Depression, we have all heard of this word, however this word is used sometimes unnecessarily, low mood and clinical depression are different experiences. We have all experienced ‘low mood’ at some point in our lives, maybe even in this week or perhaps even today, a friend once described it to me as their ‘duvet day’ – a fantastic description of a low mood experience of generally feeling ‘under the weather’ which passes after a day or two.
People suffering with low mood will still be able to function but perhaps just need a little guidance, encouragement and nurturing.
However clinical depression is somewhat different, the sufferer will probably have lasting periods of sadness and hopelessness, feel teary, may not be able to get out of bed, loss of enjoyment in things that they used to find pleasurable, have difficulty communicating socially or interact at all, they may feel a sense of ‘what is the point’ and may have suicidal tendencies and this generally goes on for days at a time or even weeks/months.
Most of us already are aware that our doctors and scientists have studied the effects of medication to enhance the levels of seratonin in the brain to help patients lift their experience of depression. The outcome of this research has come back to us in the form of anti-depressants. But did you know we can also raise these levels of positive neurotransmitters through yoga?
When working with a client with depression I always encourage them to work along side their medication and GP, it can be very dangerous to ‘cold turkey’ the pharmaceuticals without the help and guidance of your doctor, however the yoga can help balance any side effects of the drugs and maybe eventually lower the amount of medication the client has to take altogether, empowering the individual to take control of their own healing, to spot the signs of a relapse before it happens and replace the need to reach for a higher dose of medication with an alternative approach. Yoga Therapy has many approaches to easing the symptoms of depression and low mood through practices of mindfulness, various meditations, diet, affirmations, pranayama – breathing exercises and asana practice as well as lifestyle advice to encourage each persons journey of self discovery and healing.
Anxiety and depression are two common issues that arrive in my therapy room in Newquay and make up the majority of the clients that I work with. Did you know that more than 1 in 10 people are likely to have a ‘disabling anxiety disorder’ at some stage in their life, I myself have suffered with anxiety in the past so understand very well the intensity of this ‘illness’. The word ‘illness’ not a favourite expression of mine maybe a better word would be ‘stress’ as that’s exactly what anxiety is. So how can yoga help? Yoga helps to steady the mind through meditation, breathing exercises and mindfulness, it helps to calm the system and allows us the space to sit with ourselves and truly understand that where we are is ok. When we can turn to ourselves we will better understand and promote our own healing and the path to empowering ourselves starts with a toolbox of techniques to work with. There is not a ‘one fix’ solution as some practices feel more relevant and more successful to each individual so we have put together a workshop purely focused on mental health and stress management called ‘Yoga for Your Mind’ we’ll be having talks from a psychiatric nurse and counsellor as well as travelling on a journey of techniques to add to your toolbox for your own development.