A Bit About Depression

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

As someone who has studied psychology in college I have read and heard quite a lot about depression. I am a firm believer that antidepressants should not be the first option in treating depression. However, I hope that by the end of this quick post I can convince you that antidepressants should not be completely avoided either.

First of all, a person is diagnosed with major depression when they have been in a depressed mood for more than two weeks. Specific symptoms of major depression include some of the following:

  • loss of interest in activities they normally enjoy
  • weight loss/gain
  • trouble concentrating
  • guilt
  • fatigue
  • irritability
  • worthlessness
  • suicidal ideation

Depression can impact a person’s social life, career, and/or performance in school. A family history of depression can slightly increase one’s risk of depression. However, there are a number of environmental  factors that can contribute to depression as well:

  • history of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse
  • major life events such as the death of a loved one, or the loss of a job
  • other mental illnesses or other physical ailments
  • history of, or current, substance abuse.

Of course, taking antidepressants is not the only effective treatment option for depression. Effective alternatives include physical exercise, psychotherapy, and in extreme case electroconvulsive therapy or ECT.

Physical exercise can increase endorphins, which can counteract the symptoms of depression. Research has shown that physical exercise can also improve overall brain health by promoting the birth of new neurons.

Psychotherapy, where the depressed person talks to a mental health professional, can help the depressed person change their negative thoughts and actions and replace them with positive ones. Psychotherapy can also help people find better ways to cope and solve their problems. Research has shown that psychotherapy can be just as effective as antidepressants for people with moderate to severe depression. Overall, psychotherapy is especially beneficial to people who experience depression due to the challenges or difficulties they’ve faced in the earlier days of their life.

In extreme cases where no other treatment option including antidepressants, has worked Electroconvulsive therapy or ECT can be used. During the ECT procedure, the patient is given general anesthesia and then a series of small electrons are passed through their brain and this purposefully triggers a seizure. ECT impacts the neurotransmitters in the brain to help relieve symptoms of depression. For many patients this is only a temporary option.

What some people may not know about depression is that aside from affecting our moods and behaviors it also negatively impacts the biology of our brain. Cortisol is a stress hormone that is released by the body during times of physical and mental stress. However, in people with major depression excessive amounts of cortisol are released and sent to the brain.

In the long term excessively high levels of cortisol in the brain can lead to a wide range of problems. Some of these include:

  • slowing down the birth of new neurons
  • memory problems
  • shrinking the prefrontal cortex (which is responsible for regulating emotions and making decisions)
  • High cortisol levels also increase the size of the amygdala which is responsible for emotional responses. This can lead to sleep disturbances and it can cause the body to release irregular amounts of hormones and other chemicals.
  • High levels of cortisol also decrease the brains structural plasticity (which is the brains ability to adapt to different situations).

The reality is that for many people depression is not limited to constantly feeling sad. For some people depression is caused by biological changes in their brain and for many people if depression is left untreated, in the long-term it can cause potentially irreversible damage to the brain.

Unfortunately, physical exercise, psychotherapy and ECT cannot prevent or improve the biological causes and the long-term biological damage that is associated with untreated major depression.

Once again, if someone is diagnosed with depression they should most definitely try physical exercise, psychotherapy, or any other non-prescription remedy. However, after a certain period of time if these other remedies don’t work it might be time to try an antidepressant.

For those that are wondering about the effectiveness of antidepressants, the latest research has shown that compared to a placebo (in a scientific experiment a non-drug  sugar pill that is presented to the patient as an antidepressant) the actual antidepressant are significantly more effective in treating depression. Of course, some antidepressants are more effective than others and only a doctor can correctly prescribe the right medication for you.

Unfortunately, statistics show that most people with depression do not get the help and treatment that they need. In developed nations only one in six people receive treatment for depression and in the developing nations its only one in twenty-seven people. If you do suffer from depression, please make sure to reach out for help regardless of which treatment option you choose, never leave depression untreated.

I know that for many people this is much easier said than done because unfortunately,  here in the United States not everyone has access to a mental health professional and going to visit one can be very expensive. These are systemic problems that the government and those with power have the responsibility of fixing.

Aside from exercise here are some free mental health resources.

With Love,



10 Uses of Coconut Oil

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

A few weeks ago, I posted about some of the benefits of coconut oil for hair. Since that post received a lot of positive feedback I thought I would create another post about some of the benefits of coconut oil for the skin and skin related conditions. As a reminder, in all of these cases its best to use virgin organic and unrefined coconut oil.


Coconut oil is a great skin moisturizer. A little bit goes a long way so just take a dime sized amount and rub it on your face or on any rough or dry patch of skin.

Coconut oil actually has a small amount of SPF sun protection (like around SPF 4) so if you’re going to be inside during the day, coconut oil can help protect your skin from some of the harmful radiation from the sun that might for example, come through the window. However, obviously it is no substitute for sunscreen.

Coconut Oil and Acne:

If you have acne prone skin I would recommend approaching coconut oil with caution because some people claim that coconut oil makes then breakout but then others argue that coconut oil can actually help with acne due to its antibacterial properties.


People of all ages who suffer from eczema, including babies and toddlers, can benefit from coconut oil. All you have to do is rub a small amount on the affected area or as a preventative measure rub some of the oil on areas that generally tend to flare up.

Ideally the best time to do this is after a shower or bath. Coconut oil can help with eczema due to the fact that it has vital nutrients such as lauric acid, caprylic acid, and vitamins E and K. Coconut oil can really help ease the itchiness associated with eczema.


Its important to mention that you should always wear a sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher to prevent a sunburn. However, if you do get a sunburn the first thing you should do is apply a cool damp towel on the sunburn for around 15 minutes to hopefully cool down the skin and ease the burning sensation.

After a few hours have passed, apply some coconut oil to the affected area. The coconut oil can prevent the sunburned area from becoming excessively dry and it may even speed up the healing process.

Mosquito Bites:

If you get a mosquito bite or other bug bite, consider applying some coconut oil to the affected area. It can protect the affected area from bacteria and it can help quickly stop the itching and reduce swelling. It is best to use warm coconut oil so it penetrates faster and reapply two to three times a day until symptoms improve.

Lip Care:

If you’re like me and you have dry chapped lips, coconut oil can be a great natural alternative to most lip balms that contain alcohol. At night, you can dab a small amount on your lips and overtime you will wake up to softer and more moisturized lips.

Alternatively, you can mix one tablespoon of melted coconut oil with two tablespoons of brown sugar to create an easy and effective lip scrub to exfoliate your lips.

Also, the MCT, or the good fats in coconut oil can help speed up the healing process of cold sores. Or, alternatively, if you feel a cold sore is about to pop out rub some coconut oil on the area to prevent it from getting larger.

Fungal Infections:

The lauric acid and caprylic acid in coconut oil help fight many different types of fungal infections. Just cleanse and dry the area and apply warm coconut oil and massage it in. For more severe cases, consider adding a drop of tea tree oil to the coconut oil and then apply to the affected area.

Make-up remover:

Coconut oil is very helpful in removing make-up from the face. It is especially useful in removing stubborn eye make-up. It can even remove waterproof mascara.

Shaving Cream:

Coconut oil is a great all-natural shaving cream. Just apply warm coconut oil onto your legs and make sure to spread it evenly over the area you will be shaving. Then, just shave the area and if you take a shower afterward your legs will feel extra soft and smooth.

Cracked Heels:

Coconut oil can help soften and heal the rough skin on your heels. First, while you’re in the shower use a pumice stone or any other exfoliator to slough off some of the dead skin and then rub coconut oil onto your heels once or twice a day.

A few additional uses:

Mouthwash: thanks to its antibacterial properties you can take a spoonful of coconut oil and swish it in your mouth for a few minutes to help freshen your breath and fight bacteria.

Coconut oil is also great for gum health. Just massage the oil onto your gums for a few minutes to prevent gum damage.

My father was taking a medication that can cause gum damage as a side effect. He found that rubbing coconut oil helped decrease the damage of the medication on his gums.

Coconut oil is also great for your nails and cuticles. The fatty acids in coconut oil can lead to healthy nails and cuticles. It can also help strengthen weak and brittle nails and thanks to its anti-fungal properties coconut oil can help prevent nail fungus.

You may have never considered rubbing coconut oil on your armpits but the coconut oil can act as a natural deodorant. It won’t prevent you from sweating but thanks to its antibacterial properties it can kill the bacteria that causes the bad smell.

A Word of Caution:

Without a doubt, there are many great topical uses of coconut oil. However, it is important to mention that the American Heart Association warns against eating a lot of coconut oil. This is because coconut oil consists of 80 percent saturated fat which is more than lard or butter. Saturated fat can increase bad cholesterol so its best to limit your intake of coconut oil.

I really hope you found these tips to be helpful!

With Love,