Attitude is Everything – An Adjunct to Medicine While Treating Depression (Opinion)

As human beings, we have learned to think of everything in terms of extremes. Every beginning has an end, and every good deed can be opposed with a bad one. Likewise, many of us will equate details of our lives to determine our mood. We develop patterns and if a few things in our lives do not follow our plans, we tend to allow our mood to depress. Our mood then affects other aspects of our lives and if we continue to have less optimal opportunities, we continue to depress our moods. But if we know that we do not feel good when we are in a bad mood, why do we choose to be depressed? Does this affect our health? Do we have control over our mood?

Depression, negative thoughts and inhibition of positive investment

The state of depression spans well past our mood and usually affects our desires and ambition. When our mind is depressed so are our actions. We procrastinate or do not find the energy to tackle projects or to perform duties that need to be done. Ideas present while we are in a good mood no longer exist while we are in a bad one. It becomes a downward spiral that can quickly get out of control if we do not stop it. As we take part in fewer activities, the list of things we need to do becomes larger. This adds more stress and anxiety and we tend to feel bad that we are not accomplishing our goals, nonetheless completing activities necessary to survive in society. So why do we choose to allow ourselves to follow a downward spiral? Do we have control over our actions, ambition and desires?

Depression, negative thoughts and the effects on the body

Depression affects the body both directly and indirectly.

Indirectly, we eat less, sleep less and exercise much less when we are down in comparison to when we feel good. Our bodies, therefore, are more fatigued and our immune system becomes worn and allows us to be more susceptible to disease. Sleep, good nutrition and exercise all promote good health and these entities are vacant when we are depressed.

Directly, we release endorphins when we are happy. Likewise, when we are stressed and anxious, our hearts beat fast, our bowel system may be affected, our pain thresholds decrease and our whole body suffers. Why do we let this happen? Do we have control over how we feel?

Body, health and the association with positive thinking

If positive thinking can cause us to exercise more, eat better and sleep appropriately, why do not we want to think positively? Can we train ourselves to put things in perspective, halt our minds before they take the downward spiral and train our minds to work in a way that optimizes our health? It sounds so simple.

The truth of the matter is that everything in life is not so black and white and two sided; there is a lot of interpretation that follows any circumstance in life. We just have to interpret things in a way that benefits our well being. I make it seem so simple, but I understand that our environment often overcomes our mental capacity to look beyond what is happening to us. I also would like to mention that some forms of depression are based on our brain chemistry. With that said even though there are factors that we can not control, we can enhance or make our situation worse with good or bad thought patterns. So in a logical perspective, if positive thinking promotes good health, then why do not we want to be positive thinkers?

Mind over matter

If you have not figured it out by now, I've been trying to suggest things through this article. By asking you a question, I'm trying to invoke a thought and make you think about this topic differently. Each one of us knows what makes us happy, what makes us perform well, what makes us confident. So why can not we use these tools to our advantage. In example, when I first took my admission test to get into college, I was nervous and did not feel good through the test. Soon after, I received a letter from U of M and was accepted. I was still scheduled to retake the admission exam and since the pressure was not on me to do well, I went into the exam confidently and did a lot better the second time. I used this philosophy through medical school as I took an exam. I realized that it was counterproductive to be nervous and no matter how I felt before an exam, I'd take a few minutes to convince my mind that I was confident. That state of being allowed me to be focused and clear headed. Otherwise, we have blocks in our mind and when we are angry and nervous our minds do not perform efficiently.

Recipe for happiness

Now let's take the above and try to figure out a recipe for happiness. We know that being down causes our body to shut down, inhibits our positive investment in things that matter to us and we do not perform as well. We also know that when we are happy and positive, it clears our minds, promotes better health and allows us to accomplish things.

So if each one of us thinks about when we are happy and what makes us happy and writes that down, that is a huge step. The idea here is that if we know what makes us happy, why could not we use that paradigm every time we are down. A song, an accomplishment, a family member, a life experience, a food, or a memory can all trigger our moods to be happy or sad. If we can figure out what makes us happy, then why could not we re-experience these things or think about them when we are down and quickly forget about what's bringing us down. Likewise, what prevails us from looking beyond our environment and finding a larger perspective for the event. Life is often unpredictable and can be very frustrating, but the sooner we realize to adapt, the happier we will be.

One step at a time

So you may be saying …. "I have too many bad things going on in my life right now and do not see a way out". Well, my answer to you is this: Improve one thing at a time. You did not get into your situation very fast, so why are you looking for a fast answer. If you correct one thing at a time, you will start to build positive debt and you will slowly add to your positive experiences and as you do things well you will become happier and happier. If you have financial problem, problems at work, loss of loved ones, and a problem with your son, maybe you can start with making a better relationship with your son. Then work on the next issue, etc.