Treating Depression Without Medications after a Major Disaster.

depressionAfter every major disaster, the incidence of depression increases.  One study showed that suicide rates increase after severe earthquakes, floods, and hurricanes.  In extreme situations like TEOTWAWKI, some people will experience depression.

Severe depression causes you to lose hope, energy, and the will to go on.  Overcoming depression under these conditions is hard but not impossible.  Very few can beat it by sheer willpower, but you do have some control.

First, don’t believe that suffering from depression is a sign of weakness.  Remember many of the toughest, most seasoned soldiers in the US military fall victim to depression.

So how do you treat depression without modern drugs.

The first thing is that if you are already on medications, don’t quite cold turkey.  This can lead to severe withdrawal symptoms.  Stock the medications that you take, having even a small supply of your medicine on hand would allow you to taper off.

Stay away from alcohol.  Alcohol is a depressant, which means it can affect our thoughts, feelings and actions.   If you drink heavily and regularly, you’re likely to develop some symptoms of depression.  Regular drinking lowers the levels of serotonin in your brain which is a chemical that helps to regulate your mood.  Alcohol will only make depression worst and will increase the risk of suicide.

Recreational drugs – people regularly use recreational drugs to mask their feelings of anxiety or depression.  There are numerous studies that show a connection between the use of recreational drugs including marijuana and depression.  Studies suggest that depressive symptoms may develop, as a direct result of taking drugs or as part of withdrawal symptoms when drug taking stops.  While the use of recreational drugs will not make everyone depressed, the studies that I have read suggest it may make someone with depression worst.

Religion – this is always a controversial one.  Personally, I believe that if you have a strong spiritual base your less likely to suffer from depression. A recent study released January 16, 2014 by Columbia University, Teachers College summarize their conclusions as follows.

“A thickening of parts of the brain cortex associated with regular meditation or other spiritual or religious practice could be the reason those activities guard against depression – particularly in people who are predisposed to the disease, according to a new research. Researchers studied 130 subjects and found that those who highly valued spirituality showed thicker portions of brain cortices that may protect against depression — especially in those at high risk for the disease.”

Talk to someone about your worries.  Being open about your feelings and problems can help.  Don’t hide your worries.

Other alternate depression therapies that may help.

The herb St John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum) is commonly used for the treatment of depression. It is commercialy available in tablets, capsules and liquid form and you can grow it in your garden.  Numerous double-blind, placebo-controlled studies have examined the effectiveness of St. John’s wort, and most have found the herb more effective than a placebo.  It can be at least as effective as paroxetine (Paxil) in the treatment of moderate to severe depression.  If you decide to include this in your preps, do some research of how to take it.

Exercise – Researchers have found that regular exercise, and the increase in physical fitness that results, alters serotonin levels in the brain and leads to improved mood and feelings of well being.  The antidepressant effect of regular physical exercise is comparable to potent antidepressants like Sertraline.

Dr James S Gordon an expert on depression states “What we’re finding in the research on physical exercise is that physical exercise is at least as good as antidepressants for helping people who are depressed. And that it’s even more important for older people,”

Now none of these are a quick cure all for people with long-term chronic depression, but they may help.  Remember that I am not a Doctor nor claim to have any special medical training.  If at all possible get good medical advice.



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2 Responses to Treating Depression Without Medications after a Major Disaster.

  1. Menthe says:

    “physical exercise is at least as good as antidepressants for helping people who are depressed”

    This is very true! A mix of aerobic and strength training is important. Also, recent studies relating poor posture to depression indicate that training for core strength and flexibility is very important. Luckily core exercises are very easy to do with no equipment in emergency times.

    Don’t forget to get morning sunlight to improve mood and some foods such as walnuts are also known for improving mood.

  2. Marquita Martin says:

    I am a therapist and do short-term therapy with depressed patients. Exercise is vitally important, as well as some form of meditation or prayer. Planning something pleasant to do every day, whether a small thing like calling a friend or getting an ice cream cone, is necessary for well-being and mental health. Depression creates a cycle where you feel sad, so you stop doing the things that usually make you feel good, which makes you more sad. Being a positive thinker is also a necessary part of treatment. Negative thinking is what often starts the depressive symptoms in the first place. If you are proactive in taking these steps a person can often do without anti-depressants, but he/she has to be consistent and proactive in taking charge of their own treatment.

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