THE BLOG
19/05/2014 08:54 BST | Updated 16/07/2014 06:59 BST

Depression Hurts, But There Is Help - And It's Closer Than You Might Think

With people gulping anti-depressants like Tic-Tacs, I am frequently asked if there's anything else that can alleviate depression without the toxicity and unpleasant side effects of drugs. My answer is a resounding "Yes!"

If you are suffering from depression, one of the most significant and powerful tools you can use is to change your thoughts. It takes some effort, yes, and it doesn't happen overnight, particularly because depression creates negative energy, which is heavy and exhausting.

But positive thoughts produce positive energy, which is much lighter. When you consistently let go of your negative, sad, depressing, self-doubting etc. and keep replacing them with more positive ones, gradually you will begin to feel better.

Whatever you are feeling - happy, anxious, sad, angry, resentful, excited or whatever - it will always be directly related to what you are thinking about. If you want to change how you feel, you must change what you're thinking. This is a conscious choice that needs to be made over and over again as you wade through your thoughts one at a time. It works and I can speak from a lot of personal and professional experience.

The more you do it, the better you will feel. It is especially good to take a little time each day for a little positivity meditation. Sit quietly, eyes closed, and repeat to yourself whatever positive messages will work in your circumstances. Perhaps it will be as simple as focusing on whatever positives there are in your life. The love of a partner, a parent, your best friend, your cat. Your job, your health, food in your cupboards. Tell yourself this will pass, remember a time you felt happy and see it, feel it, really absorb it for five or ten minutes as you sit in contemplation of positivity.

Yes, this sounds very simple. So how can it actually work? Well, there is science behind it. Below is an excerpt from my book, The Power and Simplicity of Self-Healing, that will explain this:

Chemical messengers, such as neurotransmitters and neuropeptides, are "communicator molecules", which allow the neurons in the brain to communicate with the rest of the body. They are found in abundance in the amygdala and the hypothalamus, areas of the brain that govern our emotions. In the 1980s, the National Institute of Mental Health discovered that there are receptors for these neurotransmitters outside the brain.

For example, many were found on monocytes, cells that are part of the immune system. These cells circulate in the bloodstream, relaying messages freely throughout the body, not just from one neuron to the next along the fixed path of the CNS, as was previous thought. But rather, they have free access to every other cell in the body. Therefore, as they are receptors for neurotransmitters, they carry the messages of our emotions.

These chemicals carry every feeling, every wish, every hope, and every fear from the brain where they were created, to every single cell in the body. You do not merely store them in your consciousness. Those memories, thoughts and feelings are stored in every single part of your body.

Take a moment to think about an emotional memory - perhaps a particularly beautiful one, or a tragic one, or a traumatic one. If you pay attention to what's going on physically as a result of those thoughts, you will notice that your entire body is affected. One need only watch someone who is excited and happy, and you can see body language reflecting this. There is a big smile on her face; she is beaming. There is a spring in her step, or perhaps she is giggling and bouncing up and down like a little kid, unable to remain still.

Now consider the body language of someone who is depressed. His head hangs. His shoulders droop. He may have a furrowed brow, and turned down corners of his mouth. He walks slowly, seems to have no energy.

He may have terrible headaches, stomach pain, or pain in his joints and elsewhere. He may be spending countless miserable hours in bed in a darkened room. And even if he is not in physical pain, he looks as though he is because his emotional pain affects his entire body.

Have you ever experienced overwhelming anxiety, as you anticipate something scary? Perhaps a crucial exam, or "meeting his/her parents"? Do you know that awful tight knot in the pit of your stomach? The sweaty palms? Dry mouth? Racing heart?

Your thoughts have no physical substance; they cannot be seen, touched or photographed. They are intangible. Yet they are absolutely and profoundly linked to your physical body.

We have scientific evidence that our infinite creative intelligence has a direct and provable effect on the physical body. Every thought you have is coded into a chemical message, which is then relayed via neurotransmitters to every cell in the body. The short version: Your thoughts will manifest in your physical body.

How do we know this? After all, as stated above, a thought has no substance. It cannot be touched. But it can be measured in the form of ink on a graph, an electromagnetic wave detectable on an electroencephalogram (EEG). And although it is not a tangible thing, a neurotransmitter is. Its job is to create matter where there was none. Neurotransmitters must be as flexible and changeable as the thoughts that create them.

In order to respond to a potentially infinite number of these messages, DNA continuously creates receptors that reach up like long fingers to the surfaces of cells. Each receptor is like an eye, looking out from the cell for one specific message. Therefore, receptors are not fixed; sometimes cells have none at all, while at other times they are loaded with them, depending upon how many messages the cell needs to "see."

We know that people with depression have abnormally high levels of a neurotransmitter called imipramine in their brains. Not only are there imipramine receptors on their brain cells, but on skin cells, as well.

Similarly, anxious people have very high levels of epinephrine and norepinephrine in their brains, as well as abnormal concentrations of both of these chemicals in their blood platelets.

Therefore, we can assume from this, and similar findings in other research, that the whole body "feels" the thoughts we think. And we know that what we think creates how we feel. I will go into this in much more detail in later chapters. But it does explain - at least in part - why I noticed an immediate improvement in my ailments by "speaking to them" when I began going for walks at the start of this self-healing project.

Not only do our thoughts and feelings affect the living cells we have at any given moment, new cells are being created using the current "blueprint", a plan generated by your consciousness. That plan is the result of your thoughts, making you the architect of your cells, their memories, their programming, their behaviour - and your health.

Thoughts can be habitual, and as with any habit, it can take time to change them. It's like moving house. You take all of your belongings to a new environment, and absentmindedly, you keep turning left instead of right to get to the kitchen, forgetting that it's on the other side of the hallway now. Or reaching into the cupboard next to the sink for a glass, only to discover that they're in a new place in this house. But with new information, it doesn't take long for us to adapt and make changes to our behaviour.

When we change our thoughts, we change the chemical messages that the brain is sending. Therefore, our cells are given new information, a new "blueprint", and they will reproduce according to those instructions.

I appreciate comments and questions so please add yours below or send an email. Wishing you an inspiring day!

For more information or to purchase The Power and Simplicity of Self-Healing, click here.

To check out or purchase my "Healing and Empowering" guided meditation on iTunes, click here.

(also available on Amazon as CD or mp3 - click here)

For more from this author, visit www.libertyforrest.com