Health & Wellness / Xavier University of Louisiana

Black and Feeling Blue: Alternative Treatments for Depression

Depression is more than a night of filled with tears, tissue and ice cream in front of your favorite sad movie. Depression is common and serious illness.

Now don’t confuse your occasional sadness or “feeling blue” with depression. These feelings are short lived and soon pass. Depression interferes with your daily life, and can cause physical pain and an emotional strain on those around you.

There are several forms of depression, major depressive disorder or major depression is characterized by symptoms that interfere with an individual’s ability to work and enjoy life. Dysthymic disorder is a depression that can last two years or longer. While it is not as severe as major depression, it still can prevent normal functioning or a general feeling of well-being. Minor depression is similar to the aforementioned but the symptoms do not last long.

Men and women experience depression differently. Men can experience decreased libido, poor concentration, and irritability, these symptoms often go unrecognized or untreated as they do not seek treatment for depression. Seemingly, the media reaffirms such behaviors when men must seek help for pain. Athletes are described as “tough” and other hyper masculine adjectives by broadcasters and fans in an effort to ‘reaffirm’ their manhood.

Women who have a family history of depression are more susceptible to developing the illness than others. Hormones can change the brain chemistry and some women can experience other types of depression, postpartum depression (after giving birth) or depression during menopause.

Depression does not always wear a neon sign, sometimes, its greatest symptom can be stress. Stress works inside the body and can trigger other physical symptoms. If your feelings of despair last longer than two weeks, don’t be afraid to talk to your health care provider about depression, it is a treatable illness.

For those who may be suffering with depression, you may be wondering what you can do. Begin by writing your thoughts and wellness goals. Engage in thirty minutes of physical activity each day, try to get eight hours of interrupted sleep and make healthier food choices, if your symptoms present as mild to moderate.

Changing your behavior and thoughts can be an insurmountable task, but they are the first steps to healing. Although there are several prescription medications for people living with depression, there are other vials treatments such as music and art therapy, that complement psychotherapy.

Kaleb KJ Hill. "20 Pearls" Oil paint on 16"x20" canvas. 2014.

Kaleb KJ Hill. “20 Pearls” Oil paint on 16″x20″ canvas. 2014.

Music therapy uses music to help improve, restore, or maintain health. Different types of musical stimulus can induce physical and emotional changes. Listening to music can be used for relaxation, meditation, and reminiscing. It can reduce stress, soothe pain, and boost energy in your body.

Art therapy is a relatively new concept as it was introduced to the US in 1969. This form of therapy ties psychotherapy and creative expression together. Creating art gives people a visual aid to help them pinpoint and evaluate their feelings.

For more information about depression and resources please visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness website.

An aspiring physician and psychologist, Kaleb ”Coach KJ” Hill is an undergraduate at Xavier University of Louisiana. He is also the CEO and founder of FitnessFleet, Inc., a health and wellness company. For more information, visit FitnessFleet on TwitterFollow Kaleb on Twitter at @CoachKJMD2Be.

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