TLC Elements: Treatment for Depression. Could This Really Work?

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TLC Elements (Therapeutic Lifestyle Change)

Lately, due to a recent family diagnosis, I have been doing some research on depression treatments and stumbled upon a Ted Talk by Dr. Steve Ilardi. He and his clinical research team have developed a program they call, TLC Elements (Therapeutic Lifestyle Change) that has been highly effective for many people suffering with depression.

I listened to his Ted Talk and further researched Dr. Ilardi and the TLC program on the University of Kansas’s website. In the talk, he lays out the reasoning behind depression in the first-world and how our lifestyle has contributed to the increased rates of depression. With each generation seeing a rise in those who are depressed.

So what is this program? It consists of six basic elements of a lifestyle change.

  1. Exercise
    • 30 min of cardio exercise 3 times a week. Ideally, get average heart rate between 120-160 bpm. Depending on age, etc.
  2. Omega-3 fatty acids
    • Omega 3. Recommended supplement brands that have 1000 mg of EPA and 500 mg of DHA per day.
  3. Anti-Ruminating Activites
    • Activities that distract you from ruminating (replaying, continually thinking about negative things)
  4. Sleep Hygiene
    • Create a bedtime routine, turn off lights, screens, etc, get into pj’s, avoid alcohol and caffeine. Ideally, 8 hours is optimal
  5. Light Exposure (Sunlight or other)
    • 30 minutes of sunlight per day or utilize a light box..
  6. Social Connection
    • Find ways to interact with family and friends, in person when possible.

So let’s say you are going for a walk with a friend on a sunny day, chatting about life. Laughing and reminiscing. This activity alone would cover elements 1, 3, 5 and 6. These elements seem simple enough, but as we all know, to do these it takes discipline and consistency. But aren’t we worth the effort?

Benefits

This plan can seemingly not only help to benefit our minds but our bodies as well. I have not yet implemented this into my life, but I plan to. It seems to be a program with very limited negative effects if any. It is simply a lifestyle modification. If you are interested in incorporating these elements into your life and are currently taking an anti-depressant, do not stop. As always, talk with your doctor.

If you would like more information, Dr. Ilardi discusses this in great detail in his book, The 6 Step Program to Beat Depression without Drugs.

book entitled, The Depression Cure
by Dr. Stephen Iliadi.

The concept of the TLC Elements make a lot of sense to me and it is definitely worth a try. I plan on journaling my experience and will post updates periodically.

If you have tried this already or if you are considering trying this,
we’d love to hear from you.

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I Can’t Make It One More Day

black white photo woman with long dark hair looking down with hand over her face. sad or troubled.

I Can’t Make It

Can you think back on a time in your life when you weren’t sure you would make it one more day?  It could have been because of pain, hopelessness, fear, hurt, financial troubles, relational troubles, loss, betrayal or any other situation. Maybe today you are feeling that way. Feeling that you don’t think you can make it one more day.

I have been there a couple of times myself. While I had no intention of harming myself, I just couldn’t see how I could live or move forward. The pain had been too much. I shared some of my story in regards to mental health issues in my family in a previous post. Those struggles are (and have been) some of the most difficult days of my life.

While I do have a spouse and maybe one other person that I talk to, no one really knows the depths of my pain, except for me and God. I do talk to Him. I talk to Him in prayer but also as if He were sitting right next to me. I’d vent to Him about how unfair all of this is, how I don’t think I can stand it anymore, how I wish He would do something, like right NOW.

After I am done venting and crying, I close my eyes and can almost feel Him wrapping His arms around me, letting me know that no matter what happens, He is right there with me to comfort me and hold me up. Knowing that alone, gives me peace.

Just Enough Light

3 steps that are lit up

I am at a point in my life where I am taking it one step at a time and God is giving me just enough light for the step I’m on. I am choosing to trust Him through all of my pain. What about you? Do you have a relationship with God? One where you are comfortable talking, crying, even yelling at Him? Don’t worry, He can take it.

Even if we don’t know what tomorrow holds, we can trust that He is there to help us get through it. He never promised us a problem-free life. But He did promise He would never leave or foresake us. He would be there beside us to sustain us and help us through.

What are you going through today? I encourage you to seek Him and his guidance. Read His word. Pray. Even if you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel or at the top of the staircase, just look for the light on the next step. And then the next. And then the next. Take it one step at a time.


Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

Psalm 119:105

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Some People Just Don’t Understand (Your Mental Health Struggles)

man sitting with knees up resting closed hands on forehead

They Don’t Understand

Have you every had a conversation with someone who doesn’t even begin to understand mental health issues? I was recently talking with a close relative about a mutual relative who suffers from depression periodically. She says that there are only 3 things to consider: “We either live in the past, the present or the future. When we focus on anything other than the present, it can cause anxiety or depression and one just has to stay in the present and they’ll be fine.” Sounds simple, right?

While there is some validity to that point, but she just doesn’t understand that mental health struggles are not simply a will of the mind. Often times, there are physical or emotional issues causing them. A hormone imbalance, chemical imbalance or a history of trauma. Her statement basically dismissed the reality of the struggle. Ugh. She is not someone who is open to understanding things she doesn’t know about, so I chose not to engage further in the conversation. For my own mental health!

With that being said, I am happy for her that she has never had to deal with the heavy weight of either depression or anxiety. In the past couple of years, talking with others who haven’t suffered, I have found that many of them just don’t understand. I don’t blame them, as it is something that is hard to fully comprehend or let alone truly explain to others.

What To Do? Where To Turn?

Don’t get angry with those who don’t “get” what you are going through. In the same way you may not “get” the struggles of someone going through cancer treatments or diabetic issues, others may not understand your trials.
Because of the disconnect at times, I think it is important that those of us who deal with depression or anxiety find someone who can relate or at the very least, empathize. There is nothing more difficult than to be dealing with a mental health issue and feel like no one understands or cares about what you are going through. What can you do?

  • Find a therapist to talk to.
  • Friends or family who are sympathetic.
  • Seek out websites, blogs, social media. There is a huge community of those dealing with mental health challenges and it is amazing the support you can find there.

The bottom line is we ALL have stuff we are going through. Most of us have no idea what the other person is dealing with. Find support where you can and choose to be kind to one another.

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Mental Health: A Crisis of Financial Proportions?

About Our Mental Health

Mental Health is a Hot Topic these days. More and more people are coming out and talking about their journeys with varying mental health issues. From depression and anxiety to bipolar and panic attacks, just to name a few.  While I am so grateful for the many public figures that are helping to destigmatize these issues, I feel there is so much more that needs to be done.  We often hear people say, “Seek help if you need it.” And at this point in time more people are recognizing that, yeah, perhaps I do have an issue and I really need to get some help.

Then a hurdle is placed in front of them. Where do we go to get help and how in the world do we to pay for it?  Most people start with their primary care doctor if they feel something isn’t quite right. If the scope of the person’s mental health issue is perhaps out of the doctor’s range, they will refer the patient to someone more specialized. A therapist, psychologist, psychiatrist, etc.  Usually with these visits come costs. Unless you qualify for medicaid (because of low income, etc) you are likely to have a co-pay at the very least or a “no co-pay until your exuberant deductible is met” policy.  Typically you meet with a therapist a couple times a month. Maybe more, maybe less depending on your situation. So while you are trying your best to muster up the courage to even meet with this therapist or doctor, in the forefront of your mind you are stressing about how you are going to pay for it.

 

Getting Help Isn’t Always So Easy

Figuring out how to pay the bill, may cause some to abandon getting help at all.  My insurance for example, has a $4000 deductible. Which means I must incur $4000 worth of medical expenses before my insurance will cover most anything.  So that means if I want to see a therapist or psychiatrist, I’ll have to pay their fee upfront, anywhere from $90 to $120, which is typical in my area.  I may be able to swing that for a one time visit, but that isn’t usually how it works. I’d likely have to see them at least once a month.  And let’s say I need meds as well. Insurance may cover cost of some, but not always the case.

So what are we to do? We tell people with mental health issues to get help. But if they have no insurance or a high deductible insurance, how are they getting help if they don’t have the funds to pay for it? I think one way we can help our society as a whole is to figure out a way to pay for people to get the help they need, without being stigmatized. We would all benefit if those who needed help would have easy access to healthcare professionals without the fear or anxiety of how to pay the bill.

I urge all of us to lead the charge and encourage lawmakers to create some sort of universal policy for mental health coverage and access to local providers.  This issue not only affects us individually, but as a collective society. I think we are worth it.

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Kevin Love Revealing Panic Attacks is Helpful for Others : Everyone’s Going Through Something

Kevin Love’s Revelation

This week NBA star, Kevin Love revealed in an open essay in The Player’s Tribune, that he has recently suffered from panic attacks. Something few people knew. He didn’t intend to go public with this information. However, after another NBA player, DeMar DeRozan shared publicly that he was dealing with depression, Love decided to reveal his truth. The response, according to Love, has been overwhelmingly positive. People have been sharing their own personal stories with him.  Love said that sharing this message may be “his life’s work.” DeRozan has seemingly taken on his new role as well to help increase awareness of mental health issues.

Revealing your truth

It is amazing that when we decide to move ahead and share our truths, how freeing that can be. And how it can open the flood gates for others to do the same.  Mental health issues have historically been kept very secretive and discreet. Usually for fear of being judged or deemed “unstable or crazy”.  As we have come to learn over the last five to ten years, mental health is a broad spectrum and expanse. It amazes me as I speak to others about anxiety and depression, how so many people are dealing with these issues. Most don’t  talk openly about it, but I feel the culture today is changing that. With celebrities and other high profile people being willing to be open about their struggles, it often helps the rest of us feel comfortable to do so.

We are all in this world together. Being less judgmental and more understanding can go a long way. As Kevin Love stated in the recent article, “Everybody has things that you can’t see, that you can’t touch that they’re walking around with every day.”  We just don’t know what someone else is dealing with. They don’t know what you are dealing with. There are two statements that come to mind when we consider that.

  • Be kind to one another. 
  • Sharing your truth can help to set you and others free. 

If you are dealing with any mental health issues, do seek help. A trusted family member or friend, pastor, doctor or therapist.  You don’t have to deal with this alone. There are tools to help you get through and overcome.

I thank Kevin Love and DeMar DeRozan for inspiring others to speak their own truth.

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