The limbic system is an area known to be vastly involved with some of the most fundamental processes of being human. Through Access Counseling & NeuroTherapy work, we have found that when the deep limbic system is overactive, it results in mood-related problems, especially depression. Also, we have observed that depressive symptoms can arise when the brain has low activity. Injury can cause low activity from events such as concussions, infection, loss of oxygen, and exposure to toxins.
By looking at our patient’s brain function, we can identify the underlying brain biology of a person’s depressive systems, allowing us to target proper treatment efficiently.
Here are two simple yet powerful lifestyle strategies that can be helpful in reducing depression:
1. Your Brain is Happy When You Exercise
Exercise is the most important thing to do when feeling depressed. When we exercise our brain releases “feel good” chemicals that help with our sense of well-being. In fact, a study that compared antidepressant medication with exercise found that both therapies were equally effective after sixteen weeks, and after ten months, exercise was more effective.
2. Identify and Kill Your “ANTs”
ANTs are the Automatic Negative Thoughts that pop into your head, causing you to get upset, depressed, and anxious.
There are nine species of ANTs:
- All or nothing thinking: Also known as black and white thinking..
- “Always” thinking: Using words like, always, never, no one, everyone, every time, and everything.
- Focusing on the negative: Selectively seeing only the bad in a situation and disregarding the good things that occur.
- Fortune telling: Predicting the worst possible outcome to situations.
- Mind reading: Believing that you know what another person is thinking even though he or she hasn’t told you.
- Thinking about your feelings: This happens when you believe your feelings and don’t question them, even when there is no evidence to support how you feel.
- Guilt beatings: Thinking with words like should, must, ought and have to.
- Labeling: Calling yourself or someone else a derogatory name diminishes your ability to see situations clearly.
- Blaming: When you don’t take responsibility for your actions, you lose your power to make changes.
To overcome automatic negative thoughts, you must first become aware of the dialogue in your head. Once you identify an ANT, write it down, identify it and then kill it by writing down a more realistic version of the same thought.
- ANT: No one will ever want to date me.
- ANT species: “Always” thinking.
- Kill the ANT: That isn’t true. I can meet people by putting myself in new social situations.
Practice these two strategies whenever you need to overcome feelings of depression. Make exercise and identifying your feelings part of your life. Apply them and you will feel a difference in your day.
Depression is not the results of a character flaw or personal weakness.. If you or a loved one is struggling, contact Access Counseling & NeuroTherapy at 704-751-7775.