Coping with High Functioning Depression | Life Hacks for Mental Health with Dr. Dawn-Elise Snipes

By Adem Lewis / in , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , /

hey there everybody and welcome to this
presentation in which we’re going to be talking about 11 tips to cope with
high-functioning depression. I know 11 tips I tried to make it 10 but I
really thought that we needed that 11th one in there and that for some reason
bugs me I like to have round numbers or whatever but you know we’re just gonna
deal with 11 there are a lot more information on our YouTube channel but
this is just hitting the highlights if you are clinically depressed right now
this is not a replacement for therapy by any means but these are some tips that
you can add to your therapy to help recover more quickly and these are
things that you can do when you are feeling well to prevent or mitigate the
onset of another episode so the first thing that we’re going to talk about is
sunlight and circadian rhythms and quality sleep they all kind of go
together because when we are exposed to sunlight it helps set our circadian
rhythms sunlight tells our brain it’s time to wake up
and darkness tells our brain it’s time to go to sleep which helps regulate our
cortisol and a bunch of other hormones that help us know when it’s time to be
awake and when it’s time to have energy and when it’s time to eat all of that
contributes to quality sleep if our circadian rhythms are out of whack
then we are likely not going to get tired at the right times and we may not
get good quality sleep we know that when we are sleep-deprived our threat
response system our HPA axis is activated which contributes to anxiety
and distress and potentially depression so believe it or not good quality sleep
at the right times is really important to coping with depression hydration is
another really easy intervention when we get as little as two percent dehydrated
we start having difficulty with energy fatigue concentration and
decision-making staying hydrated is not hard to do keep a cup with you or a
water bottle with you you’re going to be more tempted to sip on it throughout the
day eat colorfully is the third suggestion our body makes the hormones
and neurotransmitters that we need to feel happy and healthy and energized
from the food that we eat a lot of people aren’t into counting calories and
macros and my this and that and the other and that is
fine that is totally cool a dietitian friend of mine suggested to my class one
time to eat colorfully if you can aim to have three different colors not
different shades of white or brown but three actual different colors on your
plate at every meal you’re probably going to have good nutrition if you are
a vegan it is possible to get very good nutrition being a vegan you have to be a
little bit more attentive to what you’re eating to make sure that you’re getting
all of your essential amino acids but it is definitely possible minimize
stimulants when we are depressed we often feel fatigued foggy headed have
difficulty concentrating and we reach for those stimulants to help us phos
focus and have energy and maybe feel just a little bit better but those
stimulants are basically just turning up our threat response system turning up
our HPA axis which means we’re gonna have just like when we eat sugar we’re
gonna have a harder crash at the end additionally stimulants tend to stay in
our system for a while caffeine being one of the worst it stays in our system
for up to 12 hours after we consume it so what you’re consuming at noon may
still be impairing your sleep quality at ten eleven o’clock at night
minimizing stimulants is going to help you in the long run
don’t go cold turkey you’ll probably have headaches and all kinds of other
things and you’re gonna really hate the notion if you’re going to minimize them
start weaning off slowly if you need to connect with your doctor to see how to
do this effectively do so if you tend to have migraines definitely consult with
your doctor before you start altering anything about your nutrition including
your including your ingestion of caffeine or or nicotine number five is
something we forget to do and it’s add in the happy and what I mean by that is
we need actually proactively do things that make
us happy in order to prompt our body to secrete those happy neuro chemicals the
dopamine the serotonin the things that we really want to feel add in the happy
pay attention to your senses what do you smell that makes you happy what things
go to Target or Walmart or one of those places and smell some of the little wax
tarts and see which ones that you smell that make you go oh that smells good
that’s adding in the happy that is triggering your brain to send out
relaxing neuro chemicals you can look at essential oils if you want to you can go
into your kitchen and smell certain spices that you have for me cloves is a
big one when I was a little kid we used to take oranges and put whole cloves and
cinnamon sticks in the oranges and make Christmas ornaments so the smell of
citrus and cloves together reminds me of a happy time in my life you may not have
that same experience it’s important for you to know what smells make you happy
look for things that make you happy that are sights
what kinds of memes what kinds of pictures do you have on your phone maybe
you have pictures of your kids or your dog sir
flowers whatever it is that makes you happy keep a online scrapbook if you
will it may be in your google photos of memes and pictures and things that make
you happy add things in your environment your car
your home your office if you’re allowed that you can look at that are present
for you that you’re noticing on a regular basis throughout the day that
make you smile that is gonna be really important you don’t have to do anything
you know super extravagant just pictures memes smells sounds what sounds make you
happy I love the sound of Eastern to–he’s and Black capped chickadees I
love the sound of their calls so having bird sounds on
back makes me happy makes me even happier if they’re actually birds at the
feeder at the window those are things that I do to make me happy what makes
you happy increasing the happy triggers in your
environment is going to prompt more calming chemicals throughout your body
eliminate depression anxiety and anger triggers and in the next video we’re
going to talk a lot more about triggers but you know it’s important to remember
that when we look around there are things that we see here smell do that
can trigger depression and a sense of or anger or anxiety and a sense of
hopelessness and helplessness all of those things may make depression worse
or may make you feel increasingly overwhelmed so eliminate some of those
things for me having chaos having piles of stuff everywhere increases my sense
of being overwhelmed which can make me feel a little bit depressed or edgy or
irritable sometimes it’s important for me to keep things organized in our house
we call it flat surface itis where if flat services start to swell with crap
mommy tends to get a little bit stressed out
we have bins I am NOT you know one of those that is super organized but I want
things to stay in their appropriate bins and just not pile up everywhere smells
that irritate me animal pee our dogs right now for some reason are going
through a territory dispute and when I smell that it makes me frustrated and
upset I just don’t like that smell I would much rather smell something that
makes me happy the news turning on the news right now is almost guaranteed to
be a trigger so I eliminate that as much as possible from my daily life and some
days I’ll be honest I don’t even check the news most of the time I do once a
day because I feel like it’s my duty as an American to be informed but you know
that’s 30 minutes and then done get physical or get a physical you can’t
get physical – exercise increases serotonin and dopamine as well as your
endorphins you don’t have to exercise hard going out for a walk they’ve
actually found that exercising at forty to fifty percent of your target heart
rate which for me would be like 90 beats a minute it’s not like you’re working
hard at all it’s walking the dog actually reduces cortisol and reduces
your stress chemicals which can be helpful so I’m not when I say exercise
I’m not saying you have to go to the gym you can if you want that’s gonna give
you a bump of endorphins but if you just want to reduce cortisol do something
mild clean the house pet play with the dog play with your kids do something
like that you can do a lot of things to play with your kids that are fun like
playing hide and go seek or tag or getting a balloon and trying to keep it
from hitting the floor believe it or not the amount of activity in trying to do
that is probably gonna get your heart rate in that 40 to 50 percent zone which
helps reduce cortisol plus you’re doing something fun which increases the
positive chemicals my kids are too old they think to play those balloon games
anymore so I play them with my dog my dog loves balloons and we have a lot of
fun but what I meant to say here was get a physical a lot of times not all the
time but a lot of times there are certain physiological causes for
depression such as low thyroid or low low testosterone or altered levels of
estrogen or progesterone those are easy to test for in a blood test low levels
of vitamin D can also contribute to depression so if it’s been raining for a
long time or if you’re in an area like Alaska where you know it may be dark for
a long time or you work in an environment where you go into work and
it’s dark and you come out of work and it’s still dark that will potentially
mess with your circadian rhythms but a physical can rule out any physiological
causes of your depression and you know isn’t it better to address
the root cause then you try to start you know guessing let’s start with the
basics is my body machine functioning as it should in order for me to feel happy
and if so then I need to look at what’s causing this me to feel the way I am
spend 10 minutes a day 10 minutes that’s not that long
spend 10 minutes each day journaling or reflecting on the positive if you drive
to work or ride the subway or whatever it is that you ride you probably have 10
minutes that you can think through the day and reflect only on the positive
think about what happened during the day that went well that you did well that
made you feel good or even just things that you’re seeing as you’re driving
that make you happy I was driving to work yesterday and I saw a little baby
groundhog I loved groundhogs they’re so cute and this one wasn’t much bigger
than a squirrel and he was just sitting up like a little meerkat so cute and
that made me happy reflecting on the positives for the day makes your brain
switch gears it doesn’t mean work ignoring the negative all day long we’re
not just ignoring the threats to our own detriment but we have to force ourselves
to also notice the positive and this can help us become more psychologically
flexible and able to notice both the threats as well as the safety and
positive factors in a situation and in an environment check for medication side
effects there are a lot of medications out there that do have mood side effects
and they just put out an article today from the FDA and I can’t remember the
name of the medication but it’s one that’s used for asthma as well as
allergies that has been shown to contribute to increases in depression
and suicidality in a fair number of people and the FDA is now requiring them
to add a black box warning on it just like they do on some of the
antidepressants so you wouldn’t have thought that a
allergy medication could make you depressed blood pressure medications
statins your cholesterol medications there are a lot of different medications
that can contribute to depression so how do you find that out well the easiest
way is to go online and search for the name of your medication and the word
depression to see if is associated or searched for medications associated with
depression site of depression side-effects and that will tell you if
people commonly have depression as a side effect of that medication another
one that often causes people depression is the Dramamine so if you’re taking
drama means some people will find that contributes to their feelings of
depression be aware if you’re taking something sporadic like Dramamine and
you notice that when you take it you feel really awful well that’s what we
call a clue and you may want to talk to your doctor about alternatives for that
kind of medication finally address- extreme or personalized thinking styles
when we are in a negative mindset when we are seeing the world as dangerous
scary threatening we feel helpless and hopeless you know what we notice the
negative we are on high alert trying to protect ourselves from that big bad
world we’re not noticing the positive things
it is important to address those negative thinking styles and look for
the facts if I feel like this is a particularly dangerous situation or a
particularly depressing situation what are the facts for and against it what is
positive in my life there are a lot of different ways to address negative
thinking styles extreme thinking is when you use words like always all never none
everybody rarely are things a hundred percent one
way or another so whenever you start using extreme words replace them with
more mild words people instead of everybody and look for
examples of exceptions to when this happened instead of saying everybody
always leaves which is one of the favorite phrases of one of my best
friends thinking about who has left and who has stayed and do they always leave
and and generally you know if you find somebody who has stayed then that
disproves both aspects of that extreme thinking now many people could leave but
does everybody always leave so we want to address this extreme thinking in
terms of right now the corona virus that’s going around I’ve heard a lot of
extreme thinking and extreme statements like everybody is eventually going to
get it or everybody who gets it gets super ill and that’s just not the case
if you look at the fact if you look at the actual data there’s thousands and
thousands of people who’ve gotten this virus and haven’t gotten sicker than
anything except for like a mild cold and they there are also a you know probably
tens of thousands of people who’ve been infected whose symptoms were so mild
they didn’t even get tested we do want to pay attention to our extreme thinking
and see if we’re catastrophizing or confusing something that is low
probability with something that is high probability a lot of times when we use
extreme thinking we start thinking that things are probable that this is
probably gonna happen when in reality it’s possible you know just about
anything’s possible but the probability is pretty miniscule and finally those
personalized baking styles where we take everything personally it’s my fault or
they did it because they don’t like me or they are angry with me or think of
three examples whenever you have a personalized thought like that that’s
negative think of three examples or three explanations of why that might
have happened that had nothing to do with you absolutely nothing to do with
you this helps you become more psychologically flexible and consider
all the options and it can help you feel less hopeless and helpless and finally
one more I guess I could have put in 12 focusing on what you can control two of
the key features of depression are feelings of hopelessness and
helplessness well when we feel helpless we’re going to probably feel hopeless
it’s important that we focus on aspects of the situation that we have control
over you have control over some aspects of virtually every situation and
figuring out what you do have control over and those aspects you didn’t you
can’t get to tied up in that tornado just came through Middle Tennessee I had
no control over that tornado you know there was nothing I could have done
about that what was I able to do I was able to get my family down into our safe
space before the tornado came through those are things that we want to focus
on what are we able to do I wasn’t able to prevent the destruction and loss of
life and that is devastating to me however what can I do in this situation
I can help the survivors rebuild remembering to focus on have the courage
to change the things you can I hope those 12 tips were helpful for you and I
will see you in the next video

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