Stay in Control of Your Mind (Dr. Oz's 11 tips to managing your
Talk It Out
We're living in a world where there's too much talk—we've got talk
shows, talking heads and people who talk the talk but can't walk the
walk. Funny, though, in a hypercommunicative society, many of us can't
talk about anything other than sports, soaps or why the media spends so
much attention on [fill in celebrity scandal of the day].
The fact is that when it comes to reducing effects of depression, the
biggest cure may not be in a pill bottle, but in making sure you don't
stay bottled up yourself. In treating minor depression, talk therapy
over six weeks is 60 to 70 percent successful, and it's 90 percent
successful when used in conjunction with drugs.
How does it work? Probably through the release of those feel-good
chemicals—including oxytocin—and learning new coping strategies.
One of the more effective treatments for depression is cognitive
behavioral therapy. Limited to 10 to 20 sessions, this therapy helps
people learn how their thoughts contribute to their symptoms, and it
suggests behavioral changes that they can make to change their
environment, their response to their environment, and ultimately their
thoughts. It doesn't tell you how to feel, but rather, it teaches you
how to stay calm and cool when you're upset about a problem, so that you
can figure out what to do and how to feel better. It's why therapists
ask a lot of questions rather than make a lot of statements.
But even just talking about your problems with your spouse, friends or a
taxi driver can help. Since women tend to speak much more than men, they
may get a much larger brain chemical boost from hashing things out.
Eating a banana every day facilitates both cross talk among your brain
cells and the effect of certain neurotransmitters such as serotonin and
its precursors. These two effects may mean that eating a banana a day
helps keep the therapist away by preventing recurring minor depression.
Plus, besides coffee, bananas are our largest dietary source of
Sweat It Out
If you haven't exercised in a while, the thought of slipping into a pair
of tight pants and a sports bra might seem depressing in itself.
Exercise, however, has been shown to be more effective than many
antidepressants in reducing major depression.
Part of that may be attributed to the endorphin effect of exercise. We
feel that the sense of purpose and accomplishment that comes with
regular exercise also helps. Sometimes action has to come before
motivation, and depressed folks need to act to prime their motivational
Yoga, in fact, is specifically associated with decreased depressive
symptoms and increased mood—perhaps partly because of the deep
breathing that's done during the practice. In a similar way,
spirituality is also associated with less depression.
Rub Alcohol from the Scene
While some people medicate their emotions with something from the
freezer, others do it with something from the bottle. Make sure you or
someone you love doesn't have an alcohol problem that's masking a
depression problem (or is an addiction in and of itself ). You can do so
by asking these questions. Answering yes to any of them is a red flag.
* Have you tried to cut down on drinking but failed?
* Have you ever been annoyed by someone criticizing your drinking?
* Have you ever felt guilty about drinking?
* Have you ever taken a morning eye-opener (tailgating parties
* Have you ever had a problem with drinking?
· Use Guided Imagery
· Guided imagery isn't the screen of your car's GPS. It's
actually a way of making you feel better. The technique has been shown
to improve the ability to cope with depression, improve mood and
How do you do it? First, go to a quiet place. The bathroom often works
well, since privacy is usually respected there. Start by relaxing and
breathing deeply, then visualize yourself in different scenarios. Some
variations include visualizing yourself in a pleasant place (the beach),
fighting disease (seeing your good immune cells fighting off bad germs)
or practicing for a big performance (doing well in your job).
How can this cure aches and pains? If you're in pain, visualize the spot
of pain. Follow the nerve from that spot to the center of your mind. Ask
your body if you can take control of that pain, and visualize the way
that would happen.
· See the Light
· People who get seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, have
been shown to feel better when they're exposed to specially rated UV
lights for the home for 20 minutes a day. Any bright light will serve
the purpose, and halogen lights emit the same frequency as those made to
Another option? Go to sports events or arenas where there are a lot of
bright lights. Anecdotally, these lights seem to have the same effect.
Give Yourself Time
Docs are taught that the normal time period to grieve for the loss of a
loved one is six months to a year after the death. So it may be natural
to experience depressive symptoms during that time. But we also want to
make it clear that you should never feel pressure to shake the pain
after a certain time period. Illusions are also a part of normal grief.
An illusion is a misperception of an actual external stimulus. Delusions
or hallucinations are never normal. The key is getting to the point
where you can weather the discomfort enough to carry on with other
aspects of your life.
You say he's got a problem; he says there's nothing wrong with brushing
every tooth individually 24 times a day. How do you know the difference
between nuance and annoyance? These criteria will help you judge whether
someone has a personality disorder.
They likely do if their behavior:
* Is inflexible, no matter what situation the person is in.
* Leads to problems in their work or social life.
* Is not part of some other mental disorder.
* Is not a direct effect of a medical condition, drug or medication.
· Get a Community and a Buddy
· Whether on the Internet or in person, talking to someone
helps. In fact, talking and walking 30 minutes a day are the most
effective strategies for treating and preventing depression.
Write at Bedtime
Approach every day with an attitude of thankfulness. Impossible
expectations lead to sadness. Try to write a gratitude journal
daily—writing three thank-you notes a day really does make it less
likely you will suffer depression.
While you're at it, put some music on in the background: research
suggests that music can improve moderately depressed moods (one study
also showed improved heart rate and blood pressure).
Don't Say "Don't"
You'd think that repeatedly telling someone not to drink or smoke would
be enough. But your brain can do very funny things. Your
brain—specifically the part of the brain that influences cravings,
your insula— hears "don't smoke" and reacts as if it hears "smoke."
And that stimulates the craving for smoking.
A much better approach when you want to help someone get rid of an
addiction is to flip the message. Instead of saying "Don't smoke," say,
"Breathe free." Instead of "Don't eat doughnuts," say, "Have a handful