A Guide To Depression

Mind-Body-Spirit Integration
Source – Atlassian

Every day, our mind, body, and spirit provide us with awareness, strength, and passion. Together, the mind, body and spirit integration work to create our overall feeling of health and wellness. When we view the human existence as a system instead of unrelated parts, it is easy to see how illness affect more than just the physical body. 

Medically Reviewed by Dr. K on 25th Feb 2022.

A Guide To Depression: When East Meets West

Rachel is unable to sleep or eat. She is dealing with a health crisis in her family and marital difficulties, and other concerns. She's always struggled with moderate depression, but it's far worse this time — a severe case of anxious depression.

Most psychiatrists would advise Rachel to take an antidepressant. They are correct, according to Henry Emmons, MD, a general and holistic psychiatrist in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota. “Her depression may be treated swiftly and effectively with an antidepressant. However, all too frequently, the therapy comes to an end there."

Emmons points out that if she'd suffered a heart attack, her doctor wouldn't simply give cholesterol and blood pressure medications and call it a day. She'd receive tips on quitting smoking, eating healthier, exercising more, and learning how to deal with stress.

“Even well-intentioned psychiatrists prefer to view sad patients as a complex integration of mind, body, and spirit rather than as a brain chemistry gone wrong," says Emmons in his latest book, The Chemistry of Joy. “Even compassionate, responsible doctors — psychiatrists and general practitioners alike — are ignorant that depression necessitates a 'brain-healthy diet and lifestyle."

According to Emmons, the chemistry of happiness is based on a foundation of certain nutrients, such as B vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, and antioxidants, which alter brain neurotransmitters linked to depression. It's the foundation of his three-part approach, which he outlines in his book.

Blending Western and Eastern Medicine

Emmons practises mind-body medicine and relies on two ancient Eastern systems: Ayurvedic medicine and Buddhist philosophy.

He says that we discover our particular mind-body type via Ayurvedic medicine, which hints at achieving harmony in our lives. Buddhist philosophy teaches us how to control our thoughts, calm our anxieties, open our hearts, and practise forgiveness, all of which lead to joy.

According to James S. Gordon, MD, a psychiatrist and founder of the Center for Mind-Body Medicine in Washington, D.C., depression is more than a brain chemistry crisis; it is also a spiritual crisis.

“How one feels and looks at the world, at one's own life, develops depression and anxiety," he tells WebMD. “Treatment for depression entails more than simply taking antidepressants. It's often a case of completely changing your life. We may look at sadness as a chance for deep transformation in the same way we can look at any other problem in our life."

According to Gordon, Buddhism and Ayurvedic medicine “have been utilised for centuries," and “people may find them helpful." “There aren’t many studies on such methods, but it's clear that [Emmons] has found them helpful in his clinical practice. These conventional methods, in my opinion, can benefit individuals."

Dr Charles L. Raison, a psychiatry professor at Emory University School of Treatment in Atlanta, tells WebMD that he is “neutral about ancient systems like Ayurvedic medicine." “However, they hint to something we've gotten wrong in the West: that just because our bodies function like machines, we shouldn't be treated like machines."

Step 1: Your Brain's Health

We've learned a lot about brain chemistry from Western medicine, says Emmons, “the balance of chemicals in the brain that determines, to a large degree, our mood, energy level, and even our perspective on life." Depression is caused by an imbalance of three brain chemicals: serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine.

Depending on the kind of depression you experience – anxious depression, agitated depression, or sluggish sadness – a “brain-healthy" programme includes particular foods that can help increase various brain chemicals.

“Many patients who strive to eat well, exercise often, and live a healthy lifestyle are unaware of the particular food and lifestyle changes that may cure their sleeplessness, raise their mood, calm their anxiety, and alleviate their melancholy," he adds.

Rachel's condition is called “anxious depression" by Emmons, who claims low serotonin levels. He distinguishes two kinds of depression: “agitated depression" (high norepinephrine and dopamine levels with low serotonin levels) and “sluggish sadness" (low norepinephrine and dopamine levels with high serotonin levels) (norepinephrine and dopamine levels are low).

Rachel requires a diet rich in complex carbs — root vegetables (like sweet potatoes), healthy grains, beans, and legumes — as well as a bit of protein with each meal, he adds, to boost her serotonin levels. During the day, she should consume numerous small meals or three meals plus a couple of snacks. She should also consume omega-3 fatty acid-rich meals, such as salmon.

Emmons recommended taking B-6, B-12, folate, omega-3, vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, and selenium pills. He also recommends taking a multi-mineral supplement containing calcium, magnesium, chromium, copper, zinc, and manganese (although most excellent multivitamins already include these elements).

The Case for Supplements

According to Gordon, a rising number of studies have indicated that these supplements may assist with depression over the past decade. “I looked at the evidence, and there's enough to suggest that they might be helpful. We don't know for sure, but I prescribe them since they have no adverse effects if used in moderation. And there's enough evidence to believe they might be beneficial." he tells WebMD.

According to Gordon, published research has shown a link between B vitamins and depression. “We don't know whether it causes depression. However, studies indicate that boosting B vitamin levels, especially while taking antidepressants, improves mood. Although the data isn't conclusive, there is enough to make me feel confident in recommending it."

Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to decrease inflammation, defend against heart disease and cancer, and aid in the treatment of arthritis, according to him. “Omega-3s should assist if there is an inflammatory process going on in depression, which there may be. Omega-3s may assist with bipolar disorder, but there isn't enough data to say if they help with depression alone."

According to Emmons, Rachel's symptoms improved rapidly thanks to a low-dose antidepressant, nutritional supplements, and therapy to help her cope with urgent family problems. He claims she was open to experimenting with Ayurvedic medicine and Buddhism to get a better sense of balance in her life — control her thoughts and calm her mind.

“With antidepressants, there's usually a moment when the medication doesn't seem to function as effectively, and side effects start to emerge," he adds. “They are not a good long-term option for the overwhelming majority of individuals. You'll get depressed again if you continue to live as stressful as before if your diet hasn't altered, and you're still overreacting to stress."

Step 2: Your Mind-Body Type

According to Emmons, there are three mind-body-spirit integration kinds in Ayurvedic medicine (practised in India for centuries). Each is dependent on your body type, whether you're a tiny, wiry individual, a strong and muscular one, or a heavy individual. Other factors, such as how well you handle hot temperatures, whether you have straight or curly hair, whether you get constipated easily or not, and how well you sleep, are all considered when determining your Ayurvedic type.

According to him, air types like Rachel are more prone to nervous despair. Earth types are more prone to have sluggish depression, whereas Fire types are more likely to have agitated sadness.

Emmons says, “Someone like Rachel, who is slender by nature, has an active, restless mind." “She has to do activities that will relax her nervous systems, such as mild but repeated cardiovascular activity such as walking, gentle running, and biking. Because it is grounding, being in nature is particularly beneficial for Air types. Serotonin levels are raised by moving the body in a repeated manner rather than competing exercises. It's a very effective treatment."

Rachel also needs to add discipline to her daily routines, such as a more consistent food schedule and frequent exercise. A regular sleep pattern aids in the regulation of the body's hormones, which is crucial in the battle against depression. “All processes are disturbed in depression because the body has failed to repair itself while under stress," Emmons adds.

Rachel should use calming meals and beverages, hot baths, and massages to provide warmth wherever she can. She may also benefit from “conscious breathing," which is a slow and controlled breathing technique. He adds, “It entails directing attention to the breath." “Count to four as you inhale slowly, then to two as you stop, and finally to seven as you exhale even more slowly. This may be relaxing even if you just do it for five minutes."

He says that fire types need cooling, relaxing foods and activities. To stay motivated, Earth types need exciting meals and activities.

Step 3: Your Spiritual Needs

According to Emmons, one may transcend the spiritual crisis of depression by studying Buddhist ideas.

“Depression is a sign, a signal," he says WebMD, “and it's essential to pay attention to what it's trying to tell us." “It usually indicates that we need to alter our diet and increase our physical activity. However, it may be indicating the need to address deeper spiritual and interpersonal problems. You will get sad again until you alter the underlying dynamics that caused your depression."

After all, life isn't easy. “There are things in our life that I refer to as “enemy of joy" — things that depress us. One of them is the issue of a 'runaway mind,' which creates unending anxiety. It's a negative way of life, and we get melancholy as a result", according to Emmons. “There's also a sense of loneliness as if we're on our own in this existence. We have a hard time not getting sad if we don't believe the cosmos is a welcoming place where we can belong as a family."

He points out that psychologists often use cognitive behavioural therapy to assist people to alter their thinking habits. “I attempt to include mindfulness practise — a Buddhist practise — as another method of treating mind and thinking in my own practise," he tells WebMD.

According to Emmons, mindfulness entails developing the ability to concentrate on the present moment. “It is a method of dealing with issues that we all face, as well as a method of managing our thinking. It's a chance to calm down the mind so that our thoughts aren't as busy. Beyond that, mindfulness enables us to deal more effectively with whatever difficulties we encounter — and to do so without feeling overwhelmed. It affects the stressors that contribute to depression."

'Circle of Trust'

Rachel was an excellent candidate for mindfulness, according to Emmons, since her mind was always racing. She enrolled in a mindfulness-based stress reduction programme for eight weeks, available in most large cities. He claims she was able to create an imaging method to quiet her worries and thoughts.

According to Emmons, creating a “circle of trust, a soul community" of like-minded spirits may make us feel less alone in this frightening world and essential for living a balanced existence. “Depression is a cry to the community as much as anything," he says, “a harsh reminder that we cannot do it alone — we are just not built that way." “In the end, I think, we need one other to heal, and community building is just as essential to our well-being as the inner path of self-discovery."

According to Emmons, anybody who is depressed may grow as a person due to their experience. “We have the potential to be greater than we were before. Depression does not have to limit or weaken us."


  1. https://www.webmd.com/depression/features/finding-joy-mind-body-spirit-guide 
  2. Emmons, H. The Chemistry of Joy, 2006. Henry Emmons, MD, a general and holistic psychiatrist, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn. James S. Gordon, MD, psychiatrist; founder of the Center for Mind-Body Medicine, Washington, D.C.

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