This is the last post in the series where I review the remedies I have tried to heal me from depression. Jumping right in:
Chiropractic Treatment: (excerpted from an article I wrote for the South China Morning Post)
I did not know that chiropractic treatment was considered alternative. Moreover, I had never associated chiropractors with mental health; I assumed it was for back and neck pains. I was surprised, therefore, to learn that chiropractors heal not only on the bone level, but by doing so, strengthens the functioning of our nervous systems. My friend’s father was a chiropractor in Beijing, so I ventured out one day to find another way to get out of depression.
Given that the nervous systems controls just about everything in our body, physical, mental and emotional, it doesn’t sound so far fetched to find a correlation between chiropractic healing and mental health. The American Chiropractic Association explains the chiropractic practice as a “health care profession that focuses on disorders of the musculoskeletal system and the nervous system, and the effects of these disorders on general health.” There is no intake of medicine involved, and chiropractors focus on the biomechanics, structure and function of the spine through adjusting the bones with use of hands or a mallet-like activator-adjusting instrument.
X-rays and tests showed my spine was too straight in some areas, and the vertebrae compressed too close to each other in other bits. I wrote about the experience on South China Morning Post last year, having the chiropractor crack (very gently) on my spine, and run his hands a few centimeters along my body to “fix” me.
Verdict: I did not see obvious effects or results. In all fairness, I went only about 6 or 7 times. But something did not feel right for me. So I gave up. I still recommend you try to see if it works for you.
Qi gong is another form of Chinese martial arts, the literal translation of which could be “air / breath” and “art / work / effort”. Wikipedia defines it as “a practice of aligning breath, movement, and awareness for exercise, healing, and meditation”. I went to see a Qigong Master at the recommendation of yet another friend. He made me lay down, felt my bones and some meridian points, and then put his hand on my stomach. I felt my stomach area grow hot. Theoretically I should feel the air inside moving, but I only felt the surface skin grow warm. He did the same on the back of my neck.
Verdict: It felt surreal, and by then, I was growing weary of seeking out different doctors. I did not pursue this avenue so cannot really pass a verdict on it. Either way, Qigong is recognized – and I accept – as a form of well-being exercise and martial arts in China. There must be some merit in it.
Exercise is hardly a “treatment” per se. Exercise however, as most of us who suffer from depression would know, helps the body pump more serotonin, and therefore, aids in lifting us out of depression. The irony is that with clinical depression, one has no energy or impetus to want to roll out of bed or the couch, and go do exercise. Others, like myself at one point, wanted to, but was too weak to stand for the depression made me lose my appetite and not eating resulted in extremely low blood pressure and sugar levels.
On the better days, I was able to pull myself down to the gym and was contented with even a 5-minute walk on the treadmill or a dip in the pool. At times, I even managed a few stretches. I tried yoga but did not get into it, and went to pilates for about 15 sessions and eventually got bored.
I did not enjoy solo sports but to find enough people to play basketball with was a challenge.
Verdict: this is quite straightforward and I would be surprised to find anyone who would not agree that exercise helps. Regular exercise should be in everybody’s life routines anyways, depressed or not.
Reading other blogs:
Knowing other people go through the same experience and to know that we are not alone reassures us we are okay and that depression is but a phase, which could make us better people. I have learnt a lot from my depression. Through building my own blog I have come to know other bloggers who have had similar experience, and have compiled a list of inspiring blog posts I found, well, inspiring. They are here and here.
Verdict: Since I compiled the list, I obviously found it constructive. (Duh! ☺)
When I lived in Japan, a few girl friends told me cooking was therapeutic and helps release stress. I did not give it even a try – the thought of having to clean dishes was more stressful than the act of cooking itself. However, for the past two years, I have had time to cook and clean up. I follow recipes books mainly, but the sense of satisfaction at having whipped up molten chocolate cakes from flour or seeing my panna cotta set after a juicy chicken comes out from the roast is beyond ecstasy. For the depressed me, there is a glimmer of joy and feeling of achievement in my otherwise bleak outlook of my life.
Verdict: I definitely recommend it. Cooking gets me into the zone and I forget to think my negative thoughts. But if being in the kitchen is not your thing, try to find another past time – jigsaw puzzles is another favourite of mine, or you could collect stickers, stamps, doodle.
Other methods I have heard of but not tried personally:
- Electro-convulsive Therapy: you can read Julie Hersh’s book on her experience with ECT
- Western herbs
- Changing diet patterns, such as being vegan, consuming a raw diet etc
- Take supplements or chemicals that you lack
- Self-help books: Amazon and Psych Central have their recommendations. I would add Kay Redfield’s, “An Unquiet Mind”
- Schema Therapy
- Hospitalization in a mental institution
As you can see, I was desperate to get out of my depression, and to get rid of the migraines I had at the same time. I was desperate for every possible way and took the recommendation of everyone who gave me one. I did not want to let any opportunity slip by. In retrospect, I might have over done it in my flurry to get better. It does not hurt to try any method once or twice, and see if it is suitable.
Paramount is that we have to be comfortable with the method, find out more about the method theoretically and, be at ease with the practitioner.
In the coming months, I will find elaborate on each technique with my experience to give more insights. In the mean time, however, may I reiterate: there is no single approach that is effective for everyone.
Find your own mesh.