Depression: a mental condition characterized by feelings of severe despondency and dejection, typically also with feelings of inadequacy and guilt, often accompanied by lack of energy and disturbance of appetite and sleep.
In mainstream medicine there are 6 types of depression: clinical, chronic, atypical, manic, seasonal, and psychotic. Antidepressants are often the first treatment option prescribed yet they only effective in around one third of cases, and partially effective in another third. The other third of cases get no benefit at all.
From a complementary therapist’s point of view, having seen many cases of depression come through my clinic door, there can never be a “one size fits all” treatment that cures depression. Every person is unique and what works for one person might not work for another. Inspired by a conversation with an acupuncture colleague of mine a few days ago, I thought it’d be useful to have another kind of diagnosis window for depression: one offered by the five elements (wood, fire, earth, metal, water).
There is so much good information on the web (I love google), but below I’ve summarised what I have found in my research as ways to help yourself at home if you are struggling with depression. Please note that this information is not meant to take the place of valued guidance from your healthcare practitioner. It is merely additional resources to supplement you in your journey of depression.
So what type of depressed are you and what can you do to help yourself, in addition to any current support you are getting?
Many thanks to Sarah Attwell-Griffiths for inspiring me to research this! You can find out more about her at Corinium Acupuncture.
As Andrew Taylor Still said: "Anyone can find disease- to find health should be the object of the doctor". This was a plea to move beyond the analytic and embrace the holistic paradigm.
But why? Well, the more we resonate with the part, the less aware we are of the whole and vice versa. So if we concentrate on the injured or diseased part in a patient, we lose its relationship to the bigger picture. And if we just look at the bigger picture, we are not aware of the injured part.
So the challenge to us as practitioners is how do we hold the part and the whole at the same time? How can we find the health rather than merely attempting to confront dis-ease? Yet the holographic principle states that to access the part is to access the whole...hmm an interesting conundrum indeed!
So maybe the first challenge to us as practitioners is how do we enter the relational space to become holistic? Maintaining awareness of the three tides at the same time (the ripples on the surface, the deeper water and the ocean floor is a great analogy) would be a good starting point.
And the second challenge then becomes - how do we come into contact (touch)?
Touch is incredibly powerful – it is our bio-electric searching tool, more powerful than any machine! Touch carries charge even if it’s just projected touch (say touching the cranium and intending touch to the sacrum).
Touch is fundamental to the human experience. It is the first of the senses to develop in the human infant, and it remains perhaps the most emotionally central throughout our lives. Research has shown that less than one second of safe, interpersonal touch, such as a hand to the back or the shoulder can influence health and behaviour in remarkable ways.
The questions we ask the body through touch are like sonar, we are listening to an incredible amount of information, as we become the fulcrum for our clients. And this fulcrum is loaded with intelligence. In fact the complex matrix of health is profound and unfathomable. It is the quest for health that keeps us alive and steeped in mystery......
This blog is inspired by a lecture by Robert Lever at the Breath of Life Conference 2017, author of 'Finding the Health'.
I recently attended an excellent lecture by Dr Rollin McCraty of the Heart Math Institute, where he talked about the importance of self-regulation. I share some of my insights here...
I guess the best place to start is to answer the question of what is self-regulation? Behaviourally, self-regulation is the ability to act in your long-term best interest, consistent with your deepest values. Emotionally, self-regulation is the ability to calm yourself down when you're upset and the ability to cheer yourself up when you're down.
The fact that sticks out for me is this: failures of self-regulation are central to the vast majority of health and social problems.
Because self-regulation is how we deal with stressors it lays down the foundation for all other activity. Learning self-regulation requires self-awareness, emotional intelligence, efficient filtering of sensory stimulation, coping effectively with stress, relating well to others, and sustaining focus. Ideally we’d learn this naturally in childhood simply from being around self-regulating adults, from playing and exercising, being in nature, eating well and getting plenty of sleep.
Unfortunately that is often not the case and we only have to look around at our society to see the impact of dys-regulation, both on children and on adults. We have repeating patterns that are being passed down generation to generation....
Consistent self-regulation requires focus on your deepest values rather than feelings. Did you know that the heart sends more information to the brain that the brain sends to the heart? This means that our emotions affect our physiology (our body) much more than our thoughts. In fact, it is where we most waste energy.
And our Hearts are amazing, with a storehouse of intelligence... a fact that completely inspired me from the lecture was finding out that a future event that is emotionally relevant will be known by the heart before the event takes place (the heart produces a measurable neural signal which has been scientifically tested). This shows that the Heart has access to a field of information that is not limited by boundaries of time and space!
When we are self-regulated and coherent, our magnetic field is coherent, and our heart’s magnetic field acts as a carrier wave, impacting all those we come into contact with. Now there’s a powerful image for sure. Our nervous systems can detect these magnetic fields better than any technology currently known to man. Awesome!
Somewhere, our hearts, physics, and the Earth’s electromagnetic field all connect—and their intersection is both incredible and intuitive. One of the primary resonant frequencies of the Earth’s field-line resonances is 0.1 Hz—and that is exactly the same frequency as the human heart rhythm when we’re in a heart-coherent state. So 0.1Hz is the human resonant frequency—the frequency at which spirit, heart, mind, emotions, and body are in resonant alignment with the planet. Yes, the earth Herself.
So in a nutshell, the more heart coherent we are, the greater the resonant energetic connection we have with people, within ourselves, and with all of nature. What a powerful force humanity would be in this coherence....
But the most important thing I want to get across is no matter who you are, where you come from, where you are going or why you are here, at an individual level you can make a huge difference. You are not small and insignificant. Simply learning to self-regulate will feed into the larger Earth field environment. Becoming responsible for our own thoughts, emotions, and actions (and not blaming others) will feed into the larger Earth field environment. Being kind, compassionate and more appreciative feeds into the larger Earth field environment. These steps are available to anyone; and along with the health benefits, will go a long way towards social harmony and heart coherence for all.
Your body is a field of intelligent wisdom that is speaking to you all the time, and yet if you are like most people, you don’t live in your body so you can’t hear its wisdom. Here are some of the key wisdom areas in your body:
Wisdom of your Heart
Until the 1990s, we were taught by science that the brain sent information and commands to the heart but now we know that it works both ways. In fact, the heart’s complex intrinsic nervous system, the heart brain, is an intricate network of several types of neurons, neurotransmitters, proteins and support cells, like those found in the brain proper. Research has shown that the heart communicates to the brain in several major ways and acts independently of the cranial brain.
One important way the heart can speak to and influence the brain is when the heart is coherent – generating a stable, sine-wavelike pattern in its rhythms. When the heart rhythm is coherent, the body, including the brain, begins to experience all sorts of benefits, among them greater mental clarity and intuitive ability, including better decision-making.
When we experience sincere positive emotions, such as caring, compassion or appreciation, the heart processes these emotions and the heart’s rhythm becomes more coherent and harmonious. This info is sent to the brain and impacts the entire body neurologically, biochemically, biophysically and energetically!
Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive. – Dalai Lama
Wisdom of your Gut
Our guts have such a rich capacity for registering right and wrong. You've heard the phrases 'trust your gut', 'gut instinct', 'gut feelings'? Well we do have a brain in our belly and its an equally potent metabolic force! As it turns out, gut thoughts and feelings are not a fanciful notion but a physiological fact. Science recognises that we have two brains - with the lesser known one being the digestive tract. The enteric nervous system (ENS) is a rich and complicated network of neurons and neurochemicals that sense and control events in other parts of the body, including the brain. Amazingly, when scientists finally counted the number of nerve cells in the gut-brain, they found it contained over one hundred million neurons – more than the number of nerve cells in the spinal chord. This is another huge source of potentially untapped intelligence!
What’s fascinating to note is that researchers have observed a greater flow of neural traffic from the ENS to the head-brain than from the head-brain to the ENS. In other words, rather than the head informing the digestive system what to eat and how to metabolize, the locus of command is stationed in the belly. So next time, you have a gut instinct, don't override it, use the wisdom of your gut!
Wisdom of your Bones
The ancient Hawaiians believed your mana, your life force, was held in the bones. They believed each bone held wisdom that could be useful in addressing pain or dis-ease in your life. Considering the adult human skeletal system consists of 206 bones, that is a lot of potential wisdom!
Bones can be considered a dynamic energy structure charged with sacred and symbolic power and functioning, each with its own need to be present, its ‘own’ dream. Bones are the most solid part of us; our skeletal structure gives us form and structure. You could argue that it is our very foundation. Here we can find the wisdom of support, protection, movement, storage and building reserves (if we but listen). When everything is in synchrony, the ‘sound’ is crystal clear and the bones speak of a more profound healing. Our bones have a clarity of communication whose voice is often not really heard.
Wisdom of your Head
Wisdom is our individual ability to think, understand and act using experience and insight to make rational decisions. Wisdom is NOT an inborn ability. In order to gain wisdom, we must nurture some specific skills and accumulate experience over the years.
Increased attention allows us to consider more aspects of a complex problem leading to a wiser decision. Practising the skills of attention over time, resisting distraction, holding goals in mind, and controlling what we attend to, can help all of us make wiser decisions.
Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.” – Isaac Asimov
Wisdom of your Feet and Legs
It is our legs and feet that reflect our feelings about our own direction, and whether it is the right one or not. When the direction we are going in is uncertain or fraught with conflict, this can be seen in the movement we make as we walk. There is a big difference between taking small uncertain steps and taking large confident strides; or one person may trip and stumble as they go, while another may move purposefully and gracefully.
Take some time to listen to the inherent wisdom in your feet and legs so that you can “put your best foot forward” as you step into the world with courage and confidence.