Dr. Jody Stanislaw, ND
Depression…it is a condition experienced by many in today’s fast-paced and often isolated world. For those looking for natural treatment, options vary widely. Examples can include changing in diet, balancing blood sugar, exercise, more sleep, light therapy, 5-HTP, St. John’s wort, fish oil, SAMe, DHEA…the list goes on and on. But before jumping to use any of these, a question that should be asked yet is often ignored is, ‘Is this really depression?’
If a someone has a loving family and friends, a good job, a nutrient dense diet, and cares for their body though regular exercise and adequate sleep and yet still feels depressed, this situation likely necessitates the diagnosis of depression and thus a biological intervention to enhance their mood.
Yet, if a someone is unhappy because they do not like their job, are unhappy with their spouse, doesn’t feel a sense of purpose in life, are unable to identify what they love and appreciate about themselves, and/or do not have a supportive community, these conditions themselves are not depression. These situations do not support a feeling of wellbeing for anyone and should not be labeled ‘depression.’
In these later cases, the best treatment approach is to create an action plan for changing the unhappy situation. Of course, it would take less time to just take St. John’s wort, for example, but that would clearly not treat the root cause of the issue and eventually, the dissatisfaction would revel itself in another way.
This is not to say any of the typical herbs or vitamins prescribed for depression would not at least play some part in helping to improve one’s mood. But the main point is we must really ask ourselves, ‘Am I truly depressed or just unhappy with my life?’
Uncovering the answer may sound like a potentially over-burdensome, time-consuming undertaking but it doesn’t have to be. I have a simple solution I give to my patients that will help you uncover some clarity…
Imagine a circle cut like a pie with eight slices. The eight areas are labeled: health, friends & family, career, significant other/romance, money, personal growth, fun & recreation, and physical environment. Start at the center of the circle of each slice and shade in the area in relation to how much satisfaction you have in that area of your life. Any areas less than half filled-in are the areas in which need attention and a plan of action for change.
I also often give patients a ten-step process that helps to move you from that feeling of being stuck in an unhappy situation, into taking action on creating a happier life. Spending time answering these questions is a powerful exercise for helping you see what needs to change in your life to improve your mood.
The ten questions are as follows:
- What intention do you have for your life? (Eg: joy, service, family…)
- Are you living in integrity? (Living out of integrity does not coincide with happiness.)
- What purpose do you want to fulfill in your life?
- To feel satisfied with your life, what things do you feel you must do before you die?
- What does your doubter voice say about obstacles to creating change, and are they truly realistic? (The knee jerk answer is usually ‘yes’ so one must dig deep here.)
- Do you believe you can make change? (If the answer is ‘no,’ change likely won’t happen.)
- Can you see the growth gained from failure? (Being able to see this is key because otherwise, when the first obstacle is encountered, it is easy to take it as ‘proof’ one should give up.)
- Write a list of as many action steps you can think of which would bring more joy into your life. (Be creative here; reach beyond the doubter voice and tap into the fun of what might show up.)
- Who can support you in making change? Who can you ask for help?
- How can you support yourself in staying committed to your plan of action for creating positive change in your life, even when you feel like it’s too hard and want to give up?
Doing this exercise by yourself is great. But having someone to support you in this process will give you substantially better results.
Working with me is a wonderful, life-changing experience, which will allow you to enjoy the fruits of lasting, positive transformation in your life….and thus true health and well-being from your core.
Case in point: My patient Pam is a 40-year-old mother of two young boys. She came to me feeling depressed about not having a life outside of being a mom (which is not depression as a diagnosis), stressed and tired, and wanting to lose 40 pounds.
After working with me weekly on the phone for a few weeks, she not only became clear on what changes she wanted to make in her life, but also discovered a clear plan of action for how to make positive change in her life. By the end of our time together, not only had she created an inspiring business plan for starting her own gluten-free bakery, but she also had gone from rarely exercising, to not feeling right if she even missed one day. Additionally, she had removed sugar from her diet, became an avid vegetable lover and as a result, lost 20 pounds.
So the next time you feel ‘depressed,’ I encourage you to fill out the wheel of balance, and then answer the ten questions. You will be giving yourself the gift of truly treating the root cause of your dis-ease, as well as finding clarity for what you need to do to enjoy more joy and happiness.
Dr. Jody Stanislaw is a 2007 Bastyr University graduate. She works entirely via phone with patients all around the country.
Being a type 1 diabetic since the age of 7, she specializes in Diabetes care and is an expert at helping patients achieve optimal glucose control. She also works with the general population, advising patients on the naturopathic approach of treating today’s most common ailments.
Her focus on mind/body is present in every appointment. In her very popular intensive program, patients receive weekly calls with her over a 3 month period, allowing them to make dramatic transformations in their overall health & wellbeing. This structure allows the many levels of a patient’s needs to be addressed…physical, emotional, nutritional, and more…leaving them happier and healthier than ever before. Sign up for a free introductory phone consultation with Dr. Stanislaw here: www.consultwithdrjody.com