All the effectiveness without the side effects.
Depression feels grey, like you're under a huge dark cloud and heavy, like you are walking around carrying heavy weights. 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. Medication for depression can cause you to fall into a deeper and darker whole when you try to stop taking the pills. And while meds can help you to feel better in the short run, they make you more prone to depressive episodes in the future.
Talk therapy can help and couples therapy can be especially helpful if relationship problems are triggering the depression. Exercise, socializing, sunshine and sex may be able to pop you out of the darkness, but the effects tend to be temporary.
These 5 new alternative treatments have virtually no negative side effects and can bring a surprisingly speedy recovery:
1. Pre-frontal Lobe Energy Shifting.
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.
The therapist uses a special magnet with rollers on it which can be run down the governing meridian, that is, down a person's back along his spine. While using the magnet the therapists verbalizes the intention of shifting the client's energy from the right to the left pre-frontal lobe. The energy shifts and the depression lifts!
Sound too good to be true? Try it or watch the procedure in a video! 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. The 3 P’s Visualization.
The technique rests on an assumption that that I explain in my book From Conflict to Resolution: Depression is a disorder of power that's 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.
When you get depressed though you may not know what the situation was that triggered the depression. In addition, you may feel too powerless, hopeless and helpless to come up with effective solution ideas.
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 several deep breaths. 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 other options.
You can watch a video of this technique, which is called the 3 P's visualization, here.
3. Emotional freedom depression treatment.
A lot has been written about EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), a tapping depression 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. Emotion Code.
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 reaction such as feelings of depression. 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. You are likely to feel significantly better within one session, though follow up sessions may be helpful to consolidate the gains.
To stay happier it may be a good idea to add some sessions of conventional therapy treatment to learn about and change old habits of thinking and acting that otherwise might bring you down again.
There’s a whole range of treatment techniques that therapists can choose from. Whether a therapist has been trained as a psychologist or psychiatrist, a social worker or a counselor, he or she is likely to have many strategies for helping you feel better. Mindfulness and cognitive therapy are among the most popular, but other techniques can work as well.
Research has shown that psychotherapy and mediation both can be effective depression treatments. The main difference is that psychotherapy gives longer-lasting results, probably because you will be learning as well as healing. Also, psychotherapy does not risk giving you the negative side effects that medication can bring.
6. 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. Learn instead to use collaborative dialogue and conflict resolution skills when you and your partner disagree. I teach these skills in my Power of Two book, workbook and website.
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!
Harvard-educated psychologist and marriage counselor Susan Heitler, Ph.D. is author of a website that teaches the skills for relationships' success.To help you to feel better when you've been feeling distressed, Dr. Heitler has just published Prescriptions Without Pills: For Relief from Depression, Anger, Anxiety and More.