Natural Therapies to Treat Depression – Nicola O’Hanlon

Depression is described as a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. That simplistic explanation doesn’t really cover it though. My own experience of depression has, at times, left me completely dysfunctional and unable to perform the smallest task. It can and has in my case, lasted for weeks, months and even years.

foot-reflexology

picture courtesy of renewtherapies.net

I’ve done extensive research on the causes and cures. I’ve had many treatments since I was 15 years old for depression and anxiety, but never found one thing that has made it disappear. Well, alcohol and drugs did a pretty good job for a while. But then there’s that whole dependence issue and ruining your life – so that had to stop.

The one thing I’m sure of, having explored every avenue of wellness for myself, is that chemicals of any kind, illegal or prescribed do not work for me. I’ve discovered, that my depression comes from overwhelm, suppression and oppression of mind, body and spirit, which in turn messes with the chemical functioning of my body.

Today I choose a holistic approach to my health in all areas and as an alternative therapist I’ve learned many ways to restore balance and treat my depressive episodes in a manner that includes all aspects of my being. Balance is the key.

Of course, prevention is always better than cure. However, life can be very difficult at times. In our fast paced, highly stressful society, often times depression presents itself as a very normal reaction to abnormal situations.

So how do we deal with life and stay functional? Well, through the therapies that I practice there are some things that we can do to help.

Reflexology is, in my opinion, an all round miracle worker. Monthly sessions of reflexology with a qualified practitioner can really benefit your health. It restores and maintains a balanced body by improving the functioning of all systems, including those of the glands. The pituitary, pineal, thymus, thyroid and parathyroid glands are all associated with emotional stability and the quality of our mental health. Massaging them or applying pressure to the specific reflex points on the feet can help to relieve your depressive symptoms. If like me, depression also affects you physically, reflexology can also relieve any physical pain or discomfort and help you relax.

A spot in the middle of the big toe of each foot corresponds to the pituitary gland. Slightly above that and towards the inside of the foot is the pineal gland and at the center of the ball of your foot a point corresponds to the thymus. On the ball of the foot underneath your big toe is a point that refers to the thyroid and parathyroids. Even if you can’t make it to a practitioner, massaging these areas yourself can have beneficial results. Better again have someone at home do it for you!

Versions of therapeutic massage have been practiced for thousands of years all over the world. From China to Greece and India, the benefits of massage and the power of human touch are well known. Massage therapy relieves depression by affecting the body’s biochemistry.

Studies show that massage lowers the levels of Cortisol by up to 53%. Cortisol is known as the stress hormone. By regulating the secretion of this hormone we can also regulate our blood pressure and blood sugar levels, therefore taking pressure off our immune system and creating balance in the body. Massage also increases the levels of serotonin and dopamine in our brains, which are our natural feel good neurotransmitters.

Of course going to a qualified and experienced therapist is wonderful and for most a real treat. However, if we start to see that these therapies are an essential part of our self-care and start to introduce them into a healthcare plan, the long term benefits are priceless.

Even the act of doing something good for ourselves lifts our mood. You are worth it and you do matter! Again learning some basic techniques and swapping treatments with a friend is a great way to keep costs down.

I discovered Seichem healing about two years ago, and became a practitioner about 6 months later. It is of Egyptian descent and originates from the same source as Reiki. Seichem is a stronger healing system than Reiki and encourages a faster and more dramatic healing.

Reiki & Seichem energy promotes the release of emotional and physical trauma and any energy blocks it may be causing. Personally I have found it to be a fundamental part of my own healing process.

It’s not for everyone but it’s definitely something that has enhanced my life in many ways. It’s also good for physical symptoms of emotional issues such as pain, headaches and insomnia. Many use it as an all round preventative for chronic illness. It is important that you seek a professional practitioner for this therapy.

Finding balance and time to care for ourselves is always challenging. Even making one small change and building on that will have huge results. Aromatherapy baths, walking in nature, keeping a journal and being creative are all ways to change our outlook and unblock depressive energies.

Along with the amazing advice by my two colleague’s Kyczy Hawk about the benefits of Yoga and Kathleen Russell about excellent Nutrition, you now have some valuable advice on treating yourself with love and compassion at all times, so helping us avoid depression as much as possible.

Nicola O'Hanlon

About Nicola O'Hanlon

Meet our Editor-In-Chief, Nicola O'Hanlon. She created this website, along with the help of the InTheRooms team in September 2015. Her work has been published in several recovery magazines, including Recovery Today, In Recovery Magazine, AfterPartyChat.com, Psychology Today and Reach Out Recovery to name but a few. She has also had her work published in two Feminist anthologies and a book of personal recovery stories. Born and raised in Wexford, Ireland she still lives there with her two children, Christopher and Jessica. Her background is in healing through Massage Therapy, Reflexology and Sechiem Energy Healer. She has combined her professional and life experience and now coaches women on how to empower themselves. She runs the Womens Wisdom Healing Circle meeting, on InTheRooms.com every Sunday (Noon est 5pm UK & Ireland), which is a non program specific gathering of women seeking support, encouragement and healing. Already an expert on how not to live life she is a constant seeker of new and better ways of being. Nature is her Higher Power and she believes in magic, crystals and blames the phases of the moon for her multiple personalities.
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6 Comments

  1. Hi Nicola. I only saw this article today from the facebook post. I do find myself very interested in different forms of therapy, never ruling anything out without looking into it.
    For my part, I consider Reiki surprisingly useful. That, considering I was once a skeptic/pessimist.
    I also like the Alexandar technique and well as Tapping [EFT, emotional freedom technique]
    I might do an article someday about it.
    Regards.
    ND

  2. Thank you Nicky for the insightful article on some interesting choices in healing. The depression and anxiety seems to be a commonality with people in recovery.
    I have always been interested in reflexology and have the chart tucked away in a book. Your reminder will encourage me to find it now and start to practice again.

    • Thanks Kat. I’ve seen reflexology do wonders for so many people. Really excellent for fertility problems especially – in my experience with clients.

  3. Reflexology and other trauma releasing physical therapies is so useful and effective. The trick is to reach for it when you are least ikely to want to: deep in the jaws of depression.

    I love this “Finding balance and time to care for ourselves is always challenging. Even making one small change and building on that will have huge results” Even one small change…makes a huge difference. And further having someone minister to you as with Reiki and Sechiem, is an essential part of healing.

    It is also important to note that healers need healing as well. Even when they may say “I’m fine”. 🙂

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