Reframing Depression: Taking Back Control

Struggling with persistent unwelcome emotions is not new. But the escalation of mental health diagnoses is alarming. Doctors are quick to medicate someone who comes in with complaints of over a hundred different emotional disorders, depression amongst the most frequent. While medications certainly have their place, and I am not a psychiatrist, I’d like to entertain another way of looking at, particularly depression, in a different light, in an effort to put power back into the hands of the individual.

In each of the schools I attended, nursing, followed by Doctor of Oriental Medicine/Licensed Acupuncturist and then Doctor of Naturopathy, psychology was a necessary part of the curriculum. I’ve now been practicing for over 45 years and I have found the teachings in school and my experience in my clinic to be invaluable. Since mental health and lifestyle have such a huge impact on general health, it is necessary to be diligent in paying attention to and honoring emotional health.

So what is the different light by which to view depression? As an umbrella term that encompasses many other emotions. When a patient comes in and reports feeling depressed, I ask them “if depression were not a word, what else would you call it?” That catches many off guard. Some stumble around in their brain, searching for other words, while others instantly know: loneliness, disappointment, unfulfilled expectations, lack of motivation, sadness, guilt, shame, despair, hopelessness, anxiety, fatigue… As they give their answers, I may coach them a little, or I may just listen attentively. Some I show a chart and ask them to choose all the emotions they experience on a fairly regular basis.

Why do I go through all that? Because I believe that if you break down the emotion we call depression, then we are better able to find solutions. If you’re lonely, volunteer somewhere, or join a bowling league or give someone a call. If you’re sad, give yourself a timeline to feel sad and just feel the emotion. After all, it is a normal emotion. It only becomes abnormal when you stay stuck in it and can’t get out. Unfulfilled expectations is a huge one and one that takes discipline to not expect a certain outcome about anything.

I realize I have oversimplified this for the purposes of this article, but I want to make a point. And that is that you are in control. When you understand the different pieces of that garbage can diagnosis called “depression”, you have more power to get on top of it, not be solely at the effect of something that has got hold of you and not leaving you any choice.

Understand too, that many emotional disorders are the result of nutritional deficiencies. You need an abundance of minerals, protein and essential fatty acids to have good brain chemistry. So as you regain power over your mental health, don’t forget the nutrition! You have more power over this than you think you do!

Want to hear more from Dr. Carling? Check out our podcast. Search for VitalHealth4You on your favorite podcast listening app or go to

©2024 Holly A. Carling, O.M.D., L.Ac., Ph.D.

Dr. Holly Carling

Dr. Holly Carling

Dr. Holly Carling is a Doctor of Oriental Medicine, Licensed Acupuncturist, Doctor of Naturopathy, Clinical Nutritionist and Master Herbologist with nearly four decades of experience. Dr. Carling is a “Health Detective,” she looks beyond your symptom picture and investigates WHY you are experiencing your symptoms in the first place. Dr. Carling considers herself a “professional student” – she has attended more than 600 post-secondary education courses related to health and healing. Dr. Carling gives lectures here in the U.S. and internationally and has been noted as the “Doctor’s Doctor”. When other healthcare practitioners hit a roadblock when treating their patients nutritionally, Dr. Carling is who they call. Dr. Carling is currently accepting new patients and offers natural health care services and whole food nutritional supplements in her Coeur d’ Alene clinic.

Medical/Health Disclaimer:

The information provided in this article or podcast should not be construed as personal medical advice or instruction. No action should be taken based solely on the contents of this article or podcast. Readers/listeners should consult appropriate health professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being. The information and opinions provided here are believed to be accurate and sound, based on the best judgment available to the author, but readers/listeners who fail to consult appropriate health authorities assume the risk of any injuries.

Recent Articles & Podcasts

Let's Solve This Puzzle Together!

At Vital Health we help people find clarity regarding the root causes of their health challenges and provide step-by-step guidance on what to do, and when to do it, in order to restore health naturally.