The 3-Step Healing System Helping People Overcome Persistent Depression

For some people, understanding this aspect of their brains helps them with panic, PTSD and even depression.

depressed unhappy red haired woman

Twenty years ago, I was asked to work with a woman who suffered from severe depression following her husband’s decision to divorce. She was so hopeless, she had even contemplated ending her life. Fortunately, she had reached out for help, but the persistent depression was not abating the way she wished it could. 

I offered to try a system I'd developed that I feel has been proven to work with clients suffering from hopelessness. I believed that I could help her. She was a therapist and countless hours of talk therapy had not been the full solution for her, as, in my opinion, they are not the full solution for brain chemistry issues. 


After spending time offering her empathy and understanding her symptoms, I explained how she could heal. 

I taught her that the problem was not divorce and it was not depression. It was the cascade of emotions that is common to those who suffer from changes in brain chemistry — and her biochemical changes were caused by a PTSD trigger event.

Once I guided her to heal her biochemical symptoms, her thoughts and behaviors transformed.

RELATED: The 8 Types Of Depression (And The Best Way To Handle Each)


One of the ways I've been able to help people who feel as though traditional treatments alone aren't working well enough is by helping them understand the biochemical abnormalities that may be causing their dangerous moods. 

Brain chemistry is the underlying cause of depression and suicidal thinking, at least as far as we know at this point. Sometimes brain chemistry just changes. Other times a situation triggers a brain chemistry change. Regardless, this is where the cure must begin — with brain chemistry.

Most of my clients who appear to be suffering from PTSD and persistent depression have had the same biochemical issue that was the underlying cause of depression. As soon as this was addressed in what usually required three months of various alternative health solutions, their thinking transformed.

Then, they were able to learn to control their old habits of mostly negative thinking.


RELATED: If You Have These 9 Symptoms, You're Probably Depressed

How this healing system works

The first thing to know is that your adrenal system regulates your "fight/flight/freeze/fawn" behaviors related to PTSD and other trauma-related responses. The biochemistry issue that is overlooked by many psychiatrists and medical doctors is adrenal cortisol.

I discovered that almost every one of my clients required more adrenal cortisol at certain times of the day. The lack of sufficient adrenal cortisol triggers an even more significant biochemical problem.

When there is insufficient adrenal cortisol, the body ceases the production of serotonin, dopamine, and other essential neurotransmitters that create a sense of well-being, peace, and joy. This is the slippery slope to depression and worse, that can and must be avoided.


Evidence shows that new treatments for persistent depression are needed.

In a recent article, "What Happens To The Brain And Body When You Feel Suicidal," author Ashley Broadwater writes: “Thoughts of suicide have been associated with major hormonal fluctuations and changes in the brain. Many clinicians and doctors see this as a cry for attention when there is mounting evidence that it is more likely the result of neurobiological hormone sensitivity.”

This article is incredibly helpful, with plenty of data and citations supporting the importance of considering biochemistry as a factor in persistent depression and hopelessness.

RELATED: 6 Hidden Signs Your Depression Is More Than Temporary


Managing the mood shifts and suffering related to PTSD

To put it simply, emotional reactions to stressful or traumatic life situations trigger the body to use up its adrenal cortisol supply.

Soon the person is unable to keep up with the demand for adrenal cortisol, so exhaustion ensues. When someone experiences exhaustion and a lack of inner joy for many days in a row they translate this experience into feeling depressed.

However, in my opinion, it is not traditional depression. It is PTSD-induced exhaustion. When my clients understood this, it lifted a huge weight from their shoulders. It gave them hope. This helped give them the motivation to work with me to find the best supplements and other products to heal their bodies and their moods.

To be clear, that doesn't mean it's less serious, it simply means it may require a different type of treatment — on its own or complementary to other treatments. 


RELATED: If You Have These 7 Physical Pains, It Might Actually Be Depression

Our mental habits dictate the speed of our healing

Clients with a habit of complaining and blaming others required a higher intensity of treatments for brain chemistry improvements than those who had learned to control their minds.

Three skill sets that are proven to be effective are meditation, the self-soothing and functional thinking tools I offered them, and receiving empathy every day from a trained expert.

Because we know that each time someone thinks hopeless thoughts, the more of an effect they have upon the person's reality.

RELATED: The Critical Difference Between 'Being' Depressed And 'Feeling' Depressed


Here are three important steps to follow for healing

1. Understand and evaluate chemical balance

I begin by referring clients to trained and reputable experts who assess levels of adrenal cortisol, serotonin, dopamine, and other neurotransmitters.

If someone is already taking psychotropic medication, the experts will advise on this, as this is not my specialty or expertise. What is most interesting is when a client is taking meds and is still depressed or having suicidal thoughts, most often, testing proves that the meds are not working as had been hoped. 

However, if a client is switching to a non-chemical option, it should be done in an incremental and safe manner, supervised by a clinician, after 3-6 months.

2. Understand the trigger event

The trigger for the client I referenced first in this article, who was desperately hopeless, was her husband’s decision to leave the marriage. But I do not believe that his choice to leave was the initial cause of her depression and hopeless thoughts.


He decided to leave due to many months of unpleasant conversations caused by her mood swings, which proved to be one common issue within the PTSD experience that triggers so many behaviors and disasters.

When there is insufficient adrenal cortisol, the body ceases to produce sufficient serotonin, dopamine, endorphins, and other “feel-good” neurotransmitters, the body’s natural so-called “opiates." In this client’s case, it was discovered during her testing process that she also lacked serotonin uptake which means that even when supplements were provided that work for millions of us, her ability to utilize serotonin was minimal. However, this was solved in conjunction with the clinician.

3. Explore potentially inherited biochemical issues

The key to healing depression and preventing the darkest types of hopelessness is understanding the frequency of inherited imbalances in adrenal cortisol, serotonin, dopamine, and other neurotransmitters.

I discovered the frequency of the symptoms among those who have emigrated from war-torn countries, however, it is not only the environment that caused PTSD. For many of these families, it is a challenge that links multi-generational suffering long before certain political issues.


For other families, in which there has been suffering in various countries of origin there is both “situational depression” and “biochemical depression” which describe these causes each of which we have been able to address.

RELATED: Chemical Depression May Be Why You Feel Sad All The Time, Even Though Your Life Is Good

Wiring your brain for inner peace

The underlying brain-wiring issue has been a remarkable discovery, due in part to the clear identification of the Four Thinking Styles discovered by Ned Herrmann in his "Whole Brain Model."

This allows us to see that only one quadrant of the brain is focused on emotions, so that when we learn to manage our mind, move our attention away from emotions to facts/figures/ data or to creative, artistic, and peaceful ideas or to actions planning to accomplish positive goals, then we are free from suicidal ideation, even for a few minutes at a time.


Over time as we practice enhancing our own brain wiring, our life improves as we develop a more balanced brain. 

When you are taking care of an important but unemotional task around the house, you may not notice your depression as much. When you are doing yoga, you may not feel as depressed. When you are watching a comedy, you may not feel depressed at all.

However, with insufficient adrenal cortisol, serotonin, and dopamine it is very hard for people who are suffering from depression to engage in any of these activities.

When you activate a part of your brain that is not the emotional quadrant, you may feel a reprieve from your depression. While this ability to turn the corner in your thinking may require supplements and other products, it is one key point to alleviating despair, depression, and suicidal thinking.


There are various treatments that I have recommended to clients once the levels of biochemistry were assessed.

These include ingestible and wearable supplements to support the adrenal system, serotonin, and dopamine production, for enhanced sleep, for suppression of alcohol and sugar cravings and possibly managing their medications differently, with the support of a qualified clinician.

The information above is not meant as a recipe for you to follow and expect the same results. However, based on my experience, it can offer hope when you feel you have tried many treatments that have not worked for you.

If you or someone you know has thoughts of self-harm or suicide, call the National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988.


RELATED: Hope Or Hype: Can Psychedelics Treat Depression?

Susan Allan is a certified mediator and coach and the founder of the Marriage Forum Inc and creator of The 6 Part Conversation© and The 7 Stages of Marriage and Divorce training to help people understand their own needs and their partners.