The first time I took antidepressants was in early 1998 following the death of my Dad when he was just 50 years old. I was 22 and didn't know how to cope.It was a good friend of mine (who was my boss at the time) that suggested I see a doctor. I walked out of the surgery with a prescription in my hand for happy pills to help it all go away. They helped for a short while. Not by solving my problems, but by helping my brain "switch off". This started a cycle that would last the best part of 10 years. The drugs and counselling would help for a while, but then the depression would return or deepen. It reached a point where I was so dependant on my happy pills that forgetting to take them would cause physical withdrawal.
I felt I was becoming a junkie, hooked on my prescription, but I had no choice...The Royal College of Psychiatrists estimates that 50-65 per cent of people treated with an antidepressant for depression will see an improvement. They did give me some temporary relief, but the thought of being on them for life (I felt strongly addicted) made me more depressed and stuck in a mindset of "why me?" I can't remember the date when I finally said enough to the pills, but it was many years ago now. I just couldn't take the side effects and feelings of addiction any longer. I found other coping strategies - that ultimately were just as destructive as the pills. I felt broken. I've written many times about how I changed my diet and lifestyle. This not only led to improvements in my physical health, but in my mental health too.
What started as a few changes to my diet has transformed my life and opened me to a new way of thinking.This ultimately led me to believe that wellness has 3 components: attitude, intake and movement. In 2012 I started to meditate and use visualisation. Simply focussing on my breath (intake) helped to manage my mental state (attitude). Running (movement) also become like meditation to me as I extended the distance of my runs.
40 per cent improvementA new American study, by researchers at Rutgers University in New Jersey, has now found that two sessions combining meditation and aerobic exercise per week for two months can reduce the symptoms of depression by 40 per cent. The researchers followed both students suffering from depression and mentally healthy students for eight weeks, during which time they attended two sessions per week including 30 minutes of meditation and 30 minutes of aerobic exercise. The students were also told to refocus on their breathing if they found their thoughts drifting to the past or the future, to help the depressed students accept moment-to-moment changes in attention. 40 per cent improvement with no side effects! I wish meditation had been suggested to me in 1998. Originally published on naturaljuicejunkie.com