Medication comes with all kinds of unwanted side effects. These treatments have none.
Depression feels like you're under a huge dark cloud. It also brings negative thoughts about yourself, about others, and about your future. Psychologist Aaron Beck called these bleak thoughts the negative cognitive triad. If you've been feeling the dark cloud and thinking with the cognitive triad, you're probably not just moody or sad. You're depressed.
Medication sometimes eases depression but risks troubling side effects like foggy thinking, a numb feeling that blocks happiness, loss of sexual interest and weight gain. Talk therapy can help and couples therapy can be especially helpful if relationship problems are triggering the depression. Exercise or sex may be able to pop you out of the darkness, but the effects tend to be temporary.
The following five new alternative treatments have virtually no negative side effects and can bring a surprisingly speedy recovery. If you already have a therapist, you might ask him or her to investigate learning these techniques to use with you. Some of the techniques you can do yourself.
1. Shift the energy in your brain. New brain imaging techniques used by neuropsychology researchers have established that the brain of someone who is depressed shows more energy in the right prefrontal lobe than the left. The brain of someone who feels happy has more energy in the left than the right.
Reading this information one day, Dale Petterson, an energy therapist who works in my office suite, came up with a brilliant idea. "Let's just shift the energy!" Energy psychology utilizes the principle energy follows intention. It also uses the principle that intentions can be magnified by applying additional energy.
By running a special magnet down the governing meridian, for instance down a person's back along his spine, while verbalizing his intention of shifting the client's energy from the right to the left prefrontal lobe. Dale creates energy shifts and the depression lifts! Sound too good to be true? Try it, you can even do this with Dale via Skype! If you feel better for a while, maybe a few days, and then the depression slips in again, repeat the procedure.
2. Ask yourself questions and visualize the answers. The technique rests on an assumption that that I explain in my book From Conflict to Resolution: Depression is a disorder of power that is triggered by a dominant-submissive interaction with a person of importance to you and/or over an issue of importance to you. That is, depression is a by-product of a win-lose conflict resolution process in which you have been the loser.
You can do this technique by yourself, with the help of a friend, or with the guidance of a therapist. Close your eyes, and ask yourself the following series of questions. (If you're doing the exercise yourself, read the question aloud, then close your eyes, and repeat for each subsequent question.)
- If I were going to be irritated or mad at someone or something, someone other than myself, who or what would that be?
- As I picture that scene, what is the person doing that annoys me? How do I respond? What do I really want?
- As I continue looking at the scene, who looks bigger, the other person or me? If it's the other person, you are depressed; if it's you, something different is going on.
- By how much do you look smaller?
- Then take deep breathes, and with each deep breath picture yourself growing larger and larger until you feel substantially bigger than the other person.
- Now, from that position of bigness, of empowerment, what can you see that offers you ideas for a new way of solving the problem between you and the other person?
- As you picture the new solution, notice how much stronger and better you continue to feel! Alternatively, if the new solution does not keep you feeling bigger, try creating another option.
3. Try emotional freedom therapy. Lots has been written about Emotional Freedom Therapy, a tapping treatment that's like acupuncture minus the needles. There's now been substantial research that corroborates its effectiveness. Search the internet for EFT research, and to find an EFT practitioner in your locale.
4. Or try emotion code depression treatment. Bradley Nelson invented this new strategy for tracking down the experiences earlier in your life that created the template for a current excessive emotional reaction. The treatment then neutralizes the negative emotional impacts of that incident or relationship.
Like the other methods above, Emotion Code depression treatment is likely to be brief and you should feel significantly better within one session, though follow up sessions may be necessary to consolidate the gains. To stay happier you also may need conventional therapy to change the cognitive and couple habits that could bring you down again.
5. Skill-build with marriage education or couples therapy. As I mentioned above, depression arises from dominant-submissive (winner-loser) interactions, especially with loved ones or with a boss or a difficult colleague. If you settle disagreements by giving up, you will end up feeling depressed. My preferred option for upgrading your collaborative dialogue and conflict resolution skills is, not surprisingly, the online relationship skills program based on my book, The Power Of Two.
As the two of you, or even just you alone, become empowered to settle your differences in win-win ways instead of resorting to anger, fighting, giving up, or withdrawing, that dark depressive cloud is highly likely to dissipate.
Let the sun shine in!
Susan Heitler, Ph.D, is a clinical psychologist whose latest project is the online skill-building website PowerOfTwoMarriage.