How to Find Your Emotional Balance
Depression and anxiety, which often occur together, may be pulling you off-kilter, and subtle symptoms can creep up on you without your realizing it.
With mild depression, you might get your work done and perform all your other duties but have trouble mustering enthusiasm for any of it. Getting ready to go to a party often requires a gargantuan effort (although if you can manage that hurdle, you're capable of having a good time). And when little things go wrong—a train is late, a friend cancels—you can be totally knocked off course.
With mild anxiety, you worry about things that most people don't: If there are rumors of a management change at the office, you'll stay up all night thinking about it while everyone else waits for more information before getting worked up. You wish, perhaps, that you were more easygoing—sometimes your fears keep you from trying things.
In both cases, the LLuminari experts recommend the following:
1. Meditation: A proven treatment for anxiety, and, to a lesser extent, depression, "it lowers blood pressure and heart rate and counteracts the secretion of stress hormones like cortisol," Oz says. "We use it in the hospital for anxious heart surgery patients and for post-op depression."
2. Yoga: The mental focus, breathing, and limbering postures combined into one activity work like a multivitamin for inner stability.
3. Reorganization: Look at your daily schedule and sort out what gives you pleasure and what stresses you out. Then think of every way possible to remove the latter from your life.
4. Saint-John's-Wort: Although a large study funded by the National Institutes of Health recently suggested that this herb has no effect on severely depressed people, more than 20 studies, mostly in Europe, show that the herb helps alleviate mild depression. Christopher Hobbs, a clinical herbalist and consultant to the herb industry who has written 22 books, including Herbal Remedies for Dummies, says the optimal dosage is 300 milligrams three times a day (of a formula with 0.3 percent hypericin), although a small person might try twice a day. He also says it may take four to six weeks to notice any effects. Caution: If you're on any medication, consult your doctor before trying Saint-John's-Wort, because it has been shown to interfere with a number of drugs, including some types of chemotherapy and possibly birth control pills.
If none of these strategies make you feel better after six weeks, you may want to consult a mental health professional. Certainly, if you're having trouble functioning—work is suffering, nothing excites you, you've stopped seeing friends, your mind is racing, you can't even get out of bed—you should go straight for help.
This article is part of Oprah.com's 2011 Feel Good Challenge. Join now—and move closer to the life you want!
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