Your tricks for fighting mild depression

I’ve been going through some tough times these days.

I think it was triggered by an ugly break-up, which for some reason I’m still processing as “you are unlovable” rather than “he’s a huge jerk.” I went through the expected crying jags, sleep disturbances, mild self-destructive behavior, etc. The problem is, it’s been a while now and I still feel this way. I really don’t want this to stick.

While I do have professional help available, and will certainly seek it out if I see signs of serious depression, for the time being I’d like to try to manage this one my own. I feel fairly confident that I can nip this in the bud. So in this case I am not asking for medical advice. It’s more of “how do you beat the blues?”

So what techniques do you find works? I’ve heard lots of books recommended- any chance you could boil down some of the most important points and methods? I know CBT is not magic, so surely it’s possible to share some of the more effective techniques.

Here is what I am doing:
[ul]
[li]Excersizing- I’ve started a couch to 5k program[/li][li]Using a light-thearpy device- we just don’t get any sun here, and I KNOW for a fact that affects me. [/li][li]Making plans for the future- I’m applying to grad schools and looking forward to a vacation. But, I’ll admit, it’s sometimes pretty hard to keep focused. [/li][li]Writing on an anonymous online confession site- Writing out my feelings can often stop a crying jag and make me feel a lot better. I think articulating my feelings really helps me "get’ the difference between the weird stuff my mind is putting out and the stuff I actually do believe.[/li][/ul]

I tried doing affirmations, but they made me feel silly. So…what do you guys do?

Well son of a bitch man, I came in here all nice and ready to suggest everything you’re already doing! Now I got nuthin’.

Okay so my plan B is to tell you to keep up the good work. :slight_smile:

I’ve never had depression of any sort so I don’t technically have any personal methods of fighting it, but I got your back. You ever need to talk, I’ll send ya a Google Wave invitation and we’ll chat.

The depression I have is chronic. It might cheer you up to know that you’re not me.

I don’t know anything about the “couch to 5k” program, but I would encourage exercise - everyday for at least half an hour. Even just a half hour walk (an hour would be better) will help, but you need to get out every day. If that’s part of the “couch to 5k” program, then you’re already there. And don’t let the weather dissuade you - go to a mall. Or even go to a gym and walk on the treadmill. But getting your body up and active will do wonders for your spirits.

I have it on good authority that positive thoughts stimulate the same areas of your brain as chemical SSRIs - at any rate, I doubt they will do you any harm. If it makes you feel silly, I would suggest that perhaps you haven’t thought of the right ones - I do this myself, and damned if it doesn’t lift my spirits every time.

Fresh air and exercise and foods like milk and bananas are all recommended and effective, too. It sounds like what you have is a situational depression, rather than a clinical one.

Whenever I’m in a bad funk, I buy a girl flowers. Always cheers me up to no end.

I’d first recommend everything you’re already doing :slight_smile:

Second, for me anyways eating habits are strongly linked to depression and anxiety. I will sit around and eat massive amounts of carbs all day when I’m feeling depressed. Conversely, I can help myself out of it by making sure I don’t do that. Going to the store and stocking up on some good vegetables, and then making sure I prepare them when I’m feeling like I need to eat instead of getting pizza does wonders.

Clean.

I mean pick up everything around the house, clean out your car, donate old clothes, etc. I don’t think anything else is a more general drag on my life than feeling like I just don’t have my shit together.

I went through recent relationship crap and I forced myself to be busy as much as possible. I started forcing myself to hang out with people a LOT more than I had done previously. Turns out there are people out there who want to hang out with me!

When I wasn’t able to do that, I did what ejtx suggests - cleaned the house. Organized shit. Threw stuff away. Bought new stuff.

I tried to get in to video games but that didn’t really help. Actually it SORT of helped, because it gave me an excuse to have people over. I don’t particularly like games by myself but games with other people rock.

Just this month I started a “Game Nights” group on Facebook. Invite whoever wants to come over for a game night, and we play Wii games and board games. I’ve had two so far and it’s been a blast!

All this came about after getting down as low as I felt I was comfortable with getting, and visiting a shrink. She basically made me feel bad and made me feel like my problems were just because I was boring and lame. And the answer to all of my problems would be to be less boring and lame. So I dropped the shrink and now am being outgoing and exciting just to spite her!

How is it going on the friend front with you, btw? I know you were afraid you’d lose some friends who didn’t want to choose between you and Dude. Do you still have people to party with?

Here I come with the least popular suggestion of the day: do something gratuitously nice for somebody else, five times a week for a month or so, then see how it worked out for you.

Bonus points if they don’t know you or they don’t know it’s you who did it, though that is not strictly necessary.

Ah mild depression, my arch nemesis.

Other things you can try:

Nutritional therapy that could help include

Vitamin D (10,000 IU)
Omega 3 (10g/day)
Selenium (200mcg)
Magnesium citrate (800mg/day)
trimethylglycine (1000mg/day)
B-50 complex
Zinc (50mg/day)

Binaural Beat meditation CDs. These actually do lift me out of depression, but they take a week or so to work. And if I listen to them too often then I start to feel almost hypomanic.

http://www.amazon.com/Gamma-Meditation-System-Jeffrey-Thompson/dp/B000G1R4KM

Affirmations do feel silly. But I would keep doing them, they couldn’t hurt. If you have an easier time saying mean things while looking in a mirror than you do nice things about yourself, then its something you should really work on. Try that sometime. Instead of saying nice affirmations, say mean things in front of a mirror. If you have an easier time and it feels less silly, then that is a sign you really need to work on them.
On another note, I found out a girl I used to deeply love got married a few months ago. What helped me was low dose DL-phenylalanine and chocamine. They are supposed to help replenish the chemicals that you are missing due to heartbreak (chemicals phenylethylamine and dopamine). Chocolate has low doses of PEA in it, and supposedly that is where it got the reputation as a breakup food. Luckily most of the feelings are gone, but I do remember during the worst of it I would take those 2 and it would curb the feelings of incompleteness and loss. It didn’t totally eliminate it, but to me it was like what methadone probably is to a heroin addict.

Also there is a book called ‘how to fall out of love’. But I thought it was mediocre. It is a bunch of cognitive exercises to weaken feelings of romantic love.

http://www.amazon.com/How-Fall-out-Love-Hurts/dp/0446314080
Also, the obsessive thoughts you are having about your ex are due to lower serotonin. An SSRI might help if you need that.

http://intro2psych.wordpress.com/2009/05/12/love-obsession-and-chemistry/
Are you writing on experience project?

What’s helped me in the past are a couple of things:

The first is getting enough sleep (hard sometimes, I know) and looking after yourself generally speaking.

The second one, which is key to me, is keeping busy. Find something to throw yourself into that will absorb your time and attention. It might be hard at first to find the energy, so maybe try something that that means that you have to interact with other people that will depend on you. This may give you the motivation to keep going when you don’t feel like it. Just make sure that it is something that doesn’t give you too much time to sit around and think about everything that is on your mind.

Good luck - I know how hard it is to change how your brain deals with things.

Sometimes I don’t fight it. I just give in to it. And let it run its course. Complementary to these times:

Sleeping
Hot, relaxing showers
Reading in bed
Eating things I really enjoy

You mentioned “exercise” but I would doubledown on this–or any project, really, that is thoroughly absorbing with a definite goal in mind. Could be a target weight, or a target achievement (a mile in under 8 minutes, bench-pressing 70 pounds) or any goal but I find that exercise is the best therapy for my mild situational depression because of all the endorphins it releases. And it makes me feel good to get myself in shape, so I feel confident in asking out ladies way out of my league.

Also bitching to my friends helps, too.

Marienee, thanks for the suggestion! This is a neat idea; I particularly like the stealth aspect.

even sven, good for you on doing what you’re doing. I suspect that some success in overcoming what you describe is simply adhering to Your Plan and discovering that time passes and works its wonders that way. Agreed with you and everyone else on the benefits of exercise.

On an altogether unreasonable note, one of my personal coping mechanisms is actively rooting against the Washington Redskins. This season is turning out to be very vindictively satisfying. Particularly last night. :smiley:

You already have everything I would have said.

The exercise is probably the most important of the bunch. Not only does the act of exercising make you feel better, you’ll probably lose 5-10 pounds and that will really make you feel better.

That’s a good suggestion; helping other people really does help you feel better about yourself. A lot of anxiety and depression is quite self-centered; focusing on other people is a good way to get you out of your own head.

My mild depression usually manifests as chronic grouchiness. All of the other things mentioned help; I also find taking St. Johns Wort takes off enough of the edge that I’m not chewing off people’s heads for saying ‘Good Morning’.

One thing that helped me when I was feeling really down: Walking to Trader Joe’s! I live a couple of blocks from a TJs, and I started forcing myself out the door to go there when I felt bad. I could always use something from the grocery store, especially because I’m not particularly good at keeping the fridge stocked. The mild exercise helped, as did just being out and about. It reminded me that I live in downtown Westfield, NJ, for pete’s sake! That’s pretty awesome. So I’d buy some food, and maybe a treat. And the cashiers at TJs are almost always cheerful and friendly, and they usually give me a laugh in one way or another. So that helped too.

Maybe there’s something similar you can do.

I find forcing myself to have some social interaction helps in general. I’m an introvert, so it’s not always easy to do, but it pays off.

Yeah! You probably don’t have an excessive amount of stuff since you move so often, but I’m sure you can get rid of some stuff.

Also, I understand that you may not want to go into therapy at the moment, but perhaps you could do a little self-CBT. It’s not “magic,” but it certainly works extremely well. As you know, it’s about recognizing and breaking negative thought patterns. There’s no reason that you can’t work on that yourself.
And now would be a good time to tell you something. We’ve both been on this board a long time. You used to be…well, kind of annoying actually. You whined a lot about being poor and having a dead-end job. It’s been wonderful and gratifying to see you develop into the person that you are today. You’ve lived all over the world. You’ve seen and experienced so many things. You do crazy-cool stuff. You help people! This thread is an example of how you’ve changed. Instead of seeing yourself as a victim of circumstance, you take an active approach to fixing your problems.

You’re one of the strongest posters on the board now, and I always look forward to reading what you have to say. I really admire what you’ve done with your life, and will continue to do. I only wish I had had the guts to start the kind of life that you have when I was your age.

So, hey. The ex may not appreciate you enough, but I do. That may be very small consolation to you, but hopefully it’s something. You’ve come a long way, baby. Remember that.

You listed the best advice as #1 exercise.

The trick is to make it fun. Go to a gym and work out. But stay there a bit and listen to the music. Or go to the Archive.Org and download some old time radio shows, especially *Burns and Allen *or Jack Benny, they are public domain and they are hyserical. Gracie Allen is too funny.

So you can listen to the shows as you work out.

Also now is a good time to do small projects. The problem with mild depression is people will start BIG projects. Bad idea you won’t follow through and feel bad you failed. So do something very small that you’ve been putting off.

And there’s always the old fall back my mum used. “CLEAN THE HOUSE.” There’s always walls to wash, floors to scrup, the back of the fridge…

You basically want to exhaust yourself and occupy your mind.

Now would be a great time to get a book on HTML and learn how to contruct a small website.