March 17, 2019

How I Recovered From Depression

Depression affects more than 300 million people worldwide*.  The World Health Organization states, "Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and is a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease."*  Some stats report up to 15% of people will experience major depression (who know how many will have to deal with mild or moderate symptoms).**

But beyond statistics, it gets personal when it’s a dear friend, close family member, or even closer to home, yourself. I’ve certainly not come away unscathed. Several years back I was diagnosed with depression and given some antidepressants. But what really helped me to completely heal was an integrative approach. The program I went through was called the Depression Recovery Program by Dr. Neil Nedley.  This program has since been renamed The Depression and Anxiety Recovery program because it works for both. This integrative approach aims to eliminate or reduce the risk factors for depression as far as possible. Those risk factors according to Dr. Nedley's research include***:
  • genetics
  • certain events during upbringing
  • nutrition (lack of certain nutrients or too much of others)
  • certain lifestyle choices (such as not enough activity)
  • frontal lobe function 
  • toxins (certain heavy metals)
  • social support
  • addictions
  • medical conditions such as diabetes
  • interrupted circadian rhythm

Some of these you can’t do anything about now, such as your genetics or childhood development. (although you could make a difference in future generations). But the good news is Dr. Nedley found that you usually had to have four "hits" to get depression. That means even if you had the genetic marker and a rotten child hood you could still work on the other eight hit categories of risk factors to prevent or reverse depression. Note: there are several individual items within each of these risk factor categories, but he found that that did not increase your likelihood of having depression. Another words, if you had 2 addictions and 2 nutrition issues that wouldn’t necessarily give you depression.

This makes a lot of sense because when researchers try to isolate and study, say tryptophan, they find it has an impact on depression but not everyone with a tryptophan deficiency has depression.  Dr. Nedley's approach is a more accurate way to work toward healing depression because it's covering a multitude of risk factors. His 10 category "hit" model has been researched and given an 84% sensitivity rate (research speak for a form of accuracy).

And he has been very successful with using this category approach in practical programs. In one study, after only 8 weeks on the program (done by video, workbook, and small group classes once a week), 57.6% (2754 participants) did not qualify as depressed. Keep in mind, the whole program is 12 weeks, and many participants do not work the program but only watch the videos. I would love to see the numbers from this study on those who actually do the program. In my limited experience (and other director's I've been in contact with) it's been close to 99% for those that do the whole program, and this is substantiated by the 99% success rate of those that attend the live in program*****.  Anyway I don’t want this to be an advertisement, I just wanted to set the foundation for my experience and why I believe so strongly in an integrative approach.

Dr. David Burns, who uses cognitive behaviour therapy along with other powerful tools he has developed also has an incredibly far above average success rate.  I believe one of the reasons Dr. Burns model is so successful is because the power of the mind is incredible in healing the body. Also when doing this kind of cognitive behaviour therapy (more advanced than standard CBT) you really are working on several of the risk categories identified by Dr. Nedley such as social, lifestyle, frontal lobe, addiction, and even developmental, in as far as how you perceive its effects on you now.

Back to my story. I found the medication my doctor prescribed gave me the ability to complete Dr. Nedley's program, and work through the Feeling Good book, which shows medication can have a place in this process. To date, I haven’t needed medication since, and that was over 12 years ago.  Yes, part of Dr. Nedley’s program is using cognitive behavior therapy. In fact, in the original program that I took, we used Dr. Burns book "Feeling Good". That’s how I learned about Dr. Burns and eventually TEAM therapy.

But it wasn’t just me, it helped two of my friends and my husband, who took the program with me (we used the in home video program). All four of us recovered from depression within the 12 week program time frame. I went on to become a director and facilitator and found those who stuck with the program had a full recovery from depression. As a bonus we had participants also do better with their diabetes and heart disease. Their doctors even had to reduced their medications just 6 weeks in.

So, while integrative approach is a lot of work, it also improves other aspects of your life. Because you’re not just going to feel better emotionally but also physically. And this means you’re around longer to be with your kids and grandkids. You have more vitality and energy to do the things you would like to do as you age. And if you’re younger, you can help to avoid those top five fatal diseases in Western society that are often preventable****.

So whether you are interesting in learning more about the integrative approach or simply working on your thinking process and emotional health, I’m happy to help you either way. I don’t have a burden to pressure you with what helped me because we all are different and only you can choose what's right for you. I just wanted to share part of my story so you can see there is light at the end of the dark depression tunnel and I understand what it's like to be in that dark place where hope is bleak. Book a free 15 minute consultation with me to learn more how we can work toward a brighter future.

PS: If you are dealing with depression, whether or not you want to work with someone to get help, I encourage you to start with getting Dr. Burns book "Feeling Good", usually under $10, and found in almost any book store in North America or internationally on Amazon in several languages (I checked, it's available in the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, China, France, Germany, and India just to name a few). 2/3 of patients on a waiting list for therapy found they had symptom improvement from depression just from reading this book.

PPS: If you’re feeling like life is not worth living and you’d rather not even be here please contact: 

Crisis Line for Canada toll free 24/7: 1-833-456-4566 Or chat or text

National Suicide Prevention Hotline for USA:  1-800-273-8255 OR you can chat with them and other resources online visit

“Depression.” World Health Organization, World Health Organization,
** Morin, Amy, and Lcsw. “How Many People Are Actually Affected by Depression Every Year?” Verywell Mind,
*** Nedley, Neil, and Francisco E Ramirez. “Nedley Depression Hit Hypothesis: Identifying Depression and Its Causes.” American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, SAGE Publications,
**** “The Top 10 Deadliest Diseases in the World.” Healthline, Healthline Media,
***** Carney, Linda, MD. "Nedley Depression Recovery Program" Blog, June 2, 2016

March 4, 2019

How to be miserable, stay grumpy, and suffer more.

OK have I got your attention? Sometimes we need to look at a problem from a completely new look. The title is a bit tongue-in-cheek, but what IF we were to explore a course that taught us how to suffer more and be grumpy. What would that look like?

Amendment: So I’ve had some really positive comments on this article in another forum. But I also had a really important constructive criticism so I'm adding 3 key points to remember as you read it. 
1. This article is intended for the reader themself, not to be used as a tool to criticize other people for being critical. 
2. There’s something called logic fallacies. One of those is when the opposite of a fact is also a fact. This is often not the case in reality. Example; Fact: carnivores have canine teeth. But the reverse is not true. Thus having canine teeth does not make something a carnivore. For example gorillas and camels among others, have canines and they are herbivores.
3, Just because something is a risk factor does NOT make it a cause. Example: "Moderate alcohol consumption has been linked to an approximate 30-50% increased risk in breast cancer."* But the alcohol does not cause breast cancer. Nor is it valid or helpful to blame women with breast cancer for drinking a glass of wine at their meal.
4. Poor health and disruption in happiness is not our fault because we are not "positive" enough.  There is an unfair system (sin) at place in our world, where often the person who is hurting has to do work to alleviate their own suffering even though it may not be their fault they are hurting in the first place.  Life can suck, but it doesn't have to stay that way.
5. My humorous look, intentionally overgeneralized, at some tools for cognitive behaviour therapy are not to be taken as rooted in some kind of all or nothing factual science. In fact doing so is a distortion in and of itself. My intention in this article is to look at oneself from a different perspective using humour, because humour can often be quite therapeutic when doing self reflection. We can be pretty hard on ourselves and I was hoping to alleviate some of that pressure by getting you to laugh at some of the mistakes that you might be making. But in no way would I want to shame anyone who is struggling with a critical attitude or denial or any of those things, in fact others may think you are being critical when you are just being honest.  That is there misunderstanding not a reflection on your character. I myself have struggled with many of the items in the follow list. I think that’s why I found it so relevant to me personally and why found so much humour in it.
The first step in being miserable would be to be, stay in denial. Why? Well, if you’re denying it you don’t have to deal with it. Denial a way of enabling you to continue to feel miserable when the event is already passed. You can deny that it’s over and relish in your depressed, angry, frustrated state. Next step, hold it all in. Certainly don’t share what you’re thinking and feeling with anyone else. After all they can’t help you. They’ll probably just say what you’re going through isn’t even relevant. At the very least, they’re going to minimize it and try, or worse yet try to fix it for you.

If you can’t hold it in, then complain. Complaining is a great way to stay grumpy. After all you’re just telling people the truth. I mean isn’t honesty the best policy? In fact, I highly recommend journaling. List all the problems you’re having and how miserable each one makes you feel. That way whenever you get a little too positive or happy, you can go back and rehash old grudges.

Mope. Moping lets the body know the correct position to be in when you’re feeling terrible. There’s nothing worse than a hypocrite, like someone smiling when they’re miserable inside. So it’s much better to mope because you’re being honest with the world around you.

Notice honesty has come up a few times. Being right is the best way to keep your relationships on the rocks and protect you from being vulnerable. After all when your always right it’s really hard for other people to live up to your expectations and that can increase your suffering tremendously.

Blame yourself and others. A good place to start is blaming others, that’s usually easier than blaming yourself. Well it does depend on your personality, and either one works pretty good. Blaming others takes all the responsibility off your shoulders, and since you’re not responsible you can’t fix it. Blaming others takes the pressure off you from having to make yourself miserable because people often hurt us and do us wrong.  Remember since you are right, they must be wrong. That’s just logical.

Of course if you have a hard time blaming others, then you can always turn to blaming yourself. This is also quite effective because it acknowledges the fact that you’re an idiot, a failure, and since you are those things there’s no point in trying to fix anything.  It’s just who you are and this will just continue to go on forever.

Minimize the positive. Those happy thoughts thinkers with all their foo foo fluff just don’t know reality. If you minimize positive things that you or others do, it helps put everything more in context of reality. It certainly won’t last. Nothing good lasts forever.

Accentuate the negative. You could even exaggerate a little bit.  I mean come on, realistically who doesn’t get that when you’re feeling miserable and grumpy, exaggeration is probably more truthful than saying it exactly the way it is. Here’s and example, I’ve got such a headache feel like my heads going to explode. I mean it’s not really going to explode, but you’ve got articulate it well so people get how you’re feeling.

Trust your emotions. Oh this is a good one. Your emotions are really going to tell you how you should be feeling and thinking. Just go with your gut, go with your heart, that’ll really stop all your positive thinking. I mean if you feel miserable you must be miserable. If you’re feeling lonely you must be alone.  You can’t trust that someone sitting beside you is really going to be there for you. I mean obviously they’re not doing enough to make you feel part of the group. Oh I guess I’m combining blame here. Well that’s great to show you can combine several of these to make them far more effective in staying miserable.

Remember, if it’s ever happened once, somewhere, to someone, it can happen to you. That’s right if it’s possible it’s probable. There’s at least one person out there who got run over by a truck while sitting in their living room. You should worry about that every time you sit down to enjoy watching some TV. I mean sure, they’d have to drive on the sidewalk, across the lawn, and through the house wall, but it’s possible right? And I mean if we’re going to be positive, we need to be positive that the possible can happen. That leads me to the next one.

If it’s happened before it’s going to happen again. If you found a hair in your food three times in a row, then you can certainly conclude every time you eat out there will be a hair in it. This is a good one to combine with our last one “if it’s possible it’s probable”. After all if bacteria can be on hair, and you found hair in your food three times, you better watch out for flesh eating bacteria in your burger. This tip can add much anxiety to your miserable grumpiness which is a bonus.

Label everything. Now I don’t mean with stickers. Of course you could do that which would take up time and anything that waste your time helps to make you miserable because you’ve wasted time. But what I’m talking here is labelling people or yourself. You see when you label something it really encapsulates what it is at its core. I mean someone didn’t just spilled the milk they are a slob. You didn’t just fail the one test, you are an absolute failure. See how much worse that sounds, there’s great material here for feeling miserable.

I think those tips should really help you to suffer and stay miserable. But if this course really wasn’t right for you then might I suggest the reverse of these? Read Dr. David Burn’s best selling book, “Feeling Good” or listen to his podcasts. But I warn you that won’t do much to help you feel grumpy.

McDonald, Jasmine A, et al. “Alcohol Intake and Breast Cancer Risk: Weighing the Overall Evidence.” Current Breast Cancer Reports, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Sept. 2013,

February 26, 2019

Insomnia driving you crazy? Tips on getting better night’s sleep and the connection to mental health.

Type the words “sleep & mental health” into Google and you’ll get article after article from reputable sources relating how important sleep is to our mental well-being. From medical journals to blogs by psychologists, the interconnection between body and mind play out very closely when it comes to sleep and poor mental health. 

While the studies of neurochemistry and neuroscience are still in infancy, researchers are discovering some very real connections between sleep and mental stability, or lack thereof. “There are some studies in both children and adults are suggesting that a lack of proper sleep may raise risk for, an even directly contribute to some psychiatric disorders And that treating the sleep disorder may actually help alleviate symptoms of the mental health problems caused by that sleep disturbance”. (Harvard Health 2009)

Depression, anxiety, ADHD, bipolar, Schizophrenia, PTSD, and psychosis, just to name a few, are disorders that have been studied in relation to sleep. Up to 80% of the people who have these disorders also have sleep problems and while it’s been long thought there was some kind of correlation, now scientists are starting to see an actual causal relationship. That means lack of sleep is actually contributing to the disorder itself. (Scott 2017) Just one statistic reports, people with insomnia are twice as likely to develop depression as those who sleep normally. (Khawja MD 2017) This is it to say sleep alone will cure all these diseases, but the more we can make a positive choice, the more we get a handle on each aspect of health, the more we can improve both our physical and mental health.

So what constitutes a good night's sleep? Is there a set number of hours you should sleep? What time is best? How do you get a good quality of sleep? The answers to all these questions are important so let’s dive into each one. 

A good night's sleep is one where you fall asleep within 30 minutes of going to bed, don't wake more than a couple times during the night, more than 20 minutes awake during those periods of time,  you spend 85% or more of time asleep while in bed, you don't need an alarm to wake you up, and you feel rested in the morning. 

Most sleep experts agree 7 to 8 hours is the optimal amount of time for a good night's sleep.  It is true some people seem fine, even appear to thrive on, under 7 hours on the pillow.  I've know a gentleman who slept less than 4 hours per night most of his life and he had so much energy he thought it was ok. Turn out he was bi-polar and sadly he ended up drying of suicide in his 60's.  Let this be a warning, you can't judge your sleep only by how much or little energy you have.  This can be a dangerous road. People think they are the exception to the rule until poor health sets in and it's too late.  Too much sleep can be indicative of a health issue was well.  Generally over 9 hours on a regular bases is cause for concern. Talk to your doctor if either of these apply to you.  

I know some of you night owls will disagree with this next one, but studies confirm it's best to get to bed between 8pm and midnight depending on time of the year, where you live, and other factors.  Most people have a spike in melatonin around 9pm, which is the hormone to help you sleep deep and to repair your body.

So how do you get the best quality of sleep? Develop a healthy bedtime route. Routines help our bodies maintain a systematic circadian rhythm enabling good sleep cycles.  Go to bed at the same time each night, get up the same time each morning, limit caffeine throughout the day, don't eat a large meal at least 4 hours before bed, have a relaxing routine 1 hour before bedtime, limit screen time 1 to 2 hours before bed (blue light affects sleep), keep the room dark as possible, leave electronics out of the bedroom, and don't do anything but sleep in bed (well, there is one other thing you can do but no reading in bed, texting, etc.).  The mind and body are habitual.  If you only sleep in bed it becomes a trigger to sleep just by laying there.

If you'd like to know how you are sleeping visit: for a free assessment and hand out on sleep.

Understanding Sleep.” Mental Health Canada,
Allen, Lauren. “How Sleep Affects Mental Health | Effects of Poor Sleep on Anxiety, Depression, & ADHD.” Neurocore, Neurocore, 12 July 2018,
Breus, Michael. “Sleep and Mental Health Disorders.” Psych Central, Psych, 8 Oct. 2018,
Scott, Alexandar J, et al. “Does Improving Sleep Lead to Better Mental Health? A Protocol for a Meta-Analytic Review of Randomised Controlled Trials.” NCBI, 18 Sept. 2017,
Harvard Health Publishing. “Sleep and Mental Health.” Harvard Health Blog, Harvard Health Publishing, July 2009,
Updated: June 19, 2018
Curtin, Cathryn. SHFAustralia. “Sleep and Mental Health.” The Sleep Health Foundation,
Khawaja, Imran, S, M.D. “Sleep Disorders and Mental Illness Go Hand in Hand.” UTSouthwestern Medical Center,
“Sleep Disorders, Depression, Schizophrenia -- How They're Related.” WebMD, WebMD,
“Sleep Matters: The Impact Of Sleep On Health And Wellbeing.” Mental Health Foundation, 17 Jan. 2016,
“Find Out Your Best Hours for Sleep Based on Your Biology and Your Life.” Sleep.Org, Sleep.Org,

How I Recovered From Depression

Depression affects more than 300 million people worldwide*.  The World Health Organization states, "Depression is the leading cause of...