Recent statistics regarding clinical depression are staggering. Fifteen million people in the US suffer from some form of depression, 10% of the US population; depression affects women twice as often as men. With statistics such as these, we as coaches are bound to work with depressed clients on a regular basis. The good news is, if they are seeking out our help, they are working toward treating their symptoms in a healthy manner. However, our abilities are limited in treating depression, it is important the client be under a doctors care. Here are some tips regarding working with our clients who are suffering from clinical depression.
1. Encourage a healthy diet. Research has proven time and time again, there is definitely a link between healthy eating, regular exercise and mood. Whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes all contain tryptophan (a non-essential amino acid) which synthesizes serotonin, the body''s mood regulator. Less caffeine can also be of help with keeping moods consistent, especially if the client is over consuming caffeine containing products. Increasing intake of omega 3 oils has also been proven helpful; these can be found in walnuts and flaxseeds.
2. Consistent exercise is overwhelmingly successful in treating depression. The endorphins released during and immediately following exercise boost mood naturally. Healthy habits such as exercising also greatly increase self esteem.
3. Advise them to get sunlight on a daily basis. Vitamin D has been proven to also affect our moods. Our bodies produce vitamin D naturally, but 1-3 hours of sunlight a week are typically necessary to maintain healthy levels. As we age, our ability to produce vitamin D may decrease; in that case a supplement would be beneficial.
4. Surround them with helpful professionals. A psychologist or therapist can help work through the issues from the past that may be a significant part of their depression. A professional coach can help set goals for a happy, focused future and put emphasis on living in the present. And the client's physician can oversee any meds they may need to treat the physical portion of their depression. Open communication between these professionals is ideal, but not always an option. Take care not to cross boundaries as this might confuse the client, professional coaches focus on the present and future of our clients, not the past.
5. Encourage your clients to avoid self medicating with drugs, alcohol or even food. This differs tremendously from taking prescribed medication given to a client by his/her physician. Overindulging in alcohol consumption, overeating or using non prescribed drugs can create short term relief from some depressive symptoms, but are not a long term treatment and can actually make things much worse in the long run. Suggest your client be in regular contact with their physician regarding medications and never recommend any changes in dosage or use.
6. Make sure the client knows that if at any time you feel they are a danger to themselves or others, you are bound to report such to the appropriate authority. This fact should be included in your intake paperwork.