How to Treat Depression Naturally
Lift Weights to Lift Your Mood
Usually, when you see a site about strength training, you expect to learn about building muscle, losing body fat with real food, and better nutrition.
You expect to read about the benefits of deadlifts, squats, pushups, and plain old walking.
You imagine that the sole focus is on getting into shape, getting lean, getting abs, and getting fit.
This is accurate, however, that is not the only type of fitness that Hashi Mashi targets.
Beyond strength training for fitness of the body, there is also strength training for fitness of the mind.
If you are in great physical shape but your mind is a mess, what is the value of the lean physique?
I literally stumbled across strength training and weightlifting as a way to deal with depression.
Through trial and error, I found that deadlifts, squats, presses, pushups, and more are amazing methods how to treat depression without medications.
Like many people with clinical depression, I have battled many demons.
Chief among them has been the struggle to lose weight. ((https://www.obesityaction.org/educational-resources/resource-articles-2/obesity-related-diseases/obesity-and-depression))
For me, that started way back as a baby, always being the chunky, husky, chubby kid.
The reason this is relevant is that through the path of latching onto the idea of eating real food to discover my real physique, in the process of shedding close to 100 pounds, I discovered that my confidence was going up and that antidepressants were not the only way how to treat depression.
I had always been intrigued by the power of food and really saw it in action, when for example after a wild salmon meal, my mind actually felt better.
Later on, I would learn that wild salmon is a great source of Omega 3, whose lack has been implicated as a cause of depression.((https://www.lifeextension.com/magazine/2007/10/report_depression/Page-01))
Later on, I would also learn that there are plant foods as well like seaweed and plankton and walnuts that are also good sources of Omega 3.((https://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=99))
I also noticed that when I ate more processed food, I began to feel more irritable and depressed with no end in sight to my cravings.
These two M’s, Mark and Mehdi, became my favorite M&M’s.
Strength Training for Your Mind
In the past, I had never done compound weight lifting, like many other people, I did some curls here and there with not much to show for it, as well as using the machines.
The idea of doing deadlifts, squats, bench presses, barbell rows, and shoulder presses to treat depression was the furthest thing from my mind when I first read Mehdi’s articles.
What I found out though was the more full-body lifts like squats and deadlifts left me feeling great, not just physically, but mentally as well.
Every time I did a workout routine of 5 sets of five squats, deadlifts, or shoulder presses when I walked out of the gym, I felt better than any times I could remember when under the influence of antidepressant medications.
I was shocked.
I was not aware that studies have found that just 10 weeks of weight workouts can dramatically improve strength, power, mobility, and agility, even in men and women in their 70s and 80s.((https://www.harvardhealthcontent.com/HealthyLifestyle/70,SPT0313?Page=Section8))
I started to view my squat, press, and deadlift workouts as a medical intervention, as a natural antidepressant that would not leave me with all of the nightmare side effects I had experienced, like heavy sweats, loss of feeling in my lower extremities, insomnia, hallucinations and worse of all – suicidal ideation.
I found that a 45 minute to an hour workout, whether the weight was heavy or not, as long as I was doing squats and deadlifts, along with the other strength training exercises like bench press, barbell row, and shoulder press, I was definitely feeling relief from my depression.
You need to know how to treat depression now. Sometimes, you cannot wait for the latest experimental drug to help soothe whatever depression and anxiety you are facing. If you have ever had clinical depression, you will know the great sense of relief you have when you are no longer living in that cloud.
That deep dark place that offers no enjoyment of the world but the opposite. Constant mental pain with the world. To the point that too many people opt out of life altogether, some by becoming fat and isolated, some by moping and sulking, and some by suicide when they see no other way out.
Did you know that in 2013, there were 41,149 deaths by suicide in the United States.((https://www.save.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.viewPage&page_id=705D5DF4-055B-F1EC-3F66462866FCB4E6))
Did you know that suicide is the 10th leading cause of death overall and is the second leading cause of death for 15 – 24-year-olds?((https://www.save.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.viewPage&page_id=705D5DF4-055B-F1EC-3F66462866FCB4E6))
Did you know that suicide among males is 4x’s higher than among females and that male deaths represent 79% of all US suicides?((https://www.save.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.viewPage&page_id=705D5DF4-055B-F1EC-3F66462866FCB4E6))
Over 50 percent of all people who die by suicide suffer from major depression. If one includes alcoholics who are depressed, this figure rises to over 75 percent.((https://theovernight.donordrive.com/?fuseaction=cms.page&id=1034))
More Americans suffer from depression than coronary heart disease, cancer, and HIV/AIDS.((https://theovernight.donordrive.com/?fuseaction=cms.page&id=1034))
Clearly, antidepressants are not doing the trick. There are so many antidepressants out there, yet, so much depression. What if there is another path how to treat depression? Is it not worth exploring this path? We can help prevent suicidal ideation, or worse, suicide itself. As well as helping anyone to build a stronger mind, greater confidence, self-esteem, and mood. Besides all of the benefits of strength training for your body.
Lift Weights to Lift Your Mood
Not everyone can be helped with medication, such as people who have treatment-resistant depression.((https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/in-depth/treatment-resistant-depression/art-20044324))
But I have experienced for myself that there is a way how to treat depression that might not require medications.
This might be the greatest unsung hero of the benefits of strength training – to lift your mood, to build emotional and mental strength, the invisible muscles that power our motivation and inspiration.
Perhaps this same method of strength training for your mental fitness can be of value to yourself or someone that you care about.
If medications work for you, lifting weights might still be an additional option that could still have you feeling better.
If you have treatment-resistant depression and meds do not work for you, then you know how bad the side effects can be.
The side effects that I experienced have put a huge hole in my life.
The consequences of meds for me have been nothing less than a disaster.
Divorce, estrangement, unemployment, those meds, Prozac, Neurontin, Risperdal, Effexor, Zoloft, and a good half dozen others had a large role to play in the pit I found myself in over twelve years ago.
Yes, I take responsibility for everything.
I am the one who took them.
However, assuming that depression is a real brain deficiency, either of hormones like serotonin or amino acids like tryptophan, then the physical actions I took to address the problem using medications was sincere, and there truly are bad side effects from ingesting these drugs.
They made me more paranoid, more tranquilized, left me hearing voices, waking up in pools of sweat, dry mouth, and with constant thoughts of suicide.
After starting these meds, I was in a much worse position than when I never took them.
My life imploded precipitously soon after starting my first medications of Zoloft.
And I mean a serious, dangerous fall.
I still sit in the ruins of my former life, but I am grateful that I stayed around long enough to find a new path how to treat depression with strength training and now I have been focused on rebuilding my life as best as I can with where I am today.
An Unsung Hero of Strength Training
Things started to get better when I began eating more real food and lifting weights.
And I do not just mean doing curls and triceps pushdowns or sitting like an astronaut in a leg press machine.
I had done workouts like that for years and never felt any difference in my mood.
When I say strength training, I mean the type of strength training like squats, deadlifts, presses and pushups, full strength training exercises, core exercises, functional strength training, compound lifts, whatever you want to call them, I have felt and continue to feel the benefits of strength training for the mind as much as I do for the body.
(In case you are worried about knee pain after squats or general tips for how to do a squat that will boost your fitness of mind and body, you can read more here.)
Good food and strength training are two powerful weapons to treat depression and obesity.
Depression and obesity go hand in hand, at least in my experience.
If you are close to going on meds, or you know someone who is, or even if you already are, I think that the possibility of learning how to treat depression naturally with strength training is worth the time to explore.
Did you ever think of vegetables, berries, salmon, as real food as a way how to treat depression? Have you thought of squats, push-ups and deadlifts for managing depression? Probably not.
If you told me twelve years ago that perhaps one of the best methods of treating depression lies in what you eat and strength training for both your body and mind, I would not have believed it.
Today I believe that strength training is as beneficial for the mind as it is for the body.
The question is why are we not so aware of this phenomenon?
Why are we fed anti-depressants and lines like “it will be okay”, “everything will be okay” and no information about strength training to combat clinical depression?
Get Stronger in Mind and Body
I think of the first time when I was prescribed Zoloft by a doctor.
By the way, that is not what I am talking about when I say strength training for your mind!
I think of insomnia that occurred the very first night that I took Zoloft.
The idea of Zoloft was frankly supposed to be a way to “take the edge off”.
I had a high-stress corporate job at the time and Zoloft was supposed to be a way to calm things down, or so said that doctor.
After not sleeping for three days on Zoloft, my stress only got higher.
I was not aware of the danger I was putting my life in when I first took Zoloft and so many other antidepressants.
Common side effects of Zoloft include sleepiness, nervousness, insomnia, dizziness, nausea, skin rash, headache, diarrhea,constipation, upset stomach, stomach pain, changes in appetite, abnormal ejaculation, impotence, decreased sex drive, difficulty having an orgasm, dry mouth, and weight loss.((https://www.rxlist.com/zoloft-side-effects-drug-center.htm))
And when I went back to the doctor, I just wish he had said:
“You know what, why don’t you get a gym membership for $50 a month, pick up a well-reviewed and seminal book about strength training like Starting Strength, 3rd edition, and focus on getting stronger.”
“But Doc, I am not looking to build muscle, I am supposed to take off the edge, feel calmer and a better mood, exhibit less stress and depression!”
“That is what I am telling you, son, all I want you to try is to learn how to strength train, and by getting stronger, I mean your entire body as you can from squats, deadlifts, pushups, presses, chin-ups, and barbell rows. Once you start to get stronger in your body, you will get stronger in your mind. You need strength son, the strength of body, and strength of mind and a strong body is going to be a much better vehicle for a strong mind. Strong minds live in strong bodies.”
In defense of that doctor and many others that prescribe anti-depressants like water running out of a faucet, they probably have no clue that strength training could ever help any of their patients to deal with their depression.
I have been in the office of a doctor who had tons of patients in the waiting room and instead of the expected 45 minutes to an hour session with the doctor, I never saw anyone come out of his office more than 5 minutes after walking in.
New prescription in hand, that is what they came out with, nothing more.
I know because I experienced the same.
I imagine that if doctors knew that strength training could help depression as much as antidepressants, that exercise can be as effective as medication in reducing depression, ((https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC474733/)) they might think twice before prescribing the antidepressants, at least they would be more likely to inform the patient.
Everyone knows that strength training builds physical muscle, it is less known how strength training can build the invisible muscles of your mind, confidence, and self-esteem.
My theory is that the latter can have an even more powerful impact than the former, the power of strength training to sculpt a healthier mind is going to help drive a better life, especially for those who are in a battle for their lives, the fight against depression.
The Mission of Hashi Mashi – Strength Training for your Mind – and Body Too!
Fast forward to today, I wish that I had this information back then.
I wish I had tried this back then.
I cannot change the past for myself, but maybe I can help out your present and future as well as mine.
This site is my vision of the place that I wish was available to go to that would prescribe a method of strength training and nutrition that would help how I might feel throughout the day without resorting or in addition to medications.
I have worked on this site by myself, I am no expert programmer so please bear with me as I attempt to improve the look and the feel, the user experience, and the content and quality of the articles.
Lift weights to lift your mood, eat real food to lift your mood, that is the prescription I wish my doctor had given to me instead of the Zoloft which left me unable to sleep for almost a week.
You know that not sleeping for a week does not do wonders for your ability to be on your game at the job.
And that was just the beginning of the end.
Hashi Mashi is about strength training for your mind – and body too!
About getting stronger, how to build our strength in both mind and body.
Hashi Mashi is not what to eliminate from your life, but rather how to build and gain strength, both emotional and physical.
This site is about how to build muscle, how to build confidence, how to use strength training to lift your mood and change your mind, body & life, no matter what your age, even if you are over 45 or 50, one day at a time.
How does Strength Training Help Your Mind?
For example, did you know that heavy lifting promotes testosterone? ((https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20803956))
The absence of testosterone is among other things, an indicator of depression.
Could it be that someone who is depressed, has a very low level of testosterone?
The answer is yes.((https://www.medpagetoday.com/MeetingCoverage/ENDO/50371))
When you have more testosterone, you can build more muscle, but you will also feel better.
I know that I did and after six months of doing squats and deadlifts, my testosterone levels doubled and I believe higher testosterone levels are a factor for feeling less depressed.
Sure, I am going to speak about all of the known ways of increasing testosterone, serotonin, and endorphins, like strength training through the benefits of deadlifts, squats, pushups, presses, rows, and real food nutrition.
My hope is that if there is a person out there who is facing the choices that I faced twelve years ago, and that instead of starting a program of anti-depressants, you will begin the type of strength training program that I speak about here, to get stronger in mind and body.
Who would you be if you could greet each day with enthusiasm, a better mood, and attitude?
Who would you be if you did not think you were ‘fat’ and out of shape?
My goal is to help not only myself but anyone who has experienced depression, loss, family estrangement, emotional abuse, trauma, deceit, theft, and divorce.
I am a work in progress, I do not claim to have beaten any or all of my own demons, especially depression, obesity, and anxiety, but I am on a better path today because of the benefits of strength training.
However, I have become much more aware how strength training and the food that we eat affects our mind and body, and for that, I am grateful and want to share what I am learning with you.
I also hope that you will be supportive of me as well because I will feel accountable knowing that you are out there.
I have found that real food, building muscle, and better thoughts have helped me wrestle my depression, obesity, and anxiety monsters to the ground.
At least I now have weapons and a fighting chance and I wish the same for anyone else out there who is willing to adopt the new strategy for how to treat depression with strength training.
Experience for yourself the benefits of strength training like deadlifts, squats, pushups, and real food nutrition to transform your mind and body.
In the past, the only response I had for how to treat depression was in a bottle.
I have nothing against medication when they are effective.
But if your medications are negatively affecting your life, then you owe it to yourself to search out a new path how to overcome depression.
The toll of antidepressant medications on my life has been nothing less than catastrophic; loss of relationships, career, community, family, estrangement, a divorce have been among the side effects that are not written on the warning labels of the medications I used.
The physical side effects, such as heavy sweating, catatonic behavior, loss of feeling, nightmares, hallucinations, and worst of all, suicidal ideation did come to pass as written.
The Benefits of Strength Training
How to Treat Depression and Get a Stronger Mind with or without Medications
Any man or woman struggling with loss, depression, estrangement, and/or post-divorce trauma can learn how to treat depression – obesity – anxiety naturally with strength training, as an adjunct to, or without medications.
If medications work for you, great, you will still benefit from the benefits of strength training and real food nutrition.
There is a significant body of evidence that the knowledge of how to treat depression is not dependent on where your local pharmacy is.
There is evidence today that you can treat depression naturally with strength training. ((https://blogs.psychcentral.com/life-goals/2014/07/treat-depression-naturally-with-strength-training/))
If you sit all day with no movement, you know that is not good, it is not good for your dog and it is certainly not good for you.
If you spend all day eating food that did not grow from the ground or on a tree, you know that is also not good, you will not be getting the nutrition that you need for your body and brain to be happy.
I write about the benefits of strength training that I have experienced myself and which can help you or someone you care about in fighting depression, obesity, and anxiety, nothing more and nothing less.
I write about the most powerful and effective strength training exercises to maximize your strength gains and minimize the time that you have to invest in feeling and seeing results.
If you implement these approaches, there is a great chance that not only will you have a new tool for how to treat depression, but you will also see the physical results of getting stronger, more attractive, and more confident, all great side effects of strength training.
We have all heard the oft-quoted aphorism attributed to Einstein that “Insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results”.
We have to do things differently, in thought, speech, and action if we want to change our lives.
The simplest formula how to treat depression naturally can be crystallized down into two words:
Strength Training means Squats, Deadlifts, Presses, Pushups & More Strength Training Exercises in addition to Real Food Nutrition.
This entire site of Hashi Mashi revolves around these major strength training exercises to help get you or someone you care about out of the rut of depression, being fat, and worrying about the future which ruins your present.
I search daily for new information and studies which can help pave the way to living instead of death by obesity and depression.
Make no mistake about it, obesity is dangerous for your health, just as depression is.
I will share my own experiences as well as the latest scientific information available to motivate and inspire even a person who was marinating in depression for decades.
My goal is to elaborate in detail on the benefits of strength training, the benefits of deadlifts, squats, pushups to build the fitness of your mind and of course, these same strength training exercises will transform your body.
The benefits of real food nutrition over-processed food junk to subdue depression and the amazing benefits of your own thoughts to keep you hungry for building a new and exciting life.
My sincere hope is that you or someone you know can implement these strength training strategies on how to treat depression naturally, before submitting to medications and their potential side effects which can in some instances, cause adverse reactions and literally kill you, lead to your death by suicide or destroy your real personality, relationships, career, and life.
Every Doctor I have come in contact with will prescribe medications as a last resort because they know that antidepressants work upon our brain chemistry and it many cases, the effects and side effects are dealing in unchartered territory.
Hence the many warnings that come with antidepressant medications.
You can be sure that your Doctor would be thrilled, as you will if you can manage to fight your depression with the benefits of strength training and without medications.
I am not a Doctor, so do not take my opinions as medical advice.
Depression is a debilitating condition.
Depression not only sucks the life out of you, but it will also suck the life out of those around you.
You are not the only one who ends up in a rut, your depression most likely will contaminate the moods of even your friends and family.
Obesity, while not as pernicious, carries its own venom.
The amount of time, energy, and money attempting to figure out how to lose weight and lose body fat has become a national obsession.
There is no question that obesity and depression are interconnected and scientists continue to study the connection.((https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1471489207001816))
They fuel one another.
Fortunately, the same strategy of strength training and of real food nutrition is helpful for both depression and obesity.
As you slim down, you will be less depressed.
As you are less depressed, you will be more motivated to keep on strength training which is healthy for your mind and body.
Anxiety over the future ruins your present.
Better to be motivated and excited about your future than worrying each and every day.
If you are reading this, either you might be wondering if you are depressed, suffering from depression yourself or you know someone who is and you want to help.
If you are struggling with depression yourself, then you know how difficult it is to get out of the quicksand of despair and back onto solid ground, I know first hand, please do not give up.
If you want to help a loved one or friend, you are strong and should be commended for caring that deeply.
I do not offer a magic solution.
What I do offer is a new way to look at the benefits of strength training.
The default view is that strength training means exercise to build physical muscle.
The new view is that strength training means the best barbell exercises to build your invisible muscles of good mood, self-esteem, confidence, and better mental fitness.
Of course, your body will benefit as well!
Please comment and/or share your own experiences or knowledge of how to treat depression.
You might enjoy reading my book ZEHHU: Crossing the Bridge from Depression to Life because it crushes depression & obesity, without meds.