In reading this article you will see references to hypnotism and Buddhism. As I am a lay person I can’t offer an endorsement for hypnotism. As I am a Christian I can not endorse Buddhism. As you approach either in the context of this article I encourage you to do your homework and not to engage in anything that goes against your conscience. That being said their is much in this article for you to consider. Allan
Taken from Esperanza which is located HERE.
By Maureen Salamon
John lives alone, so he considers his entire apartment his “man cave.” But when he’s mired in major depression—which the New Hampshire resident has struggled with regularly for more than 20 years—John knows his private haven serves to further isolate him at a time when lonely feelings are hard to shake.
“When I’m feeling depressed, I don’t want to associate with anyone, period,” says the 51-year-old, whose job as a computer programmer also means long hours spent on his own.
It’s easier to avoid being with other people during an episode, he explains, “because you know you’re not going to be able to talk to them—your concentration is all messed up.”
Never a social butterfly at the best of times, John is usually content with his own company and well able to entertain himself. But he’s aware that self-sufficiency, usually seen as a positive trait, may not be such an asset when depression sets in.
“I don’t think I’ve ever said, ‘I’m bored,’ even when I’m down,” he says. “But I do feel lonely when I’m depressed, because I’m thinking about everything more.
“Once you start doing that, getting inside yourself like that, you go down that spiral and all your feelings are magnified.”
Depression and loneliness frequently go hand in hand. Research as far back as the 1970s has linked the two. More recently, scientists have associated chronic feelings of loneliness with a bevy of health risks, starting with poor sleep and high blood pressure.
One suspect for the interrelated physical and psychological threats seems to be inflammatory chemicals the body releases in response to stress.
“It’s not so clear whether depression causes inflammation or inflammation causes depression, whether they feed off each other, or whether it’s all part of some other process,” says Linda Waite, PhD, a professor of sociology at the University of Chicago. “We know they’re linked, but I don’t think we really know what causes what.”
Waite’s research over the years has focused extensively on loneliness, aging and depression, including a 2006 study published in Psychology and Aging that found higher levels of loneliness were associated with greater depressive symptoms.
The study, which she coauthored, noted that the coexisting conditions “can act in a synergistic effect to diminish well-being”—that is, one fuels the other in an ever-worsening loop.
“When you talk about problems in a person’s social network—isolation, loneliness, threatened loss—these are all linked to depression. On the other hand, depression can create those situations, too,” says Scott Patten, MD, PhD, a psychiatric epidemiologist and professor of community health sciences and psychiatry at the University of Calgary.
For “Jo” Woodman (not her real name), loneliness mushroomed from a bout of deep depression that made socializing an effort.
The Toronto woman, who is 63, was first diagnosed with depression in her 20s. The severe episode in 2002 was prompted by a perfect storm of events, ranging from her husband’s infidelity to her beloved cat’s death to clashes with a coworker. She’d been working full time in real estate, but had to go on disability.
“I tried to explain to people what was going on, but they just didn’t get it,” says Woodman, who now works as a copywriter. “I still made an effort to see friends, maybe once or twice a month, but I was by myself the rest of the time. I was very isolated.”
“When I went out, I just tried to be happy, but it was quite evident I wasn’t myself.”
Woodman didn’t avoid invitations, as happens to many during depressive episodes, but she felt walled off from her friends when they were together. She knew they truly liked her, but at a certain point they didn’t want to hear about how she was feeling.
“They didn’t understand why I had to keep talking about it, and that hurt,” she says. “So I felt I didn’t really have anyone to talk to. I had my therapist, and that’s all.”
Tackling her depression with treatment helped resolve her isolation, she says. A switch in depression medications shifted her outlook for the better. She used a light box to address the seasonal affective disorder that comes on during the long Canadian winters. She also found hypnosis especially helpful.
Thanks to this multi-pronged approach, the walls began to crumble. She joined two ladies’ groups and now goes out three times a week. She even helps organize potlucks and outings to plays and concerts.
“I’m completely busy,” she says. “The difference in my life is like night and day.”
During a depressive episode, Patten notes, people can’t count on feeling motivated to socialize. Yet getting out and interacting with others can be one of the things that helps disperse the low mood.
“It may [seem] like a good idea to wait until you feel like doing it,” Patten says, “but just do it.”
He recommends finding structured activities, such as classes or volunteer work, that force you out the door and put you together with other people.
“It seems like a big part of the answer is finding ways to do it,” he explains. “Sign up for something at a specific time and place so you have to push yourself into doing it. Put it in your schedule.
“People say when they get more active, good things happen and they feel better.”
For some people, participating in activities that feel worthwhile, such as a satisfying job or meaningful social cause, can counteract pervasive feelings of isolation.
Terry S., who lives by herself in western Canada, hasn’t found lasting relief from the depression that has punctuated her adulthood. Mindfulness practice helps when she’s overwhelmed by low feelings, but she mostly turns to her work in the mental health field for a sense of connection.
“It’s very satisfying to me to see people who have [mood disorders] get help, because one of my problems has always been financial,” says Terry, 58, who coordinates independent living arrangements in subsidized housing.
“To be able to help people with stable housing, so they can live like a human being … is a very powerful thing.”
Peer support groups also can fill a need for people who have few personal social ties, experts agree. And research shows that interpersonal psychotherapy, an approach that focuses on strengthening social skills, helps smooth the way to forging relationships.
Yet as the University of Chicago’s Waite notes, being alone isn’t necessarily a prerequisite to feeling isolated.
Even married people can feel intensely lonely, she says. In fact, perception of loneliness has a genetic component that may override other factors.
“We do see people clinically who say they feel these very, very painful feelings, but they’re married or have a large family,” Waite says. “People are around them all the time, but they don’t feel connected.”
Those who feel disconnected or alone in a crowd tend to interpret social cues in a negative or ambiguous way, Waite says. In a sense, anything less than unbridled enthusiasm from others may make them feel inadequate.
“And then they react accordingly, thereby driving people away,” she adds. “They create the very situations they most fear.”
Having a genetic predisposition or personality that fosters lonely feelings doesn’t mean you’re powerless, however. Waite suggests “reframing” social interactions in a positive way.
She gives this as a general example: “If someone cuts in front of you in line, and your blood pressure goes through the roof, think, ‘It may be an emergency, and I’m lucky because I don’t have an emergency right now.’
“Bring to mind the possible positive interpretations and work on giving people the benefit of the doubt.”
Distorted perceptions of social interactions often lead to feelings of shame and inadequacy, notes Patten—hallmarks of, as well as factors in, depression. Minimizing the barriers to reaching out relies on being able to get some distance from those perceptions, he says.
To start with, he says, “Accept your thoughts as a symptom of depression rather than an actual fact. Here’s where some guidance can be useful, from a therapist or from peers, because this is a little bit unusual.
“Stepping back from your thinking and examining it is not something people naturally do. But when you do that . . . you can become quite aware of the way emotions can distort your thinking, and that awareness is very helpful.”
That approach is the foundation of cognitive therapy and its offshoots. Another proven technique is mindfulness meditation, a practice based in Buddhism that attunes the mind to the present and discourages dwelling on the past or projecting into the future.
A combination of the two, known as mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, has been approved by Britain’s National Health Service as a treatment for depression based on research showing its effectiveness. A similar program, called mindfulness-based stress reduction, was developed to help patients with a variety of physical conditions alleviate pain and improve physical and emotional well-being.
A study published in October 2012 in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity found that older adults who took a two-month course in mindfulness-based stress reduction reported feeling less lonely—and also had a sharp drop in blood markers of inflammation.
Study coauthor J. David Creswell, PhD, director of the Health and Human Performance Laboratory at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in Pittsburgh, says research also suggests mindfulness practice can ease depressive symptoms stemming from loneliness.
According to Creswell, an assistant professor of psychology at CMU, mindfulness meditation “helps you say to yourself, ‘This is a feeling. It doesn’t define who I am and it’s not going to last forever.’
“It can be a really powerful transformer of those feelings so they don’t cause you to go into a negative spiral.”
John, the New Hampshire computer programmer, has a more practical approach. When he starts to “think too much,” as he puts it, he breaks out his Lego set. “I just start to build something and get my mind off things,” he says.
Getting out on his bike also quiets his mind—and generates feel-good endorphins.
An avid cyclist, John belongs to a local group that’s working on building a “rails to trails” spur. He spends a lot of time with fellow members, clearing the trail or riding together. When he senses that he’s beginning to self-isolate, he might log onto the group’s Facebook page “and start connecting or sharing something,” he says.
“That’s a kind of connection, as far as not being totally isolated. You’re socializing but you’re not.”
Sometimes, though, John finds that the best company when he’s feeling lonely isn’t human.
“I have two cats and I’d be lost without them,” he says. “They’ve been really helpful when I was depressed … they kept me going.”
Maureen Salamon, a New Jersey-based freelance health writer, has contributed to the New York Times, CNN.com, CURE magazine and other major print and online publications.
IMPROVING SOCIAL TIES
Here to Help, a project of BC Partners for Mental Health and Addictions Information, publishes online “modules” that support well-being. The module on ways to improve your social support networks includes this advice:
Don’t be afraid to take social risks: Seek out and introduce yourself to new people, such as those you don’t know at a party. Other good venues are community centers, recreational clubs and schools.
Get more support from the support you have: People aren’t mind readers. Tell others what you need and be specific.
Let go of unhealthy ties: Walking away from relationships—even when they’re harmful—isn’t easy, but may be necessary. It may also be possible to spend less time with certain people without abandoning the friendship.
Be patient: Making friends takes time, and you may need to meet many new people to make just one new friend. It can take several months to feel close to someone and that you can count on their support.
Take care of your relationships: You’re more likely to build strong friendships if you’re a good friend, too. Offer support to others and let them know you appreciate them.
PLUG THE GAPS IN YOUR NETWORK
Heaps of research have established a connection between social support (or lack thereof) and depression. Generally speaking, having a supportive network improves well-being and seems to have a protective effect against stress.
The phrase “social support” actually covers various categories, including:
• Someone to turn to in times of need—for a sympathetic ear, advice and feedback, or more tangible aid like a place to stay.
• A group that shares common interests and concerns.
• Day-to-day companionship.
Identifying the strengths and weaknesses in your network can provide a roadmap for the work you have to do to build more connections in your life.
In the depths of depression, that might mean something as simple as getting yourself out of the house and making eye contact with the coffee-shop cashier.
If your social ties have lapsed, you might need to ease back in by finding a support group you can identify with, joining a book club at the library, or taking a community-ed class that interests you. In her book The 10 Best-Ever Depression Management Techniques, psychologist Margaret Wehrenberg, PsyD, suggests brainstorming options with a therapist.
When you fall into an isolation spiral that distances you from friends and family, Wehrenberg recommends these steps:
Practice seeing positives: The negativity of depression can color the way you see the people around you, and thus how you interact with them. Make a commitment to say five nice things a day, and create a compliments chart to keep track.
Improve your social skills: This may require reading self-help books or working with a therapist to learn better ways to listen, communicate, and cope with insecurity. But don’t forget the basics: smile, make eye contact, ask how the other person is doing, end the conversation with a positive statement.
Schedule specific engagements: Set up regular phone chats with out-of-town family, arrange coffee dates with a friend, fix a time to take your grandchildren to the playground. Follow through even if you’re feeling apathetic, Wehrenberg advises, and don’t leave yourself an out for canceling.