Depression is truly a mind-body illness. Recent research studies show this. For example, having heart disease is known to increase a person’s risk for depression—in other words, a physical illness (like having had a heart attack) can have a verifiable influence on our emotional life. Said differently: body (heart) affects mind. Other studies, not surprisingly, show that the inverse is also true. Chronic depression (categorized as a mood disorder) puts a person at increased risk of heart disease. An emotional imbalance can have an effect on our physical health—mind affects body. Research studies show that these connections flow both ways. By incorporating a more holistic understanding we can see that there are a whole variety of similarly interweaving influences that stand behind depressive symptoms.
Therapeutic approaches for Depression
These relationships add complexity to finding the best treatment. But recognition of these relationships also means that there are many different therapies and approaches for working with a depression. We work to find as many connections and relationships as we can so that new therapeutic approaches are possible. Here are a few brief examples:
- In some situations, depressions arise as a result of outside circumstances. This is particularly true with experiences of loss or trauma. That kind of depression relates very much to the grief process. Natural treatments and holistic therapies need to focus on working through those changes and repairing a new sense of self.
- A different kind of depression comes not so much as a consequence of outside conditions as from an inner need to change and shift. These experiences work from the inside-out. They can be very disorienting and may feel quite random, but they very often follow predictable biographical rhythms and patterns, particularly on a seven-year rhythm (7, 14, 21, 28, 35, 42, 49, 56, 63), as well as turning points in self-awareness as 18 ½, 37 and 56 years. Looking at these rhythms helps place these needs in a special context—they are sign that things are ready to change, and that the most help will be to identify next steps and pathways for accepting and expressing new truths. Here treatments focus on finding clarity. That process can be very beautifully supported with Anthroposophic therapies, usually over a period of about six months.
- Other depressions are very body-related. They do not change with outer circumstance, they do not significantly shift with time. These tend to be persistent companions, sometimes with a sense of great heaviness, sometimes with repeating thoughts. These exist more in the realm of body-mind influences, and in these cases working to find better physical functioning proves most effective.
The holistic treatments we offer for depression focus on natural treatments, body therapies, and careful listening and conversation. The goal becomes not a simple suppression of symptoms but instead a real encouragement of personal growth and transformation.
Anthroposophic medicine works to see and understand the whole human being, on the levels of body, soul, and spirit.