Table of Contents
- What does SIGECAPS mean?
- The SIGECAPS Depression Screening Criteria
- Are You Sick & Tired of Spending Money on Antidepressants?
- SIGECAPS Questions and their Depression Crushing Potential
- SIGECAPS Depression Screening Questions Transformed
- The I Stands for Interest Loss
- The G Stands for Guilt
What does SIGECAPS mean?
You never heard of sigecaps ( which is also written as SIG-E-CAPS )?
Yea, neither did I, even when my main cocktail of the day was antidepressants.
In the old days, physicians used the abbreviation “SIG” to mean directions on prescriptions.
The “E” CAPS was to remind the pharmacist to prescribe energy capsules aka antidepressants.
This is how sigecaps and depression first became linked together.
Eventually, sigecaps turned into a diagnostic screening tool for depression
The sigecaps questions are designed to help a professional determine if a patient is clinically depressed.
We can use the sigecaps screening tool to help fight depression, not just diagnose depression.
Let’s take a look at how the sigecaps questions can be used to help relieve depression:
The SIGECAPS Depression Screening Criteria
The criteria of major depression is that five of the eight sigecaps questions are present for at least two weeks.
Are You Sick & Tired of Spending Money on Antidepressants?
Prozac and Sarafem, at a dose of 10 mg or 20 mg a day, cost about $133 a month.
Celexa, at a dose of 20 mg, costs about $94 a month.
Wellbutrin, at dosages of 75 to 100 mg a day, ranges in cost from $108 to $177 a month.
On top of the cost of antidepressants, there are the sometimes catastrophic side effects as shown in the infographic above.
90 percent of people who take antidepressants have at least one side effect.
While most people can tolerate them, an estimated 20 percent to 30 percent stop taking the medication because they find the side effects intolerable.
The October Consumer Reports survey found that 40 percent of people who took antidepressants complained of adverse sexual side effects.
The FDA now requires antidepressants to carry warning labels indicating an increased risk of suicidal thinking in children and teens who take the drugs.
This warning came after Glaxosmithkline, the maker of paroxetine (Paxil), failed to make public three studies it conducted in 2003 showing an increase in suicidal thinking in children who took the drug compared to those taking dummy (placebo) pills.1)http://consumersunion.org/news/generic-antidepressants-can-save-consumers-1200-a-year/
If you had a different way of fighting depression, would you try it out? Most likely!
In the meantime, let’s see how we can use the sigecaps depression mnemonic to treat depression.
SIGECAPS Questions and their Depression Crushing Potential
True, sigecaps has been used for close to 100 years to diagnose depression.
[bctt tweet=”It is time to put depression screening criteria to better use. The very same criteria used to diagnose depression can be used to fight depression.” username=”HashiMashi”]
How about using sigecaps as a checklist to fight depression, not just for diagnosis?
People who deal with depression must have alternative options to antidepressants.
The negative side effects of antidepressants can render a person into a state of disability, estrangement, isolation and career loss.
Do yourself a favor, before using antidepressants for depression, first use sigecaps as a guide.
Every sigecaps question can be used as a roadmap to help us manage depression.
Change your lifestyle, modify your daily habits, improve the food that you eat.
Start to workout.
See if you do not feel better in just a few months.
For example, you can lose 20 to 30 pounds of weight.
Weight loss will help you gain confidence and start to exercise more.
The additional exercise is going to lift your mood, especially when you start doing deadlifts and squats.
You can use the sigecaps questions as a guide to modify your lifestyle.
In the next section, I list the sigecaps screening questions and how to use this question to improve your habits.
SIGECAPS Depression Screening Questions Transformed
The S stands for Sleep.
Have you noticed an increase of sleep during the day or a decrease of sleep at night?
Excessive daytime sleep and/or insufficient nighttime sleep are both indicators of depression.
The New SIGECAPS Habit:
The first new habit to fight depression is to improve your sleep.
A study found that 87 percent of depression patients who resolved their insomnia had major improvements to their depression, with symptoms disappearing after eight weeks, whether the person took an antidepressant or a placebo pill. The study’s lead author told the New York Times:2 “The way this story is unfolding, I think we need to start augmenting standard depression treatment with therapy focused on insomnia.”
Work on improving your sleep.
Make a sleep schedule for yourself.
Commit to getting to sleep around 10 or 11 in the evening.
Do not watch TV in bed or surf the web. Make your room as dark as possible.
When you lie down, just pay attention to the sound of your breath.
Inhale and exhale.
Think good thoughts, stuff you are grateful for, and imagine better health in all areas.
Shoot to get a sleep of seven to eight hours.
Watch this Video on The Importance of Sleep and How it Affects your Brain
The I Stands for Interest Loss
The I of sigecaps stands for loss of interest in activities.
Have you experienced a loss of interest in activities that you once found enjoyable?
A loss of interest in such activities is a sign of depression.
I stands for New Interest and Investment in YOU!
Getting interested in something productive is the second step to fighting depression.
You need to take up a new or old interest, something that gets you out of your house or your head.
A new interest does not mean trying all the flavors of Ben & Jerry vanilla based ice creams.
Junk food is not entertainment and will never help you deal with depression.
In fact, more junk food means more depression, as you watch the scale numbers climb.
The new interest to take is in you, yourself.
Yes, you need to invest in yourself.
Stop investing in the stocks of Nabisco and Doritos.
What are you getting out of it, other than fatter?
And the more fat you get, the more depressed you will be.
Start investing in yourself.
You are worth it, no?
A fuel oriented nutrition plan can qualify as a new interest.
At least you will be feeding your body the best nutrition possible.
All of these great nutrients will not only flood your body, but your brain as well.
Find a new interest, such as; music, language, photography, weight lifting, kayaking and most important, exercise.
Why is exercise so critical?
The G Stands for Guilt
The G of the sigecaps criteria is for guilt and self-esteem.
Are you feeling guilty or unworthy? Do you have low self esteem and sense of worthlessness?
G Now Stands for Give up the Guilt:
You cannot minimize the destructive force of non-stop guilt.
Guilt is not action.
When you are guilty, you are not actively helping anyone, including yourself.
Yes, guilt is an excellent tool to prevent bad behavior.
But, if you already indulged in bad behavior, the guilt now is not going to rectify what you did.
To rectify what you did, you need to have sincere remorse and vow to never ever do that again.
If you need to apologize to someone, then do it.
When a restitution of money must be made, do it.
If they do not accept your apology, or forgive you, the matter is out of your hands.
Excessive guilt eats up your insides.
You can be consumed by guilt with no end in sight.
Let yourself out of prison.
Or have another friend or family member tell you that they approve of you.
Of course, you must forgive, love and approve of yourself first.
11 affirmations to Dissolve Guilt:
- There is no blame – I release the need to blame anyone, including myself. We are all doing the best we can with the understanding, knowledge, and awareness we have.
- Even though I feel like I should be guilty, I choose to love and accept myself anyway.
- I am OK and it is safe for me to forgive myself.
- Today, I choose to lovingly accept myself as I am and I choose to compliment myself and give myself credit for the good things I do.
- I am learning and improving everyday, I am patient with myself, I love myself and accept myself as I am.
- The best path is to release any self-blame or guilt, I don’t need those feelings anymore, I can let them go.
- I release and let go of all self-criticism.
- I forgive myself for being so hard on myself.
- You deserve the Best always.
- Abundance and joy is my right. I am good enough, always been good enough, and I do my best.
- I completely love and approve of myself as I am.
Source Credit: Based on the Teachings of Louise Hay
How to Change Your Life
The E Stands for Energy
The E stands for Energy and is the fourth part of the sigecaps depression mnemonic.
Do you feel fatigued? Do you feel a lack of energy?
A common symptom of depression is fatigue, and a lack of energy.
E is to Increase Energy
The fourth sigecaps diagnostic question is about energy:
“Do you feel fatigued? Are you exhausted?”
Some people characterize the lack of energy as “burnt out”.
They all boil down to the same problem, lack of energy.
Antidepressants are the last thing that will help with energy.
The best course of action to increase your energy is to improve your nutrition.
Feed yourself high quality food, the best of the best.
Make sure that you have vegetables with most meals, at least twice a day, if not more.
Go for complex carbohydrates like brown rice, sweet potato and oatmeal.
Instead of higher processed foods like wheat bread.
Identify Food Sensitivities
It goes without saying that you need to lay off of the junk food.
An excellent diet is going to help increase energy more than antidepressants.
Avoiding processed foods and junk foods can have a more profound impact on your energy level than any antidepressant can ever hope to have.
See how Ultra-Processed Junk Food can affect people.
Obesity is no help for any person who wants to increase their energy levels.
Like the ‘soup nazi’ said: “No More Snicker Bars for You!”
A simple meal plan for energy:
- Drink a tall glass of water with a real lemon wedge upon waking up.
- Have half a grapefruit before or with breakfast.
- Bowl of oatmeal, hot or cold, with water, 1% organic milk or cashew milk.
- Add berries and peanut butter (if you like) to the oatmeal.
- Boil a couple of eggs or sautee a vegetable omelete.
- For lunch, have some brown rice, black beans, veggies and turkey (optional).
- Have a fruit in between breakfast and lunch and/or lunch and dinner if you are hungry.
- For Dinner, sweet potato, salmon and a vegetable, like bok choy, cauliflower, asparagus or broccoli.
- If you are still hungry after all this food, have an apple.
- Establish regular meal times to train your body when to expect fuel every day. This will prevent body distress that can lead to depression.
A Simple workout plan for energy:
- Walk every day for 30 minutes.
- Do some type of weight training or bodyweight training 3 days a week.
- For example, pushups on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
- Add squats, jumping jacks and situps to the pushups if possible.
- Or, add weight training with dumbbells or barbells.
- On Tuesday and Thursday, relax, except for deadlifts.
- Rest on the weekend.
- Keep track of the number of repetitions and weight of each exercise.
- Do 5 sets of at least 5 repetitions or 3 sets of 10 reps.
- Rest in between sets for one minute to produce more testosterone and endorphins which helps to relieve depression.
- When you can do between 6 and 12 repetitions, you can go up in weight.
- Keep your weight training to no more than 30 minutes a day.
- Or you might end up getting depressed from being in the gym too long.
The C Stands for Concentration
The C represents concentration.
Do you have difficulty concentrating?
Reduced concentration is a hallmark of depression, especially together with other sigecaps depression symptoms.
C stands for Concentration and Cardio
The inability to concentrate is a hallmark of depression.
What can you do to improve your concentration?
All the steps that you are implementing till now are going to help.
Better sleep, new interest in yourself and investing in you, dissolving your guilt, a healthy meal and workout plan.
These previous steps will fuel and relieve your mind.
Several other suggestions are to:
- Prioritize what it is that you must get done.
- Limit distractions like radio or tv.
- Work in a quiet atmosphere.
- Break up your task into manageable pieces.
- Establish a routine and stick to your calendar.
Implement a cardio training program to ensure that you are getting the minimum required 30 minutes of exercise 5 times a week.
A cardiorespiratory program will help you think clearer, get healthier and fitter and fight depression, all at the same time.
The A Stands for Appetite
The A in sigecaps stands for appetite.
Have you lost your appetite? Have you lost enjoyment in food, or, are you bingeing on food?
A loss of appetite or in some cases a major increase in appetite is another of the classic signs of depression.
A is for Appetite
A loss or increase in appetite can be a sign of depression.
Follow the simple meal and workout plan above.
This can help regulate your appetite.
Do not punish your body for the anxieties of your mind.
Think of food as fuel for your body and eat when you are hungry.
Stop snacking on junk food and focus on high quality food.
The workout plan will help to keep you moving.
Building muscle and exercise is going to help your appetite.
Proper Nutrition to Prevent Agitation/Sulking
You can see how important nutrition is for depression. Antidepressants are supposed to make more serotonin available to our brain cells. They block certain receptors from absorbing too much serotonin.
This is why they are called SSRIs, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Commonly prescribed SSRIs include:
Another way of getting more serotonin into your system is through food.
Particularly food that contains tryptophan.
In order for your body to manufacture serotonin, it needs a sufficient supply of the natural amino acid, tryptophan. Tryptophan helps normalize levels of serotonin and other neurotransmitters. This can help with both depression and increased aggression or slowness of movement. Source Credit: http://www.lifeextension.com/magazine/2013/5/better-brain-chemistry-with-tryptophan/page-01
Which foods are high in the amino acid Tryptophan?
- Eggs. The protein in eggs can significantly boost your blood plasma levels of tryptophan, according to recent research.
- Cheese. Cheese is another great source of tryptophan.
- Salmon. Have you ever noticed being in a better mood after good quality salmon? Now you know why.
- Nuts and Seeds.
- Source Credit: http://www.healthline.com/health/healthy-sleep/foods-that-could-boost-your-serotonin
- Traditional milk products, yogurt and soy milk
- Calf’s liver, chicken breast, turkey breast
- Halibut, cod, tuna, salmon
- Cheddar processed cheese, cottage cheese, tofu, gruyere cheese
- Apples, bananas, blueberries, strawberries, avocados, pineapple, peaches
- Spinach, mustard greens, asparagus, eggplant, winter squash, green peas, kelp, broccoli, onions, tomatoes, cabbage, cauliflower, mushrooms, cucumbers, potatoes
- Walnuts, peanuts, cashews, pistachios, chestnuts, almonds
- Ground flax, sesame, pumpkin, fenugreek, sunflower seeds (roasted)
- Mung bean, soybeans, kidney beans, lima beans, chickpeas
- Brown rice, red rice, barley, corn, oats
- Source Credit: http://www.med-health.net/Foods-High-In-Tryptophan.html
The P Stands for Psychomotor
P is for psychomotor agitation or retardation.
Are you feeling more anxious and cannot sit still? Or, are you more lethargic and very slow in your movements?
Increased agitation or much slower movements are depression indicators.
The S Stands for Suicidal Ideation
The S of sigecaps stands for suicidal ideation.
Are you preoccupied with thoughts of death? Do you have a plan to commit suicide?
Suicidal ideation is the most urgent sign of depression that must be treated immediately.
S stands for Strength Training to Prevent Suicidal Ideation
Are you preoccupied with thoughts of death?
Have you imagined how to make that happen?
Suicidal ideation is the most urgent sign of depression that must be treated immediately.
Unfortunately, antidepressants carry a warning label saying that their use might lead to suicidal ideation!
You have as good of a chance preventing suicidal ideation with the previous sigecaps treatment steps, than with antidepressants.
However, once you are at the stage of suicidal ideation, you need immediate help.
Before calling the suicide hotline or checking into a hospital, there is one more suggestion to consider, strength training.
In addition to cardio, start pushing yourself to get stronger in body.
Mens Sana in Corpore Sano
Stop Relying on Antidepressants to Deal with Depression
If you follow the previous eight steps, there is a good chance that you can alleviate the suicidal ideation.
If not, take immediate action by calling the suicide hotline or checking into a hospital for observation.
The waves of depression can dissipate, so don’t let the ideation lead you to an action that you cannot take back.
A new guide to fighting depression which is the basis of these new depression treatment principles is ‘Zehhu: Crossing the Bridge from Depression to Life’.
This is one of the best self help books on depression out there.
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