Depression, which afflicts about 19 million Americans each year, consists of four "dreadful d's": deadness, defectiveness, despair, and defeat. When we're depressed:
- we don't feel alive (deadness)
- we feel there's something wrong with us (defectiveness)
- we lose power and hope (despair)
- we can't act (defeat)
1. Use awareness to transform deadness. Try mindfulness meditation, as taught by various Buddhist traditions. Let yourself feel the actual physical and emotional sensations of the depression. With practice, you may discover deeper feelings of hurt and sadness. When you are able to feel these, the depression may decrease.
2. Use understanding, another aspect of awareness, to transform defectiveness. Depression often occurs when we are in legitimate emotional pain but misinterpret the pain as being an indication that something is wrong with us. Remind yourself that emotional pain is a healthy part of life and does not mean you are defective.
4. Use acceptance to transform defectiveness. Practice opening-the-heart meditation toward yourself. Find the right combination of words and images that evoke in you a feeling of caring toward yourself and practice this 5 to 15 minutes a day. You might try "May I be happy" or "I'm OK" or "I love you" directed toward yourself.
5. Use appreciation to transform despair. Make a practice each day of finding one thing in your life that you appreciate and dwell on it for five minutes--even if there are many other things you don't appreciate or even dislike.
6. Action: Take SAMe, the new supplement for depression that is more powerful and has fewer side effects than St. John's Wort, and is also safe and natural. (For details, see the book Stop Depression Now by Richard Brown, M.D.)
7. Action: Start a regular practice of spiritually oriented body work, such as yoga, chi kung, or tai chi, to increase your energy flow on many levels at once.