When you consider what raises your personal cancer risk, the effects of depression probably don’t make the list. It should.
Every day, scientists are learning more about the link between emotions and cancer. The physiological effects of trauma, abuse, and behavioral disorders are well documented in regards to chronic pain, heart disease, digestive problems, and so much more.
It’s not a very big leap to connect cancer. After all, negative emotions trigger an inflammatory response inside your body. Inflammation damages tissue at the cellular level and is considered a root cause of most major disease.
See? Not hard to see the pattern.
Fighting Depression with Drugs – An Inefficient System
The effects of depression cause a ripple throughout every area of your life. It makes it difficult to engage in the world around you, makes you more susceptible to illness, and disrupts everything from appetite to sleep patterns. There are pills for that, right? Depression isn’t a big deal after all!
Not so fast…
Researchers now know that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) – otherwise known as antidepressants – don’t work for everyone. It was estimated as little as 5 years ago that 20% of patients didn’t respond to drug therapy.
Now, the medical and scientific communities know that number is much higher. One study from the University of Hull, UK estimated that 50% of patients taking antidepressants experience no relief from the effects of depression. They concluded that only the most severe cases of clinical depression are helped with pharmaceutical drugs.
In cases of mild to moderate depression in their test subjects, patients on antidepressants had the same results as those patients receiving a placebo.
Additionally, those with severe depression will typically have to cycle through three different medications to find one that works.
Over time, drugs of all kinds (including antidepressants) lose their effectiveness as the brain adapts to them. The only path at that point is to up the dose or start the process all over again and hope for another antidepressant that works.
What do you do in the meantime? What do you do if the drugs don’t work?
Then there are the side effects of depression medication. They include insomnia, skin irritation, headaches, stomach upset, higher risk of blood clots, muscle tics, shakes, loss of motor control, diminished libido, erectile dysfunction, vaginal dryness, heart palpitations, high blood pressure, and dizziness (just to name a few).
Fight Depression Naturally
Fighting depression naturally may be the only option for some who suffer from a severe case. Depression should never be ignored! If drug therapy or psychotherapy aren’t as effective as you need them to be, there are other ways to improve your personal outcome.
5 Lifestyle Remedies to Treat Depression Naturally
1. Develop a routine that you follow daily. Routines help us feel that we are in control – the opposite of the out-of-control feelings that depression inspires. Start small and gradually work your priorities and regular habits back into your daily life. You will feel stronger and more in command of your recovery.
2. Set goals that are manageable. One of the common themes of depression is inadequacy and sense of being a failure. By breaking large goals into smaller, bite-sized pieces, you will feel the joy of accomplishing them and gradually return to the confidence and self-worth you deserve.
3. Get your body moving. There are exercises for every age and state of physical health – you don’t have to run a marathon. When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins that are commonly known as “feel good” hormones. Going for a walk, stretching, or dancing in your living room are great places to start.
4. Nutrition is key to many health issues. Your body requires certain fuel to function properly. If you fill up your “engine” with over-processed and chemical-laden foods – it has a similar effect as putting sugar in your car’s gas tank. Add fatty fish, coconut oil, berries, nuts and seeds, leafy greens, and citrus to your diet for a dose of food medicine that eases some depression symptoms without the side effects!
5. Get plenty of rest. In the United States, approximately 70% of the population is considered sleep-deprived – that includes men, women, and children. It’s no wonder our productivity is dropping as our health is declining. Sleep is the time when your body heals itself. As you rest, cells are repaired and new ones are produced. Your system cannot function without adequate sleep. Lack of sleep has been shown to significantly worsen the effects of depression.
There are several alternative therapies that have proven beneficial to those suffering from depression. Most are free and completely within your control. Try one of these “old new” modalities and see if it helps you manage your symptoms.
5 Alternative Remedies to Treat Depression Naturally
1. Acupuncture: During a study on the effects of acupuncture on depressives, 64% of participants went into remission after acupuncture compared to 27% of those who didn’t get the treatment. Patients with major depressive disorder are more responsive to their antidepressants if they also receive acupuncture therapy.
2. Meditation: According to one behavioral study, meditation improves your chances of avoiding a relapse of depression by more than 30%. Settling the mind, allow time to be still, and focusing on each breath can often calm your mental and emotional state during times of high stress or sadness. Some techniques take as little as five minutes and can be done while standing. A research study from Johns Hopkins discovered that meditation had the same success rate alone as antidepressants. Practicing meditation in combination with your prescription and psychotherapy boosts your chances for successful, long term recovery.
3. Sunlight or Light Therapy: Even if you are not suffering from depression, a sunlit day will likely improve your mood. Exposure to sunlight boosts serotonin production in the brain – making it the most natural and cost-effective antidepressant in the world. Sunshine or light boxes work faster than medication is able, easing stress and sadness rapidly. Dozens of studies have been conducted on its effects and success rates. Another benefit of sunlight exposure is that it boosts your body’s production of vitamin D. Deficiencies in this critical vitamin have been linked to a much higher risk of depression.
4. Yoga: This ancient practice is one of the simplest and most effective methods for improving the effects of depression. It has been shown in several studies to reduce stress, lower hostility, calm anxiety, boost energy levels, improve quality of sleep, and provide a sense of overall wellbeing. The physiological effects include lowering blood pressure and easing respiration.
5. Journaling: Sometimes referred to as a mood diary, journaling is a place for someone to track the positive aspects of their lives. Making an entry a couple of times a week – particularly on good days – helps as a reminder that positive things are happening and will continue to happen. This practice helps place past events in perspective. Studies have shown that the act of seeing your thoughts in writing may boost awareness, creativity, and the ability to move past traumatic moments in your personal history.
Going Further to Address Emotions and Cancer
One major contributory factor in cancer development – perhaps the most important of all – is usually not addressed. The effect of your mental and emotional health on cancer.
I’ve discovered four major ways that people abandon themselves emotionally:
- Ignoring one’s feelings
- Numbing one’s feelings through addictions
- Making others responsible for one’s feelings of happiness and pain.
Ironically, painful feelings such as aloneness, emptiness, anxiety, sadness, jealousy, fear, guilt, and shame – feelings associated with the effects of depression – are often symptoms of a deeper root cause. Your state of mind has a powerful influence on your health.
Good or bad, that means your mental and emotional health affects your entire body – and does have an impact on your cancer risk.
Psychoneuroimmunology is the study of the relationship and interaction between psychological processes and the nervous system and immune function of the human body.
I talk about it at length in my new book “The Psychology of Cancer.”
The effects of depression can be managed and cancer is not a death sentence. However, science proves more every day that both are perhaps a wakeup call.
Treating your whole self – mind, body, and spirit – is the key to happiness and health. Neither is mutually exclusive to the other. Read “The Psychology of Cancer” today and learn how your emotional health translates to your physical well-being.