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Understanding and Overcoming Chronic Depression

Have you ever considered the possibility that if you are depressed, you should be?

Popular media and our society in general tend to teach us that it is normal to be perpetually happy. But is it normal to be happy all of the time?

Before you can overcome chronic depression, it is critical that the following point becomes clear in your mind: depression and happiness are normal states that all of us will and should experience when our lives call for them.

Everything that your body does is for its own good. When your core temperature is too hot, your body will sweat to cool down. When you are too cold, you will shiver to warm up. When you are disappointed by something in life – having a fight with a loved one, not having a loved one, losing a loved one, losing a large amount of money, hating the way you look, not getting a job that you really want, feeling like you are useless, or any other painful experience that is common to the human experience – it is normal for you to feel depressed.

A period of feeling low can give your body, mind, and spirit some quiet time to mourn, and then to assess the realities of what is happening to you so that you can learn something that is helpful to you and/or others, and make a decision about how to proceed with your life.

We can re-write the preceding paragraph as the following series of experiences:

1. Disappointment over something in your life.
2. Depression, doubt, quiet time.
3. Assessment of the realities of your life.
4. Decision(s) about how to proceed with your life.

Unfortunately, many people with chronic depression cannot move past step 2. Their disappointment is so deep that they cannot generate enough momentum to work on steps 3 and 4.

I suggest that just being aware of all four steps is essential to experiencing steps 3 and 4. Specific dietary strategies and mental and emotional exercises can help you move on to steps 3 and 4, but to actually see them as real destinations that you walk yourself to can make all the difference with your health.

When I was 28 years old, I returned to Toronto, Canada after having spent the previous ten years going to school and working in the States as a chiropractor. I felt that it was time for me to return to my family and look to get established in Toronto so that I could begin my own family.

Not knowing the ins and outs of the health care system in Canada from a doctor’s perspective, I felt that it was wise to work as a chiropractor in a large clinic for a year or two before I began my own clinic. But after visiting more than a dozen clinics, I was extremely discouraged; all of the clinics that were offering positions were earning the bulk of their income from questionable personal injury practices, and I did not feel good about milking the system the way that I thought they were. Within a few months, my search left me wanting to quit my profession for good.

So there I was at 28 years of age, feeling like I had to start all over again. Ten years and more than a hundred thousand dollars in education costs left me with little but feelings of despair and humiliation.

This low point of my life was clearly a disappointing time for me and my family. I did not want to see anyone, my health began to suffer, and all I did for days at a time was watch movies that I rented from the public library.

Fortunately, after a solid period of feeling sorry for myself, I began asking myself effective questions. How could I turn things around? How could I begin living and working in a way where I could feel useful again while sticking to my beliefs? What could I learn from the corruption that I had encountered up to that point? How would I have to live so that I would not have big regrets in the future?

By striving to see my life as it truly was, and putting together and applying a plan of action, I gradually climbed out of my valley. It wasn’t easy – there were many hurdles to make my way over and many moments of doubt, worry, and pain. But I felt alive for every moment of it, and it felt much better to be working at something than it did to feel like a lump of hopelessness.

Today, whenever I experience disappointment, I take some time to rest, but then move on to think about why I am disappointed and what I can learn from the event that caused me to feel disappointed. By going through this process, I have been able to stay on track with the vision that I have for my life; for the most part, I am guided by my own thoughts and decisions, not by the difficult events that I run into from time to time.

Does this sound appealing to you? Would you like to have more control over the momentum of your life? Would you like to bid farewell to the days when other people’s opinions and actions and disappointing events could put you into a deep funk for weeks or even years at a time?

Please give yourself permission to feel hopeful right now. It is okay that you feel depressed. Your body knows what it is doing, and with the right knowledge and plan of action, you can turn things around.

Part 1: Understanding and Overcoming Chronic Depression
Part 2: How Do You Know That You Are Depressed?
Part 3: Nutritional Considerations for Chronic Depression
Part 4: Mind-Body Exercises to Help You Transcend Chronic Depression
Part 5: How to Use Physical Exercise and Acupressure to Address Chronic Depression


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"Have you ever considered the possibility that if you are depressed, you should be?"

Dear Dr. Kim, the answer is yes.

Bless you for stating clearly that downtime is part of the human condition. The tide cannot always be in.

Wisdom like this is often missing in the
frenetically paced North American culture.

Keep up the good work!

Dear Wisdom and Dr.Ben Kim, I can't agree with you more. The tide can not always come in. The tide goes out and it comes in. Sometimes it is out for a long time but when it finally makes it in, it comes with such a roar. I lived on the beach as a child. I spent half of that time in the ocean. I would never just jump in the waves without observing the pattern of the waves. Usually there are about 3 smaller calm sets of waves then the big ones come in and then the three small sets again. When my man asked me about the quiet in our relationship years ago, I explained the ebb and flow of the sea and explained that relationships are like that. Over time, he observed this movement with us and this helped him to feel secure with me. I believe this same movement happens naturally within ourselves. We need to be patient with ourselves in the quiet time and even take time to love it. Truly creative people live wonderfully in that time period. They seem to know how to embrace it. And, you are so right, the media does not portray this. Mainly because they need to sell a product and smiles sell.

i just wanted to agree with your comments on smiling. as a manic depressive
i learned years ago that if im depressed or even very aggitated i go to the local grocery store and someone always seems to say something to me or just smile and say hello, it can change my whole attitude and therefore my out look for that day,yesterday i read on a sign
lets all try that if not for our selves for someone else, i live in cosby tn, and am very lucky to live in such a friendly place, we even wave to each other on the roads out here, i find that astonding for our times, so every-0ne keep smiling
thank-you michiline smile,

I agree that depression shows that something is wrong. In my case my depression was atypical (more common than typical apparently)- consisting of hopelessness, hating things I would normally love, extreme fatigue, feeling half-alive, hypersomnia day or night, nameless dread. The answer for me seems to be Magnesium citrate, 200mg night and morning. I increased this up to 800mg a day and even 1g. When I got diarrhea I backed off a little. I am full of joy and my thoughts and inspiration flow. I have v little stress. I don't believe stress is at all necessary for a productive life. It is a sign again perhaps that something needs correcting. The thing that corrects need not be a lifestyle adjustment as it may be caused by a physical depletion of a compound, in my case Mg++. I've tried almost all of the antidepressants and they did precisely nothing apart from give side effects. Plenty of stuff on the net, particularly by George Eby. Best of luck everyone Fred

really helpful information (and concise)
sharing your own experiences also can make others feel more hopeful
thank you