(A Woman’s Guide To Reclaiming Wholeness After Sexual Abuse)
Blog and Podcast Show notes
By Simone N
For a more in depth discussion, check out the podcast episode for this blog, to listen.
Are you going overboard with certain behaviors to cope with depression, or depressing feelings and thoughts?
What can be done to resist the urges to overindulge?
This episode will be on the opposite end of what was spoken about in the last. Like self neglect, we can overindulge in activities as a way to cope with our mental and emotional states. It a distraction; to numb of fill some empty place within us.
Overindulging in food, alcohol, drugs, shopping/spending, etc. are some examples. Making references to episodes #15-17, it is what I will draw reference to, and expand upon in light of this subject depression. Body modification will not be covered in this one however, as i don’t feel that it is necessary.
Let’s get into overeating and binging. As well as under eating, overeating is one of the most common and recognizable symptoms of depression. It’s resultant weight gain, is the signal as well.
This behavior, like others stated in previous episodes, are used as a coping mechanism to distract, numb or suppress difficult feelings and thoughts that cause pain. Eating, interestingly enough, does have a very positive effect on our moods and bodies. When we eat, chemicals are released that make us feel good, comforted, and satiated. This of course is what we are looking for. Food has the same effect as other substances like drugs and alcohol. Eating is especially comforting when we are feeling unhappy, or sad, giving us that temporary “high” of feel good emotions that we are lacking.
Some of the chemicals that are release are: serotonin (which enhances calmness, improves mood, and lessens depression), endorphins (gives the body it’s natural high; pain relief, and increased pleasure), and dopamine (enhances mental concentration and alertness). Can you see why we crave food and overeat when we’re depressed?
Overeating, in a way, can be our bodies way of raising those good chemicals we so desperately need in this state depression of which we are lacking. Overeating is a overcompensation to regain a state of inner balance, and satiation.
Here are some things we can do to change our overeating patterns (look to episode #15 for more):
- Exercise. Of course, you knew that was coming. What I didn’t tell you before is that exercise elevates endorphins, and therefore, helps to cut carb cravings, which is where we are trying to get this endorphin high we are looking for. Exercise also lowers dopamine levels (as too much can cause us to feel agitated and aroused), and norepinephrine which leads to lowered appetite and a more balanced mood.
- Eat more nutrient dense food; as you get the essential vitamins and minerals that your body needs, you tend to eat less, and crave less. The more empty the calories, the more you eat. In addition, if it is sweet, you can develop an addiction. Also strive for those foods high in fiber, as it controls hunger. You feel full longer.
- Try to get yourself into a better feeling mood before you eat. If you are depressed I know this would not be helpful, or make sense to say this. What i mean is, try not to be extremely emotionally aroused, and irritated, as it will only serve to increase emotional eating. The calmer, or better-feeling you are, the less you eat.
- Keep junk foods away from your home. Out of sight out of mind.
- Eat as soon as you feel hungry. Don’t wait and become overly hungry, as waiting too long, will increase feelings of hunger. When you eat, you eat too fast, which will result in too much, overeating.
- Get adequate sleep. Sleep helps to stabilize mood, suppress certain chemicals like grehlin (gives one the desire to eat), and raises other chemicals like leptin (suppresses appetite and hunger).
Over indulging, or drinking too much alcohol. This is done for the same reasons of why one may overeat, which is to numb, suppress, our feelings and thoughts. We are looking to regain good feelings, a state of calm and peace; however, alcohol gives a false sense of well-being as the mind becomes altered, and overtime damages the mind and body. This practice does not allow us to work through and relieve ourselves emotionally and mentally. We cannot grow stronger, and heal, when masking our true emotions, suppressing what needs to be acknowledged, worked out, and dealt with.
Tips to change the habit (refer to episode 16, for more):
- Exercise to release those feel good chemicals, for a calmer, peaceful mood, and relief of stress.
- Meditation and yoga.
- More adequate sleep; helps to re balance mood, inside mental and emotional states.
- Keep alcohol out of the house; avoid hanging aroud others that drink
- Treatment centers, or rehab if applicable.
For other substances like drugs (prescription or illegal), the same would apply. Soliciting professional help would be recommended.
There are many other indulgences that we engage in like: body modification shopping/spending, sex, social media/internet, texting, gambling, cigarettes, etc., that are less recognized as signs depression. These impulsive behaviors have become normalized because of how common they are. As there is the same root issues, these tips can apply to many of these behaviors just listed.I will not expand on these, as alcohol and overeating are the most important, relevant and relateable to major/clinical depression, and others.
Check out the next article: Dealing With: Grief, Loss and Letting go