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.
"From my mom and dad, because they're happily married for a long time: Just listen. Listen to him. I'm so independent and driven and stubborn. Just let him talk. It's about not being so stubborn and having to win every argument. My parents set a great example. They love each other and take care of each other so much."
"It's kind of cheesy, but my mama, who you all have seen on the show, says to cook for your man. She's Southern, so when he comes home, be pullin' a pie out of the oven. That's always been her advice, and you know what? It works. Your man wants to see you in the kitchen, puttin' some love into some food; it works for Eric, that's for sure."
"The best advice I've ever been given is being handed a Bible. That's the blueprint for marriage that we go by, and that's what our marriage is grounded in. We also have other married couples who are examples in our lives. My parents have been married over 40 years, and both sets of grandparents for over 65 years. When you see couples in long-term relationships and you see them go through good times and bad times, you realize it's about being committed enough and loving your partner enough to hang in there regardless."
"My mom told me, "It shouldn't be that difficult." My parents had their moments for sure, but the majority of their relationship has been really great. It shouldn't be that much work to make love work."
"You've got to be good to each other … it really comes back to respect. I was raised in a very Catholic, Italian family and it was all about respect. Don't talk badly about [your partner] the second they walk out the door; really preserve your relationship and be good to each other. Treat it like gold."
"Don't lie to your partner. Ultimately the expression on your face gives you away, and they feel betrayed by the lie. If this is the person you're going to be with—forever and ever, for better or worse—they will love you for all of your good and all of your bad. They'll love you for you. So open communication is key. I have no secrets and no skeletons in my closet with my husband, and I love that. I feel comfortable and at ease with myself when I'm around him. I love the woman that I've become with him."
"I think the best love advice I've ever received is really about understanding that communication is key, of course, but also that there's not one perfect person for you. You kind of have to accept what are the things that are negotiable for you and what are not."
"My mom always told me, "Whatever happens, will happen" or 'Whatever is supposed to happen, will happen." I've learned you'll know when you find the right person. When I found the right person, I knew it immediately."
18. The Five Love Languages Author Dr. Gary Chapman
"Before I discovered the concept of the 5 love languages, a bit of advice I was given was to become a student of my wife and to take time to learn what makes her feel loved. I soon learned that what makes her feel loved may not always be the thing I want to do because it may not come natural to me. But learning to love her in the way that makes her feel loved is a greater demonstration of my love for her, because I've chosen to do it with a goal of pleasing her."
"Pay attention to the girl, instead of myself. A bunch of people [told me that]. It's terrible. I'm very into myself, so people are always like, "Pay attention to the other person. Don't ever separate yourself." It's a good lesson. I'm learning. I'm doing good."
"Don't get divorced after your first argument! I have a lot of friends that have one fight and that's it, they get divorced. I go, 'Wait a minute! Oh my gosh, you guys! Calm down! You'll forget in three days what you were fighting about. I promise. So just let it marinate a little bit—that's my best love advice."
21. The Real Housewives of Miami's Adriana de Moura
"When I was about 15, [my grandmother] said something I will always remember: 'Love comes before money.' I will never let anything like greed come between us when it comes to love. She was married to my grandfather for 70 years. It's very hard to have a long-term relationship and if you're not sure, it's not going to last. Make sure that you truly love."
"If you're looking for love, focus on something you love to do and work hard. Love will find you. Basically, love yourself before you love anyone else. A lot of girls have such insecurities nowadays that you have to be comfortable with who you are before you can really have a good relationship with someone else."
"Love advice is like life advice, so there are so many elements of that. I think humor, patience, admiration are really important love elements. Love and respect. You have to respect the person that you're going to love, and you have to be confident in yourself and love yourself."
'Think about how much you'd miss that if he were gone tomorrow.' This is my senior producer's advice in my ear during our news show if I'm grumbling about my hubby, whether about his habit of leaving dirty clothes around, or the way he goes into la la land while I'm talking with him, or that he wakes me up being loud overnight. How true! Heaven forbid, but if something ever happens to our loved ones, oh how we'd long for them to be back, and their little aggravating habits would be something cherished.
"On the other hand the best love advice I've ever given is: Gals, don't marry someone for their looks. Sooner or later we all age and start to droop. Don't marry someone for their position and don't marry someone for money. Money comes and goes, and since when is that love? Marry someone because they make you laugh. Humor is always sexy. Besides, it's awfully hard to get mad at someone while they're making you laugh."
30. The Real Housewives of New York's Heather Thomson
"Well, it's one of the oldest. It really is paradoxical, but it's true: You just can't go to bed mad. You have to make up, because there's only one alternative, and that alternative is not being together. So, my husband and I always decide we might as well make up, whether we agree to disagree or not. We understand we are individuals and that together we're unbelievably powerful and that we have a family that is the most important thing, and that I wouldn't trade him for the world. So, love is about give and take, and love is about understanding that you're individuals and together as a couple, you're the strongest there ever is ifyou're in the right couple."
"I was going to say, 'It's work, relationships take work,' but that makes it sound like relationships are hard, that they're work. Rebecca and I have always gotten along really well. We've always had a really strong connection. I'm the last guy that should be giving people advice on love, that's for sure. But I have a great marriage. I just got lucky, I guess."
"I lost my dad back in the fall, and my dad said something to me a long time ago. He said, 'Are you happy with who you are now?' because we just had a real serious talk. And I said, 'Yeah.' He said, 'Then you can't regret what got you to where you are. So whatever you do and whatever mistakes you make, learn from them and grow. And just always treat people with kindness,' which I've tried to do."
"My mom always used to say, "You can't say I love you before you can say I." And I think that sort of makes sense."