Marisa Peer's Book
Ultimate Self Confidence
“Our attitude toward life determines life’s attitude towards us’–
Earl Nightingale, 1921–89, US motivator
Depression and Anxiety
- You, only better
- Finding your place
- Meeting your needs
I talked in Step 2 about our need to avoid rejection and in Step4 about not feeling enough. When our needs are not met andwe don’t feel enough, it can lead to depression and a feeling ofworthlessness and helplessness that seems insurmountable.However, depression can be overcome. Having worked withmany clients, from the depressed to the suicidal, I have found that depressed people usually feel helpless and hopeless, useless, worthless and empty: they have almost no self-esteem. They often feel that they don’t deserve help and believe that they area burden on others and will never get better. They go farbeyond the feeling of not being enough and feel that they are not worthy of or deserving enough of treatment or help and they can’t see a solution. Because depressed people don’t feel worth it, they have no motivation to take care of themselves with exercise or vitamins and the right food and instead usually don’t eat correctly as they can’t see the point of looking after themselves. They can often be resistant to seeking help, feeling they don’t deserve to waste the time of those who could help them, and since they believe they can’t be helped it all seems pointless. Depressed people only believe their own opinions and won’t let in the opinion of others; they are a very good example of the fact that we only take in information that we choose to believe.
I have included in this chapter some case histories that you might relate to, as seeing how other people got better helps us all. When you understand what is really going on within you, that inturn can free you to get back your innate confidence and self-esteem as you will begin to recognise that it is not true that‘something is wrong with you and that you just can’t help it andare destined to be like this for ever’; instead, you may find that it’s incredibly empowering to identify the things that have been holding you back. Although the old thinking is that depression may be because of a chemical imbalance in the brain, recent studies (at the UCLA School of Medicine, using pet scans) show that changing negative behaviours can change brain chemistry. Many breakthroughs in neuroscience have shown that our brain continues to grow and develop throughout our lives. This means we can train our minds to be happy, to think positively, to reduce negative feelings and to choose how to feel and react to events that are going on in our lives. Negative behaviours and negative feelings come about because of negative thinking. I mentioned earlier that the mind cannot hold conflicting thoughts. When you are thinking negative thoughts you can’t feel positive or happy, and when you are thinking happy, positive thoughts you can’t feel negative. Many studies, including those of the eminent psychiatrist Dr David Burns, author of Feeling Good, show that the immediate cause of depression is harsh, hurtful, over-exaggerated critical statements that we put ourselves down with and beat ourselves up with on a regular basis, making us feel even more worthless and hopeless until it becomes a vicious circle. Depression does not make you negative– being negative and critical about yourself on a regular basis makes you depressed. It is our thoughts that can make us depressed, not the weather, the job, our financial situation, our looks or other people’s behaviour (there are plenty of millionaires living in glorious sunshine who are depressed and numerous hugely talented, beautiful looking people who are also depressed). It is not even lack of love that causes depression. Many depressed people are much loved although they don’t feel at all lovable. They just feel that they are a burden. Experts believe that we can give ourselves literally thousands of negative messages a day: that’s enough to make anyone depressed.
You Only BetterThese are some of the things you must do to diminish depression:
- Exercise, even thought you don’t want to. Exercise releases endorphins which promote wellbeing and benefit our physical and mental health. You don’t have to go the gym every day; even going for a walk helps, taking up yoga is particularly helpful and if you can take yourself to the gym or for a run, no matter how brief, you will feel better. Another effective cure for depression is movement through dance or tai chi. Exercise has a positive effect on brain cells.
- Touch is very important in healing depression. If you are depressed the last thing you feel like is sex; however, touch releases endorphins and the hormone oxytocin, so don’t become touch-deprived: stroke pets, hug friends and family, resume sex with your partner or have a massage. It is so important to do the opposite of what you feel like doing and it will help you feel significantly better.
- Diet can play a huge part in curing depression; avoiding caffeine and sugar are particularly important as caffeine and sugar feed anxiety. Make sure you eat well and regularly, even if you have no appetite. Avoid all sweeteners as they can affect the brain and our moods in a very negative way. It is essential for our mental health that we eat good fats on a regular basis. Many people only eat bad fats like trans fats or saturated fats or try to avoid fat altogether. Make sure your diet has plenty of nuts and seeds, good oils like avocado and olives and oily fish or fish oil supplements. Getting the rights fats in your diet is vital for good mental health. Essential oils are just that: essential for your mental well-being, so eat them daily.
- Uplifting music can have a very powerful effect on our moods.
- Look into the future and know that it won’t last, that it is not permanent, even though that does not seem possible at the time. Talk to other people who have felt so low and felt there was no way out only to have found that they fully recovered.
- When you regularly take on the physiology of a happy person, even though you may have to force yourself to do it, you will begin to feel happier. The more you practise being confident and happy the more it will become your natural and automatic state. At Bellevue Psychiatric Hospital in America doctors did an experiment in which they had the most depressed patients take on the physiology of someone who was happy, which simply required them to smile many times a day – the really big smiles that make your face crinkle – and to take on the body language of someone who was confident so that they stood upright rather than stooping or slouching. The results were astounding and proved that practising being happy and confident makes you more happy and confident. When you smile you make serotonin, which is known as the happy hormone.
- Vitamin B6 also increases serotonin. A lack of vitamin B3 can cause depression, while a lack of vitamin B6 can cause depression, inertia, insomnia and irritability. Lack of vitamin D, which is made in the skin by sunlight, is also linked to depression. Vitamin D levels can be increased by taking fish oils. B12 deficiency and low levels of Omega 3 can be an underlying factor in depression, so make sure you eat oily fish two or three times a week and take B6, B3 and B12 and Omega 3 supplements every day.
- Make sure you get outside for a while every day as daylight and sunlight increase serotonin. Many night workers and shift workers become depressed because of the lack of natural light. There are more examples of how to naturally increase your serotonin levels in Step 10.
- Laughter is an important antidote to depression. Many studies have shown that if you consistently watch funny films you make different chemicals from the ones you make when you feel depressed. Laughter releases endorphins and decreases stress hormones in the bloodstream and has a positive effect on our bodies, which is why in his book Anatomy of an Illness Norman Cousins detailed how he rented funny films when he was very ill with cancer and watched them frequently, crediting the laughter therapy as playing an essential part in his recovery. You can boost your immune system and make feel-good hormones just by changing the way you think. At the Rainbow Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio, an experiment was done whereby children watched a puppet show of a virus puppet fighting a policeman puppet who defeated the virus. After watching the puppet show the children closed their eyes and imagined lots of policeman puppets in their own bodies fighting their own viruses. Then saliva samples were taken that showed that the children’s immune systems had reacted as if they really were fighting an infection and had made proteins to defeat the infection.
- Do what you love to do. Evidence has shown that when people don’t follow their inner yearnings or do what they love, when they don’t take up the career that they have a calling for or a deep need to be involved in, this can create depression, sadness, apathy and illness. So much depression is down to people not doing what they want to with their lives and suffering because of it. I worked with a client who was deeply depressed and had been for years because she had always wanted to be a lawyer but could never afford to attend law school and when she took early retirement she felt she had wasted her whole life. She could not get past the fact that she had missed out on working in law. Eventually we decided that she could still do something about it and after volunteering in a legal aid centre she did some training and became a magistrate, which does not require any legal qualifications. So finally she was working in a court doing what she loved and loving what she did and she was free of depression.
Are you depressed?
We all feel fed up sometimes but these feelings usually last for a couple of days or weeks at the most. Perhaps you have been feeling like this for longer.
We have designed a test to give you some indication.