Clinical Depression

Discussion in 'Community' started by Demon Hunter, Jun 23, 2005.

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  1. Demon Hunter macrumors 68020

    Mar 30, 2004
    This post has been on my mind for a long time. I've been encouraged by the maturity and well-disposed nature of our community to finally type it out.

    This past year, my first in college, I was diagnosed with depression. I would describe it as a fallout, a kind of descent into nothing. The resulting introspection has led me to believe I had a "trigger" event, which set the illness into motion. I've also begun to see traces of it throughout my life in its various hiding places and facades... high-school and even childhood. Apparently it runs strongly in my family.

    I've decided to take some action and plan on starting an awareness group on my campus this Fall. To think that hundreds of others are suffering like I did in their dorm rooms, or wherever, something just has to be done! This same year, a student in our dormitory jumped off the 9th floor in an apparent suicide (I didn't know him, but it was still profound)... I definitely see a path, a need for change.

    Right now I'm on 40mg of Celexa, with Trazodone for sleep. My doctor recommended I see a full-fledged psychiatrist (he is family practice) to re-evaluate my condition as I'm still having problems. I've been very hesitant to make the appointment though. The rest of my family is on Celexa as well.

    One of the complexities I am discovering about the disease, is its deep-rooted presence in the spiritual and emotional spheres, even though medical science has made a physical connection as well! That is to say, medicine is only one part of a complete strategy to wellness, and I think this is a healthy realization for those coming out of depression.

    I'd like to hear from fellow members... do you have the illness, how do you cope? Are you on medicines, what have you tried? When did you know? Or do you have family members/loved ones who suffer from depression?

    Thank you for listening! :)
  2. Doctor Q Administrator

    Doctor Q

    Staff Member

    Sep 19, 2002
    Los Angeles
    I'm lucky to have never sufferred from depression, but I know so many people (particularly students) who it affects that I've gotta say bravo for you in taking this action on your campus.

    Sometimes depression has a genetic element, sometimes it doesn't seem to. There are medical treatments, and I wish medical help was available to everyone with the condition, but finding the right treatment (often an appropriate dosage of a prescription medication) can involve trial and error, so finding what helps you may not be a quick process. Be sure not to trade recommendations for drugs or dosages in your informal gatherings; what works for one person isn't necessarily right for another.

    There are techniques to recognize a depressive episode and cope with it, and perhaps ways to avoid the circumstances that seem to trigger one. Learning these skills and habits can sometimes be more practical than looking for a "cure".

    And knowing you are not alone and that it's not a personal failing or "all in your head" is important.

    Note: I am not a medical doctor, but I believe I have my facts right.

    Good luck with your awareness group. It sounds like an excellent idea. Perhaps once the group has started meeting you can invite somebody from the campus health center to join you to share some general information for those who don't know the basics about depression or what services are available on campus.
  3. Awimoway macrumors 65816

    Sep 13, 2002
    at the edge
    I don't have depression, but I was diagnosed two weeks ago with fibromyalgia, and they put me on Trazodone for sleep, supposedly at a lesser dose (50 mg) than they usually use for treating depression, although if you're taking it for sleep, maybe you're on a similar dose.

    Anyway, I have to say that Trazodone does awful things to me. It makes me nauseous and it gives me a profound depression that lasts about 18 hours from ingestion. Also, I read that it metabolizes into, among other things, a pesticide. So I'm not really using it. But then, I may just be sensitive to medication. The Ultram is giving me headaches and also making me sick to my stomach. I called my doctor about this three days ago and still haven't gotten a reply, so I'm just trying to endure the pain. :(
  4. Guitarius macrumors 6502a


    Jul 8, 2004
    The following is my opinion, and only that. Real depression does exist. I know. My mother is a doctor. I've seen it. My grandmother has been seeing a psychiatrist since before I was born, and has been medicated since. However, I think drugs are far too over prescribed. I do not know you, so I am not going to say that you do not need them. If your doctor gave them to you, it was probably with good reason. You should see the psychiatrist.

    I think everyone hits some rough spots over their life, and running off to get a script of Prozac filled is not always the answer. I am a gay man. I was having problems a few years ago, and went to a psycologist. After a while in therapy, I had done a lot better. I came out, I dealt with things that needed it, and everything was fine. I hadn't needed drugs.

    Now, keep in mind that this is my personal story. You seem to be on the right track knowing that just taking the drugs are going to solve everything, not that they aren't a necessary thing sometimes, but you need to do more than that.

    I don't think that drugs are over prescribed on purpose. I don't think doctors do it just to make everything better, and "move some more units". I think that they are scared, because for a long time, mental illnesses were things that where "just in your head" and you just needed to get over, you know? Now that they know these things really exist, they are more hesitant to just send you on your way and say "Cheer up." Make sense?

    Once again, I don't want to offend anyone. These are my opinions. I worry far too much about offending people. Maybe that's good, maybe it's bad. I dunno. Anyway. I hope everything works out for you. I think what's most important
  5. CanadaRAM macrumors G5


    Oct 11, 2004
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    Best of luck with your treatment. I hope you follow through with the counselling -- remember too that you are not obligated to stick with the first counsellor/analyst you see, if there is not a good fit between you ask your GP for another referral.
  6. ksz macrumors 68000

    Oct 28, 2003
    San Jose, CA
    You should make that appointment without any further delay or false rationalization (i.e. telling yourself that you don't have an urgent need to do so). That's a symptom of depression: robbing you of the will to do anything.

    If the condition runs in your family, it may just be a genetically induced chemical imbalance rather than any particular trauma or hardship that you faced personally. Our consciousness is a very colorful and varied thing -- we exhibit a wide range of moods, emotions, desires, and aspirations, but all of this diversity is electrochemically regulated by brain tissue. Medical science may not have all the answers today, but it has the ability to treat a large number of mood disorders.

    What do you mean by "spiritual" spheres? If your condition is due to a chemical imbalance, the treatment may be entirely through medication. However, if you also find yourself overwhelmed by deep thoughts concerning metaphysical questions such as the meaning and purpose of life, and find yourself wondering whether there is any meaning and purpose to life, then the treatment may be a combination of medicine and some form of "spiritual" guidance, although as a scientist, I don't like to use that word. Instead, if you are looking for meaning and purpose -- a search for identity and self-worth that is rather common in post-adolescence -- then perhaps you need good role models and coaches in your life -- people to look up to and perhaps emulate.
  7. witness macrumors 6502

    Apr 7, 2005
    In my limited experience I think that this statement is absolutely correct.

    So many people these days are far too quick to dismiss the fact that humans are designed to be spiritual beings, without the spiritual aspect some people can find life very hard.

    Good and loving relationships with friends and family are also very important.

    I read a great book on this subject called "The Mind Game" by Phillip Day (ISBN: 1-904015-08-5); I would recommend this book especially for anyone taking medication for these kinds of conditions.
  8. witness macrumors 6502

    Apr 7, 2005
    The idea that science and the spiritual do not mix is completely unfounded. In fact the majority of evolutionists are very religious about their unproven and regularly disproved theories, it requires a lot of faith to believe in something that may or may not have happened in the past.

    The problem with this is that people are far from perfect.
  9. broken_keyboard macrumors 65816


    Apr 19, 2004
    Secret Moon base
    I think it's important here to differentiate between simple sensations and abstract thoughts. Drugs of any sort - medical or recreational - only create sensations, such as an up or down feeling. They don't create abstract sentences in your mind such as "I am a bad person." If pills could do that, we would just take a pill that would read a novel to us.

    Therefore someone who thinks they are a bad person, or life is sh*t, a pill isn't going to change that. They have made some error in their abstract thinking - some logical error - which they have to correct. The only was to do that is a lot of introspection and scrupulously accurate, logical, hard thinking and concentration.
  10. jimN macrumors 6502a


    Jun 23, 2005
    The problem with anti-depressants is that people seem to assume that they are used to 'cure' the depression and that if they are still depressed whilst taking the medication then the tablets have failed. However, it is important to look at their role in the treatment of the condition as a whole. All of us can empathise with the idea of low mood and yet for some people that low mood becomes pervasive and debilitating to such an extent that they can do nothing else. I believe that Freud discussed these ideas as being mourning vs melancholy - the normal grief response compared with this over whelming reaction that could not be simply reversed. Therefore wehn looking at depression you need to try and consider your pre-disposing, precipitating and perpetuating factors. Just from the original thread we can start to identify some of these: family history can provide pre disposition, whilst starting in a new place where he doesn't kinow anyone could be a precipitant. His self imposed isolation means that there is no social network to help him recover nor encourage him to join college life. This is a gross over simplification of the facts but i've not met the guy and this is based on the few paragraphs of text.

    Pre-disposing and precipitating factors cannot be changed, they've already happened, but perpetuating factors can be but in order to make the necessary changes a person must have the motivation to do this. And this is where anti-depressants find their role - hopefully they enable someone with very low mood to shed sufficient apathy to get on with making the changes that need to be made - the fact is if your life seems awful no amount of tablets are actually going to make it better. At the same time receving support and therapy can better enable someone to address the areas in their life that are causing them problems.

    Sorry if this seems a little vague but i'd be happy to go into a little more detail if asked, i'm not a psychotherapist and aside from understanding the very basic principles of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT - a popular therapy used in the UK fro depression) i can't offer more about that side of things. Contrary to what many people seem to believe, doctors (in the UK at least) are taught to recognise that diseases have biological, psychological and social components and to try and address all of these areas when at all possible.
  11. ksz macrumors 68000

    Oct 28, 2003
    San Jose, CA
    I do not want to get embroiled in a debate of science versus spirituality. I have engaged in these debates extensively both in online forums and offline discussions because I enjoy them so thoroughly, but it is too easy to start exchanging nastygrams unless we uphold some rules of engagement. Let me end this digression by saying that spirituality is nothing more (in my view) than any intelligent being's search for fundamental questions such as (1) where did I come from, (2) who created me or how was I created, (3) what is my purpose, (4) what is the purpose of life itself, (5) what will happen to me after death. Answer these questions and you've answered your so-called spiritual longings.

    This statement is irrelevant and defeatist. You're taking a pessimistic view in a thread about depression... People do not have to be perfect to be role models and good coaches; why should they be perfect? In fact, define perfect. Are you a good role model and a coach? If not, can you become such a person in the future? Will you be a good parent? Should a good parent be a role model and a coach?

    People need positive and growth-oriented influences in their lives, particularly those suffering from depression.

    Back to the main issue: Depression can be caused by adversity faced in life or by nothing more than a genetic predisposition. If dferrara is suffering from the latter, then any feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness may not be due to any particular circumstance in his life, and the most plausible treatment would be to treat a chemical imbalance. However, if the depression is being triggered by actual circumstances encountered in life, then the treatment very likely needs to involve counseling in addition to possible medication.
  12. iGary Guest


    May 26, 2004
    Randy's House
    Hopefully this will save you a lot of time and money.

    I've been in and out of treatment for depression since I was 19.

    In the last 15 years, I have been on every known antidepressant and tranquilizer known to man, and been to probably a dozen shrinks.

    Four years ago, I got laid off from a job that I had my whole life plan based around. I fell into a hole again. It got so bad that my partner called around and found a psychiatrist, but unfortunately he did not accept insurance. I had been in the insurance mental health mill for 10 years and decided that even if I had to borrow the money, I needed something different. That was a decision that literally saved my life. The new doctor was much more aggressive with the medications and much more intent on digging out the demons that were causing me so much pain.

    It took my three years and a LOT of money, but a month ago the doctor released me from counseling. He told me the rest was up to me, and I agree with him. I still take Effexor and a low (2mg XR) dose of Xanax to keep me out of trouble on a daily basis. I'd like to get rid of that at some point, but right now, I'm doing so well, I really don't want to ruin what I have worked to achieve.

    The key is, you do have to realize that there are patterns of thinking and distorted ways of viewing things that cause your depression as well - things that drugs cannot help with. You MUST take responsibility for these things, trust me. I blamed everything on the disease for so long, yet there were patterns I was getting into that were causing the problem. I'm not all the way there yet, but I also don't want to get a gun out of my safe deposit box anymore, either.

    At the end of the day, I do believe some people need to be on a maintenance level of drugs, and perhaps for the rest of their lives. Hopefully, you'll be able to pull through this and get on witout them.

    Just remember - so much of your recovery depends on you. If I can pull out of it and have a fairly normal, happy life - I know you can - I'm the world's biggest pessimist!

    Congrats for taking the first step - a lot of people never take it. :D ;)
  13. witness macrumors 6502

    Apr 7, 2005
    If you beleive in a perfect God then this is far from pessimistic.

    I fully agree.
  14. witness macrumors 6502

    Apr 7, 2005
    Taking drugs, any kind of drugs, long term can cause big health problems. The side effects are often worse than what the drug is attempting to cure and in some cases can cause long term damage to your body.

    Always make sure that you read the label and do your own research, don't just blindly do what your doctor tells you. If there is a sensible alternative that doesn't require drugs it’s probably worth trying first.
  15. hob macrumors 68020


    Oct 4, 2003
    London, UK
    When I went off to university last september, I had to deal with a lot of new experiences. All at the same time I'd moved out of the only house I'd ever lived in, moved away from my small family, my small friend-base, and everyone else I'd ever known or cared about.

    I think for a time I hit a patch of depression. Mainly involving sleeping way too much. One day I found myself in bed at 5pm... I found myself having an increasing problem with insomnia... etc.

    When I told my mum about these things she revealed to me that she'd been on a small dose of some-sort of antidepressant since she was a bit younger than me. Just to "help her through" as she put it.

    I took a bit of time, quit my job at university - started talking with friends. I realised several other people were showing similar symptoms... But somehow, after my mum told me what she did, I started to feel more normal. Just that fact in itself kind of filled a hole in my head. I didn't start a course of anti-depressants although I feel if I'd have gone to a doctor, particularly in America, I would have been on a cocktail of drugs.

    I don't know, maybe I'm being over-zealous in what I call depression, but I thought I'd share.

    And to the first poster, it seems that many people here know what you're going through... just know you're not alone! :)
  16. Chip NoVaMac macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

    Dec 25, 2003
    Northern Virginia
    Good luck in beating this disease.

    One word of advice, try to pay for treatment out of pocket if at all possible. Given the medical and insurance databases available today - your choice to seek help may haunt you down the road. I was denied long term disability a number of years ago with a company I was working for because of seeking treatment for depression after my mom died and my lover at the time attempted suicide within months of each other.
  17. Applespider macrumors G4


    Jan 20, 2004
    looking through rose-tinted spectacles...
    Depression is often taken lightly and the word can be misused. People tell others (and themselves) to just snap out of it and it will all be OK without realising that depression is a lot more serious than just feeling a bit down.

    My mother went through a bout of depression last year; things weren't going well with her job or her lovelife and she really hit rockbottom for a while, losing a lot of her confidence and zest. Her doctor gave her some medication but it's not all chemical. You do have to figure out what the underlying reasons for the depression are - is it work, environment, stress - and figure out what you can do to help change it.

    Mum changed her job to something she enjoys more and she and I went on a vacation to San Francisco; something which she now sees as a real turning point in her recovery. She had been worrying about meeting my friends out there (new to her), staying with them, driving in the US and I really wondered whether I was doing the right things. It turned out that the time away from her normal routine and realising that she could still do and enjoy new things and people really did help her realise that she could be OK again.

    I can identify signs of depression in myself but figure that since I can see them, they're not all that bad. I also know why and that unfortunately changing some of the circumstances isn't currently under my control. I guess I'm still in the 'pull yourself out of it' stage.
  18. Lacero macrumors 604


    Jan 20, 2005
    I usually feel a little depressed after finishing a big project that I pour my life into. But in terms of clinical depression, I really don't know what that is. I really feel popping pills is not the answer to any sort of diagnosed symptom. Going the natural route would be the first step for me in combating extended periods of depression.
  19. Thom_Edwards macrumors regular

    Apr 11, 2003
    i've been diagnosed with it, but it is definitely much more mild than many others i've talked to about it. for me, there are definitely triggers. stress is probably the most common of these triggers. like right now, there is a lot of change going on in our company, and i'm bugged out about. thing is, it's not just anxiousness--i have a complete doomsday feeling about things when there really is nothing to worry about. i just think the worst is happening and there is nothing positive about any of this. (the advice to 'just get over it' and keep a positive additude is totally ineffective, contrary to what people that don't suffer from this might think.)

    the worst i ever got was when my grandma passed, i lost my job and broke up with my girlfriend all within 6 weeks. terrible time... i tried self-medicating (read heavy-drinking), but one day just snapped out of it and went to a doctor. the things he said to me still ring in my head, and help me when i'm having an 'episode.' paraphrasing, "everyone gets the blues. you just get them more often and more profoundly." now i know when i start getting those thoughts and feelings that there is something behind it. before, i was just lost in my own 'bad thought snowball' as i call it, not realizing what was going on.

    i'm not on any meds right now, and i don't think i want to be. just knowing that i have something that makes me this way and that this episode, just like the others before, will pass and that i'll (hopefully and eventually) get out of this funk is a bit of hope that makes it tolerable. i *will* 'just get over it,' i just don't when or how it will happen! like i said, my situation is a lot more mild than most, and that hope i mentoin may not get realized for those people. i'm kind of teeter-tottering on the edge of that.

    i hope all of that made sense. this is one of those things that is hard for me to write about. i could talk your ear off about it though!
  20. mymemory macrumors 68020


    May 9, 2001
    Dferrar... send me your phone number because there are many things to go over.

    I felt the same for many years (most of them) I am 30 now but since I was 16 I took my life ina avery dramatic way. I thought to be "depress"was some sort of passion but I was loosing happines and getting weaker spiritually.

    Then I moved to New York last year and the isolation was too much and I started to take Lexapro recomended by a doctor. I quit after a month because it was just not me and I started to eat better to regain the balance of my ineer chemistry and that is something I always complay Psichologist never tell you TO EAT WELL AND HOW. Many psiquiatrist receive a payment for the pills they subscribe and they sure subscribe you something as soon you enter their room because from that moment they are responsible for you.

    You see? is not about you, it is about covering their backs twice.

    I started to work out, I started to see life with a different view. Believe me, go to God... it works! but keep it as a growing experience to regain the path of inner peace and basic values.

    Is just like the "battle of the Pacific" one island at a time.

    First you will have to take a look about those messages you got from your family, those situations that you learned some how. Now that you are away from home is better because you can learn from other kids how they face life and comprehend what motivates them to act like that.

    Then, take your time and enjoy yourself but first of all eat better.

    The best thing you can do is to practice some sport that require a lot of energy like Racket ball or swiming. That way your body will ask you for proteins and carbohidrats and you will have to eat better and eventually you will feel the need of leaving the medication.

    Now, do not tell your therapist you are leaving your medication until a month later because they are going to request you to go back to them, is their business and their butt they are saving. I have been there so many times.

    Get the basics of life, the brain works based on fluids, hormons and all that and they change depending on what you eat. The different mixture of fluids the different way the brain is going to behave. Is that simple.

    You will have to learn about yourself as a Lama. Do not eat fast food at all. Forget Mcdonals, Burger King, Pizza. Eat rice, smash potatoes, beans! they develop muscles. Bannanas, fruits in general and pasta give you energy.

    The best thing you can do is to wake up in the morning and eat one cup of regular cofee with sugar, oatmeal and two donnuts. You are going to be so hyper until noon. In between eat two apples. For lunch eat pasta, rice, beans and combined with something sweet if you are eating meat. The meat will not give you energy at all, thos are proteins and proteins does not give enerygy.

    During the day eat probably one chocolate here and there each hour. You will have to eat a lot during the day! At night you can eat chicken, fish and meat. And before you go to sleep drink a bottle of Gatorade so you will wake up in balance. And keep going like that.

    Keep yourself active, if you see any drama on tv or something that is not related with you. The world has good things and bad things but we can choose what we want our mind to be just as what kind of food we eat.

    Ok, that is basically it. get well.
  21. Stampyhead macrumors 68020


    Sep 3, 2004
    London, UK
    I have never had any sort of depression so I cannot even imagine what it is like. My thoughts and prayers are with you as you work through this disease.
    I read a book once by an Australian doctor (can't remember the name, I'll have to look it up) who suggested that depression and some types of mental illness may have a link to grain allergies, something that is becoming increasingly prevalent these days. He stated that patients who eliminated wheat from their diets showed a marked improvement and were less likely to exhibit signs of depression. You might want to try eliminating wheat from your diet for a while to see if this helps at all.
    Be careful of those drugs. I can't believe that your doctor perscribed Trazodone to you:
    Does it make sense to perscribe to someone that has depression a drug that causes depression? I don't mean to criticize, it just doesn't make any sense to me. Sometimes I don't think doctors think these things through...
    Anyway, the whole point of this post was to suggest trying the wheat-free diet. It couldn't hurt, and it just may help.
  22. EGT macrumors 68000


    Sep 4, 2003
    I find this sort of topic very interesting. I suppose you could say it has been on my mind a lot lately as well.

    What makes Depression an illness? Is it actually an illness or more of a disorder?
  23. whooleytoo macrumors 603


    Aug 2, 2002
    Cork, Ireland.
    That last line really caught my eye, after suffering from depression for years, I finally told one of my sisters (I'm from a big family), and she told me she did too and had an identical experience when she told another sister of ours. None of us ever talked about it (I guess you could say we're not the best at familial communications! ;) )

    In more recent times, my father and several members of my extended family (cousins, etc) have attempted suicide, so I've seen more of depression than I ever could wish for.

    I think depression is different for different people - to me it lurks below the surface niggling away at my self-confidence. And it just takes a trigger (in my case, I was struggling with a new job, and having problems with house mates) to set it off. My confidence plummeted, I drank away all my money - and then some, I couldn't sleep, and I was terrible at my new job. I tried both therapy and anti-depressants, and they did nothing for me.

    However, some good things came out of it though -

    - I realised that in spite of how bad it looked back then, I still pulled through it. That's given me a lot of confidence in facing it again.

    - I've become a lot closer with my sister, who helped me a lot in getting through it.

    - I learnt that, in the early stages of depression, it can be addictive. Negative, self deprecating thoughts and self pity can really be addictive and can just spiral out of control. Not allowing myself to think like that, even briefly, has helped me a lot.

    Best of luck dferrara, you're not alone!
  24. wdlove macrumors P6


    Oct 20, 2002
    Depression is a serious medical condition. It has mental and physical ramifications. It is an illness just like any other medical condition. It's one that also requires treatment by a competent physician, usually a psychiatrist or psychologist.

    I wish you all the best dferrara. Asking for and accepting help is a very smart move. Talking about depression also helps. Being a nurse I've had a lot of experience.
  25. Bedawyn macrumors regular

    Jul 17, 2003
    Asheville, NC
    It could, depending on the drug and the conditions. Many psychoactive drugs have different effects depending on the circumstances; it's common, for instance, for them to have one effect in adults and a precisely opposite effect in children.

    I will strongly second the idea of carefully investigating any drug you're prescribed. Do your own research -- and not just on Internet forums. Read the PDR. Use Pubmed. Ask your doctor questions -- and if the doctor doesn't answer well, find another doctor. There are, unfortunately, far too many doctors out there who don't do their jobs well. I have in my time been prescribed one drug that had "death" listed in the PDR as a possible side effect -- something no one warned me about when I was taking it. I've had another doctor basically tell me to shut up when I asked questions about the pills he was trying to give me, and when I flat refused to take them without having read the contraindications first, he tried to placate me with a one-page factsheet that was so outdated it listed the drug as still being in clinical trials.

    On the other hand, stopping a medication without notifying your doctor is very foolish and, depending on the medication, could very well land you in the hospital.

    To the first poster -- definitely make that appointment. Depression and related illnesses can get worse over time if untreated, and far too many people in this country suffer untreated or poorly treated. If you have the financial opportunity and the usable energy to see a psychiatrist (really see, not just for 5-minute medchecks), take advantage of it now while you can. You may not be able to later. The psych may turn out to be an incompetent jerk, but you won't know till you try.

    Definitely do talk to others about medications and dosage. That's part of doing your own research. That doesn't mean you let layfolk prescribe for you. It does mean you weigh information from multiple sources and that the doctors don't always have all the information, not about something as complex as the mind.

    Part of the problem is that mental illnesses are complex, and our bodies are complex. The mechanical-universe paradigm tried to simplify everything, and medical science is only just catching up with the notion that things can't always be simplified. Centuries ago, epilepsy was considered a mental illness. When I was diagnosed with epilepsy in the 70s, science swore that epilepsy had no connection to mental illness whatsoever. Now, in the 00s, they're saying, "Oops, looks like it does have connections after all. We're just not entirely sure what they are." There are multiple factors, multiple dimensions at play in depression (and other mental illnesses), and we can't always separate out their influences, especially when science chooses to ignore half of them (such as all the chemicals in our diets and anything remotely holistic).

    Do try to eat right and get enough sleep. It might or might not help, depending on your constellation of factors, but it certainly won't hurt. The exhortation to get plenty of exercise or engage in energetic activities has always made me want to strangle the exhorter. The whole point of depression is that you haven't got the energy to spend. Telling me to go play racquetball when I'm barely capable of getting out of bed is just... argh!

    I wouldn't pay any more mind to someone who says it's just a chemical imbalance than to those who say it's all in your head. "Just a chemical imbalance" is a meaningless phrase, because almost everything affects the chemicals in our heads, one way or another. If drugs alone help, go for it, but do keep an open mind about investigating your constellation of factors. An anecdote: I went from cyclothemic as a teen to rapid cycling bipolar with migraines in college. It wasn't until years later than I discovered the medication (Depakote/Depakene) I was on as a teen (but not in college) for epilepsy was also used to treat migraines and bipolar. Turns out the years I didn't show those symptoms I was actually unofficially being treated for them -- but none of the doctors I saw in my twenties had thought to consider that. And natural therapies aren't just things like St. Johns Wort that you have to buy specially. If you improve after starting a new medication, maybe it's to the medication's credit -- or maybe it's because it's cold and you've started eating a lot of oatmeal and wearing lavendar perfume, both of which are natural depression therapies as well. The brain is complicated. Be way of anyone, whether they have a medical degree or not, who tries to convince you it's a simple point A-to-point B route from treatment to health.
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