Medication and talk therapy are two methods to deal with major depressive disorder. The drugs do not cure depression; merely relieve the symptoms. Yet there are clients with minor depression where drugs have little to no effect or too much of an effect. Talk therapy can only do so much in giving them relief. What then, do we tell clients who do not receive the benefits drugs can provide? There are ways of treating depression without medication. Talk therapy can help, but there needs to be more. Sometimes we need to take a step back, not one forward.
Life today is fast-paced. People expect things to be done and expect things to work quickly. Everything is fast; fast cars, fast food, and fast fixes. But depression (and other mental maladies) will not be taken care of with quick fixes. There is no pill that will cure minor depression and depressive episodes. Talk therapy can help with situational depression; however, for people with minor depression, more is needed. It is not a quick fix.
The stress we feel from our fast paced lives may be part of the cause of our depression. We are living much different from our ancestors; our technology, intercommunication, and most importantly, our lifestyle. While our lifestyles have become acclimatized to the new technology, other parts of our lives have not. Our minds have evolved, but our bodies have not. When there is incongruence between our bodies and our minds, something has to give.
Our bodies were designed for a hunter/gatherer lifestyle, much like our ancestors. Today’s technology has made the need to hunt or gather obsolete for the average person. It is easier and faster for the average person to go to the store and get what they need as opposed to getting it like our ancestors did. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) shows that in 2011, only 21% of the American population met both the federal aerobic activity and muscle strengthening guidelines. According to Dr. Stephen Ilardi, “We were never designed for the sedentary, indoor, sleep-deprived, socially-isolated, fast-food-laden, frenetic pace of modern life.” Our bodies have yet to catch up to our technologically advanced lifestyles.
There are six factors that are anti-depressive, according to Dr. Ilardi; sunlight, sleep, activity, Omega 3 fatty acids, social connection, and anti-ruminative activity. As was shown by the CDC, 79% of Americans do not get enough activity. With our society being technologically driven, most of our social interaction is through a computer. This precludes ‘proper’ social interaction and most likely being in sunlight. Our fast food, fast paced lives have a serious impact on our diet and our sleep.
Should a client come in with minor depression and medication has had no effect,they could be asked about the six factors Dr. Ilardi identified. They could be asked to modify parts of their lifestyle, not try to quick fix their depression with a pill. I am not against medication, but minor modifications in lifestyle may be what the client needs to lift them out of their depression. A study was done on aboriginal natives and of over 2,000 individuals, only 1 marginal case was found. The natives lived a hunter-gatherer lifestyle with no fast food or convenience, just the tribe and the land. Their lifestyle was as it had been for centuries. Their bodies have kept pace with their technological evolution, whereas more urban people have not. Determining if any of the six factors are lacking can be a good first step in helping a person with minor depression along with psychotherapy.
Minor depression does not react well to medication. People afflicted with minor depression need another avenue of help. Looking at their lifestyle can be an excellent first step in helping them to deal with their affliction. Once our bodies are accustomed to our new lifestyle, minor depression may become obsolete. But until then, we need to look backward instead of forward to help our clients.
Ilardi, S. (Speaker). (2013). Depression is a disease of civilization [YouTube].
TedxEmory. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=drv3BP0Fdi8