For the record, this writing is not an indictment against taking antidepressants. Antidepressants have been demonstrated in some cases to have great therapeutic value, and may even be necessary in certain instances, such as in the treatment of particular psychiatric conditions.
But not everyone benefits from, can tolerate, and / or wants to take antidepressants. Like choosing to take antidepressants, choosing not to take them is not right or wrong, not moral or immoral: it’s a personal decision that is okay either or.
But if depression or anxiety or some other emotional dysfunction is in place and taking antidepressants is not a desired option, what safe and effective alternatives are there? This inquiry actually brings up an important point about depression, anxiety, and various other emotional dysfunctions. Many people believe that depression, anxiety, etc., are causes. In other words, one feels bad because they are depressed. In fact this is not accurate.
Depression, anxiety, and other emotional dysfunctions are actually effects and not causes. It is not that depression is causing one to feel bad — the depression is the bad feeling itself and it is caused by something else.
So what is this cause? Thought.
Most people would find this hard to believe, if not discount it entirely. They would argue that depression or anxiety or some other form that is essentially external to or apart from the self is the cause of unpleasant emotions, and the way to eliminate unpleasant emotions is to do something with this external form. At its core this reasoning amounts to “change the world”.
I am unhappy because of that out there, and once I change that out there to my liking I will be happy again.
This sort of reasoning however promises eventual misery because it is impossible to fully control the external world. Life moves to its own rhythm. Life will not adjust itself to you — you must adjust to it. And if you do not make this adjustment you will suffer and be miserable.
This maladjustment, this resistance to what life is, is how depression and anxiety come about. There is the external world and a mental interpretation is made of it, through thinking, that essentially states ‘this shouldn’t be’.
This shouldn’t be happening.
That should be happening.
I shouldn’t be doing this — I should be doing that instead.
I shouldn’t be feeling this way — I should be feeling that way instead.
He / She shouldn’t be behaving this way.
He / She should be behaving that way.
And on it goes. When you feel some form of emotional upset or misery it is an indication that you are in resistance to what is. And when you are in acceptance of what is, when you are in surrender to what is, you will be at peace.
Try this for yourself.
Be observant of what is happening in and around you — but do not judge, censor, or reject. Be observant of your thinking, of your emotions, of your body, of the world. Do not simply move through on autopilot, forever stuck in your mental noise (thinking) about the future and the past and whatever else. Wake up and be conscious!
As you take on this witness role — the witness to what is happening within and around you — accept what is there. This is not to say that you cannot take any action to make change, just do not be in resistance to whatever is happening. Do not say no to what is… say yes.
If you feel depression be aware of this experience by witnessing the thinking behind it (this thinking will often be some form of denying or rejecting what is), witness the emotional response this thinking causes, and accept all of it. Accept what is.
Surrender to what is.
Say yes to what is.
Many people have a conviction, sometimes subconsciously, that rejecting or resisting life as it is will somehow make life change itself. In fact the opposite is actually true. When we resist what life presents we are resisting the flow and become stuck, much like a swimmer in a body of water holding fast to a rock.
When we accept and surrender, when we let go and say yes versus hold on and say no, then we get back into the flow and move — and move easily. Now life can take us to new outcomes, often the very outcomes we hoped for but in a much easier manner than was occurring before, when we were in resistance.
Acceptance is key. Observe and accept what is happening in your mind, your body, and the world. Accept any depression or anxiety or other emotional dysfunction that is there. Accept any resistance you feel to accepting what is. Accept it all.
You can still take action but do it from an orientation of acceptance, not resistance.