help for depression

 

Depression is treatable!
Whatever help for depression you need to get – talking to someone, seeking psychological counselling, taking psychiatric medication, using alternative or complementary medicine, using self help or support groups, or a combination of them – depression is treatable.

There is no magic one-size-fits-all formula for taking medication to help with depression. When making a decision about whether to take medication, a few factors are useful to keep in mind. (Of course these ideas are no substitute at all for face-to-face advice)

- How long has the depression lasted? Has it lasted for quite a while (e.g. longer than six months) and despite your best efforts, nothing has helped so far? Then trying medication might be useful.

- How does your body typically react to psychoactive substances (caffeine, marijuana, street and/or OTC drugs such as allergy medication, even some hormone pills)? Some people are hypersensitive. In that case, trying something other than medication first for a little while might be a good idea.

- What do you believe will help? Our belief in methods for depression treatment, or any treatment for that matter, plays a large role in our recovery. Of course, these beliefs are hardly ever substitutes for what has been tried-and-true. But since there is such a variety of what can work, our belief in the positive outcome of the treatment can be an important factor.

- How debilitating is the depression? If you find it very difficult or impossible to carry out some of the most important activities in your life, such as working, interacting with friends and family members, enjoying your recreational routines, etc., then jump starting the depression treatment with medication might very well be what you need.

Of course this is by no means a complete list but it’s a start.

You need someone to talk to. The human animal is a social animal. Yes, some of us are loners. If you’re a happy loner and content with spending days and weeks by yourself, good for you. But in that case maybe you’ll never need this information. Most of us need a certain dose of human interaction on a very regular basis. This is as necessary as protein in our diets, movement for our muscles and sunlight for our metabolism (both physical and emotional).

As you know, one of the problems with depression is the vicious cycle of isolation: We feel too vulnerable (angry/exhausted/…) to connect with others, and the less we maintain our connections, the more difficult it becomes to call on them when we need them. What works for a lot of people is to have at least one or two “designated” contact persons who help stay in touch with the rest of humanity.

This is one of the reasons why people have counsellors. If you are looking for help for depression and think a counsellor might help, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me. One thing is for sure – when dealing with depression, it’s vital to have at least a few links with other people. As someone once said (was it Alphonso Lingis?), “We all need someone we can break bread with, and who will miss us when we don’t show up at the table.”

Find some way to be/stay active. Similar to the problem with isolation, this can be a vicious cycle. The less we’re active, the more the depression creeps in and the more depressed we are the more difficult it is to get motivated to do anything.

“Anything” may be the crucial word here. Albert, who was suicidal after retiring from a very successful job, spent the whole day sitting on the sofa, steeped in a black, angry cloud. Then a good friend, alarmed at his state, came to visit for a few weeks and dragged Albert out for three short walks every day. That was the beginning of his recovery. When he got a little better, his doctor suggested he look at some night school courses.

As a very well educated person (and still steeped in a lot of angry depression), he found that suggestion preposterous and only checked it out to keep his family happy. As luck would have it, he immediately made a good connection with the counsellor he saw at the night school, and ended up with a part time job there. It was that job which finally catapulted him out of that very dangerous depressive episode.

I believe that some form of activity is important even when one chooses to ride the depth of the depression. While most of the time, fighting the depression is the best way to go, there are situations when it can be healing to meet it and walk through it, especially when the depression or depressive episode is not very long or deep. But even then, it’s important to keep one foot in daily life.

As activities go, exercise, especially outdoors, is the best help for depression. But if that’s not possible, anything is fine, particularly if it is a normal, simple, daily activity. Washing the dishes, the car, the dog. Cleaning the house. Pursuing a simple hobby. A friend of mine rode out her 3-month depression last year while cross-stitching.

“I didn’t want to walk away from the depression,” she said, “but I couldn’t just sit still either. Putting in stitch after stitch, counting the colours, comparing my work to the pattern, gave me a bit of peace and some rhythm to walk through this vale of tears.”

41 thoughts on “help for depression

  1. isabella mori

    thanks, “untreatable” (of course, as you can see, i have great hopes that everyone is treatable)

    i went to your blog – this is obviously an area that you know something about.

    would you care to elaborate on why you like this article?

  2. omft

    great post. My girlfriend suffers from serious depression and medication seems to not work. This post really touches on some key points, thanks

  3. suzanne

    Depression has many causes. Some treat symptoms and I met one lady proud that she had therapy for 13 years! If you go to get help, it shouldn’t help the therapist pocketbook more! There are things you can do even if you don’t find the energy within yourself

  4. isabella mori

    hi OMFT and suzanne, thanks for stopping by!

    re 13 years of therapy – i’d say it all depends. you’d rarely criticize someone for seeing a doctor for 13 years, would you? sometimes depression can be “cured”, sometimes it can be managed by the person who has it – and sometimes it needs continued care.

    “there are things you can do even if you don’t find the energy within yourself” – do you speak from personal experience? would you like to share what has worked for you in such situations?

  5. Suzanne

    Hi! thank you for writing.

    13 years of therapy, I agree with you on that part, that it many times needs continual checks and ballances by a doctor, but what I am saying in referance to what you asked about, was the person and group was more of a quilting bee and served no purpose for those hoping it would, except a chance to get out and that could be another place. It wasn’t designed as should be to dicuss and heal, it was to just meet at a very high charge, and was not dealing with issues. If it were lonleyness, it wasn’t. Have you felt lonely then gone to a nursing home and seen lonely and forgotten? all of a sudden you feel less lonely or see you may be needed and able to help.

    I am speaking with experience. There are groups that actually help with a problem, and depression and disorders and you get better. You learn to live again with it in the past, not as a continual future, even if it is chemical.

    If you can’t find Energy within self, for instance, can be found by several venues, which can seem like they do not work. Many on your site, for instance found it in art, in writing, faith, helping others and looking outside at nature with focus on the vastness of things and somethings we have forgotten like play as stated by some who have written. I like an all night channel that has inspirational verses and pictures with music of all of what has been created, that even a flower that no one will ever see grows on a mountainside too, no one can fathom or even see, that is so magnificent. We can choose. that choice redirects our thingking instead of dwelling etc. It is all a process, a maturity, at times with seasons of self. There are herbs rather than medicine too which help like 5htp, just as a daily routine can help. Are you a therapist?

  6. Suzanne

    I had to write again, with more of what helped. My doctor, as a distributor, put me on the patch that you see on my site. I had cronic fatigue, overweight etc. I had not been able to realize what I could until I tried it and the other products and became a distributor because they worked. First, I got more energy and clairty and could organize more. It was noticeable. then I went from 146-105 pounds with the energy and feeling better. Size 12 – size 6. I felt newer. I added other supplements which helped with thyroid and the up and down swings etc. I could go on and on, and it would sound just like an advertisement, but it is truthful. i would not feel this way without these and it should be shared, since it truly helps. I will be glad to answer more for you. If you are a therapist, or having some of these experiences, this may help you help others and yourself. the site has a medical study and testimonies that are global. It is all incredible, safe. If I did not add this, It would be only half truth. Thank You!

  7. Christa

    I am not sure how I found your blog, but I’m glad I did.

    I completely agree that there is no one size fits all cure for depression but it IS treatable. I am living proof!

    I spent years on medication for depression and personally I think it did more harm than good. The symtoms were treated (poorly) but never the cause.

    One thing that helped me the most was my dog, Rosie. She did more for my depression than any drug I ever took. In my blog titled, D.A. Double-yuh G – And that spells Dawg, I said “if more people had puppies, they wouldn’t need Prozac”. I’m no medical expert, just a recovered depressed and suicidal chick.

    Anyone else find that pet ownership helped with depression?

    Christa’s last blog post..Divine Inspiration slaps me upside my head

  8. ZP

    The Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy website says that the program teaches “how to sidestep mental habits such as rumination and self-blame.” Although the stated purpose of MBCT is preventing cases of depression, it seems reasonable to assume that, because it teaches people to deal with negative thinking, it will at least serve as a treatment for depression when used in combination with other treatment(s). For example, the University of Kansas program Therapeutic Lifestyle Change, which is described by the researchers as a treatment for depression, includes “anti-ruminative behaviors” as one of its six “elements.”

  9. isabella mori

    @christa – i’m a great believer in “whatever works, works”. therapy is often about building healing relationships, and it looks like you have found that. i’m sure you know about animal assisted therapy? e.g. http://www.uthscsa.edu/opa/issues/new33-31/nursing.htm

    @ZP – yes, mindfulness is something else that is very useful, both in preventing and dealing with depression. thanks for the mention of the therapeutic lifestyle change, i’ll look it up!

  10. LH

    I grew up with a mother who suffered from depression & bipolar. It was tough when there was always a concern about her health and her choices that wouuld set her back – stopping her med’s, lack of exercise, lack of proper nutrition and sleep disorders.
    Although I couldn’t do much to help her, I noticed cycles with my son, who years later, also suffers from depression. I also read the article on guilt as I’ve just started working with a therapist and agree that the guilt I feel for not getting medical or therapist help for my son before he became an adult, is one of the things that I’m having the hardest time with. Watching my son who is brilliant, creative, and sensitive make choices that deepen his depression, and not being able to help him, is more difficult than anything I have ever faced. My guilt…
    I appreciate the articles that I have been reading and will continue to educate myself. We shall survive :o )

  11. Christa

    Dear LH:

    As troubling as it is to see your son in the midst of depression you simply MUST forgive yourself.

    Yesterday was yesterday.

    Allow your heart to heal.

    In my opinion, a healing heart is a loving heart and love is what your son needs most from you.

    I am curious – how old is your son?

    Christa’s last blog post..Wads of panties, politics and TMI

  12. LH

    Dear Christina

    My son is 23 and is an addicted on-line gamer – WOW, Final Fantasy, as well as plays Dungeons and Dragons, Werewolf, etc. In my opinion started with Magic Cards when he was under 10.
    I love my son unconditionally, but am greatly saddened by his apathy, his lies about working, etc. I hoped to give him shelter and food to at least give him some positive but he’s not ready.
    Yes, I have been angry with him for his choices that deepen his depression, but this past year he has gone even deeper. He blames me for his life which is also difficult, but the therapist explained (after meeting us both) that his lack of emotion is because I carry his problems for him. I must trust ‘rock bottom’ – however I’m scared.
    Now my son doesn’t talk to me so I’m grieving the loss as well.
    I wish I could do more for him…

  13. Christa

    Dear LH:

    Yes, sometimes we have to hit rock bottom before we see the light. Does that kinda suck? Yeah – but it’s true. I know. I had to hit bottom before I made a change in my life.

    Your son is an adult. You cannot carry his load.

    YOU are not responsible for his happiness. HE is!

    YOU are only responsible for YOUR happiness.

    I’m going to climb my big Italian butt out on a limb here and hope I don’t break the branch, but here I go with my tough love advice.

    Your son needs to find a new place to live. He needs to live on his own, to sink or swim, as it were. If he’s got your food and your roof over his head, he has no incentive to work and face the reality called life.

    He won’t have time to play games if he’s trying to figure out how to feed himself.

    He WILL have a whole new appreciation for you and the warmth and love you provided AFTER he heads out solo.

    If he cannot respect you (this is the Italian in me coming out) and your rules (work, contribute to the household, be kind, he honest) then he needs to GO!

    In all fariness, you’ve done your job as mom.

    You have him life, fed him, love him supported him through his schooling and put a roof over his head and pay the electric bill so he can play games.

    The rest….as they say…..is on him.

    You don’t need to do more for him. You need to do LESS for him.

    For your sake and your happiness, you may want to look at this

    http://www.howtobehappy.org/

    It helped me out a lot!

    I wish you much joy and happiness.

    Christa

    Christa’s last blog post..Giggle On Google Goodness

  14. Luanne

    I have suffered with depression and severe anxiety attacks for years. I am not sure if it is part of my fibromyalgia or separate. I am on Lexapro, which I hate. I haven’t really found anything that helps. I have been taking some nutrional supplements that have helped quite a bit, more so than the Lexapro ever did. It is very hard to get motivated to do anything and I have a lot of trouble sleeping.

    I do agree, though that everyone’s depression is different, and needs to be treated as such.

  15. help

    I luanne- in the last 2 years i have suffered as well from depression and also panic attacks. have u ever tried prozac? i tried it last spring and it did not work well with my body but i know its very helpful for others. i feel the same as you…it is hard for me to do anything and have the urge to do something. anything except my school- i do well with that. i think for me–this might help you—whenever i talk to my peers about problems and their problems or when i spend time with peers and really laugh- i feel a lot better after. the hard part is forcing myself to get into those situations. with in the last 2 years ive stopped hanging out with people a lot.

    help’s last blog post..By: Aliyah

  16. Deseray

    Hi, everyone my name is Deseray and I suffer from 7 different mental ilnesses including depression. Lately I have been feeling so bad that I’ve wanted to start cutting again. I was cutting for two years and then was put into a mental hospital. I was in there for 6 months in which I had regular meetings everyday with a therapist and a councilor. I have been without a therapist for almost a year now. a month or so back I stopped taking my medication. And I just feel like killing myself all the time now. I don’t know what to do. My mind and body is telling me to give up. And I’m aching not only emotionally but also physically. Please help me, I feel so lost.

  17. Christa

    Deseray, please speak with Isabella.

    Are you able to afford therapy? I am concerned about what you said regarding stopping your medication.

    PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE DO NOT GIVE UP!

    Please add this number to your cell phone and keep it close by 1-800-273-TALK (8255). The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a 24-hour, toll-free suicide prevention service available to anyone in suicidal crisis. Call for yourself, or someone you care about. Your call is free and confidential.

    Christa’s last blog post..Giggle Gone? Need a Stimulus?

  18. Deseray

    @Christa – I can afford therapy, I just lately haven’t felt up to it to make any appointments.

  19. isabella mori

    deseray – you don’t need to talk to me. just talk to SOMEONE. are you familiar with the prince rupert mental health and addiction services (250) 622-6310?

  20. blue cross

    This is a great topic of the day. I have also depression when it comes to commitment. I want to be with someone, but I can’t help feeling like it’ll be like being chained to a wall. Really frustrating, especially when I really like someone. I want to give affection to someone. but I also want to be single.

    -Miyaka Yusheto

  21. Jay

    I am struggling this side of medication treated (more than 10 years)depression – mature male (now hormone therapy) (5+) single, creative, sensitive, hit bottoms of loneliness, occasional suicidal thinking -history w/father having done it, —sturggling through holidays – w/break up of relationship…anybody else like me?

  22. Natalie

    I am a true believer that some people are just born with depression tendencies and there is not necessarily something that will trigger it.

    Recognizing when a depression hits you is the key to fighting it.

    Good post BTW.

  23. Ava

    I don’t know how exactly I stumbled upon this website but it’s been really helpful reading all the comments. I have been struggling for the past couple of years. No one really knows exactly how sad I am because I try to keep everything to myself but it’s becoming harder and harder. I get up and go to work and I act completely normal there but when I come home I don’t want to go anywhere or do anything, I have stopped answering my phone calls, etc. My husband is suspicious but I feel like it’s so much easier to keep it all in because I don’t really have a reason to be so sad and I know that would be the first question.

    I know this was a pretty random post but it felt nice to just put it out there.

  24. patricia Caron

    I am learning how important is just to get out of bed. Isolation seems to be one of the keys Thank you for sharing your insights.

  25. Kaiser

    I am a big fan of treating depression without using drugs. I believe that there are solutions that take more effort but will make a big difference in the long run. Thanks for the good article, feel free to have a look at my page about my personal experience with depression.

  26. carrie

    Finding this blog was a blessing. I was wondering if we could create a message board about recovering from depression? The recovering anorexia blogs are really helpful to get people’s insight. I think it may be a good idea.

  27. Ryan

    I am not sure how I found this site but I do love it. I loved the religious vs spiritual blog and this one is great. I am major depression which has lead to addictions. I feel the constant need to escape my current situation and build fantasy worlds and relationships based on lies and games to help satify some need in me. My depression seems to cycle even with medication and therapy. I still have the mental obcessions of escapingmy feelings wheither it is sex drugs alcohol the Internet and I battle it every day. I beat myself up because I should know better I have been going to therapy and taking medication for years. Some days I want to just wallow in my depression and others I fight and fight but I still can’t breakfree.
    I know I am rambling but I don’t know what to do to stop my obcessive thinking

  28. isabella mori

    hi carrie and ryan – you two spur me on again to look into starting a depression talk here, as well. we already have a very successful anorexia talk. let me get mental health camp (http://mentalhealthcamp.org) out of the way and i will create it! (or maybe even earlier? hmmm … let me think about that …)

  29. Marie

    I am 52 years old and have suffered from ‘depression’ for as many years as I can remember. It got worse as I got older. I had my thyroid tested regularly, and tried several types of anti-depressants; the side effects were always worse than the underlying depression. Anxiety crept into my life and became part of my norm in my mid-40′s. I tried everything I could think of to lift my spirits, find some energy, and stay calm: Yoga, meditation, body work, councelling, herbal remedies, positive self-talk, self-help books, affirmations. Externally, my life was apparently full of positivity, but nothing dented the depression, anxiety, headaches, or joint pain… I deeply envied people who laughed.

    Then one day I attended a workshop where a pharmacist spoke about bio-identical hormones. I was already using a bio-identical estrogen patch, but went to my doctor and told him that I wanted to try bio-identitcal progesterone and testosterone. He gave me trial tubes of testosterone and told me to come back in a month and report on the results.

    A month later I bounded back to his office feeling like a new woman! All of my headaches and body pains were gone, my energy levels had increased, my anxiety was completely gone, and I was laughing again! That was two years ago, and I have not looked back. Some people recoil when they hear I’m on testosterone (a fraction of a male’s dosage) and make comments about the potential side effects. My stance is very simple: I would rather live just six more months feeling like I feel now, than live another 20 years feeling like I did before I began my testosterone treatment…

  30. Sonny | Be Happy

    Although I believe all depression is treatable, I’m sure that some could be 10 times worse than others. Exercise is surely a huge method to cure depression.

    Thanks for sharing!

  31. Mujibur Rehman

    Happiness is very important part of life and what ever we do in life , the final objective remains the same i.e

    to be happy.But we eventually forget the main objective and run for other things like money,career ,success

    what not..
    One has to understand the we can be happy no matter what.Happiness does not depend upon failure or sucess. Its just a feeling we have to carry with.Either we win or loose , we can be happy.Its a

    mental feeling and if we really want to happy no can can stop us.Life is short and enjoy the most of it.
    Thanks for sharing your tips

  32. Ankit Bagaria

    hi isbella,
    I completely agree medication is no permanent cure for depression and also believe that depression is very much curable. Depression is nothing but the result of accumulation of negative thoughts and once these negative thoughts are replaced by positive and joyful ones the individual is out of depression. The key is focusing on joyful thoughts.

  33. Mark

    I suffered from depression my entire life. I tried every kind of med and then every combination of every kind of med. I got some reasonable relief from bupropion (Wellbutrin) but not enough. Then we went back to the cocktails of medicines. The trial I am on now is bupropion and Stattera (an ADHD) drug. I like it. I feel better and have confidence that when this drug has fully taken effect I will be better.
    I started talking to doctors about this when I was about 23. Now I am 45. I was a practicing alcoholic in between those years too. If you are self medicating let your doctor know. Dont minimize it like I did. I could have gotten better many years before I did if I had only told the truth.
    Dont let your depression or social anxiety or addiction or anything else prevent you from telling them what you are thinking and feeling. Everything helps them to get a right diagnosis and treatment plan.

    Anyway, I am feeling much better now. I also have hope that the Strattera will make be the addition I needed to get better. I was surprised at what a powerful thing hope is.

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