of us grew up in dysfunctional homes, and even though our parents did the best they could, relationships have been confusing, even painful.
I am no exception. Due to early abuse and trauma, I developed chronic anxiety and depression in my late teens. It got to the point to where I was suicidal. I have been blessed to have always been surrounded by friends and people who were there for me, as my parents were not able to provide the love and affection I needed and craved. This was especially true because I am very sensitive and emotional. I always thought that I just needed to find the right person and all my pain and loneliness would disappear. How mistaken I was! I kept attracting abusive and narcissistic men, even addicts, including my ex-husband, who is also the reason I moved to the US.
Fortunately, I’ve always been resilient and determined, so things finally started to make sense after working with several therapists, coaches, and healers… especially learning about the Imago approach.
I learned how my past and the way I dealt with my negative feelings subconsciously attracted these kinds of men. I was on a mission not only to heal myself, but also, to understand why I keep attracting unhealthy men in my life. I had a hard time being on my own due to my abandonment issues. Certainly, it was not a conscious decision to date these men. I came to understand that since I perceived my father as weak and passive (as he didn’t stand up for me enough when my mom was abusive to me), I was never attracted to “nice,” easy-going men. Passion was missing. I came to understand that my childhood wounds needed healing so I could change my story of being a victim.
Furthermore, I also learned that the wedding is one thing and marriage is quite another. Many couples I’ve seen in my clinical practice spent too much time, money, and effort to create expensive and elaborate weddings, but hadn’t spent enough time understanding each other. Never discussing the important things such as children, in-laws, finances, and most of all, how to communicate needs, concerns, differences of opinions, and negative feelings.
I wanted to share with you some tips on how to get started recognizing the image you have and want in your relationship. You can learn more by reading Harville Hendrix’ book, “Getting the Love that You Want,” which is my main resource for working with couples.
According to the Imago approach, we get attracted to people that remind us of our caregivers, usually our parents.We might think we are attracted to somebody because of their physical appearance, but that is only on the surface. If we look deeper, we will find that we are attracted to their positive or negative traits, and even characteristics that we had repressed, such as being assertive, which is especially true for women. That’s why for years, I attracted partners who reminded me of my mom because she was often angry, critical, and verbally and physically abusive. On the positive side, I also wanted to be with somebody who was intellectual and loved literature, just like my mom. If you are curious about what brought you and your partner together, or you want to do things differently, here are 3 tips that may be helpful for recognizing your relationship imago:
1. Think about your childhood. What are some of your frustrations and positive memories? What did you enjoy as a child? What made you upset, sad, or angry? What did you do as a family and what values were important in your family? Do you still want to experience the same in your current relationship? Share with your partner why it’s important to you.
2. Think about your parents’ (or caregivers) positive and negative traits. Some suggestions: caring, hardworking, good provider; as well as critical, negative, unavailable. Do you find that any of these cause disagreements or hurt in your current relationships? Pay attention to what you are arguing about most. I always tell my clients if they have a strong emotional reaction to something it’s usually 90% about their past relationships. Also think about what you needed most as a child (love, attention, praise?)
3. How did you deal with hurt, anger, and disappointment in your childhood? What have been some of your strategies? Did you shut down; yell back; run away, or maybe become rebellious? Do you continue to use some of these strategies in your current relationships? Are they still serving you? If not, it’s time to change. Many times a professional is needed as some of those wounds and beliefs are deep down in your subconscious and not easily accessible.
Once my clients understand this, their next step is sometimes an eye-opener as they are able to identify their “imago.”They learn how to better communicate their needs and change their maladaptive and unhealthy ways of responding to what is sometimes an innocent remark from their partner. We all have wounds and triggers. To heal them we need to first be aware of them.
Wishing you fun and joy in your relationships. Call for confidential consultation today 561-299-1028.
As somebody who has been trying to find natural ways to heal from chronic depression and anxiety, I keep doing research on what works. Lately I have been focusing more on the nutrition. I came across this video from David Wolfe hope you enjoy it an apply it. By all means, if you are on medication or in the care of a mental health professional or a psychiatrist, you need to consult with them before making any changes. This article only gives you more ideas that medication management is not always the only and best option. You might try making some small changes while you continue working with your doctor and mental health professional.
Many of my clients came to seek my help as they have been fed up with the traditional Western approach that at the core focuses on symptom reduction and medication management.
1. Avocado Research shows that diet high on potassium can improve symptoms of anxiety and depression. For example, average avocado contains as much as 975 mg of potassium. According to another article https://mentalhealthfood.net/the-power-of-potassium/ "Low potassium levels have been associated with greater risk for mood disturbances and depression. A 2008 study published in the “British Journal of Nutrition” examined the relationship between potassium and mood, and found that a high-potassium diet helped to relieve symptoms of depression and tension among study subjects. These findings suggest both that potassium may be useful in the treatment of mood disturbances and that low potassium levels may be linked to symptoms of depression."
2. Chocolate As a "chocoholic" this makes me happy. Dark chocolate helps reduce the levels of stress hormone, Cortisol. This doesn't mean you can eat as much chocolate as possible as you don't want to develop other illnesses, such as diabetes. It's also important to make sure that you consume as high levels of cocoa as possible, and watch for added sugars. Ingredients in cocoa also help you to be calmer and more relaxed.
3. Spinach Spinach contains the most folic acid of all dark green leafy vegetables. Why is this important? According to David Wolfe, low levels of folic acid have been linked to depression. Another reason is that spinach can even improve functioning of anti-depressants.
4. Asparagus Asparagus also has high levels of folic acid. It helps in the prevention of a build-up of certain amino acid (homocysteine) so that it wouldn't interfere with the production of "feel good hormones" including Serotonin, Dopamine, and Norepinephrine.
Another article, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4164291/ reports that "it is known that elevated serum homocysteine, decreased folate, and low vitamin B12 serum levels are associated with poor cognitive function, cognitive decline, and dementia. Current literature shows that some psychiatric disorders, mainly affective and psychotic ones, can be related to the levels of vitamin B12, folate, and homocysteine." In my personal experience when my functional medicine doctor prescribed me vitamin B12 supplements my mood has increased quiet a bit along with exercise.
5. Bananas Bananas contain amino acid called L-Tryptophan which our brain then converts into 5-HTP. By the way, you can try taking 5-HTP supplements for mild depression and better sleep. Everyone is different however it might help. 5-HTP is then converted into neurotransmitters Serotonin and Melotonin. Some people benefit from taking Melotonin for sleep as well. They both promote relaxation and manage anxiety.
6. Blueberries According to David Wolfe, researches have found that blueberries can reduce the chemicals associated with suicide and depression and they can increase Serotonin levels. Eat them plain or use them in smoothies along with protein powder. I do that daily and not only I've lost weight, I get a healthy and delicious breakfast made of avocado, blueberries, flaxseed, chia seeds, and organic pea protein powder.
7. Green Tea Green teas contain substance known as Polyphenols which are known to boost the functioning of Dopamine, a "happy" neurotransmitter, by making it available to areas of brain where it's needed. They also signal to the brain to create a positive mood. So go ahead and try green tea instead of your coffee! One of more holistic psychiatrists I've met, she also recommended taking L-Theanine supplements if the idea of replacing tea with coffee doesn't appeal to you.
8. Almonds Almonds are good for you because they contain Magnesium. As per David Wolfe, one study found that just half of a cup of almonds contains 268 mg of Magnesium, which is therapeutic when it comes to depression and anxiety. It also helped my chronic headaches. Grab a handful for a healthy snack or use them in salads, smoothies, or try almond milk as opposed to regular milk as dairy has been shown to have adverse effects a on your health as many people have become lactose intolerant.
Add these delicious food to your daily diet along with exercise and stress management techniques, as well as spending time with positive and nurturing people and soon you will notice a decline in your symptoms and possibly even get off medication.
Did you know that psychiatric disorders affect 26 percent of the adult population? That is more than 60 million Americans!One in 10 Americans takes an anti-depressant. In 2006 alone, expenditures on anti-depressants soared over $1.9 billion (source: Mark Hyman, MD, The UltraMind Solution, p. 11). I agree with Dr. Mark Hyman, as well as other functional medicine doctors, such as Dr. Kelly Brogan that there must be a better way. Not only do we spend a lot of money, these medications have severe, or in some cases, even dangerous side effects, and can also create dependency.
If you have been reading my articles, then you also know about my personal struggles with chronic depression and anxiety. In 2000, I was prescribed anti-depressants and even though I took them on-and-off for over 15 years, medication in combination with traditional “talk therapy,” I never had any long-term relief. I got stuck and couldn’t see the way out of it, so I decided to take things into my own hands. I started reading more research and following alternative and holistic medicine findings.
Fortunately, there is much more information out there even though the traditional Western approach is lagging behind, and insurance companies continue to enforce conventional medicine approach that is based on pharmacology and symptom reduction. Functional medicine, on the other hand, is concerned with finding the root causes. I am not saying to quit your medication overnight; it has to be properly discussed and managed by a qualified medical professional. My goal was to alert you that there is a better way.
My recommendations are based on the findings of the functional medicine and my ongoing healing journey.I believe in personalized and customized approach and many of my clients for the first time in their life have experienced lasting relief following these recommendations DAILY.
5 Natural Remedies for Chronic Depression:
1. Optimize your nutrition. I used to think I eat pretty healthy by eating lots of fruits, vegetables, grains and nuts/seeds. I did always have cravings for sugar/carbs and have always been an emotional eater. Yet, I never understood the extent of the inflammation in my gut, frequent UTI’s and yeast infections and how that played a role in my health, including my mental health. Most people have some kind of food sensitivities, especially for gluten, dairy, and peanuts. For decades, we were advised we need to eat carbohydrates to give us fuel/energy. I was also diagnosed with hypothyroidism in 2008 and then acute gastritis in 2012, all caused by stress and poor nutrition and not enough exercise. Then, on the recommendation of my functional medicine doctor, I changed my diet to a low carb, ketogenic diet, where the fuel comes from healthy fats, such as avocado and coconut oil. It’s also important to take supplements, detoxify and find out if you have mercury poisoning. 2. Get Daily Exercise. I was never keen on exercise and when I lived back home in Slovenia at least I used to go hiking. Moving to the US for many years I had to work hours and hours at the desk working 2 jobs to make ends meet so my exercise suffered even though I tried to go to the gym 3x a week. Then I got into a car accident in 3/2016 and this caused another relapse as I watched too much TV, had to minimize my work hours, which also created isolation. Watching “Broken Brain,” a series by Dr. Hyman really inspired me to do what I can to get my heart rate up. He suggests interval training.
3. Get Enough Sleep. Anxiety and obsessive thoughts kept me awake for decades. My solution was guided meditation/self-hypnosis. Sometimes you need to try different things, like getting a good night’s sleep. The key is that most of us need about 8 hrs of sleep. It’s important to disconnect electronics at least one hour before sleep and to get out in the sunlight early in the morning (vitamin D!)
4. Manage Stress. Stress might be inevitable in today’s fast-paced and information-loaded society, however, the key is HOW we manage it. Do we indulge in substances, develop habitual reactive and anger responses, triggered by fight-or-flight response; or do we find ways to calm our mind? To me, some kind of meditation is key and even though I had not always been 100% it probably saved my life. Key is to find something that you will stick to and preferably find a community or meditation group so that when you are tempted to skip, the community of others will help you stay on track. You can start very simple just taking 10 minutes in the morning and just breathe!
5. Social Connections. We are social creatures and the need to belong is as important need as the need for food and shelter. Isolation worsens depression and this especially becomes a problem when you are older. I used to make new friends easily when I was in school or at work however being self-employed can create isolation. One of the best resources to get more engaged is to sign up with meetup.com they have a variety local groups based on your interests. Another suggestion is to volunteer. When I have a tough day seeing my clients or grabbing a coffee with a friend makes a big difference.
I hope these suggestions were helpful. Key is to do this DAILY! If you can, I suggest working with a professional to customize an approach for you, or at least find a friend to help you stay on track and keep you accountable. Wishing you good health and happiness!
In the recent years, and with so many war veterans having been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), as well as above than average incidents of shootings, and specifically the recent one close to my home, in Parkland, Fl, I decided to write this article that will hopefully help to bring some clarity as to what PTSD is, and some suggestions how it can be treated. There is no one correct treatment. I base this on my personal experience of having suffered significant trauma which was a result of all types of abuse during my childhood and adolescence and even later on I my adult life, trauma related to being in abusive relationships. I had experienced nightmares and some flashbacks for as long as I remember. This just serves as a guideline and I strongly recommend that if you feel that you suffer from PTSD that you consult a licensed clinician or a psychologist.
Let’s first take a look as to how psychology field defines PTSD.
In 2013, the American Psychiatric Association revised the PTSD diagnostic criteria in the fifth edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5; 1). PTSD is included in a new category in DSM-5, Trauma- and Stressor-Related Disorders. Full copyrighted criteria are available from the American Psychiatric Association (1). Here I am just listing a few. To be diagnosed with PTSD, the person was exposed to: death, threatened death, actual or threatened serious injury, or actual or threatened sexual violence, or similar, including any kind of abuse or domestic violence, experiencing it directly or indirectly by observing it.
Typical symptoms include: nightmares, flashbacks, emotional distress, and intrusive thoughts. For example, for years following the abuse, I would have continued nightmares and I also developed sensitivity to criticism and aversion to anybody talking loudly. I would experience physical sensations, such as vomiting or upset stomach. Basically, I developed a trigger – in this case, loud voice.
Another example, in case of people that were exposed to violence – including shooting and guns, develop emotional distress with ANY loud noises that resemble gun shot. It can take years to heal and not to experience emotional distress when the trigger presents itself.
1. Most of all, know that you are not alone. What helped me most is to seek support of friends who normalized my feelings that what I was experiencing was not the norm. My boyfriend’s family was nothing like my own and I experienced joy and laughter, and not abuse and tension, which was the norm in my family when I was an adolescent.
2. I also worked with several therapists, coaches, and healers and learned how to identify my triggers and how to manage my emotions and “rewrite my story”. One approach that was helpful with a pervasive memory of being severely beaten was finding therapist that was trained in EMDR and after few sessions I was able to tell my story without crying and was able to emotionally detach from the incident. However, the approach that finally started to help me in stopping intrusive and limiting thoughts and beliefs is when I learned and received training in Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). In essence, this approach focuses on the linguistic and how we store and process memories. I have been able to start understanding that my negative programming due to being exposed to abuse and trauma colored my world and I saw the world as a threat and subconsciously sought experiences and people that confirmed that world is not a safe place and that people cannot be trusted. Only when I started changing my beliefs my life and my well-being improved.
3. Join a support group. Other people who have gone through similar experiences can not only offer validation; you will also feel understood. Not many people (including some therapists) really understood why I am not able to get better - in spite of years of therapy and medication. Medication can be helpful in the initial stages, but key is to understand the root causes and how your beliefs and thoughts contribute to the disorder.
4. Do journaling. When we are overwhelmed with thoughts, it’s key that we find healthy ways to manage them and get them out of our head. 5. Learn stress management and breathing techniques. I think meditation literally saved my life. I studied different modalities including mindfulness, zen, guided meditation, and meditation based on mantra (the Art of Living Foundation). I was able to heal insomnia and significantly reduced anxiety and depression symptoms.