2265 North Clybourn Avenue    Chicago, IL 60614    P: 773.296.6700     F: 773.296.1131

Beating The Blues

Like it or not, it’s the nature of life to get the blues from time to time. Maybe your relationship isn’t working out, the dream job hasn’t been all that dreamy, or it’s your weight, your back pain, or our endless dark winter. The result? You just can’t get yourself cheered up about anything. You’re not sleeping (or sleeping too much) and your good intentions about eating well have been postponed in favor of a bag of cookies and too much wine.

Every year, we’re learning more about depression. Low levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin, a molecule of emotion, are considered a major contributing factor. Much of today’s research is focusing on the relationship between gut bacteria (collectively known as the microbiome) and how our brains function. In fact it’s estimated that gut bacteria produce about 95 percent of the body’s serotonin.

If you’re uncertain whether your blues are transient or something more serious, read this article for a broader discussion of depression. Also, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) annually dampens the mood of susceptible people and in Chicago can persist into these early dim days of spring.

Prolonged feelings of sadness or despondency call for professional help and may require medication. Here at WholeHealth Chicago we also treat depression with supportive approaches including psychotherapy and therapeutic individual and group yoga.

Most likely you’ll get over your mild case of the blues. But here are a few steps you can take to speed the process.

Re-think the whole reason for why you’re feeling bad.  Have a serious conversation with yourself. Do you deserve your own harsh self-judgment, your negative thoughts, the low self esteem? Accept the fact that you are a worthy person, capable of giving and receiving love. Stick with affirming phrases like “I can” and “I will.” Know in your heart that a few positive steps, taken today, can work wonders.

Practice creative visualization.  Close your eyes and try to imagine what the emotional pain you’re feeling might look like. A black cloud over your head? A dark blanket surrounding your heart? Now see yourself clearing the cloud, lifting the blanket, and allowing bright warm sunbeams to stream in.

Learn some quick aromatherapy.  Inhaling an uplifting scent can be most beneficial. Floral oils seem to work best: rose, melissa, jasmine. Citrus oils such as lime, mandarin, and bergamot can bring cheer as well. Inhale them directly from the bottle, use an aromatherapy diffuser, or add a few drops to a warm, relaxing bath.

Get moving.  There’s no shortage of solid medical research proving that exercise, by raising levels of feel-good hormones called endorphins, is effective in lifting mood. Do some real movement every day. Dance, walk briskly for a couple of miles, lift weights, or try this four-minute workout. If possible, follow your exercise with an hour of massage, reflexology, or acupressure.

Clean up your diet.  Get rid of the junk food and white-flour products and start eating responsibly-raised meats and pastured eggs, organic fruits and vegetables, and whole grains if you tolerate them. Choose fish like wild-caught salmon or herring once a week. Enjoy a cup of unsweetened yogurt daily for its probiotic benefits. Avoid coffee and alcohol, both of which can worsen depression.

Meditation and yoga can clear a path to the root causes of your sadness. Regular practitioners of yoga report better emotional health than nonpractitioners. Enroll in a class and remember, “Cobra, dancer, windmill, lion” because these are the four poses that can help vanquish the blues.

Start a gratitude journal. Focus on the positive aspects of your life, recording each day something, no matter how small, for which you feel a sense of gratitude. This may be an act of kindness someone did for you, some flowers you saw during lunch, or the way your cat rubs against your leg. These daily entries will neutralize the mindset that focuses on what’s been going wrong with your life.

Listen to music.  Each day, listen for at least 20 minutes to slow, relaxing music in a place where you won’t be disturbed. Focus on the music, close your eyes, and calm your breathing. In time, anger, frustration, anxiety, and sadness will stop dominating your mindset.

Learn Bach flower remedies.  These safe, homeopathic preparations designed for emotional problems have been in continuous use for almost 70 years. Most health food stores offer them, along with a questionnaire that will help you select the remedies best suited to your current feelings.

Happily, most periods of mild depression are so short-lived that a few days after they’ve passed you’ll scratch your head and wonder what you were feeling so bad about.

Be well,
David Edelberg, MD

Leave a Comment


  1. Cynthia says:

    Thank you Dr Edelberg for this timely message. I am going to share this message with others because just reading and doing some of these things like listening to soothing music and journaling has helped to put a smile on my face. Sometimes life just gets overwhelming.

  2. Denise Reinke says:

    The 4 minute workout video was very informative.

  3. Cathy says:

    Thank you for another great article! Your helpful suggestions are appreciated~as is your kind and understanding tone.

Join our Newsletter

Get health recommendations, delicious and time-saving recipes, medical news, supplement reviews, birthday discounts, and more!

BIRTHDAY

Health Tips

Dr. Edelberg’s Health Tips contain concise bits of advice, medical news, nutritional supplement and pharmaceutical updates, and stress relief ideas. With every Health Tip, you’ll also receive an easy, delicious, and healthful recipe.

When you sign up to receive Health Tips, you can look forward to Dr. Edelberg’s smart and very current observations arriving in your in-box weekly. They’re packed with helpful information and are often slightly irreverent. One of the most common responses to the tips is “I wish my doctor talked to me like this!”

Quick Connect

Get One Click Access to our

patient-portal

The Knowledge Base

Patient education is an integral part of our practice. Here you will find a comprehensive collection of staff articles, descriptions of therapies and nutritional supplements, information addressing your health concerns, and the latest research on nutritional supplements and alternative therapies.

Join our Newsletter

Get health recommendations, recipes, medical news, supplement reviews, birthday discounts, and more!

Upcoming Workshops


**Winter Solstice Celebration: An evening of Acupuncture and Shamanic Healing
Tuesday, December 17, 5:45–7:30pm
Hosted by Katie Oberlin, HTCP and Mari Stecker, LAc

Course Fee: $75.00

Take a break from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season to enter the stillpoint of the Winter Solstice, reflect on the lessons of 2019, and set intentions for the new year. This will be an evening of individual and group healing, ceremony, and celebration. More →

Recent Health Tips

  • Infertility Issues? Start With The Guy

    I’ve lost track of the number of couples we treat at WholeHealth Chicago who are involved in one of the hormone injection/surgical procedure stops on the conveyor belt of infertility centers. Currently, it’s estimated that 15 to 20 percent of couples are struggling with infertility, half of them due to male factors. The infertility docs are nice enough and certainly well-meaning, but I note a Read More

  • Issues with Endocrinologists: Thyroid Approaches and Big Pharma

    My beefs with endocrinologists pretty much center on how they manage thyroid gland concerns, though they rarely win prizes for managing adrenal issues either. I don’t know any endocrinologists personally and rarely refer my patients to them. Occasionally, a patient with newly diagnosed hypothyroidism (low thyroid) will want to confirm the diagnosis with an endocrinologist. I suggest she prepare for a scolding if she’s taking Read More

  • Six Beefs With Rheumatologists

    If you find yourself in the waiting room of a rheumatologist, you’re likely there because your joints hurt and have been hurting, often for years. You’ve been getting by on aspirin or Advil for the pain, but with things worsening your primary care doctor suggests you should see a joint specialist, a rheumatologist. And because there’s a shortage of physicians in this specialty, your appointment Read More

Join our Discount Program!

Member benefits include 10% off all your purchases. Low, one-time membership fee of $25 ($35 for family).

MORE INFORMATION