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Depression and yoga

by | May 28, 2014 | Uncategorized

Depression affects one in five people, one in four females and one in six males.  If you or someone you love have experienced depression, you’re not alone (in fact, you’re in very good company).

Symptoms of depression can include:

  • feelings of sadness
  • irritable mood
  • decreased interest or pleasure in most activities
  • significant weight or appetite change
  • sleeping too little or too much
  • psychomotor agitation or retardation
  • fatigue or loss of energy
  • feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • feelings of hopelessness
  • poor concentration or difficulty making decisions
  • low self esteem
  • impaired thinking, concentration or decision making
  • recurrent thoughts of death or suicide


Major Depressive Disorder
 is the presence of a number of these symptoms, including either a depressed mood or a loss of interest or pleasure, which represents a change from previous functioning, in a two week period.

Dysthymic Disorder is the presence of a depressed mood, including a number of these symptoms, for most of the day, for more days than not, for at least 2 years.

A diagnosis of depression may or may not be valuable for you.  Some people find it validating to have a name for what they’re experiencing, and others find the diagnosis limiting and unhelpful.  Either way, a diagnosis is simply a name for a cluster of symptoms, that helps us to talk about what is going on for you and give us some direction about the best path to take for healing.

When we become sad, we often experience a range of challenging sensations, feelings, emotions, thoughts and beliefs.  These are in fact simply part of the experience of being human, and they signal to us and to others that we are distressed, and that something is not quite right in our lives.  Sadness can turn into depression when we get caught up in these challenging experiences, and try to suppress, deny or simply get rid of the experiences, instead of listening to their valuable messages and acting accordingly.

In a counselling session with me, either in person in Mullumbimby or online, what I like to discuss is your current experience and symptoms, your history of depression, what triggered the current episode, in what ways you’re satisfied/unsatisfied in your life, what has helped in the past, and what you feel needs to happen to heal.  These kind of questions can give us both a clear idea of what is going on for your now and the kind of work we can do together to heal.

It’s different for everyone, but what I often find useful is:

  • welcoming and listening to sensations, feelings, emotions, thoughts and beliefs (rather than trying to get rid of them)
  • giving yourself permission to cry and be sad
  • establishing healthy sleeping, eating and exercise routines
  • a formal daily yoga practice (which may include mindfulness meditation, iRest yoga nidra, pranayama and postures)
  • resolving any difficulties from the past that may be bothering you
  • improving your relationships and social life
  • reducing or eliminating alcohol and other drugs
  • checking with your naturopath/ayurvedic practitioner/doctor to see if there’s any deficiencies or other biochemical reasons for depression
  • increasing self compassion and gratitude
  • understanding the true nature of happiness
  • discovering your life purpose and heartfelt desires, and making changes to start living in accordance with these

What’s also important after healing has taken place, is to developing a relapse prevention plan.  Relapse into depression following a previous episode is statistically far too frequent not to take this seriously.  So it’s important to maintain a supportive lifestyle and to understand your own patterns, so if depression starts to appear in your life again, you can take action before it settles in.

If you would like support on your healing journey with depression, please get in touch to schedule an appointment, I’d love help you to live a life that is full, joyful, authentic and unconstrained by depression.

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