What to do when Feeling Blue

What to Do When Feeling Blue

Ruscombe Round Table on Depression

Laura Cortner with Dr. Zohara Meyerhoff Hieronimus




This article was prepared as a collaboration between practitioners at the Ruscombe Mansion Community Health Center in Baltimore. The Ruscombe Round Table is a semi-monthly gathering of Ruscombe Mansion practitioners in which they share insights and ideas with each other on how to treat specific conditions.




As we “listen to your story” at Ruscombe, we find that depression is a common complaint, often affecting people with chronic health conditions. But when depression is the sole condition, it can also be severely debilitating. One practitioner described it as walking through molasses. Your body can feel so heavy, you struggle simply to move, much less motivate yourself to follow advice on how to alleviate your depression. When our Ruscombe practitioners compared notes, we recognized commonalities in the way each of us assesses mood health in our clients. If you are experiencing depression or anxiety, we hope some of these tips will lead you to the right course of action for yourself. If you are the loved one or caretaker of someone with depression, it is more difficult to compose a list of helpful tips, but there are several things you can do. 


    Feeling depressed? Unmotivated? Sluggish?

•Learn how to get into the present moment with the breath. Just reminding yourself to be “present” helps a lot in any stressful situation. Easier said than done, but like with anything, practice will make this feel natural over time.


•Diet is a big part of mood. It can spur depression and aggravate anxiety. Dips in blood sugar between meals are especially troublesome for anxiety.


There are many acupuncture points on the ear that are helpful for mood and anxiety. Tiny “ear seeds” can be placed in the curve of the ear for help throughout the day. They are the size of a poppy seed, or sometimes a gold or silver ball is used to apply continuous acupressure to these ear points.


•Make sure an adequate level of Vitamin D is being taken. Vitamin D is called the sunshine vitamin because your body manufactures it from exposure to sunlight, one of those curious connections between light and depression. Vitamin D helps increase seratonin, called the “feel-good chemical” in the brain. Ten minutes a day of sunlight exposure to your arms and legs is the best way to get the proper amount of Vitamin D.


•Ancient healers observed that St. John's wort (which got its name because it blossoms in the middle of the summer around St. John’s Day) demonstrates a relationship to the sun and the light. It grows straight up, branches out in the upper section and has bright yellow flowers like the sun. The leaves are opposite each other, perfectly arranged, which indicates its relationship to our rhythmic system, our heart, the seat of emotions. Its milk inside is red, like the human blood. The ancients realized that this plant can be a carrier of light, and long ago began using it as a treatment for depression. St. John’s wort is a powerful herb that interacts with many prescription drugs, and it is advised to consult your prescribing physician and herbalist before taking it. Too much of it can make you so sensitized to light that you can get a sunburn. 

•Rescue Remedy in a spray:  Keep a bottle in your car. This popular Bach Flower Remedy tends to be mentioned regularly in our Ruscombe Round Table discussions because it is helpful in so many situations. Rescue Remedy is excellent for panic attacks, and even if you never have panic attacks, it’s still wise to keep a spray bottle in your car or handbag for emergencies. It can help you navigate calmly through a tight traffic jam, as well as be ready to use if you are ever in an accident. Several of our practitioners are known to the friends of their kids as the mom with the “magic spray” that rescued them after many a mishap. 


•Aromatherapy is a pleasant and soothing treatment for depression, and anyone can experiment at home with the scents they find most appealing. Grapefruit is a good place to start, as it’s known to be especially effective as an antidepressant.

•Gardening can be so therapeutic for depression that there have developed professional schools of therapeutics called gardening or horticulture therapy. But all you really need is a plot of earth and some seeds and sunshine. Especially if you enjoyed gardening in the past, getting into the soil, cultivating something to life, working in nature, breathing fresh oxygen while in the sunshine, all of these activities combine to make gardening a beautiful antidote to depression.

Quote from a Ruscombe client: “I love the gardens and the trees at Ruscombe.  I find them very beautiful. I am a gardener and so I’m always noticing gardens.  Also, my practitioner has sometimes done treatments outside, and that’s been very beautiful. I feel very connected to nature, and this is a really beautiful place.  The big windows, it’s just a very peaceful, welcoming energy, even just walking in the front door of the main building.”


•An often-overlooked contributor to depression is a possible reaction to the toxic heavy metals that surround us in our typical environment.  Aromatherapist and massage therapist Lucy Hagan shared a tasty recipe for a cilantro pesto which works to remove some of these toxic metals from your system when taken in a dose of two tablespoons a day for several months. Fortunately, it’s delicious and also high in green food vitamins.

•Movement is tremendously helpful for depression, and a routine of yoga or getting to the gym with a trainer can be transformative. Excess oxygenation of the cells makes you feel stronger and also releases endorphins.  Exercise gets the tension out.


•Along with exercise, drinking water is the other most simple and most effective of all these tips that anyone can do to alleviate depression. For therapeutic purposes, it’s advised to drink half your body weight in ounces per day, unless you have a kidney problem.

     On a final note, remember:  Depression is one of those conditions where the adage of “one size doesn’t fit all” is very true. As our Ruscombe practitioners say, we pick up the thread where we can. Everyone is holding a pattern, and we all brace against what is hard in different ways. If the objective is to help the client to let go of a certain pattern, we help you find the thread wherever you can and, in the peaceful serenity of the Ruscombe Mansion setting, learn how to unravel it from that safe place.


Caretaker Tips 

When your loved one with depression doesn’t seem to want to get better, all of our practitioners agreed that you cannot do more than advise them of these tips, and then surround them with love. Someone experiencing depression has to choose which path is right for them. Those in the supporting roles can often do the most good by monitoring their own emotional state when around a depressed loved one. Strive not to contribute to their emotional strain by feeling badly or being weighed down by the situation. See the energy of your thoughts. When we worry about a loved one, we contribute to their aura and magnify their misery. Try to shift gears and see your loved one in a “grid of love.” Imagine how they would feel if they felt self-love, and focus on that. Then, not only will your space be supportive, but you will also feel better, and know that your thoughts are not contributing to the strain of your loved one. Learn to send Reiki if your loved one gives permission.


Dr. Zohara Meyerhoff Hieronimus is the founder of Ruscombe Mansion Community Health Center, and Laura Cortner is the director. www.ruscombe.org





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