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03 - How to Defeat Depression and Thrive

Joel Moutray Allen Lloyd


Allen Lloyd was a pre-med student when he carried out a personal experiment for his mental health. The discovery? Three simple practices that can dramatically improve your life and ability to succeed.





  • March 9, 2019
    12:15 PM
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Would you be shocked to know that one of the leading causes of death in young people is all in their heads high. And you're listening to the learn and share podcast in today's episode I talk with Dr Neil nettle about the challenging problem of depression and much more. Dr Natalie thank you so much for being on the show Oh well thank you it's great being here Joel it's it's a blessing to have you because you have a lot of experience and expertise in the area of mental health development your doctor your published author and you know articles and research etc. There's a quote that fascinates me that says that our 1st duty to God and man is self development and that's why I want to talk about today is the Christian and mental health and self development there's a lot of worldly philosophies and there's also biblical philosophies and we just want to learn practically as as well as being inspired what we as Christians the young person the young adult what we can do as cetera so starting off of that why is it important for the Christian to be even thinking about no pun intended mental health and I.Q. E.Q. etc and to be intentional to maybe even grow that into and to. Cultivate that well the only area that God can really influence us is actually through our brain in so if our brains are mechanically flawed or faulty or if our software is faulty. It's actually going to to limit our ability to glorify Him and that is you know the overall purposes having our priorities straight and glorifying cawed and if we are going to do that we do need to be very intentional on optimizing our brain and having that brain working as well as it possibly can I really like that answer. I think you know that our brain is our greatest asset even just in practical life but not only that but in the spiritual life as well our brain is really the antenna that picks up God's voice Exactly and that's really the difference of why you know what God meant when he said Let Us make man in Our image you know this is a we have a frontal lobe that is far larger than any other creature which gives us the ability to accomplish creative things to accomplish you know advance planning and destiny things along those types of lines our analytical abilities our our ability to plan way in advance and multistep you don't see that in any other creatures I mean some creatures that have better frontal lobes than others like dogs might be able to plan 3 steps ahead and that's you know that amazes the the veterinarians in the the animal lovers that they're able to do that those type of planning's but we can plan you know well over 100 steps ahead because of our frontal if our frontal lobes are working well and that gives us all sorts of creative and amazing abilities as well as abilities to be able to empathize with others and to be able to help others in ways that other creatures just never would be able to. What are some do's and don'ts when it comes to mental health I mean there's obvious things like drugs etc that are don'ts and what are some practical things just right off the bat that you can mention that would affect someone's mental health is a question well anything that's going to suppress this front portion of your brain that's the area that we've already started discussing and there's a lot of things out there that humanity participates in that actually intentionally suppresses this area of our brain and this is the area where willpower is centered at sea area where empathy is centered It's the area where our brakes appropriate brakes on human behavior are so that we don't cross the line and do things that are really you know not only foolish but will hurt us in the long run and so you know alcohol adversely affects the frontal lobe before it affects any other portion of the brain. Marijuana actually as a frontal lobe suppressant in our country is indorsing it because it makes people feel more peaceful but at what cost you know in it is addictive I can tell you from our programs you know we run depression anxiety recovery programs and a lot of people think this is the natural way of improving depression and anxiety but this is one of those short term gain long term problems because if we suppress the frontal lobe this is the area that we need to have enhanced in order to eradicate depression and anxiety just about any mental health condition starts out with frontal lobe suppression as front and center and you'll see it on the PET scan and you'll see it in any way that you can analyze it on the on the spec scans what look at activity in circulation of the frontal lobe and so we don't want to participate voluntarily in anything that's going to suppress this area of our brain particularly select. Of Lee and so this would include opioids that would include benzo days of pains that would include even certain forms of recreation certain forms of music certain foods even can have a subtle effect on suppressing the frontal lobe even nicotine. Has being they put it it record levels and now by young people actually is a frontal lobe suppressed and not as bad as alcohol now you know and so a lot of people say well you know better than alcohol as far as the brain is concerned but you know it kind of disturbs me that humanity particularly our young people are fascinated by things that have both benefits and risks. Caffeine is one of the you know caffeine actually blocks the adenosine receptor in the frontal lobe of the brain it does stimulate you but you know type as for instance can type a little bit faster under the influence of caffeine but they make 10 times as many errors because that's what it's doing to the adenosine receptor Yes. And we now know that in and even sports you know quarterbacks it turns out they're the only player on an N.F.L. field that requires an intact frontal lobe to be successful. On that field but they do far better with 0 caffeine. Tom Brady never consumes caffeine and that's why attempted murder can be going on all around him but he's and emotions are stable you make the right decision with the ball like that attempted murder. Actually appears to be that. It's a violent sport and they're really trying to take him down but nonetheless. It a lot of people advocate caffeine because of some of the so-called benefits but at what risk but there is so many other things you know we've named a lot of things that suppress the frontal lobes. There are so many things that enhance the frontal lobe that have 0 risk only benefits and there is you know a huge list of those but yet humanity isn't fascinated with us you know the fact that they help and they don't have risks they tend not to be discussed at all but yet God has given us so many things that can be enhancing for our frontal lobe and can help with our own self development that if we focus in on those many more choices that can be made in that area we can really start participating in what God would really have a stew in that is to glorify Him What are some examples of those good things just give us a few blueberries. You know blueberries that I have and those science and them and they actually go selectively to the memory and the frontal lobe aspects of the brain you'll be able to actually see the blue pigment selectively be taken up and this actually helps our brains and analytical ability helps our ability to focus and concentrate. Other anti-oxidants can have this effect even tumor record has been shown to be helpful very potent anti-oxidant and it's something that can really help the brain and it goes beyond food items I mean that we can Speaking of other food items you know foods that are high in Tyra scene and trip to fan pumpkin seeds you know for instance are great for the frontal lobe of the brain but it goes beyond that to you know music box music that was written for the period of the Reformation actually was very frontal lobe and Hansing and it's been shown that when we listen to box even Brandenburg Concertos the frontal lobe will start lighting up and it not only lights up during the time but it stays and lightened for quite a period of time. I'm afterwards and a lot of people are only interested in the effects of music when it's being listened to but I'm far more interested in the after effects of music after we quit listening to it and what's going on with the brain and there is great music that can enhance that frontal lobe for a long period of time afterwards I really like that music is such a hot topic we're not going to necessarily get into that but that's fascinating thinking about it just like entertainment versus recreation if you know entertainment something that benefits you or you seems like it benefits you right away whereas a recreation recreates and it has long lasting positive effects on the user or the listener and exactly I want to I want to touch on this right here because you mentioned frontal lobe a lot I know what that means but it's you know what that means more than I do and maybe the listener might or might not know at all you mention that so many times there's the funnel low there's other parts of the brain you also have the one back here in the neck which I don't know the name of the acceptable in their cerebellum Yeah in the spiritual world we call this refer to the higher in the lower powers and passions etc maybe tie this into maybe even sin and how this works and why the frontal lobe is so important to help control and to decide yeah tickly as well as spiritual Well our lower brain what we call the the limbic system and that's kind of the center and the lower aspect of the brain is where we have implanted desires so this is our desires for food our desires for sex our desires for. You know all sorts of things friendship love. You know companionship and. So there's you know even desires for tactile touching types of things that those are all lower brain type functions and they're there for a good reason. You know the reason why God implanted those desires in us is we could be so focused do. Doing great things that we could forget to eat you know for weeks with that be healthy for us no that would be very unhealthy and so these are kind of little bells that are going off in our brains after we've gone a certain period of time that you know you're hungry now and that's a good thing but when we're hungry that's our lower brain that's telling us this but when that hunger signal goes up stream to our frontal lobe we now have a choice if our frontal lobe is working well we have a choice if we're going to eat we might decide that we're going to actually fast because that can actually be good for the brain you know a 17 hour fast even $24.00 hour fast might be something occasionally that can be good for the brain or we can decide when we're going to eat we can decide what we're going to eat we're going to side where we're going to eat and maybe even who we're going to eat with these are all frontal lobe choices and those are can be very great choices if we have a balanced brain that is telling us the right things that we are going to decide the blueberries for instance and kale and and anti-oxidants and tumeric and those type of thing those are frontal lobe choices that will end up causing us a lot of. Good happiness and pleasure as well as productivity in those sorts of things so the frontal lobe we could call it the thinking portion of the brain and so where our desires are at is not really a thinking portion per se those desires are implanted in us but those desires were always meant to be controlled by a balancing force called the thinking portion of the brain that got implanted in humanity. That's really really fascinating I think that's powerful because as Christians were always trying to do God's will and to follow him and being hungry and having a desire for a relationship etc is not bad at all there was a God given things exactly as we suppress them as other bad in reality they should be controlled to the power of the Holy Spirit and the frontal lobe is that we're using exactly that's exactly the problem let's talk about the hot topic and unfortunately very sad topic of depression you run depression recovery programs I have many friends that have been through your programs and every experience great great results and it's a blessing to have my friends yeah healthy yeah and so I appreciate that great but many times when I was an educated on the topic of depression I would say things like because I've been discouraged you know I wouldn't I don't think I've been clinically depressed but I know that for sure I have many times said oh we just need to trust God's promises more and we need to have more faith. Is that true or is there actually like a medical legitimate What is depression and or the different aspects to it is it a sin to use it is just it is it that we're just discouraged or yeah well and depression is a constellation of symptoms and that's the way it's diagnosed in America through the psychiatric Bibles definition that I stick with but you have to have 5 of 9 symptoms in order to have depression and discouragement or feelings of hopelessness or feeling down depressed sad deep sadness those type of things that's only one or 2 areas of those symptoms apathy is also a symptom and that's where you wake up in the morning and you're not excited about the day you get up out of a sense of duty and responsibility but not interest and that can happen maybe once in a while that anybody but if it happens the majority of the time that is a distinctly abnormal You also can lose focus and concentration your weight and appetite can have significant changes sleep disturbances are common where you're either having. And some the hour early morning awakening where you wake up too early and can't go back to sleep or you are still wanting to sleep too much and sleep in the daytime fatigue a lack of energy feel and then feelings of worthlessness and it can start affecting the thoughts where you start having morbid thought thoughts about. Death or preoccupation with death or symbols of death. And so when we add up all of those symptoms there's 9 of them if you have 5 of 9 that's the definition of major clinical depression so is major clinical depression always a sign that you are outside of God's Well no you can have someone who is part of God's will and has not done anything wrong and still have 5 or 6 or even some of those symptoms you know he lied or was one of those individuals Elijah did nothing wrong and he didn't have a sense of pride and self-sufficiency like some others did they caught in a depression like Saul and now it is true that sinful behavior can lead to depression and Saul is an example of that I think Solomon is an example of that as well Solomon suffered severe depression but he lied just an example as well as others that had depression where they were people of faith but they still ran into biochemical issues as well as thought issues it's and you know normally the combination of those 2 that help bring it about when you say biochemical issues please explain well that has to do with chemistry of the brain so sometimes her brain may not have enough sirrah tone and it may not be making enough you may not be making enough dopamine or no rep in Efren and I think you know he lied did have some issues with that because you know the Lord put him on a depression recovery program any truck trying to get him out into the light light actually through our eyes we were able to make more serious tone and. And he was wanting him to be on the right food angels came and fed him food I think there was probably some flaxseed in that meal you know high and tripped up fan omega 3 those types of things I mean God I'm exercising but then after he was working on his biochemistry He then started working on his thoughts. And that's the pattern the reason why are programs so successful we work 1st on the biochemistry and when the biochemistry starts to improve then we start looking at the thoughts in the software and you start asking Elijah some questions and he lied just started revealing some distortions and S. thoughts so even godly people can have distortions in their thoughts and one of those distortions that he kept repeating is I'm the only one that hasn't bowed the need to bail you know what he should have said as I'm the only one I know of but instead he just knew that he was the only one and God had to after he said it the 2nd time that's when God stopped him and says you know he lied to you you're wrong by a factor of 7000 not just a little bit larger He was quite a ways wrong. And God started working with him to correct what we call overgeneralization this is one of the distorted thoughts that will lead to depression and he had some mental filters and he had some other things and God being the wonderful counselor. Helped him to be hable to participate in not only correct thinking but then activities that helped him recover from depression God told to do 3 things that Elijah didn't want to do and what I can tell you when people come to our program it often gets down to the 3 things they don't want to do as to whether they're going to get better or not you know are they going to trust the process and do those 3 things and he lied to even though they didn't want to do him he said you know what God's telling me to do and I think I think I ought to just go ahead and do it and not only did I recover from depression he ended up establishing the school of the prophets he ended up being translated without seeing death which tells us that God has a lot of sympathy and compassion for those that have mental illness because this is the person that there was translated without seeing death as someone who had major clinical depression that's really encouraging and I I think it's fascinating I've read that story so many times but I never thought of the context of mental depression I know that he was discouraged Oh yeah. Yes but to even think with the thought patterns and all the things that was going on in his mind is powerful morbid thoughts he said you know Lord take away my life you know in the reason why he was there is because he ran away to save his life because jazz a bell threatened and he had reason to fear jazzer bellied she had killed all the other prophets God but he took off to save his life in 30 days later he's now saying God let me die I have no purpose for living life is is over with and that's depression that's morbid thoughts. There's 2 school of thoughts and medicine and you have the pharmacology side and then you have the natural side I know that you're definitely a high promoter of the natural remedies of you know people say like you know drink water and pray like does that really work or is there room for for medications should should a young person listen to this who has gone to the doctor is depressed or is struggling with bipolar or discouragements that are and they are taking medication should they feel guilty for that no there is no reason to feel guilty with medicines we would we would recommend that the medications be of such that they don't suppress the frontal lobe and some of the medicines that are used commonly not normally by psychiatry but are given by doctors who you know dabble in mental health but don't rest certainly understand it very well or the benzo days of pains and those things are short term gain long term problems as you're Xanax you're Valley and you're out of band those sorts of things. But one of the reasons why I'm an advocate of the natural approach is because it actually is a period. The that medication approaches can be helpful short term you know the most commonly used medicines for depression or what we call selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and what they're doing is they're actually plugging the vacuum cleaners of the neuron that's releasing Sarah tone and. And what that does is it allows more sirrah tone in the sin app to area that's the area between those little neurons so that more sirrah tone and could be there to help stimulate the next nerve there and so that helps short term but when you plug up the vacuum cleaners you are eventually going to deplete the neuron of the very substance that you're trying to treat and that's why 6 to 9 months to maybe a year later they're just as depressed and now they're on the medicine and now they're having to have higher doses they're having to have more medicine none of these medicines actually help us make more serious tone or dopamine or norepinephrine they're actually blocking uptake channels to help us in an indirect way short term where the natural approaches will actually improve our ability to make serotonin that will actually improve our receptor as they'll actually start taking care of the underlying defect that brought about depression to begin with instead of patching it up and what is interesting is every And this has been well studied every place where antidepressants have become available within 2 years the rates of depression go up significantly in that area and so these these really should be utilized more short term until we take care of the underlying issues they should be thought of as something that you're only going to take for 6 months or maybe less. Until we take care and eradicate it through more natural approaches and that's how we might utilize these medicines as a physician I prescribe these medicines myself as well depending on the case and certain conditions. But we really ought to be treating the underlying cause and that's how we can completely eradicate it let's talk briefly about the cost some of the causes of depression and then we're going to move on to self care and self development I know that I had friends it got to a lot of traumatic experiences and that was one eye opening experience and I had to understand that it's not just a faith. Faith it's that or there's actually it's almost like your brain is a physical organ at which it is that can be damaged like if somebody stabbed your punched you or cut you etc Exactly some examples of things that you know might happen to a person that added together can literally make your brain not able to think probably well brain trauma in a number itself you know there's a reason why we have a hard shell around this organ that's a little better than the consistency of cottage cheese it's a very soft organ and it can get inflamed very quickly so you know even an automobile accident where you hit your head or you have a whiplash injury that brain can actually be shoved against these Where are sharp sinuses are and of course our sinuses are there so that we have resonance in our voice there for a good reason but on the inside of things there's there's kind of some sharp areas there and so when we get traumatized we'll break up the micro circulation and then inflammatory cells come in to try to repair all of that and they're having to release their toxins to get rid of the inflammation and that in and of itself can bring about depression and anxiety and those sorts of things and so we have to treat that with some natural anti-inflammatory this is where the flaxseed in the spinach in the omega 3 things come in is that post brain trauma because that will get rid of the inflammation far quicker and will help to normalize the process what about. Emotional trauma etc that might happen to a person that can cause those things oh yes emotional trauma can as well particularly when we have experienced trauma that's above our ability to handle you know when we're young for instance if we had you know abuse and layers of abuse and those sorts of things can be very traumatic even in adulthood you can undergo traumas that you really weren't prepared for. And that can be motional whens that require a set of healing processes in fact with us as one of our major emphasis and impression is to help people to undergo through the 5 Normally there is 5 layers of steps of being able to be healed through emotional wounds depend on the type of wound and then there's different types of ones there's we classify them in 6 different ways and just like everyone end of a of the body is not treated the same it depends on the type of wound and all of that and facts some treatments for one's are going to make. That wound worse if you don't know exactly what when you're treating and you just give a generic treatment it can make it worse in the same is true with our emotional when so it's not just one you know those 5 fixes for every emotional wound and so it depends on the type of wound and then we can actually undergo emotional healing through those tasks which empowers our participants greatly because often they think they just have to be a victim and this is the way they're going to be because of this trauma what they mean when they realize there actually is healing it empowers them significantly I think that's beautiful because in in Chronicles it says that if we pray and ask God He will heal our land or heal our heart as yeah that's a promise it is that he can do that let's step back into our beginning quote here and that was that self development is a duty to both God and man as a Christian I know you are a doctor you had to study you had to become better at your craft etc Where does that fall in place and what are some things that as a young person we can do to become better more efficient more. Able to not only do life but also be a witness Well where can we start there's a there's a whole lot of things. That we can do to help with this whole development aspect of things one of the simple things is actually working with our hands in 3 dimensions you know our brains actually in the whole development process I don't know if you've seen infants when they're awake and they're lying on their back they're really kind of helpless creatures but the Lord implanted them with natural physical therapy their hands and in feet are moving all over the place and it's you know nobody's doing anything to them but all that natural physical therapy is actually helping them with their brain development now as adults we don't naturally do those things but we're supposed to have a frontal lobe that tells us that this is actually good for our brain development and actually where our hands are centered in particular as the back portion of our frontal lobe so even the act of washing the dishes not by putting the dishes in the dishwasher but actually washing them and I call those dishwashers actually frontal lobe suppressors that are in every kitchen and we can actually do an activity of 20 minutes a day 30 minutes that will actually help our brains. And so gardening you know even playing tennis you know things that we're doing physically is going to help optimize our brain receptor help or dopamine levels help us on a lot of different levels and this is something that in today's society with all of these screens being prominent is one of the reasons why we're seeing such skyrocketing rates of depression and anxiety among our youth when we're working on screens in 2 dimensions that is not anything that's really helping our frontal lobes per se and just watching series of images on You Tube or those type of things it might bring short term satisfaction long term it's not. Actually doing very good things as far as our ability to focus concentrate it's not helping our Sarah tone and levels it actually is as a worsening our melatonin levels at night and so this is one of the reasons why we are now seeing 60 percent of college students today having a diagnosable mental illness off the charts over what it used to be generations ago one thing that I've always believed is important but yet struggle with so much is the whole idea of going to bed early and sleep and how that helps efficiency etc Maybe can you give us a story or illustration on how you decided to be intentional bogarting sleep and how it helps your brain and how to be more efficient in life and also ministry you know interesting Les studies have shown us that early to bed early to rise actually helps more for our brain performance than any antidepressants or any pharmaceutical agents or those sorts of things in fact one study called it better than Prozac and you take a late night person and then change them into early to bed early to rise and what that does is it doubles our output of melatonin at night and that helps us to remember what we have learned that day and it helps us to apply it better so it's going to help on the I.Q. side of things and it also helps the emotional aspect of the brain and so when I began to learn about how sleep efficiency is very important and I was in a pre-medical institution where I was that semester I was taking organic chemistry I was taking foundations of biology physics for scientists and engineers and quantitative analysis which is an advanced general chemistry course because I had a general chemistry the year before. That I was in school all morning and I'm in labs every afternoon and my pre-med advisor said you know want to do this because you're going to end up. You know not being able to get A's in all of these subjects. But I decided I was going to change my bedtime as a result of learning this I had normally gone to bed at $1130.00 at night and gotten up it around $630.00 or so and because of the sleep efficiency aspect of things I committed to going to bed at 9 o'clock and I would get up at 330 or 4 and it turned out that I was actually getting far better melatonin my sleep restorative sleep was better and my focus was just incredible particularly in those morning hours so I went to school in the morning labs in the afternoon I worked in the evening actually up until right before 9 o'clock every night and my only time to study was in those early morning hours and I would still go out and I would run 3 miles after studying and I would shower and eat breakfast and make it to my 7 30 am class but with those few hours of study every morning for all of those subjects I ended up doing better than I had the previous year with easier subjects and I ended up getting a $4.00 and then ended up keeping with that pattern all the way through my scientific pre-medical biochemistry career as well as. My medical school career and so I think I was the only one in my class that it 830 I was telling all by by and they'd say Why are you doing that you know we've got this test there you don't know any better than we do but the next day afterwards they'd be amazed at how my scores were far different than theirs but it was because of of the sleep aspect of things and sleeping Smart has what it can be called one question here many times we. There's a lot of world a philosophy IS OUT THERE ANYTHING of brain development self development self awareness etc come out real quick on the importance of the Bible and how legitimately awesome the Word of God is to help develop the brain and to and to advance us in our billeted to help other people yeah well and this has been well documented but if we actually. Study the Word of God A particularly in an in an analytical way where we're looking for promises and we're also looking for commands and then if there's a story that illustrates the principle in the Bible is great on this there are some great stories in there that illustrate all sorts of principle you have got the greatest make up for enhancement of the frontal lobe of the brain and when you combine that with prayer when you see a promise I recommend actually claiming that promise out loud to God in prayer you know Jesus who was a great person who took advantage of this every day you know he was a prayer warrior he actually you know of course if he needed the prayer how much how much did we but he said to go into your closet so that you could pray out loud we pray out loud it keeps us focused a lot of Christians lose their focus in the silent prayers but if you're praying out loud and you claim a promise out loud and you see it and you claim it out loud and then if you see a command ask God if you're in compliance with that command and read it and just ask God am I in compliance with that you might think you are but then he will convict you otherwise and what happens to the frontal lobe of the brain in a 30 minute experience by that and by the way you can pray for 30 minutes easily the time will go by quickly when you do it in that way. You'll actually feel far better than you ever felt watching your most favorite movie you'll feel far better than virtually any activity that you could choose from but you not only feel. Batter you actually know that you've become a better person as well which those other activities you don't really feel like you become a better person at all you might have had some sense or an emotional experience watching your favorite movie but you really haven't become a better person and closing young people see adults and young people but we're busy with school we don't know what to do we've got to work we don't know our futures it's all all these different things relationships and we're discovering the world etc You might say I don't have time for devotion I don't have time for self do I have a time to read other extracurricular books that would help in this area I don't have time to exercise I don't have time or whatever. Appealed to the on person appeal to the listener this show. Why it's so important and the benefits of being intentional about self development Well I talk about the big 3 and if you do not have time for adequate sleep if you don't have time for adequate physical exercise and if you don't have time for a devotional life you are going to become a skewed imbalance person those are the 3 areas where we know that balance will occur and so if we are doing those 3 things and we're doing those 3 things consistently expect to have your brain starting to be very optimized and it's going to pay off in wonderful dividends but if you don't have time for $1.00 or 2 of those things you're going to end up losing a whole lot of time because you're imbalance is going to cause a lot of self implosions and you're going to end up with all sorts of unintended consequences coming your way thank you very much. Thanks for listening don't forget to have subscribe and share this episode with your friends to learn more check us out at learn and share podcast dot com.


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