How To Deal With Depression: Interview with Lauren Roerick
Lauren and I met a few years ago in Bali for our first yoga teacher training. During that amazing journey, we realised that we had many common interests. Not only yoga and inner peace but also travels, nutrition and holistic health.
Since then, we had the opportunity to catch up a few times in Berlin for scrumpy lunches or weekend celebrations.
Today Lauren is a certified Holistic Health Coach, yoga instructor, and the founder of The Undepression Project, where she helps people overcome depression through neuroscience, mindfulness, exercise, and nutrition.
As eating disorders and depression are often linked, I thought some of you would find helpful to hear about Lauren’s experience. On top of that Lauren gives us a $60 savings on her course when your enroll using the coupon RESPECTYOURSELF in the next 48 hours
1. I know you’ve recently published an eCourse to beat depression. Can you please explain what depression looks like?
Depression is a really interesting illness because it looks different for everyone who has it. There are a list of symptoms that range in severity like a depressed mood, lack of interest in pleasurable activities, change in appetite or energy levels, all the way down to self-harm or suicidality. It can range from mild to severe depending on how many symptoms you have and for how long, but the general consensus is that if you have 5 or more symptoms from the list, for more than two weeks at a time, you’re having a major depressive episode.
Depression affects your ability to function at your normal level. It saps your energy, motivation, willpower, and confidence. But it’s not just feeling sad all the time or crying uncontrollably. Those can certainly be a part of it, but for me, I more often feel angry or irritated by small things.
Most cases of depression involve people that are still getting up and doing things. They’re still productive, but they’re anxious, worried, scatterbrained, super stressed, forgetful, irritable, unable to concentrate, or have that “tired but wired” feeling. Depression affects everyone a little differently. Most of the time though, it’s chronically feeling less than optimal, like something’s missing.
2. Do you think it’s possible to suffer from depression without really acknowledging it? If so, what would be the consequences?
Absolutely! I would put myself in this camp. Before I learned about depression, I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I was exhausted, cranky, disinterested in normally fun activities, had headaches everyday, and was tense and stressed out. But it wouldn’t go away! There would be good days and bad days, but everything was pretty grey for quite some time. I thought maybe I had a thyroid problem, but blood tests came back and said there was nothing wrong, so what I was left with was depression.
Understanding that I had depression didn’t fix anything, but it gave me a direction in which to look for help. There are loads of people who go through life feeling low and tired and stressed but have no idea what to do to get better or what is causing their problem. Once I knew what I was dealing with, I could do research. I could seek out professionals, read books, watch videos, and start to heal. But it would have been hard to do that without first knowing and understanding depression.
3. What would be the main cause of depression in someone already suffering from a destructive relationship with food? (I am thinking that nutrient absorption could play a big role)
Poor nutrition can be a big factor in depression. If you’re lacking in Omega-3s or B12 or Vitamin D, you are way more susceptible to depression. If you’re not giving your body the food that it needs to function, your brain can’t do it’s job to keep you feeling optimal. Inflammation is also a big factor. Consuming excess sugar and processed foods can cause systemic inflammation, which can then lead to depression.
On top of that, a destructive relationship with food can often mean a destructive relationship with yourself, which may mean you have low self-esteem, persistent negative thoughts, or perfectionism. Each of these issues can lead to depression.
4. How your own recovery from depression has changed your life? (I can also do the parallel with ED here)
I’ve learned so much about myself through this process. I know what I need to do daily to keep myself mentally and physically healthy. I do the work and don’t just assume that I’ll never have a mental health issue again. Roughly 25% of people will have some kind of mental illness in their lifetime, and knowing how to prevent, treat, and get help when something comes up is invaluable.
Personally, my relationships with family, friends, and partners have all improved. I set clearer boundaries and recognize when I need to take some ‘me time’. I’m more aware of how what I put into my body will affect my brain, not just my waistline, and choose foods that will make me feel good. I exercise regularly and keep up with hobbies and friendships. Are there still occasional bad days? For sure, but I think everyone gets those. Now I’m just more aware of them and better equipped to handle the lows.
I used to think that depression was something you could just snap out of if you tried hard enough, but now I’m more empathic to how hard it can be to make big changes when you feel so terrible. I know there’s still a bit of a stigma surrounding mental illness, but I’m doing my best to show people that it’s okay to not to feel okay all the time, and that there’s nothing to be ashamed of if you need to get help.
I’ve also learned that recovery from depression is possible! And that’s why I set out to do the work that I do now. I’ve spent years researching the best ways to heal from depression and have seen first hand how limited help can be, even from professionals. I want other people to know that there are options available beyond the traditional therapy and meds approach, and that lasting relief from depression is achievable.
5. Can you explain how you’re working with people in your program?
Right now I offer a 12-week course called Depression-Proof. In it, I teach my students the ins and outs of depression and how it can affect them. We tackle self-care, building a support system, and setting realistic goals.
Then we move on to mindfulness and cognitive behavioural strategies to conquer negative thoughts and spend more time engaged in the present moment, instead of worrying about the future or reliving the past.
Next we dive into exercise and yoga. Your mind and body are so connected, and when you treat your body well, your mind benefits too.
And the last section is nutrition. You are what you eat, so if you eat poorly, you’ll more than likely feel poorly, too. Here we establish simple, healthy eating patterns that make sure you get the right nutrients your brain needs to be healthy.
As a student you get loads of support from me and from other students in a dedicated Facebook group. I regularly answer questions and make supplemental videos to help everyone get the most out of the recovery process. And there’s also a coaching option if you want extra, more personalized support from me.
You can also download her Expert Guide to Eating for Mental Health & Happiness for FREE here. This is an ebook with heaps of recipes and info on eating for depression and mental health.