Worldwide, depression is the second leading cause of disability behind heart disease, and it is the most common psychological disorder. It’s growth rate is so great that there is 10 times more depression in people born after 1945 than before. This implies that depression cannot be a

There’s a commonly held belief that depression is a disease caused by a chemical imbalance within the brain; specifically that there is a deficiency of the neurotransmitter serotonin, and anti-depressant medication is given in an attempt to address this problem. However, while it is possible to measure blood levels of serotonin, researchers are still unable to assess the level of serotonin present in the brain. Also, researchers do not yet understand how anti-depressants actually work.

This means that they are prescribed in order to address a deficiency that nobody actually knows exists and that even should it exist, they don’t how the medication works.

What research does show is that exercise is as effective as anti-depressants in treating depression. Even one twenty-minute session already shows benefits. Mindfulness is also a highly effective technique that has been proven to resolve depression and guard against recurring episodes, as is quite simply being outdoors in the countryside (ecotherapy). These three treatments have no side-effects, whereas common side-effects of anti-depressants include: nausea, increased appetite and weight gain, loss of sexual desire and other sexual problems, drowsiness and fatigue, insomnia, and, yes, suicidal thoughts.

Research also shows that when you take anti-depressants, your brain responds by reducing its own receptors, making itself less sensitive to serotonin. This means that, at best, the medication only alleviates your symptoms, and does nothing to actually cure your depression. Once you come off the medication, you are in no better a situation than before you took it.

However, both mindfulness and ecotherapy work directly on lifting your depression and on increasing your output of feel-good hormones by decreasing your anxiety, stilling your mind, and giving you a sense of purpose and belonging in the community.

Sarah runs regular mindfulness courses, and an ongoing ecotherapy programme. To find out more, or book a place, please call Sarah on 07912 357 366.