SIGECAPS (aka “SIG E CAPS”) is a mnemonic used to diagnose symptoms of depression.
But, you probably didn’t know that you can use it to boost a depressed mood. And your doctor probably doesn’t know that either.
Not because your doctor does not want to help you, but rather because she or he is conditioned to treat depression with antidepressants.
In some cases, antidepressants can save the life of someone in severe distress.
But in other cases, as when you have treatment-resistant depression, antidepressants can trigger catastrophic mental and physical side effects, including suicidal ideation, and worse, suicide itself. So says the warning labels for antidepressants.
Therefore, if you find a roadmap to help depression without resorting to antidepressants, why not try it out?
And even if you are already on antidepressants, you might be able to wean yourself off if they are not helping.
The purpose of this article is to give you a path to help alleviate a depressed mood based on the same tool used to diagnose depression – SIG E CAPS.
What Does SIGECAPS Stand for?
Each letter represents one of the eight diagnostic criteria described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) as follows:
- S leep,
- I nterest,
- G uilt,
- E nergy,
- C oncentration,
- A ppetite,
- P sychomotor,
- S uicidal thoughts
S stands for sleep
- Are you sleeping more in the day or less at night?
- Excessive daytime sleep or insufficient nighttime sleep are both indicators of depression.
I is for a loss of interest in daily activities
- Have you experienced a loss of interest in activities that you once found enjoyable?
- A loss of interest is a sign of depression.
G stands for guilt
- Do you have; low self-esteem, feel guilty, or have a sense of worthlessness?
- Feelings of guilt fuels depression.
- Do you feel fatigued, a lack of energy, or “burnt out”?
- Burnt out is a common symptom of depression.
C for Concentration
- Do you have difficulty concentrating?
- Reduced concentration is a hallmark of depression.
A is for Appetite
- Have you lost your appetite, enjoyment in food, or are you bingeing?
- Both are classic signs of depression.
P stands for Psychomotor Agitation or Retardation
- Do you feel so anxious you cannot sit still? Or, are you more sluggish and very slow in your movements?
- Increased agitation or much slower movements are signs of depression.
S Stands for Suicidal Ideation
- Are you preoccupied with thoughts of death or a plan to commit suicide?
- Suicidal thinking is the most obvious sign of depression and requires immediate treatment.
History of SIGECAPS for Depression
Physicians once used the abbreviation “sig” to mean directions on prescriptions.
And “E nergy capsules” or “E” caps was the original name for antidepressants (University of Nebraska Medical Center).
This is how the acronym “SIG E CAPS” and depression became linked together.
Mental health professionals still use the acronym (also written as SIG-E-CAPS, and SIG E CAPS) to diagnose depression.
During an evaluation for mood disorders like major depressive disorder and anxiety disorders, it is a practical screening test.
A doctor can help determine if the answers to SIGECAPS depression questions are clinically significant or not.
This mnemonic is just one screening tool for psychiatric disorders.
Other diagnostic criteria for depression are:
- the self-scoring Beck Depression Inventory and the online PHQ-9 Questionnaire.
- as well as “DIG FAST” for bipolar disorders
What is clinical depression?
A New Approach
You can use “SIGECAPS” as a roadmap to lift your depressed mood naturally, even without drugs or medications.
- What can you do when antidepressants are not helping?
- Even worse, what if you are suffering from the adverse side effects of antidepressants? Such as:
- Or you are using drugs for years and are still depressed.
Use the SIG E CAPS acronym to help your depressed mood. I know, because I experienced all of those antidepressant side effects, and needed to find new solutions.
SIG E CAPS as a depression solution helped me. I hope it will you or someone you care about as well.
As always, consult with your primary care doctor.
The new approach:
Step 1. S is for Sleep
Your first new habit of fighting depression is to improve your sleep.
A study found that 87 percent of depression patients who resolved their insomnia had significant improvements to their mental state, 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:¹ “The way this story is unfolding, I think we need to start augmenting standard depression treatment with therapy focused on insomnia.”
- 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, pay attention to the sound of your breath.
- Inhale and exhale.
- Think good thoughts, everything you are grateful for, and imagine a better future in all areas.
- Shoot to get a sleep of seven to eight hours.
- Continue to work on improving your sleep, it is that important.
- Sleep Smarter 21 Essential Strategies to Sleep Your Way to a Better Body Better Health and Bigger Success
- Hardcover Book
- Stevenson, Shawn (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 288 Pages - 03/15/2016 (Publication Date) - Rodale Books (Publisher)
Watch this video on the importance of sleep and how it affects your brain:
Step 2. I for Interest
Getting interested in something productive is the second step to fighting depression. Take up a new or old interest, something that gets you out of your house and out of 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 relieve depression. More junk food means more misery, as you watch the scale numbers climb.
It also means to invest in yourself. The new interest to take is in you, yourself.
Stop investing in the stocks of Nabisco and Doritos. What are you getting out of the processed food horror show, besides fatter? And the more fat you get, the more depressed you will be.
Start investing in yourself.
A fuel oriented nutrition plan qualifies as a new interest. At least you will be feeding your body the best nutrition possible. All these high-quality nutrients will not only flood your body but your brain as well.
The second step is to find a new interest, such as;
Step 3. G Represents Guilt
Non-stop guilt is a destructive force. Guilt is not an action. When you are guilty, you are not helping anyone, including yourself.
Yes, guilt is an excellent tool to prevent bad behavior.
But, if you already committed the bad behavior, the guilt now is not going to rectify what you did. To remedy what you did, you need to have sincere remorse and vow never to do that again. If you need to apologize to someone, then do it. When restitution of money is necessary, 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. There is no end in sight when you lock yourself in the prison of guilt. Let yourself out of jail. Or have another friend, family member, or mentor tell you that they approve of you.
The third step is to let go of your guilt.
Of course, you must forgive, love, and approve of yourself first.
Affirmations Dissolve Guilt:
- 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 struggle with guilt, I choose to love and accept myself anyway.
- I am OK, and it is safe for me to forgive myself.
- Today, I choose to accept myself as I am, and I decide to compliment myself and give myself credit for the good things I do.
- I am learning and improving every day.
- Today, I am patient with myself.
- I love and approve of myself.
- The best path is to release any self-blame or guilt, I don’t need those feelings anymore and 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
- Hay, Louise (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 272 Pages - 01/01/1984 (Publication Date) - Hay House Inc. (Publisher)
Step 4. E for E nergy
Antidepressants are the last thing that will help with e nergy. The best course of action to increase your strength 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,
- Buckwheat aka kasha
- Sprouted grain bread like Ezekiel muffins and
- Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Organic Old Fashioned Rolled Oats, 32 Ounce instead of higher processed foods like wheat bread.
Before using drugs that have known side effects, identify potential food sensitivities. Wheat, eggs, peanuts, and dairy can affect some individuals.
Wheat consumption can cause symptoms of depression in some individuals. First, remove all the toxic foods and habits from your life. And only then think of taking medications if you are still suffering from depression.
You need to lay off the junk food.
An excellent diet is going to help increase your e nergy more than antidepressants. Avoiding junk foods can boost your e nergy levels more than any antidepressant.
Obesity is no help for any person who wants to increase their e nergy levels. If you need to lose weight, use this easy plan to lose 20 pounds in 3 months without suffering.
A Simple Meal Plan
- Drink a tall glass of water with a real lemon wedge upon waking up.
- Have half a grapefruit before or with breakfast.
- Or a 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 omelet.
- For lunch, have some brown rice, black beans, veggies, and turkey (optional).
- Have a fruit between breakfast and lunch or lunch and dinner if you are hungry.
- For dinner, sweet potato, salmon, and a vegetable, like bok choy, cauliflower, 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 a depressed mood.
Strength Training to Fight Depression:
- Walk every day for 30 minutes.
- Start a beginner deadlift workout routine for strength and fitness on Monday.
- Do a pushup or bench press workout on Wednesday.
- And a beginner squat workout routine on Friday.
- Rest on Tuesday, Thursday, and the weekend.
- Mark Rippetoe (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 347 Pages - 11/11/2011 (Publication Date) - The Aasgaard Company (Publisher)
Step 5. C is for Concentration
C stands for Concentration and Cardio
What can you do to improve your concentration?
- Focus on 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.
- Start a cardio program to burn your fat and depression.
Step 6. A is for Appetite
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 strength training plan will help to keep you moving. Building muscle and exercise is going to help your appetite.
Proper Nutrition to Prevent Agitation and Sulking:
How important is good nutrition for depression? Let’s examine the function of antidepressants.
- Antidepressants increase serotonin levels.
- How? They block specific receptors from absorbing too much serotonin.
- This increases the availability of serotonin to your brain cells.
As a result, antidepressants are called SSRIs, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Because antidepressants prevent receptors from absorbing too much serotonin. Common SSRIs include:
- Prozac – learn 10 reasons why deadlifts are the best natural alternative treatment to Prozac
- Zoloft – See why weaning off of Zoloft is one of the best decisions you will ever make.
Antidepressants are not the only way to increase serotonin in your body. Another way of getting more serotonin into your system is through food. Particularly food that contains tryptophan. 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.²
Foods high in tryptophan³:
- Eggs. The protein in eggs can significantly boost your blood plasma levels of tryptophan, according to recent research.
- Cheese. Cheese is another excellent source of tryptophan.
- Salmon. Have you ever noticed being in a better mood after good quality salmon? Now you know why.
- Nuts and Seeds.
- 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, and green peas
- Kelp, broccoli, onions, tomatoes, and 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, chickpeasBrown
- rice, red rice, barley, corn, oats
Step 7. P Stands for Psychomotor
Are you feeling more anxious and cannot sit still? Or, are you more sluggish and very slow in your movements? Increased agitation or much slower movements are signs of depression.
The seventh step is to start a 12-week beginner deadlift program or 3×5 12-week workout plan to get stronger and build your muscle and confidence. Of course, you can use any physical movement or sport that works for you.
Step 8. S is for Suicidal Ideation
The FDA requires that antidepressants carry a warning label that their use might lead to suicidal thinking:
You have as good a chance to prevent suicide with this new roadmap as you do with antidepressants. And the only side effect
is improving your health and fitness.
Because improving the fitness of your body is going to help improve the fitness of your body and mind.
Weight training for a depressed mood. How weightlifting can change your life.
The last S means strength training to rebuild your life and help stop the preoccupation with death.
Start a strength training program which includes:
- Deadlifts – This is how the deadlift saved my life
- Bench Press
- The 3×5 workout is an excellent plan to build mind and body strength to crush depression
- Walking, running, biking, swimming, elliptical
- And last but not least – Eat Real Food
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The next step on your journey to a stronger mind and body is to understand that because deadlifts work the majority of muscles in your body, this is the reason they have such a massive impact on your mental and physical fitness.
If you are also struggling with obesity, it is helpful to know about these 5 links between depression and obesity. Of course, you are not the only one, especially if you live in one of the ten most obese states in the USA.
As mentioned, be sure to consult with your primary care doctor about using the SIGECAPS mnemonic for depression.
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- 10 Reasons Deadlifts are the Best Natural Alternative To Prozac
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- What Natural Remedies for Depression Can You Learn From Nature?
- Suicide after Divorce: 17 Reasons Why Men Give Up on Life
- Fat and Depressed; How to Escape the Nightmare
- How to Stop Being Depressed (and Start Being Awesome)
- 5 Depression and Obesity Links You Need To Know
- The Dewey Bozella Story: How Boxing Saved His Life
- Antidepressants DOUBLE your Risk of Suicidal Ideation
- How to Deal with Depression; A New Way with Zehhu
- 7 Most Important Deadlift Muscles Worked To Change Your Life
- One Great Beginner Deadlift Workout Routine for Powerlifting and Fitness
- 12 Week Deadlift Program for Beginners
² https://www.lifeextension.com/magazine/2013/5/better-brain-chemistry-with-tryptophan/page-01 – Tryptophan improves brain chemistry
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