How do you deal with depression/depressive espisodes?

I have recently discovered that a family member suffers from depression. Our family members have all offered our support, and recommended that she see a psychiatrist (for meds) and a therapist (for talk).

I am interested in finding out some other legitimate techniques for her to use when dealing with those all-to-frequent “waves” of depression. A “wave” would be a set period of time in which she is more prone to sadness, hopelessness, frustration, irritability, etc.

Being an official Depressed Person[sub]tm[/sub] myself, I have a few of my own methods. Here they are:

  1. Above all, realize that the depression will not last forever, and patiently wait for it to dissipate, keeping the hope that the sadness will soon be over.

  2. When not at work, keep myself busy with physical activity, be it minor (cleaning, washing dishes) or major (working out, running, playing sports).

  3. Keep my mind occupied by things other than OH MAN I’M SO SAD. This includes reading, reading my favorite message board, playing a computer game, etc.

  4. Be with others instead of being alone. I don’t have to drink to have a good time!

What else can I suggest to her?

I am now in a depressive episode triggered by an emotional betrayal and I remember my therapist telling me to feel sad, to cry, to contemplate and to talk. Don’t isolate yourself: if I am alone, then I tend to blame the only person within reach: me.
I’m glad your family member has you on their side. I went against every self-protective instinct and shared with my family my humiliating betrayal and got nothing but love and support

I would suggest the following:

Make sure you are covering the basics: regular balanced meals, regular sleep and regular moderate exercise.

Learn some cognitive psychology techniques to redirect your thoughts. A therapist can help with this. They can be along the lines of changing your habits from thinking “Nothing ever works out for me because no one likes me” (a broad general self-blaming statement) to “this weekend’s picnic got cancelled because John is in the hospital.” (a specific, more neutral statement). This is a way to keep from making your depression worse through your own thoughts.

A book I’d recommend is Authentic Happiness by Martin Seligman. His approach is about building up skills and habits so we are emotionally stronger if depression does hit. So it may be better to pick up the book between depressive episodes, and use his approach to help prevent relapse.

I have the same problem with depression ‘waves’. I used to have chronic depression but meditation and a variety of supplements (SAM-e, DL-phenylalanine, chocamine, etc) have turned my chronic depression around to the point where i’m either neutral or slightly happy most of the time, but i still get these waves.

What i want to do (dont know if i’d recommend this to her as i doubt she is as willing to manipulate her brain chemistry with prescription drugs and OTC supplements as i am) is to get some 5mg deprenyls and take that with medium sized doses of chocamine & DL-phenylalanine when i get uber depressed, hoping the flood of positive neurochemicals will somehow stabilize me and carry me through the depression.

Beyond that, sorry i can’t offer any good advice. I have more or less given up on using behavior therapy to stop the waves of depression. CHronic depression responds to things like reframing or meditation but IMO they aren’t too good on the waves so i’m using chemistry for that.

If you find any good ways to deal with depression waves, let me know

One of my favorite images is that of ‘mind clouds’. I learned it in a buddhist meditation book. Just like a dark cloud moves in front of the sun, it has to move away. So I accept my depression (yesterday in fact was the worst I’d had in about three years), deal with it like I would a migraine (take a hot bath, a nap, a good meal) and then I just say aloud “mind clouds”, remembering that ‘this too shall pass’.

I was on the verge of tears and miserable yesterday, helpless, lethargic, angry…and I went to bed feeling almost normal :slight_smile:

Thanks for the replies, all! I emphasize the “this too shall pass” philosophy with myself. As bad as I may feel, I’ll be better eventually.

She’s not so much interested in stopping the waves as in dealing with the waves. I’m communicating this to her. The depression will come, but be ready for it. It will go, too.

This is probably counter to the “best” advice out there, but…

I’ve found that indulging in a good sulk-and-cry can be very therapeutic, if she’s in a position to be able to do that (day off work/weekend, etc.), as long as it’s done with the attitude that “this too shall pass”. It’s kind of the psychological equivalent of lancing a boil. Basically, you’re just letting it out of your system instead of trying to suppress/avoid it.

I’ve also found that physical activity doesn’t help much, but mental activity will- getting involved with a project that requires a lot of use of the ol’ grey matter can really keep your mind off of whatever’s causing this particular bout of depression until it has either been dealt with or blows over, whichever is appropriate for the circumstances.

This is important and helpful. I would add to that: Drink plenty of water. Proper hydration can help with a lot of things.

Things I do to make myself feel better:
[ul]I clean up my house, even if it’s just one room that I focus on to make it sparkle.[/ul]
[ul]I take a hot bath, usually with a mixture of herbal oils added for soothing scents.[/ul]
[ul]I buy some fresh flowers at the store, and put them on the dining table and desk.[/ul]
[ul]I cook.[/ul]
[ul]I shop*.

And I always remind myself that it will pass. My depressions tend to be seasonal, so I’m past the danger zone right now, and should have until February before they hit again.

*this can be considered a destructive thing, but I never spend over 50.00, so I don’t think I’m hurting anything. Plus, a new piece of clothing or gadget can make you feel a little better.


How do I deal with depression waves? Not very well. Currently, I have manic depression as well as like 5 other health issues, and at one point I was so depressed I tried to commit suicide, which landed me in the hospital for “suicidal watch” for a week. I am starting to feel a little bit better, but whenever I feel depressed, I enjoy sleeping, or talking to 2 friends that I am really close too. Even if they don’t exactly understand (one does, he has like everything I do, its scary) it is nice to let it out. Sometimes being alone helps. My mom suddenly wants me to volenteer and have us do family things, things that I don’t want to do right now. I guess just make sure you are there and watch for signs of suicide. My friends did and they saved my life. And don’t tell her to be positive, and that depression doesn’t last forever 24/7, because it gets REALLY annoying. I’m serious.

As long as she understands the idea, flamingbananas. Pounding it into her head over and over probably would get pretty darn annoying. The rest of her family (my in-laws) needed to know, as well.

Sleeping is one of the ways she copes now. It worries her workaholic family, but they’ll get over it. So will she.