Fighting depression.

I’ve considered and re-considered this thread a million times. I don’t want it to turn into another “Get over it, Loser!” pit thread. But I need to put it down and I need people who won’t be so annoyed with me for being depressed that they yell at me. People I don’t know seem to be most likely to understand.

About 2-3 times a year, for about 1-2 months at a time, I fight these black, dark moods. I become horribly misanthropic and start hating my friends for being human, essentially. Then I’m alone most of the time, because people drive me nuts and I end up spending entire days at home in bed with my laptop. When I’m not left alone, I become very agitated. I fantasize about suicide but never seriously consider it. I just think about how nice it would be if I were capable of it, if that makes any sense. I think about all the millions of ways I’ve been disappointed by things and it sits on my chest like a lead weight. That’s literally the physical feeling of it. I beat myself up for being so useless that I got myself in my current life situation. Then I try to force myself to be optimistic and end up hating myself even more when I can’t.

I’m very lucky in many ways. I have two beautiful and healthy boys. They are joys, everyone says so. And yet I end up either spending all my time online and getting annoyed with them because I don’t want to interact, or letting other people care for them for days because I can’t get out of bed. I have a MIL who understands and my mom is here too. My boys are cared for. But I hate myself for having these days when I can’t do it. Taking care of my house, taking care of my kids, these prospects exhaust me. I can’t lose anymore weight. All I want to do is climb in a hole alone and eat until they have to get a forklift to get me out. It’s sabotaging the weight loss I’ve managed in recent months. Today, we are going to the mall to visit Santa as a family and it’s been a huge huge colossal effort to get myself in the shower, makeup on, and I feel like killing my husband every time he asks me when we’re ready to leave. I hate myself for being a horrible mother, a horrible housekeeper, a horrible wife, and think that I must be really really pathetic if I am so overwhelmed. I’m focusing on a small way a friend disappointed me last week, and it has me feeling utterly alone and despondent.

Then, the mood lifts and I function and put everything back together, only to have it fall apart when the next mood hits. Things are only functional for a few months. It’s been this way since I was 12, and it’s only gotten worse since I’ve had my kids.

The counselors aren’t helping anymore, so I’ve made an appointment with my family practitioner for January 8th. It might be time to break down and try medication. I’m scared of the side effects, but it’s got to be better than this. I don’t want my kids to grow up wondering why mommy is periodically not very nice to them. I don’t want to damage them, and I NEED to get through school. (This one seems to have hit mostly after my Christmas break started, Thank god.) I’m thinking about other ways I can help myself until January, and I’m hoping I can bring myself to talk to my doctor about this.

2010 has to be the year I start to beat this. I’m so tired of constantly trying to convince myself I’m not a piece of shit.

Oh, torie, I wish I could give you a great big hug right now. The reason you become so impatient with your friends and loved ones is because we tend to judge others with the same measure of vitriol that we judge ourselves, whether we mean to or not. As Cheri Huber put it in her book, ‘‘There is Nothing Wrong With You,’’ hating others is the same as self-hate, because either way, we’re the containers, we’re the recipients of the hate.

So there is no way you are going to mend your relationship with anyone until you begin to extend a little compassion toward yourself. I don’t suggest it is easy. In fact, I know it’s not. I used to be so depressed I couldn’t function. It took me years to get to where I am now, and I still deal with chronic depression. At times it seems like a Sisyphean task to overcome.

You know how they say ‘‘the definition of crazy is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result’’? I posit that is the definition of depression. We often know that laying in bed all day pushing others away from us is not going to do a damn thing to help our depression, but we do it anyway, because we hurt. Depression often keeps us numb from real pain. It is an avoidance behavior. The sooner you become willing to face that pain, and feel it, and be present with it, I think the sooner you will find the depression start to ebb. That pain might be a deep, personal fear of failure, or it might be something as mundane as not wanting to do the dishes, but either way, depression keeps us from facing what we need to face and moving on. You think that pain is the worst thing in the world, but it’s not. That temporary pain can’t begin to hurt you as badly as depression has hurt you.

I have done a great deal of research on evidence-based treatments for depression, and your current best bet for quick recovery is a combination of medication and Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy. CBT operates under the scientifically valid assumption that our thoughts and our behaviors contribute to our mood. The first step to undoing depression is undoing the thoughts and behaviors that get us there. So your first task in your healing journey is to start paying careful attention to the kinds of things you say to yourself and the kinds of things you do to yourself and (this is important) DO NOT JUDGE what you observe. Just take a note, as a scientist would do. When you look at the evidence, I have no doubt that you will be SHOCKED by the kind of things you say to yourself, even at times when you’re feeling okay. The end result, which takes work, is that eventually you will realize the rational choice is to do and think the things that make you feel better, not worse. This is easier said than done. It is a process.

Books I recommend to assist:
Overcoming Depression One Step at a Time
A Guide to Rational Living by Albert Ellis
The Depression Book by Cheri Huber

The first two are books based on scientific research. The Workbook is probably the single most effective tool for managing depression I’ve ever encountered. The third is a book by a Zen Buddhist teacher, though it isn’t explicitly religious or dogmatic. I have personally found Zen to be extremely helpful in dealing with my psychological disorders, and many of the principles are in line with CBT. You may have different spiritual beliefs, but if the idea of Zen interests you, ask and I’ll be happy to recommend some self-help resources grounded in a Buddhist orientation.

I wish I could snap my fingers and make everything okay tomorrow, but I can’t, and frankly this may be one of the most difficult undertakings you ever face. But that’s okay. You will find strength you didn’t know you had, and you WILL live to tell about your success. Your willingness to acknowledge the problem and to seek help is a tremendous first step.

Olives,
Christy

Medication can be great. I’ve been prone to depressopm for most of my life. And most of my life I am able to function without being medicated - even feel normal and happy. But a few times, I get sick and tired of myself enough to go on medication - and about a year worth of it seems to reset me and I’m fine for another five, ten years. It isn’t at all rational. I understand it isn’t at all rational. But no matter how much talk therapy I do, or how much meditation or behavioral therapy, my brain chemistry just sabotages even my best efforts at willing myself out of it. And when you get that close to the edge of the black hole, it takes a LOT of effort to even try to make yourself feel better, and failure in doing so isn’t exactly a therapeutic success.

I don’t seem to have any side effects from my current medication.

torie, I feel strongly that the right medication will change your life. Your account sounds very typical to me. (I, all of my sisters, and many of my friends have depressive disorders.) You are not alone in this. Many many people have the same experience, the same fears, the same sense of shame, and the inability to get out of bed. This is not a question of your character. This is not a question of will or just trying harder. I applaud you for going to your doc. You’re not weak. Wanting to get better is a sure sign of personal strength.

My experience with meds for depression is that they don’t change who I am, or make me some godawful perky bimbo – they just get me in a place where life doesn’t suck.

Good luck with whatever path you choose – deciding to deal with it is a huge step, give yourself credit for it.

The obvious has already been stated, but I’ll add this: nutrition. No, I don’t mean the the newly discovered amazon mega0barries will cure you. But I have seen for myself and some friends that a slight mood dip leads to poor nutrition which then escaltes and continues the problem.

You need seratonin, which is partly made of tryptophan. Protein blocks tryptophan uptake, so you want to try to get it through hwole grains rather than turkey. I’ve found that increasing the whole grains in my diet does wonders for my mood. Whole oatmeal is the cheapest and most convenient source I’ve found. Kashi TLC crackers are another good choice, but pricey.

Take a multi-vitamin and a good mineral supplment every day. Yes the vitamin will have more than you need of certain things and others which you’ll just pee out. . . blah blah blah. It will also have some things your body needs and can make use of. Just do it. Take them with your largest meal of the day. Take Iron supplements at a different time of day than calcium. (you want clacium citrate, and it should be combined with Vitamin D)
Also be very careful about sugar intake. The crashes are really not worth the initial satiation.

Watch for dehydration. Go to the mirror and stick out your tongue. If there’s a line or crease down the middle you’re dehydrated. Drink an 8oz glass every 30 minutes until your tongue is smooth and flat. Get int he habit of checking it any time you notice a particularly bad feeling.

Good luck! There are a million good things you can try, just keep pluggin until you get to know the combination that is right for you. Every body and mind are different, and require specialized care. Make it your goal to figure out the best routine for yours.

{{{{torie}}}}

I can understand what you’re going through. I get those dark moods that seem to pass relatively quickly often these days. I think my current life situation is partly to blame (just about to begin serious work on disseratation). I don’t have lots of advice from my own experiences, but I know that my campus therapist has been a godsend. The psychology department on my campus runs a clinic staffed by students in the counseling program. The advantage of this is that a weekly session costs me only $8.50, much less than a regular therapist. I also take some medications to help.

I hope things get better for you soon.

Anti-depressants work! I fought taking them for years and I was miserable. Get thee to a good doc.

Sweetie, your description sounds like my life recently. I got to a place where I was like, “Ugh, I’m so tired and unmotivated and down, I have no strength to do anything . . . except maybe STRANGLE THIS PERSON!” Said person being whoever was nearest at the moment.

Don’t be afraid to go on drugs. Most likely, you won’t have much side effects at all. And even if you do have some, sometimes it is worth it. Also, I tend to use drugs as “training wheels” to solve the bootstrap problem of depression. I know if I do my mental hygiene practices regularly, I don’t need drugs, but sometimes I need drugs to give me the motivation to do start doing the lifestyle things that keep me sane.

Here are the things I know of (and use) that have good, scientific evidence for fighting depression:
SSRIs
Cognitive behavioral therapy (I really like Feeling Good and the associated workbook)
Exercise
Fish oil (possibly)

Also, it can take a lot of work to find a counselor that works for you. Right now, I’m going to someone who I really like as a person, but I decided I need to use the Feeling Good workbook as well, because she’s just not going to be rigorous about putting me through the paces. But it is nice to have someone to talk to about ME every couple weeks, regardless!

The fact that you have a problem and can describe it so accurately probably means you are suffereing from a chemical depression which is an imbalance.

Drugs can help this, why because it’s an actual physical problem.

The thing to watch for two fold. First of all the Internet is not the place to look for side effect. It’s one horror story after another.

Second is, drugs an not a quick fix.

You will have to go on a medication and it may not work for you. You may have to go through two, three, four or five meds before one works for YOU.

Once you get one that works you have to work out the dosage. For instance, if they give you Paxil, they start you out with 10mg for a week, then move to 20mg, then 30mg, then 40mg after you feel better they then keep you on that dose for a month, then they may try lowering it a bit and if things go well they keep you on that dose for a month and eventually you work out the right dose.

This takes time, it’s not like you pop a pill and you’re like “WOW, I feel better.”

Also if you do have trouble finding a med, you can always go to Imipramine this drug works well and has been around since the 50s so it’s well studied. The reason they don’t use it more is because of (here’s that word) side effects. These are annoying but not serious, stuff like dry mouth and constipation. And I’ve taken Imipramine and it’s true, but so what? Suck on a candy or chew gum and drink some prune juice and problem solved.

And again, don’t worry about side effects and don’t read the Internet. All you’re gonna read is horror stories. I love the people that take one pill of Paxil and suddenly have all these electric zaps. That doesn’t happen if you take ONE pill. But on the Internet it does.

Good luck :slight_smile:

I want to second (third?) this. It works for anxiety, too (anxiety and depression often go hand-in-hand). Positive thoughts stimulate the same part of the brain as Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors (SSRIs like Paxil), and the goal of CBT is to get you weaned off those negative thoughts and into the habit of more positive thoughts. If you’re thinking now, “I tried thinking positively, but it didn’t make any difference,” it might be because you were trying to go from, “I suck. I can’t do anything right.” to “I’m a great person! Everything’s wonderful!” and you didn’t believe the positive thoughts, because they weren’t true - everything isn’t wonderful. You have to ease yourself off the negative thoughts and into the positive ones; things like, “I don’t feel great today, but I’m going to get up and have a shower anyway. I usually feel better when I’m clean and dressed.”

Fresh air, sunshine and exercise are also your first line of defense against depression. There are physical reasons for why these things help lift a mood.

One thing I’d really like to stress is that medication alone for the rest of your life is not the answer. I strongly recommend that you see an effective counsellor, too - someone who moves you forward in treatment, not someone who just wants to talk about your childhood for an hour a week for the rest of your life.

I get the impression from your OP that you are not happy with your life as it is, and taking medication for your depression is not going to change the fact that you aren’t living the life you want to live. The depression may be a symptom of you forcing yourself to be someone you don’t want to be. Any thoughts on that? Am I completely out to lunch?

{{hugs}}

I have been where you are, and hated the idea of taking medication. However, Paxil and then Lexapro worked wonders for me. I wouldn’t have believed it at the time, but it really made a difference. A friend told me something that really helped; she said that it would be silly for a diabetic or someone with high blood pressure to not take medication, and it’s the same with depression. What you have is a real, physical condition.

I found that a combination of meds, good health and nutrition, sunshine, and hugs helped me to dig my way out. My kids were five and ten at the time, and for a while my mom had to care for me I was so messed up. You would never know it had ever happened to look at my life today. I haven’t taken meds for years now.

Will you come back and tell us how you are? This is a great place to get support because many of us have been there.

Antihistamines for the brain. They unclog it, they don’t change it any more than the AHs change the shape of my nose. Here’s to hoping your doc can find a regime that works in a short time, torie. I sure wish my parents had gotten treatment when they were depressed, you’re not in denial like they were and that’s a HUGE step.

Can you point any triggers for the depressions? Maybe they don’t come completely out of the blue. Same as I get sleepiness linked to “who hid the sun?” and to sugar crashes, perhaps you (plural you) can find one or more things that trigger the episodes, so that you can either avoid the triggers or do something that keeps a minor episode from becoming a major one. Figuring one trigger is better than not knowing any at all.

Add me to the chorus of “I’ve been there.” It usually happens to me in winter because I’m a teacher and my school goes on winter break. Should be good, right? Well, I live in a frigid, freezing-cold city and I hardly ever leave my house during winter break because more than 10 minutes outside is extremely uncomfortable. So what do I do all day? Sit at home alone and worry about what’s going to happen in my life 20 years from now. OP, I too have fantasized about suicide. I’ve seriously considered it. And, like you, I do have many things to live for, many great successes in my life (I helped my wife through a serious disease, I’ve built my professional reputation on being a liked and well-respected teacher, etc). But, like you, I sometimes just cannot shake these gloomy feelings.

Your two final sentences are what I liked the most. 2010 is going to be the year that you and I both beat this thing. I, too, am not on medication (for different reasons), but I am going to take control of my life and push those bad feelings away as best I can, whatever it takes. I hope you can do the same. Just remember that there are many, many, many people like us in the world and that “this, too, will pass.” Keep your head up!

If you ever need to talk, PM me for my email address.

Sorry if this is a hijack, but it seems a relevant place to ask: I took an SSRI once - just once - and I wigged out, first time I took it (in the office too, which was very embarrassing), with high agitation and akathisia. It was the strongest drug experience I’ve ever had, apart from LSD. I suspect, therefore, that class if drugs wouldn’t work for me.

But I am considering medication (and hope to get on a CBT scheme too). Does anyone know what kind of non-SSRI antidepressants out there, and their effectiveness and contraindications?

I started with medication 2 months ago, not sure about the chemical working but I find the simple ritual of taking a pill each morning somehow gives me focus; It reminds me what emotions are not acceptable and that helps me from spiralling down to the dark place unnoticed

I am not enjoying the side effects: nausea and anorgasmia, but I still think it is worth it…

good luck, all will work out, deciding to get better is the first step of getting better

I’ve been where you are, and it sucks.

It was VERY difficult for me to accept the fact that I needed medication for depression. It felt like a failure, somehow; I remember very clearly sitting in my doctor’s office crying and still protesting that I didn’t need an antidepressant. Swallowing my pride and taking the meds was one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself and my family. The drugs are definitely not a cure all, but they help me to not hate everything and everybody.

Like others have said, don’t expect to feel better all at once – antidepressants take some time to start working. Also, be aware that there are definite side effects with most of them. For me, the benefits outweigh the disadvantages.

Good luck to you, torie, and remember that there are pletny of us out here fighting the battle with you.

I’m going to have to agree here. First, talk therapy doesn’t have much evidence in its favor – in randomized controlled trials it usually does about as well as placebo. Some people really feel talk therapy has helped them, and it’s true that talk therapy is better than no treatment at all, but it really can’t hold a candle to empirically supported treatments like CBT.

I was medicated at one point for years with mixed results, mostly unsatisfactory. While I suffer chronic depression, my primary diagnosis is PTSD, and PTSD is really frakkin’ hard to treat with medication. That fact, combined with my extreme sensitivity to side-effects, made my first year or two of experimenting with meds pretty hellacious and not very effective.

That said, I am not anti-medication by any means. It has been proven to help. Just consider this for a moment: Sr. Olives, a current graduate student of clinical psychology, recently reported on a follow-up study done at his university, I’m not sure if it has been published yet. But essentially the results found that in a 2-year follow-up on an RTC of patients who had done Behavioral Activation, those who had finished BA two years prior were doing better than people who were still being medicated for depression. That is a pretty striking result.

Also, that workbook I recommended? We also have research studies indicating that just the workbook alone, absent regular therapy sessions, has successfully treated depression.

torie, I really relate. And I have kids, too, so I know about mom-guilt. My twins are almost 6 yrs old. I SO know what you mean about feeling overwhelmed by the daily grind.

It’s wonderful to read that you’ve made your appointment for January. You WILL have a vastly different year, there’s no doubt about it.

As others have said, you may need to experiment a little to find the meds that work for you. Welbutrin made my husband paranoid - the effect was immediate and abrupt. Of course he quit taking them right away. Paxil, OTOH, has been a godsend to him. He recently chose to double his dosage (which was low to begin with). And now he’s participating in our family, instead of criticizing from the sidelines. I’ve put my divorce plans on hold.

I fall into depressive cycles as well. One woman’s multi-vitamin and one magnesium supplement pill (250mg?) per day have really helped my energy level and improved my mood. And now I actually want to exercise, which is another (proven) mood booster.

I also gave up soda. Soda, and other refined sugars - like regular pasta, donuts, white bread, french fries. All that healthy stuff ;). Sugars make me wacky, no doubt - I quit eating breakfast pastries years ago. Jif on wheat bread = excellent breakfast for me. Beans, lentils, greens = serotonin boosters.

I wonder about your hormones, too, especially since you said this started when you were 12. Perhaps you might benefit from some of the standard advice for women entering perimenopause? Flax seed oil (you can drizzle it on your oatmeal) and soy products are supposed to help regulate estrogen (or something, I never can keep it straight).

It sounds like maybe you could use more girlfriends? Do you know many women who are in the mothering trenches? PTA groups and sports teams can be so vicious, moms are really competitive at times – when you feel a little better, I hope you’ll try joining a mom’s group or two, see if you can find one that’s not full of nitwits. Thanks to our local group I met a couple dozen amazing women who I now see on a regular basis, it’s WONDERFUL.

I hear you about counselors, it’s really difficult to find one with whom you connect. Most of them are the rough equivalent of a self-help book (and a lot more expensive). Though when you DO really click, it’s life-changing. If you don’t mind, I’ll share a something I learned from the therapist with whom I had a powerful, life-changing connection. You might not be ready for this now, but you might find it interesting later. Or not.

I asked him once for a book, my other therapists had always given me reading lists. He only had one to offer, If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him:

  1. This is it.
  2. There are no hidden meanings.
  3. You can’t get there from here, and besides there is no place to go.
  4. We are already dying, and we’ll be dead a long time.
  5. Nothing lasts!
  6. There is no way of getting all you want.
  7. You can’t have anything unless you let go of it.
  8. You only get to keep what you give away.
  9. There is no particular reason why you lost out on some things.
  10. The world is not necessarily just. Being good often does not pay off and there’s no compensation for misfortune.
  11. You have the responsibility to do your best nonetheless.
  12. It’s a random universe to which we bring meaning.
  13. You really don’t control anything.
  14. You can’t make anyone love you.
  15. No one is any stronger or any weaker than anyone else.
  16. Everyone is, in his own way, vulnerable.
  17. There are no great men.
  18. If you have a hero, look again; you have diminished yourself in some way.
  19. Everyone lies, cheats, pretends. (yes, you too, and most certainly myself.)
  20. All evil is potentially vitality in need of transformation.
  21. All of you is worth something if you will only own it.
  22. Progress is an illusion.
  23. Evil can be displaced but never eradicated, as all solutions breed new problems.
  24. Yet it is necessary to keep struggling toward solution.
  25. Childhood is a nightmare.
  26. But it is so very hard to be an on-your-own, take-care-of-yourself-cause-there-is-no-one-else-to-do-it-for-you grown-up.
  27. Each of us is ultimately alone.
  28. The most important things each man must do for himself.
  29. Love is not enough, but it sure helps.
  30. We have only ourselves, and one another. That may not be much, but that’s all there is.
  31. How strange, that so often, it all seems worth it.
  32. We must live within the ambiguity of partial freedom, partial power, and partial knowledge.
  33. All important decisions must be made on the basis of insufficient data.
  34. Yet we are responsible for everything we do.
  35. No excuses will be accepted.
  36. You can run, but you can’t hide.
  37. It is most important to run out of scapegoats.
  38. We must learn the power of living with our helplessness.
  39. The only victory lies is in surrender to oneself.
  40. All of the significant battles are waged within the self.
  41. You are free to do whatever you like. You need only face the consequences.
  42. What do you know for sure…anyway?
  43. Learn to forgive yourself, again and again and again and again.

The aforementioned impramine is, as I recall, a MAO. There are a number of those. There is a third type as well - can’t remember exactly what type.

There are also some seldom prescribed drugs that were used extensively in the past and less now. Lithium, Valium, the sorts of drugs that used to work along with EST (which they also still use in some cases). I’d think you’d need to be pretty non-functional and have nothing else work to go that direction.