The SIGECAPS mnemonic is used to diagnose depression.
It is likely that even if you suffer from depression, you never heard of Sigecaps.
Sigecaps is a mnemonic that treatment professionals are familiar with.
Sigecaps is a check list to determine if you have depression.
However, how about using Sigecaps as a checklist to fight depression?
Why not use the same sigecaps checklist as an aid to battle depression, and not just for diagnosis?
We are tired of being diagnosed, it is time to feel better!
Sigecaps Mnemonic to Fight Depression
S for Sleep
1. Sleep to Defeat Depression
The first new habit to fight depression is sleep.
Sleep changes is the first question based on Sigecaps.
“How is your sleep?” your doctor asks.
Excessive or insufficient sleep is an indicator of depression.
Therefore, the first step to fighting depression is to fix and/or improve our sleep habit.
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.
The Importance of Sleep to Heal/Prevent Depression
I stands for Interest Loss
2. New Interest Habit
The second of sigecaps questions is “have you had a loss of interest in activities?”.
If you have, that is another indicator for depression.
Therefore, 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 head.
A new interest does not mean trying all the flavors of Ben & Jerry vanilla based ice creams.
A super healthy 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, music, language, photography, weight lifting, kayaking.
G stands for Guilt
3. Stop the Guilt
The third question from Sigecaps is:
“Are you feeling guilty?”
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.
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 should forgive, love and approve of yourself first.
Some 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.” (2)
– 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
Stop the guilt
– I let go and release any self-blame or guilt, I don’t need those feelings anymore, I can let them go
Stop the self-flagellation
– I release and let go of all self-criticism
– I forgive myself for being so hard on myself
You deserve the Best
– I am good enough, always been good enough, and I do my best; hence I am deserving of good things and joy
– I completely love and accept myself as I am
Source Credit: Based on the Teachings of Louise Hay
Listen to Louise Hay Recommendations on How to Change Your Life
E is for Energy
4. Increase your Energy
The fourth sigecaps diagnostic 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.
It goes without saying that you need to lay off of the junk food.
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 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.
Simple workout plan for energy:
- Walk every day for 20 to 30 minutes.
- Do some type of weight training or body weight 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 3 sets of at least 3 repetitions.
- Rest in between sets for 30 seconds (for toning) or 5 minutes (for building strength).
- 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.
Watch The Best of the Soup Nazi
C stands for Concentration
5. Improve your Concentration
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 interests, 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.
A is for Appetite
6. Work up an 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.
P is for Psychomotor agitation/retardation
7. Increase Tryptophan Intake for More Serotonin
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.
Foods High in 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.
- 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, chickpea
- Brown rice, red rice, barley, corn, oats
- Source Credit: http://www.med-health.net/Foods-High-In-Tryptophan.html
S stands for Suicidal Ideation
8. Self-Help for 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 steps, than with antidepressants.
At least as good of a chance.
Once you are at this stage, you need immediate help.
If you follow the previous seven 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.
Please share how you have or are dealing with depression.
Do you have additional strategies to share beyond the Sigecaps tools that are listed here?