Today I received in my email a request for me to use an infographic on my blog. They stated that I would be interested because of important information on fighting depression……without pills.
What the infographic contained was information that said this in a nutshell: Depression can be managed simply by regular exercise such as running or any aerobic activity, yoga and getting out in the sun. It stated that running releases increased amounts of endorphins which elevates mood and you get a “runner’s high.” Also getting out in the sunshine improves mood as well.
They showed comparisons of people that do aerobic exercise only, or medication only, and a group that did the exercise and medication. It stated that the people that exercised and took medication for depression had no more improvement with their depression than the groups that only did the exercise.
I emailed them that I am refusing to put this on my blog because I have big problems with this information and the impact that it can have on people.
Yes, exercise of any sort is good for you, and running, etc. does increase endorphins. Getting out in the sun does elevate mood. These things are good for anyone to do even if they don’t suffer depression. But this infographic implies that you can so simply manage depression just by doing things and gives the implication that medication for depression is bad. Nowhere on this infographic does it say that someone should seek medical attention for depression at all. Just do all those things and you should be able to battle it yourself.
I’m aware that some people manage low moods with these activities and it helps so much they don’t have to take medication. But to say that you can battle depression with exercise and sunshine only is a very dangerous thing to tell people. It leads people to think that getting medication is a bad thing and they should be strong enough to conquer it without the help of a doctor and/or medication and/or counseling.
My daughter Kaitlyn was an avid runner. She ran marathons. Also every other day she was at the gym working out. She was out in the sun much of the time (as evidenced by the freckles on her face as she lay in her casket) and she ate healthily. She did all these things and obviously doing these things did not prevent her depression from becoming severe and leading to her suicide. These things may have eased her mood to a degree for a time. I don’t think the only reason she did these things was to be a good weight and be physically fit…..I think she did these things in large part to fight her depression and she thought she could fight it all on her own. So I take great offense and am horrified that people go around giving information that can motivate people not to seek medical attention for depression.
I will be the first to tell you that medication is not always a sure bet. Sometimes what they give you does not work, or works for a while then quits working, or has side effects that cause you not to be able to take it. But there are times that one or more is found to treat the illness well and it works from then on. There is still much work to be done on trying to combat depression. But at least if you do take the medicine there is hope for you to come out alive in the end and to lead a normal life. Not always, but most of the time. I would take the chance of having a good chance at helping my depression instead of not taking the medication and risking dying of suicide.
I’m also not saying that some things can’t be managed without medicine. Sometimes when the doctor first discovers someone has diabetes, they will put the patient on a diabetic diet and tell them to exercise. I’ve seen many people that have managed their diabetes successfully like that. Some people if they are hypertensive, they only have to lose weight and exercise to get their blood pressure back to normal and never have to go on medication if it is well managed this way. But nowhere have I seen information telling people that all they have to do are these things to manage these illnesses. Sometimes these methods don’t work and they have to go on medication.
I’m not a doctor or have a PhD or anything like that. I am an RN and know general information about mental illness and the chemicals in our brain that control mood. I also have experience in depression because I have it. (Many a time I have sat on the bench in the locker room of the fitness club I had a membership to and went to regularly, and thinking of wanting to die). I also, worst of all, have the horrible experience of losing a daughter to suicide that never sought help, never took medications, and never told anyone. She did all these exercises and she still died. So I wish with all my heart that information like this person sent me would cease to exist because it is misleading and dangerous. If I had seen mentioned on it somewhere that if this method did not work in a short period of time to seek medical attention, I would feel a little better about it. But this was not mentioned at all. Some people reading that will no doubt think that if they get out and do more and run and all that is listed on that infographic that they will be cured. Unfortunately, some of those people may die at their own hands because they think they should have been able fight it on their own and most of the time that is not true.
By all means, get out there and run, get out there in the sunshine, but if you suffer depression or any mental illness of any kind, please also go to the doctor. Tell someone that can get you help.