Can Kava Help With Depression?

Can Kava Help With Depression?

May 01, 2023

By Kyle Shigekuni | estimated read time - 28 min | Updated April 21st, 2023

Hello friend. 

If you're searching for this topic - we are cut from the same cloth. and I beg you to read on with an open mind and open heart.

You are most likely here because you yourself are in pain, or someone you love is in pain and you're looking for some straightforward solutions. If you're familiar with our team, you know we deeply value transparency and are the first people to steer you somewhere else if we believe our products aren't good for you. Kava works for most people, but not everybody, and if you're looking to use kava as a solution to this specific problem, please read this whole post.

My promise to you is I will be truthful and be upfront with you unlike many others I have seen. I've seen many posts about this subject, easily spreading clickbait lies to make a quick $$. So here we go...

Kava does NOT cure depression and should not be used as a single solution to depression

Kava may help temporarily and be used to ease pain during specific times of need or while you're weening to a different lifestyle. But it should not be seen as a "cure" or an ongoing daily treatment in anyway to this debilitating mental illness.

Anyone who is saying different is a liar and is manipulating you.

Now that is out of the way, let's get to the real stuff. I will warn you, this can get dark. But trust me on this, there is light at the end and it's worth it to learn the different aspects instead of skimming this page.

This blog post talks about serious issues that are real and dangerous. So let me state.. I AM NOT medically trained physician in this field and none of this should be substituted for medical advice

I'm actually a trained physicist/scientist with a deep fascination in neuroscience and psychology, but again, I'm not a professional or expert in either of these fields in anyway. Furthermore, I'm really writing this more for myself than anything else. It's a reminder to me and the rest of our team to: stand up for the good, to embrace discomfort, to push for the better and to voluntarily take on the responsibility to make this world a better place. If there's anything you get from this I hope you at least pull these words and cement them in your mind, "Take Action NOW".

So we're constantly flooded with emails throughout the week asking questions related to kava and depression. We then started on this post to talk about it, but it started getting very deep to the point it became uncomfortable to share. I personally hesistated for a few months to hit the publish button for a myriad of reasons I won't share here. But you know what?



Come join us and let's go down the rabbit hole together.

Let's Be Really Real

Let's be real and raw. There are times in every persons life where you see hell. It's a glimmer in the distance often assumed to be a mirage, but it's there. It could be the chaos of a terrible event that happened to you, the mayhem of a tragedy to someone you love. Maybe you've even traveled to outskirts of hell on your own volition and dangled your feet over the cliffs into darkness that lies within. Suffering is a part of life and internal suffering can turn into a bottomless pit of unworthiness which over time can suck your soul from reality. A specific type of internal suffering known as depression is really like a death from within. If you ever get there, you'll understand how people can do terrible things to themselves and even to others. You'll be able to see, hopefully as a bystander, the real confusing mess that mental health pains can create and hopefully you'll walk away unscathed with a much deeper understanding than reflexive surface layer empathy. A human's mind can fractionate realities and identities to see victimizing angles from any situation.

I'll even be bold enough to state that, hell is not a place you go after death if you've been a bad person, it exists here, right now, within you. It's gates are always open and the devil is waiting, tempting you, until you are willing to surrender your, at times, seemingly pathetic existence.

A lot of people are lucky to live their lives and only see the mirage glimmering in the distance, never having the time or misfortune to stumble down the deep black hole that exists in their own minds. Unfortunately I wasn't one of those people. I understand how people can lose themselves- not because I'm an expert (which I am NOT by any stretch of the imagination), but because I've held up those thorn-laden bino's to the abyss and I've dangled my feet over the edge - sometimes from misfortune but other times due to a deep genuine curiosity of it.

If this is you or someone you love, hopefully we can shed some light on the darkness. This is not the end of the story as life really is much more beautiful than you can imagine as long as you can pull meaning back into it. Most of what we talk about here are not my own discoveries (obviously) as I follow some of the greats, but I will do my best here to distill their tactics into mangaeable bites.

If you're wondering what the heck we're talking about then I beg you to kiss the ground and be grateful for the beauty that surrounds you in your life. It's cliche to say this but seriously, don't take it for granted. Know that someday, something will happen to you or someone you love and you'll have to deal with it. That's life whether it's happening right now or in the future, and hopefully you'll be a little more prepared from whatever it is that we're writing here now. It's a terrible thought but it's best to train for these situations so you don't go down the wrong road when it comes up, (and you'd be surprised how easy it is to go down the wrong road.)

Take what works with you but seriously consider everything you read here - even if you are not interested or it doesn't seem to fit "who you are". Especially when we talk about martial arts. We are all beautifully complex and constantly evolving human beings. You'll be surprised what you're truly capable of when you take that first step.

As you walk along this journey, you must be methological and tactical with your approach. Conserve your energy. This is not a single one and done battle. Grab your sword and shield my friend - you're headed to war.

If you see any links of references to products. We ARE NOT an affiliate site, We ARE NOT receiving commissions, Furthermore we are not (have not) received anything for free. These are things Me or the team personally use and purchased with our own money.


If you're reading this far it's highly unlikely you're a bad person with an abundance of malevolence in your heart. Which means you are a good person (mostly) and therefore it is my duty to remind you there is real evil out there. In this world real bad people exist, who take advantage of or knowingly hurt others to gain an advantage for themselves - YOU are not that. YOU... ARE THE DIVINE LIGHT. ☀️

I don't mean in a strange woo woo metaphysical manner (even though literally we are light due to the IR spectrum, Woot physics!).

The good of human beings is the light that holds this world together.

I firmly believe that. Because you are not the overarching darkness that can contaminate some societies, you have a responsibility, and a big one at that. Your responsibility and your moral duty is to bring YOUR OWN DIVINE LIGHT into this world. To stand in safety, in fear, in indecision, is to withold your light from shining upon all of us. It is a crime, a sin against humanity. Otherwise this world can become even darker than it is. We seriously need all the light we can get.

If you have any questions about this - please reach out to us

If you have something we should add or try - please reach out to us

If this helps you in any way - PLEASE reach out to us. For this one, I beg you. Please reach out and let's connect.

If you think I'm stupid - do me a favor. Write it out and record yourself reading your own words. Then LISTEN to it yourself. Then send your recording over to us. (Here's how to make a quick voice recording on your iphone)

"When we judge others we do not define them, we define ourselves."

How Come We're Writing This

Let's be controversial but do please hear me out.

I know we are not an exercise/medical health blog, we’re a kava company. Having said that, most blogs/sites I’ve read on this topic either don’t give any REAL information outside of whatever they copy and paste to get to the top of google's search so they can earn rank score. These are filled with the simple mined data every generic doctors office database has, or the blogs are living for the sole purpose of increasing their SEO for their Affiliate links where they earn commission. They're businesses so don't forget that.

Now I respect the hustle - but in full honesty, for this topic it pisses me the f*ck off. I am fed up with these click-baity articles giving terrible advice and not pointing out real-world applications to a human being who is actually looking for answers. We have heard time and time again from our customers about the ridiculous things they've tried or bought thanks to some stupid SEO blog. When you're in that hell, you don't know what you don't know, and these people see you as a golden ticket to money. These stupid generic advice posts to "challenge thoughts" is NOT helpful to people who actually need help in desperate times and are open to real solutions. I've read a grip of these assortments of mindless data while trying to help friends and family. I sincerely doubt any of the writers of those articles have ever experienced a depressive episode or actually looked for help.

Hopefully what you find here will be different. Hopefully what you read here you will take action on and GET OUT OF THE HOUSE.

So What IS Depression

According to recent statistics they believe about 4% of the adult population in the world suffers from depression (3). It's classified as a mental illness that brings a negative impact to how we act, think and feel. If you've never experienced it, then depression is probably very different than what you could imagine it being.

For example, losing someone close to you is terrible and can be hard to endure. But depression goes down a different channel than sadness. Personally, I believe grief and sadness are beautiful emotions that in a sense, justify the beauty of life itself. The feeling of loss from someone or something close to you reminds you how fragile things are, how fragile you are, and how your time should be focused on what is really important, which is the people around you. The very essence of the preciousnessness in any relationship is inextricably linked with the fragility that it could be ended at any second. Beauty and tragedy cannot live without each other. There is love in sadness - in the longing of what could've been and what can no longer be. There is beauty on reminicing on memories of cherished moments, which originally hang as painful reminders that they are just that, memories. Never to be repeated again. It's the dichotomy of truly living isnt it?

With depression, it's similar to grief and sadness in that it's a negative emotion, but that similarity is really the only thing they have in common. Depression is a step in the same general direction but seemingly down a much worse path. Most people report feelings of extreme worthlessness, loneliness, and commonly associated is a loss of appetite for the things they used to love and enjoy. When episodes occur it can make everyday experiences seem like massive mountains to climb. The simple essentials like taking showers, getting dressed or feeding yourself might as well be equivalent to running a marathon. One can dread the simple action of getting up to get a glass of water, with that absurd monkey brain trying to convince themselves they don't deserve the water. It sounds completely absurd right? But in that moment to this person, it is REAL.

In my opinion, most of what we feel is chemical and we should not give too much credit to the outside world for our emotions. That's not to say physical or tragic events don't play a role in triggering terrible episodes as they absolutely do. This is especially true if there is a coping cycle that has been embedded from constant management in the wrong types of ways. But regardless if it's endogenous or exogenous, our chemical makeup and neurotransmitter health has a massive impact on the effects of mental illnesses and more importantly, the way we perceive how our life is going. Again my opinion, but I think it's because we think too much that we're special. The old catholic beliefs that we are the center of the universe, and each of us personally are the center of our own universes inflate our ego and . I can go on into this, but the idea is that we're much more tribal or animalistic in nature than we give ourselves credit for, and we often make decisions based off of underlying chemical needs not really rational thought. A way to be mindful of this is to begin questioning if this is really you going down this route, or is it something chemical you're unbalanced in.

In my opinion, keeping in mind this balance is the best way to attack the problems of mental illness. Although the struggle with depression may seem like an endless battle, it can get significantly better with the right tools. Getting help is never easy for individuals who suffer from depression because they usually don't want to be a burdeon to the world and would rather keep the pain to themselves. But one of the most crucial steps in treating depression is being okay with receiving the right help.

If you are experiencing something like this, we urge you to reach out to the SAMSA helplines while exploring other options (like the ones below)

Remember the approach you take to combat this terror should be multi-variate, one main point being the awareness of your baseline neural chemistry at all times.

Some Symptoms of Clinical Depression

  • Slowness of breath - sometimes choking on own saliva due to airway being open
  • Heaviness in body and inability to get up or second-thinking any need for movement
  • Prolonged inability to make decisions
  • Anhedonia - inability to sense touch or warmth from another human being
  • Dulled colors and emotions. Grayed out feelings
  • Heavy inward feeling of being slowly pulled deeper.

These are some major symptoms I've personally seen that are markers letting me know the mind is going down the wrong path. Often just the awareness of these flags can be enough to snap someone out of falling deeper into the whole.

  • Slowness of breath could be stopped with standing up and doing 10-25 air squats.
  • Inability to make decisions could be stopping by CHOOSING to make a simple decision with the information you already have, then moving forward. Or make decisions with smaller things to build up the decision muscle. Example: I am deciding to goto the bathroom, I am deciding to take a walk around the block.

These are some quick actions you can take for the symptoms above, but these are temporary and for a longer term solution an integration to keep these episodes from happening again should be considered. (Although you should definitely keep a list of these at hand, see our QRF later in this chapter)

"Trust in God, but tie up your camels"

Neurotransmitters Affects on Depression

Antidepressants in combination with psychotherapy is said to be the first treatment people with depression get. Antidepressants may help improve the symptoms within one to two weeks, but the full benefits may not show for two to three months. If there’s no improvement from taking the medicine the psychiatrist can either change the dosage or change the antidepressant. But what are antidepressants?

In terms of neuroscience I'm sure you're familiar with the common neurotransmitters,

  • Dopamine
  • Oxytocin
  • Serotonin
  • Ephedrine

Also known as D.O.S.E.

We'll focus mainly on dopamine and serotonin, but the rest are also important. Dopamine and Serotonin are two neurotransmitters that are involved in regulating mood, motivation, and reward processing.

Dopamine is the reward chemical, and is often referred to as the "feel-good" neurotransmitter because it is associated with feelings of pleasure and reward. When we engage in physical activity, dopamine levels in the brain increase, leading to a sense of euphoria and a boost in mood. This is why exercise is often recommended as a natural way to combat depression and anxiety.

Serotonin is another neurotransmitter that is involved in regulating mood, appetite, and sleep. Low levels of serotonin have been linked to depression and anxiety. Exercise has been shown to increase serotonin levels in the brain, which can lead to a reduction in symptoms of depression and anxiety.

In addition to increasing dopamine and serotonin levels, exercise also stimulates the production of endorphins, which are natural painkillers that promote feelings of well-being and happiness. We'll go more into this later but these levels are crucial when thinking about action and especially when doing hard things

Thoughts about Prescription drugs

Most of us do not have a positive past with pharmaceutical drugs, so I'll always ebb toward not using them. However, if in dire straights it should always be considered while you explore other options.

The real danger in pharmaceutical treatments is dependency it can create over time, as it can be an easier route from you actually putting in the work to fight the pain yourself and overcome it. If you do decide to go down this route make sure to setup specific markers during the following weeks, months, and maybe years, to re-evaluate if this is still the procedure you want to continue doing. Like a doctors checkup, you should setup checkin times with yourself to journal how you feel, what you think you need, and if this is still helping.

But pills are easy! For example, exercise is known to help with depression (more on that later). Running 5 miles at a 7 minute mile pace is hard if you don't run. It's really really hard. Taking a pill to modulate your dopamine or serotonin levels is a way easier route but the easy way out can often condition yourself to be even more prone to the underworld. Plus big pharma doesn't really know as much as we think they do, or maybe they do...

There's some preliminary evidence showing how exogenous neurotransmitters (or prescription chemicals that can affect them) being applied over long periods of time can reduce the natural states of these neurotransmitters. In other words, your body adapts to the pill that is hijacking your central nervous system, and is creating an artificial chemical dependency to baseline your health. Sooner or later you'll need the pill just to feel normal (similar to alcoholism). And because of these chemical adaptations your body undertakes, there is a long withdrawal period of about 3-6 months that you will need to struggle through if you ever want to get off of them. Most people are comfortable taking pills for the rest of their life (and big pharma really hopes it stays that way). But I don't think this is the right answer. I believe strongly in the body's natural need for balance and its ability to heal itself with just a little intervention.

Although we are all different, we do run off similar hardware and the individual should be extremely mindful about the awareness of these medications being a permanent crutch.

Typically anti-depressant drugs focus on Serotonin but may at times be dopaminergic as well. These serotonin based drugs are known as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI's). Examples are Zoloft, Prozac, Lexapro, etc. Serotonin is known as the "happy" neurotransmitter so it makes sense the pharma drug is basing off of this.

SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) work by increasing the amount of serotonin available in the brain. Serotonin is a chemical that helps regulate mood, emotions, and behavior. In people with depression or anxiety, there may be a deficiency in serotonin levels, which can contribute to their symptoms.

SSRIs work by blocking the reabsorption of serotonin into the cells that release it, thus allowing more serotonin to remain in the space between neurons. This increased amount of serotonin can help improve mood, reduce anxiety, and promote feelings of well-being.

It can take several weeks of regular use for SSRIs to start having a noticeable effect, and the dose may need to be adjusted by a healthcare professional to ensure optimal benefits. Some common side effects of SSRIs include nausea, dizziness, and difficulty sleeping, but these typically resolve on their own over time.

These usually work by selectively blocking the re-absorption of serotonin once it is used, thereby letting it continue to have an effect on your mood for a longer period of time. If the SSRI was not there, the serotonin can be absorbed too quickly and your mood can shift immediately to a lower emotional state on the totem pole.

Lastly, most (if not all) prescription drugs have side effects as well as possible negative interactions with other drugs. Those are the crazy list of negative side effects you hear at the end of the pharma drug commercial when the dog and family are all smiling and laughing together.

Developing a QRF!! (Quick Reaction Force)

What is a QRF and Why do I Need it

QRF is an armed military term to define a unit capable of rapidly responding to developing situations, typically to assist allied units in need of such assistance.

This will probably be the biggest difference with this post and hopefully the one thing you can pull from it. We're going to start taking precautionary measures to make sure you orthe person you are cring for has the correct tools tailored for their "comfort" and needs. Give the wrong ecommendations to someone and you can push them further into the pain.

So what is this QRF. Well we're going to make something we will coin as the QRF list. A QRF list for you will be a list of actions you can take (that you know won't kill you,) that you can accomplish or at least get close to accomplishing. I would make a list and share it with a friend you trust so when something happens they can direct you to the quickest thing you can do to keep yourself in check. You'll see us refer to the QRF in each section moving forward with examples you can use to create your first list. Hopefully you can pull one idea of a QRF for you in each section to have a multi-faceted approach

The Importance of Balance

Some more quick blabberings about the life balance and how we can re-orient things to possibly help further episodes.

You obviously, are not just you. You're made up of billions of micro-organisms that just so happened to work together in a harmonious cycle of balance to create a human being. The recent discoveries in the past few years in gut-microbiome biology all point to this delicate balance of our actions and the need for us to be mindful of it. Too much of anything can be a recipe for distaster.

Regardless of whatever your faith is, be it Christianity, Buddhism, Catholism, Muslim, etc, Imagine for one moment, you are a hunter gatherer living off the land. You are constantly moving, hunting down prey, foraging for berries, protecting your loved ones, learning the ways of community and selflessness.

You understand every animal's meaning for existence. You are connected to Mother Earth and in balance with the circle of life.

But what else is in balance here?

  • Physical Activity - Your body is constantly moving and being stressed. You are exerting necessary energy to capture prey or forage for berries.
  • Diet - You're constantly fluctuating, eating lean fibrous things and then large amounts of protein. You didn't have pineapples and fruit juice being flown in on a 747 from a tropical island. You also starved (fasted) for days when food waas scarce.
  • Social Life - you're in constant contact physically and socially with others as a means to survive. You depend on one another to hunt, share, and protect each other.
  • Spiritually - You see yourself living with the flow of Mother Earth's cycle of life and death.

How is this different from what we currently are doing with our lives. Well, it seems a large majority of our physical and mental ailments is based off how far removed we are from the main circuitry that has been engrained into our DNA. (Keeping in mind as well, the fact that human beings live much longer now than our ancestors. We'll focus on the main points found at younger ages.)

Here's an unpopular opinion. Smoking is not inherently bad in itself. Too much smoking for years is very bad. Candy isn't inherently bad, too much candy in a sedentary lifestyle is very bad. (Candy is actually great for mid-day boosts on a nasty elevation hike. Even me, the keto obssessed guy, started packing haribo gummies for backpacking terrain). Everything can be enjoyed as long as there is balance and not overindulgence. Even the bible references the need to constantly be in communion with the divine individual (Christ), to follow his ways and to not worship other idols. This communion can be the path to righteousness through constnatly becoming a better person, and these false idols can be even inanimate: sugar, drugs, alcohol, sex, social media, television. They're all dopaminergic and can all pull us into unconscious semi-religious rituals.

Now, onto the actions!

The Importance of Flexibility and Balance

How Stretching Affects Your Mental Health And What To Do

Flexibility. Since we do not have to hunt down prey or forage for food, our bodies are locking up more. We're sitting at desks, sitting on couches, sitting in cars and not surprisingly getting back pains from tight hamstrings, weak leg muscles, loss of range of motion. Most American's can't squat down and have their butts touch the back of their heels. This is due to many things as stated above but also the implementation of the porcelain throne (toilet). Previously we used to squat to goto the bathroom and this should not be forgotten. Limiting movement creates restriction of movement. What was previously a mandatory part of life for a hunter/gatherer, is now never experienced.

Exercise has been shown to have a significant impact on dopamine and serotonin levels in the brain., but you can't really exercise unless you make sure you're still flexible. Don't injure yourself and make sure to setup stretching routines, specifically after your exercise or on off days (not before). If you stretch your muscles to their taught positions it's like a rubber band and will not be able to hold a stronger impulse. Ie, you can snap it.

QRF Examples:

  • 10-25 air squats with 3 minute rests. Repeat 3 times. here's a video reference
  • Implement evening stretching routine. 
  • Walk around neighborhood with backpack full of heavy books or weights if you have them. If you're looking to buy stuff I like the goruck packs.
  • Do 25 pushups after lunch to keep the blood flowing
  • Opt for a date night at the rock climbing gym rather than takeout and netflix
  • If you're looking for a full routine I'm a big fan of this guy

Balancing Your Diet to Stave the Devil Away

Let's Talk Food

Diet is also important in depression therapy and should not be overlooked. Specific nutrients that are important for managing depression include omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, vitamin D, and magnesium. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish, nuts, and seeds, are essential for brain function and can help reduce inflammation in the brain, which has been linked to depression. B vitamins, found in whole grains, leafy greens, and fortified cereals, play a role in neurotransmitter function and can help regulate mood. Vitamin D, found in fatty fish and fortified dairy products, is important for regulating mood and can help alleviate symptoms of depression. Magnesium, found in dark chocolate, nuts, and legumes, is essential for nerve and brain function and can help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.

In addition to these specific nutrients, it's important to maintain a balanced intake of electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, and calcium. These minerals play a crucial role in nerve and muscle function, and imbalances can lead to symptoms such as fatigue, irritability, and mood swings. I personally think the electrolytes is a much more important factors than most other macronutrients and have seen best results with the active actions of keeping these in check.

I experimented with a few different styles of diets ranging from vegan to paleo or hflc, to more intensive elimination diets like carnivore and even lions (red meat carnivore only) for months at a time. Obviously standard american diet is the worst for mental health, but I had some very weird results. This is against popular opinion, but, Full on red-meat carnivore with himalayan salt by far gave me the best results both physically and mentally. My mood completely baselined and I felt very positive. I couldn't get mad. I don't recommend it and do not follow this diet anymore but I do recommend to at minimum look into it. It's easier to do than you may think. Mcdonalds 1/4 hamburger patties are $1.25 near me and possibly cheaper near you.

QRF Examples:

  • Keep some unflavored Pedialyte bottles ready to restore eletrolytes. (PLEASE DO THIS)
  • Have honey sticks and some clif bars around to help regulate blood sugar
  • Goto the asian market (Korean and Japanese have these) and get a fried mackeral. They're great and provide a ton of good nutrients
  • Dehydrate your own beef jerky. Just Himalayan salt on thinly sliced round is a great jerky. Electrolytes and protein instantly and shelf stable. Just make sure to cut with the grain!
  • Trail mix from trader joes and scoop some to snack on during the day.
  • Recommend to look into lions diet.

Drinking More Water

What is your Required Water Amount and Why

Dehydration can cause the blood to flow slower... a LOT slower. When the body is dehydrated, the blood becomes thicker and more viscous, which makes it harder for it to flow through the blood vessels. This can lead to a decrease in blood flow and a decrease in the amount of oxygen and nutrients that are delivered to the cells and tissues of the body. This can literally mean there's not enough oxygen getting to your brain.

In addition to slowing down the flow of blood, dehydration can also lead to a decrease in blood volume, which can further contribute to decreased blood flow and oxygen delivery. This can have a negative impact on the body's overall functioning and can lead to symptoms such as fatigue, dizziness, fainting, and mental disorders. Your brain needs blood flowing and it needs oxygen. Give it the water so it can flow propely.

Here's some proof. Recently (literally this morning) I wasn't feeling the greatest and coincidentally this aligned with a day I was getting some routine bloodwork for a physical checkup. I had done about 5 hours of hiking yesterday and I thought I drank enough water (although i went to sleep with a headache. First red flag). When the nurse attempted to take my blood it barely dripped out. We sat there for almost a minute while i squirmed uncomfortably, until she asked if I had done anything strenuous yesterday. I mentioned the hike. She asked how much water I drank. I mentioned the 16oz bottle, then she shook her head and made me drink a couple cups of water. 15 minutes after some other checkups in between, she took my blood again and it flowed out like a faucet.

Learning of the day, drink more water.

So how can you remember to drink more water or how much to drink? It's pretty simple and cheap.

QRF Example:

  • Measure your weight and divide that in half. Drink that many fluid ounces of water a day. Buy a nalgene bottle on Amazon around the amount you need, or half so you know two bottles per day. Get one with measurements. It's cheap, just do it now. You'll look like a hipster but it's worth it. Make sure to get a brush to clean it or you can be a struggling entrepreneur like me and use a paper towel with a long chopstick.
  • Implement the afrementioned electrolytes from time to time

Write a Cookie Jar List

What is a Cookie Jar and Why do I Need it

David Goggins is considered to be the toughest man alive. If you haven't heard of him or read his book, I would recommend listening to this then picking up his book "Cant Hurt Me" here. It's totally worth it.

He coined this term "Cookie Jar". Which is essntially a list of the major achievements you have done in your life. If you've graduated college, aced an exam - write that down. You were in the hospital and fought to survive - write that down. You ran a marathon, half marathon, 10k, 5k, or even a good mile time - write that down. You once used to bench your weight - write that down. You gave birth to a beautiful baby - write that down. Heck you even changed your own tire without outside help - write that down.

The idea is when you're facing adversity or struggle of some sort, you can reflect on these things you overcame and remember really what you are made of.

QRF Example:

  • When you are in a GOOD state, make a list of at LEAST 5 things you have accomplished in your life. Throughout the month keep adding to the list. If you're not in a good state, still try anyway but make sure to come back when you are in a good state.
  • Have a friend write down 5 things they like about you. Have your parents write them down as well. Keep them in a little notebook and open them during dark times

Get Ready to Get Uncomfortable

How Doing Something Hard Can Help With Depression

As stated above these is a big importance in balancing your D.O.S.E. neurotransmitters. Our Central Nervous System and Neurotransmitter receptors evolved to reward us with the "feel good" feelings for going out and finding food. Since we're made up of billions of little microorganisms living in a symbiotic relationship, they want their life to continue so they trigger the reward mechanisms for going out and doing hard things.  

The first step in our constantly evolving protocol is the decision of control. Deciding that regardless what your head is saying to you, you will act. The word decide is de-cider, which means to cut off. When you decide you cut off from any other possibility. This doesn't mean you can't make a change later, but it does mean you have to do SOMETHING in order to make the change.

The first step is to setup some big events or bucket list items on your list. These are things that, to me, are difficult to do and therefore will give a relatively high failure rate but will challenge me as a person. Your examples will be different than mine and for the moment we'll focus on shorter period things that can be accomplished in less than a year.

There's a beautiful practice in Japanese culture called "Misogi" Misogi is a involves performing a challenging physical or mental task in order to purify oneself and achieve a greater understanding of oneself and the world. The idea is to push oneself beyond one's limits in order to reach a higher level of consciousness and personal growth. By doing hard things, one can develop resilience, discipline, and mental toughness, which can be applied to other areas of life to achieve greater success and happiness. In short, misogi is a way to challenge oneself to become a better person.

So pick something that is a 50/50 chance of you finishing it, and write it down. Then take the first step toward it. Go and crush that activity. As absurd as many of these challenges may sound, they are done often by people every year, and you are entirely capable of doing them too. What heavily challenging situation are you willing to put yourself through in order to become a better human?

QRF Example:

These are not really QRF's as they will involve a bit more planning. But make this list on the back of your QRF paper to keep top of mind as accomplishing heavy tasks such as these can be a fastrack to mental health reversal

  • Run 100km broken down into 4km every 4 hours just like this guy
  • Do 1000 pullups in 1 day. Like this guy
  • Finish a 72 hour or even 7 day water fast. Make sure to balance your electrolytes while doing it

Volunteer to Help Someone Else

How Helping Someone Can Help with Depression

Volunteering to help someone else can provide a sense of purpose and meaning. When people volunteer, they are often working towards a cause that they care about, and this can give them a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction. This can be especially important for people who may be feeling disconnected or unfulfilled in other areas of their life.

Volunteering can also help to build social connections and a sense of community. When people volunteer, they often work with other volunteers and members of the community, which can help to combat feelings of loneliness and isolation. This social connection can be especially beneficial for people who may be struggling with mental health issues such as depression or anxiety.

In addition, volunteering can provide a sense of accomplishment and boost self-esteem. When people volunteer, they are often able to see the impact of their work and the positive difference that they are making in the lives of others. This can help to increase feelings of self-worth and confidence.

Finally, volunteering can also provide a break from the stresses and pressures of everyday life. When people volunteer, they are often able to step away from their own problems and focus on helping others, which can be a refreshing change of pace. This break can help to reduce stress and improve overall mental well-being.

Research has found that participation in voluntary services is significantly predictive of better mental and physical health, life satisfaction, self-esteem, happiness, lower depressive symptoms, psychological distress, and mortality and functional inability

Look up volunteer opportunities in your area. Just don’t go talking about your plans to someone else (like your shrink). It'll release the same amount of feel good chemicals and will actually hinder the probability you will take the action. Just do it.

QRF Example:

  • Sit down and have a chat with an old whippersnapper at an old folks home. They have SOOO much wisdom
  • Sign up to organize food or cook in a soup kitchen
  • Volunteer at the local aquarium (Ahem... Like the awesome Long Beach Aquarium!)
  • Volunteer to play with cats at a cat sanctuary, or dogs at a rescue shelter.

Take a Dopamine Detox

How Signing Out Can Help with Depression

You might not want to admit it, but you're probably addicted to social media.

Social media can affect dopamine levels in the brain by triggering the release of this neurotransmitter, which is associated with feelings of pleasure and reward. When we receive likes, comments, or messages on social media, or when we engage in scrolling and searching for content, our brains can release dopamine, creating a sense of pleasure and satisfaction. However, this effect can also lead to addictive behaviors and negative consequences, such as a decrease in attention span, increased anxiety, depression, and decreased overall well-being. This one is pretty serious.

A dopamine detox is a term used to describe a period of time during which a person intentionally avoids activities that stimulate dopamine release in the brain. This can include avoiding social media, netflix/tx, and other online platforms, as well as other high dopaminergic behaviors such as overeating, sugar, drug use, gambling, and internet pornography. Typically this is around 30 days but for a full effect experts recommend 90 days.

The purpose of a dopamine detox is to reset the brain's reward system and reduce the dependence on dopamine-inducing activities. By taking a break from these activities, individuals may experience a decrease in cravings and addiction-related behaviors, as well as an increase in productivity, focus, and overall well-being.

QRF Example:

  • Don't limit to certain hours, just sign out of social media period. It'll freak you out how often you pick up the phone
  • Sign out of Netflix, HBO, Hell UNPLUG THE DAMN TV. Goto the park and if it's late, grab a book with some non-caffinated tea.
  • Get all the heavy carb/sugary foods out of the house or hide away in garage. they usually have long shelf lives anyway if you decide to change your mind later.

Exercise and Depression

How Exercise Can Help With Depression

Now onto Exercise. Exercise is said to be one of the best ways to reduce depression but it is also one of the hardest things for people to do. But why? Well, regular physical activity is essential for maintaining good health, reducing stress, and improving mood. However, too much exercise can be detrimental to our health, leading to injuries, burnout, and exhaustion. On the other hand, too little exercise can result in a sedentary lifestyle, which can lead to a range of health problems, such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. Therefore, finding a balance between exercise and rest is key to achieving optimal health.

 Self care is not candles and a bottle of wine. That leads to more emptiness and depression (who knew). Self care is doing what you said you were going to do. Get up early. Exercise. Put in real effort. Sweat. BUILD REAL CONFIDENCE IN YOURSELF

QRF Example:

  • 10-25 air squats with 3 minute rests. Repeat 3 times. here's a video reference
  • Implement evening stretching routine. 
  • Walk around neighborhood with backpack full of heavy books or weights if you have them. If you're looking to buy stuff I like the goruck packs.
  • Do 25 pushups after lunch to keep the blood flowing
  • Opt for a date night at the rock climbing gym rather than takeout and netflix
  • Hop in a free dance class tonight

Unpopular opinion: DO NOT exercise at home alone.

It can help, but with exercising at home you're also taking about the possibility of involvment in an exercise community. You can be part of gym community even if you never talk to anyone there. The mere physical presence of being around others working out will build more confidence and keep you more accountable.

Exercise is often touted to be the best thing for depression. However, having lived through a few dark days myself, I also know the amount of willpower and discipline it takes to create a routine, then actually follow the routine on your own. This is not only hard for a person suffering from depression, it can potentially do the exact opposite of what you are trying to achieve.

 For a lot of people, the sheer overwhelm of the word “exercise” carries with it all associated questions of the unknown. The vast mountain of responsibilities this catch-all entails like “what the heck you should do”, what is considered a benchmark, what you need, etc, is enough to cause even the most positive social butterfly an ocular migraine. If you’ve never been a gym rat, then that means you don’t know what you don’t know. It’s okay to admit and accept that if it’s true but even moreso if you’re working through your own mental challenges. Attempting to decipher the word ”exercise” these days can lead to disparaging Google searches overloading you with more conflicting information than you can shake your finger at. Don’t try to recreate the wheel. I get it, you’re smart, you can figure it out, but save your energy instead for climbing out of that dark abyss and tying your trainers on. So I say, take the simplest easiest route.

Join a local gym. Here are some steps you can follow

  1. Find two local gyms. Don’t look up deals, classes, or procrastinate reading every single one of their reviews on yelp. Just pick two and move on.
  2. Walk through the door. Every gym has a trial but you shouldn’t take it. Most gyms have their “initiation fees” waived if you sign up on the spot once you walk in. They will sell you on this so be aware. 99% of the cases just take it as long as it’s not a term commitment, the math will usually work out in your favor. If you don’t like it you can cancel early and stay the rest of the month.
  3. Pick either category of focus. Losing weight, or Gaining strength. You can’t realistically do both unless you have an intense personal trainer, so just pick one.
  4. Take the free personal trainer class. Let them know your category of focus, then have them setup a 1-2 week routine for you and do it 5-6 days of the week for a month. Mornings are the best for a number of physical reasons but especially if you have a busy schedule. My schedule is packed starting at 6:45am when I wake up my baby daughter. So I have to start early. Up at 4:30, at the gym by 5am. Every. Day.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Depression

How Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Can Help with Depression

Join a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) Gym - Now. Like now. Take the free trial to the closest legitimate gym near you. If you don't like it, find another one. They're everywhere. Martial arts can do amazing things for your mental health. However, I personally believe more specifically Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, is the absolute best thing you can do to combat depression. I have never come across another single activity with so many characteristics that are clinically backed to overcome depression and related mental illnesses.

  1. You gain Clarity - Aimlessness or confusion is often considered a symptom of depression, but I believe it’s actually a major contributor. Studies at the University of Crete have shown that when participants were able to define a goal and a clear approaching path, they were less likely to rank on anxiety and depression. However, approach avoidance style of goals were strongly correlated with anxiety and depression levels. BJJ has a belt/stripe system which is a clear approach path that you can stay on. Even biblical texts speak of Hamartyiah, sinning by missing the mark. We need to do things that move us forward otherwise we will do that which takes away from us finding meaning in life, ie, we will end up going down the avoidance route.
  2. You gain Confidence - Most people believe the confidence in jiu jitsu comes from you learning how to defend yourself, but I don’t believe that’s the case. The confidence comes from you keeping a promise to yourself, and showing up. The confidence and belief in yourself, as esoteric as that always sounded to me, is actually much much more literal. You literally start to believe that you will do what you say you will do. One facet of BJJ drills are for you to speak out loud each step of the drill that you are practicing. This connection of your body moving in space following your words, cements in your mind the idea that you are completing statements you are making.
  3. Social Connections - Don’t worry, yes even you classic introverts will love this type of socializing. This is not the small talk world of plastic socialists we’ve experienced in West Los Angeles at the swanky bar that took you 2 hours to get into. Those people suck your energy and exhaust you on weekends more than any level of alcohol or barbituates can. Being part of a Martial Arts community means you will immediately be surrounded by people all working on themselves and aiming to be better. People generally are friendly because they know they can learn something from you just as much as you learn from them. They leave the Ego at the door and arrive to class with a learners mindset. You become like the people you surround yourself with, so surround yourself with people aiming up, and don’t be the only one in the group aiming down.
  4. Physical Touch - This is a huge one but not in the way you’re thinking as we're not talking about romance here. There’s said to be a famous terrible experiment known as “The Forbidden Study” from 1944, in which researchers hoping to see the proof of human’s naturally ability to derive language. What they did was provide 40 newborn infants with the essentials needed to live, such as warmth, food, bed, etc, with the caveat of holding back physical touch from another human being. The study supposedly was halted as half of the babies ended up dying, purported to be a result of lack of touch. As terrible as this sounds, what you can pull from this is the understanding that human touch is extremely important for our mental health. You need to touch and be touched by another human. Your soul craves it whether you want to admit it or not. Jiu jitsu involved constant close contact with your teammate, and teaches you to be calm with another person on top of you. But, because of this, the art creates situations of constant contact and touch. For adults with little to no friends and who are living away from family, this is possibly one of the safest environments to actually experience real human touch with a stranger. And in my opinion, the best option for you if you’re struggling with depression (If you need recommendations for a gym feel free to reach out to me directly)
  5. Women Empowerment - Every girl and woman needs to know jiu jitsu. This is a controversial statement as well, but I have to say it: Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is literally anti-rape training. BJJ is the art of using the other person’s weight against them, but also the moves involved mostly center around a position known as “the guard” where the practitioner is on their back with their legs spread, and their opponent on their knees facing them in between the aforementioned spread legs. This position, which usually is considered the most vulnerable position during sexual assault, is actually the main and one of the most powerful positions in BJJ. From this position the victim (on their back) can safely defend themself and fully submit the attacker in a seemingly infinite combination of ways. Most involving significantly less effort than the opponent or using the opponent’s weight against them. Through subtle shifts of hip and locking of legs, the previously dangerous attacker is now choked of air and unconscious between the legs of the jiu jitsu practitioner. While the person is unconscious you can escape the situation and get to safety.
  6. You gain You gain You gain.... You gain strength. You gain spatial awareness. You gain the ability to protect your loved ones. You actually get smarter. You kill your ego and gain humility (the art forces you to be humiliated constantly). You get better at rock climbing (if you do that stuff. Crimp game is strong). You get sharper from constantly solving problems. Your stress levels drop (from focusing on learning). You become braver. On and on and on....

When you find the local gym or jiu jitsu gym, just show up. Don’t look for coupons. Don’t research pre-workouts, meals, protein shakes, etc. Your goal is to walk in the door, that’s it. Tomorrow’s goal is the same thing, do whatever it takes to get your feet in the door, NOW

QRF Example:

  • Just go. Seriously. Try 4 different gyms*. Rank them on proximity rather than amount of black belts. You will thank me later.

*On picking a BJJ Gym - Any of the Gracie Jiu Jitsu Academy's are all great. Cobrinha/Alliance gyms are fantastic as well. 10th Planet gyms are great. If you live in an area with a lot of options I would recommend to not goto a "sport bjj gym". These ones tend to lean more heavily towards gi competitions and can have aggressive people who are training for actual fights. Some "sport bjj gyms" are Gracie Barra's, Paragon, Checkmat, ATOS, as well as a few others. I must caveaut that all these sport gyms are amazing places to train. It's only for beginners who are not interested in competition, I would recommend to try the non-sport more self-defense based gyms to get comfortable with jiu jitsu. You can always switch gyms later.

Support Groups and Depression

How Support Groups Can Help with Depression

Aside from your family and friends there are people or groups of people out there who are willing to listen without judgment. These communities will encourage you to express yourself and open up your experiences and struggles.

Talking to people who share the same experience is a reminder that you are not alone and there are some people who have been through and understand your situation. There are different communities who share the same passion in helping people with depression. They are there to also guide you in your healing process.

I would warn to not completely surround yourself with others who are suffering though. It can become a quick victim cycle and can actually be detrimental to your progress. If you see or hear about people constantly complaining and not talking about what they are proud of, you can guess it may not be the place for you.

It takes a lot of effort to get up and push yourself to move forward when everything else in you is pulling you down. Healing takes time, but you’ll get there. Please keep in mind that what you are feeling today is only temporary.

QRF Example:

  • Check out a local AA chapter. They're not just about alcohol. As long as they are supportive and keeping you accountable.
  • Don't join reddit groups and read stories about depression. In my opinion, it makes it worse.
  • Join a meetup group based around something you want to do ( ike rock climbing). It can evolve into being your support group over time.

Forgive Yourself

How Self Forgiveness Can Help With Depression

It’s easier said than done, but being able to forgive yourself and those who hurt you means letting go of the things that are weighing you down. When a person is depressed, he starts blaming himself for everything. For not being strong enough in handling his own pain, for being too sensitive or for feeling depressed itself. He feels like everything is his fault. When you decide to forgive yourself and those who hurt you, that’s when you start to see the light.

Corrie Ten Boom, a survivor from the Nazi concentration camp during the holocaust, said: “Forgiveness is to set a prisoner free, and to realize the prisoner was you.”(sop) Forgiveness comes with acceptance. Acceptance of the things that are beyond your control. Acceptance of your vulnerability. Being vulnerable doesn’t mean you’re weak.

QRF Example:

  • Make a list of the things you don't like about yourself. Then cross it out and next to it, write a short sentance stating why you love that part of yourself. Make it up if you don't believe it but write it seriously as if you were writing it to your best friend about them. Do at least 5 and go read it in front of the mirror looking at yourself dead in the eyes

Kava and Depression

How Kava Can Help With Depression

Now finally, Kava and depression.

Kava is well known for its ability to reduce anxiety and relax the muscles. It's supposed to calm and make you happy. When you're depressed, you frequently have anxiety, which keeps you from sleeping. With kava's anti-anxiety properties, you may sleep better at night and wake up in a lighter mood.

Kava can also help you become more social, which is a challenge when you have depression because you would prefer to be alone. It is crucial to have your friends and family close by while you're depressed. Having kava sessions can be a great excuse to meet up and just hang out with them.

But kava is not the only route, and I think kava should be a cherry on top, not the main course. Pick some of the things above and just give them a shot. Try them at least 4 times before you say "never again".

QRF Example:

  • You probably already drink kava. If you are going to do this to try and treat, I would recommend to try the other things above first. Especially hydrating or martial arts.


Before we go, I have one task for you. Get a piece of paper and write down at least 4 things you can think of from this list or in your head for a preliminary QRF. Keep the list handy when times get tough so you remember the actions you promised you would take to fight this demon. Head to the grocery store and buy some things necessary for you to accomplish these things. Like a water bottle with a measurements on it (Nalgene's are great!), Pedialyte.

Now in conclusion, depression may seem like it’ll last a lifetime but it wont. There are many ways to cope with depression . Our mental health plays a vital role in our lives and is a multivariate system that you can approach from all sorts of angles. Depression is real. It can happen to anyone. Depression can be a very painful experience but please keep in mind that the suffering you are feeling now, will not last. You are not alone in your battle. If you start to feel like you are about to be dragged down, please don’t be ashamed to ask for help.

One of my favorite Jiu Jitsu instructors always ends class with a saying, that stuck with me during an especially hard time. I'll leave it here in hopes it will be a quick reminder on a rainy day

"Always remember, you're loved, you're worthy, and you matter"

Thank you for listening to me ramble and thank you for actively deciding to live another day. Remember, you're not alone my friend. Fight the fuck on.

Never Ever Give Up.


Frequently Asked Questions

How long does depression last

Everyone is different and everyone has different chemical makeups in their body. Your dopamine/serotonin cycles are not the same as another persons. The best way to think of this, at least I think, is to continually act as if your deliberate actions will end this today.

I'm stuck in a rut, what do I do

First, breathe. Stop whatever you’re doing.

  • Take a step back or situp straight
  • lift your chin up
  • close your eyes
  • take a big breath from deep in your stomach, hold it for 15-20 seconds, and blow it completely out through your mouth like you’re blowing up a balloon while you glance at the surroundings around you.

The action of deep diaphragmatic breathing combined with pressured exhales is great for your circadian rhythm, but more importantly it is the major automatic triggering mechanism for your body’s ability to release excess cortisol (stress).

Second, depending on the serverity, call SAMSA. Don't be shy and just take care of yourself by calling.

Third, if you don't need to call, check your QRF list or have a loved one look over it for you. Pick one thing and do it regardless of how much you don't want to.


These opinions are my own and are not reflective on the company drinkroot's philosophy or business practices. We are not medically trained physicians and none of this should be substituted for medical advice. Please consult your doctor before attempting any of the aforementioned.

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