It’s not in your head. The pain is real and honest. One out of twenty adults suffer from a clinical depression in the United States, and according to Dr. Christopher Murray, head epidemiologist of the World Health Organization (WHO), major depression will be the second most debilitating disease worldwide by 2020. Fifteen percent of severely depressed patients kill themselves; two-thirds contemplate suicide. It is a disease of the soul, and chemicals alone cannot heal it.
The reasons for depression are endless. It can be a result of genetics, traumatic and environmental events (ex. the loss of a loved one, divorce, earthquakes, hurricanes, etc.), biochemical reactions (a reduction of chemicals in the brain), chronic disease (heart disease, cancer, chronic pain, etc.), and hormone imbalances (changes in the balance of hormones, especially during menopause or during and after pregnancy), just to name a few.
The word depression comes from the Latin word deprimo, meaning “to press down” or “to press under.” It is a mood disorder which affects our emotional response―the way we think, feel, and behave; our most inner self. The more negative our emotions, the more likely we are to experience negative health outcomes. The negative effects of depression affect the neurotransmitters of the brain. There is a reduction in the chemicals serotonin and norepinephrine and an increase in the stress hormone cortisol. In addition, the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for our ability to remember, may actually shrink.
Yoga is an effective tool for managing depression because it helps us regulate our emotional response. Creating that one small practice, done regularly, may balance the brain chemistry in ways that make depression tolerable. Dr. Dharma Singh Khalsa states, “When you do yoga stretching, you send a message through the spinal cord back to your brain that causes the brain chemistry to change. The feel-good sensation after yoga practice arises from the balance of stimulation and relaxation you are providing your brain. First of all, you are stimulating your pituitary gland to release endorphins. Your peripheral glandular system is producing adrenaline and norepinephrine-type compounds that travel to the brain and give you that mild stimulating effect. On the other hand, you are stimulating a relaxation response. You feel more relaxed because your cortisol level drops, and you are increasing oxygen consumption and reducing muscle stiffness and tension. This is the true union of energy and relaxation.”
But, ultimately, you are the one who has to make the effort to create this regular yoga practice which will help you become the observer of your thoughts and feelings, through improving the mind-body (meditation & mindful movement regulating the nervous system) and body-mind connections (asanas & pranayama practices strengthening the brain). This will lead to more positive emotions, leading us to experience more positive health outcomes.
In what ways do you pick yourself up when you're feeling down?
DYOGI'S BLOG POSTS
Click on READ NOW to enter each dated post. Fill out the "Leave a Reply" required boxes to provide any comments you would like to share.
Service Mission: Teaching and learning while providing affordable and safe classes for the mind, body, and soul.