How do you fight Depession?

Since Robin Williams suicide I have seen many articles,fb posts and blogs about suicide and depression.  The truth is unless one had been there so hard to understand why anyone would commit suicide.  But you don’t just wake up one day and go, Hey I think I’ll off myself today.

Before suicide is depression and swimming in the dark abyss.  Are we doomed,those of us who struggle with depression? I hope not.  I don’ t think there is any one way to deal with depression.  I think those of us who suffer from it must have an arsenal of tools available to us.

My wordpress friend, the pink agendist wrote this great blog on depression.  I found it to be very helpful and with his permission I have duplicated it here since his blog is currently set to private.

His advice is practical and logical.  Enjoy.

How do you fight depression?

by pinkagendist

My experience with treatment was a bumpy ride. Four different doctors, a number of different diagnoses and an equal amount of medications to treat them.

The first few years were very much a waste of time. Just talking and answering poignant questions didn’t do much for me. Some medications did ease the accompanying tension and anxiety, but not enough to account for any significant change.

The thing that did it for me was CBT (offered by the NHS in case you’re interested. Otherwise a session costs anything from $50 to $500). The backbone of CBT is how to confront and alter your life to minimize the effects of whatever destructive thought patterns you might have- from depression to OCD to phobias.

In a practical sense it works by identifying your stressors and triggers. You learn to recognize the factors that set off your depressive process/cycle. For some people that could be the weather, for another it could be the holidays. It’s not necessarily significant. I know someone whose process is related to parties, even parties she enjoys. In the week following a party she’s invariably overtaken by thoughts on existentialism, whether life is worth living. So we can say that although parties aren’t the deep causal factor in her depression (existentialism is)- the parties are the factor that set off the switch.

If you don’t know what your triggers are off-hand, keeping a diary is very helpful. I’ve met people with all sorts of triggers. A certain tone of voice, seeing the sunrise, being in the presence of a fight. Think of it in the way adrenaline or dopamine work. Action triggers chemical, chemical triggers sensation. Cycle ensues. In the case of anxiety or depression the pattern always involves a very specific index (and style) of thoughts. The depressed individual’s mind goes round and round, lingering on the same topics and re-interpreting life from what is many times an entirely irrational (and negative) perspective. Here’s a simplified example of a depressive cycle, note how they interact and bolster each other:

photo2

helpful

(In case you’re thinking that if the person in question is overweight, then the depressive thoughts are simply a rational reaction, you’re wrong. The issue being the “style” of the reaction. Someone accustomed to these thought patterns will apply them to all aspects of their life.)

You’re suddenly not a guy doing your best, you’re a bad guy. Your work isn’t respectable, it’s pathetic. You look in the mirror and you only see what’s “wrong”. CBT says: STOP. Turn away from the thoughts. Move in another direction. It sounds simple enough, but requires an inordinate amount of discipline, especially because most of us have been repeating the same patterns since adolescence. At first I wore a rubber-band on my wrist and snapped it every time I had an irrational negative thought. For it to be effective, you do have to regard it as a daily job.  You also have to be prepared to make significant changes and confront things that could have a major impact on your life. Your trigger could be your partner or sibling. It could be the weather in the part of the world you live in. It could be your boss or your job itself. Obviously, it can also be in the realm of the nots. Not doing exercise, not writing, not looking for a different line of work.

I’ve spent years re-structuring my entire existence. It’s a work in progress and always susceptible to change. My biggest realization is how my state of mind is mostlydependent on my own decisions. I can’t control the world around me, but there’s a whole lot I can do to give myself the best possible experience. We may not be able to control the world around us but we are fully able to control our own reactions.

Take the example of the kettle and nespresso machine breaking within days of each other. Many years ago something as insignificant as that would have made me extremely angry and would most probably have set me off on a depressive cycle.  the thoughts would be: Nothing works, nothing lasts, people just rob you. How much will I have spent replacing appliances until the end of my life? I probably don’t make enough. Bad things seem to happen more often to me than to other people. My behaviour would have been: They’ll just break anyway,  so there’s no point buying new machines. I’ll just boil water in a pot and have instant coffee from now on. The result would be a persistent dissatisfaction every time I wanted coffee or tea.

Even after all these years of practice, my first reaction to the breakages was intense negative emotion. Which would have been followed by the negative associative process- but I can stop it in its tracks (most of the time). I stop whatever it is I’m doing. I go sit in another room, and then I decide what can be done for me to move forward. Don’t overreact, how much is a new machine, I can order it without leaving the house. Life goes on.

 

 

 

15 Responses to “How do you fight Depession?”

  1. Paula Says:

    I’d have to say my yoga practice is a CBT-type therapy. Very interesting. It’s all about rewiring our conditioned understandings and expectations surrounding life and being. I attempt to eliminate all of my material attachments to this world so I can enjoy the here and now. It’s not easy as I am bombarded by media and other people’s resistance to change. 🙂

  2. Sex, Spirit, Soul Mates and Chocolate....Ivonne's Journey Says:

    I agree many tools to fight depression. When the body moves and is doing something that you enjoy such as physical exercise endorphins are created, which make you feel good. Sometimes the best way to fight depression is to move,which can also be one of the hardest things to do if in a cycle of depression. But a regular practice like yoga is a great tool to have.

    • Paula Says:

      Yoga isn’t about endorphins. It’s about building patience and a connection to our breath, mind and body. I don’t get an endorphin rush from yoga; that would only be a temporary fix. Yoga goes deeper to the source of depression. My actions on the mat are transferred off the mat. I haven’t done intense cardio is years because they caused me more anxiety in the end…always seeking that temporary high. My highs are prolonged these days, and my diet, relationships, and career play into the change and transformation, too. 🙂

  3. Terry Says:

    Reblogged this on terry1954 and commented:
    very interesting post

  4. Sex, Spirit, Soul Mates and Chocolate....Ivonne's Journey Says:

    lol–I don’t do cardio anymore…I leave that for the young but I do love zumba–a lot more fun….

  5. Sex, Spirit, Soul Mates and Chocolate....Ivonne's Journey Says:

    I thought all body movement helped to create endorphins. So you got me to thinking and I did a google search on yoga and endorhphins, here is what I found.

    http://www.dahnyoga.com/Yoga-life/2148/1/Can-Yoga-Help-Release-Endorphins

    “Yoga benefits are numerous and wide-ranging. The practice has been long-used to relieve anxiety, ease depression, increase balance and boost energy. For many people, the way this ancient technique works is a mystery, but recent developments in science point to yoga’s ability to increase endorphins as a factor in its health-boosting capacity.

    Nearly all forms of physical activity increase your body’s production of endorphins, whether it’s simply stretching or high-endurance running. Endorphins are neurotransmitters – chemicals that transport signals to the brain via a system of neurons – created in the hypothalamus, pituitary gland and other regions of the body. They’re generally stimulated by external and emotional factors, including physical pain, anxiety and fear, which cause these neurotransmitters to interact with cell receptors in the brain that help you control emotion, elevate mood and block out pain. That’s why, when released, endorphins create feelings of euphoria, often referred to as a “runner’s high.”

    Many falsely believe that you have to engage in high-endurance physical activity to gain that feeling, But the soothing stretches and gentle movements of yoga are also effective in boosting endorphins, which can in turn relieve stress and reduce pain. In fact, the University Maryland Medical Center notes that, though the precise reason that yoga is effective is still scientifically unconfirmed, many researchers and doctors believe that the mind-body technique works by increasing the level of endorphins throughout the body. Other research initiatives also support this theory. A study published in July 2012 in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine delved deeper into previous research on the effects of yoga poses on reducing stress and the risk of certain diseases. It found that, among 86 patients who took on a yoga-based lifestyle to prevent and manage diseases, a majority of participants showed lower levels of cortisol (a hormone that increases due to stress) and higher levels of endorphins.”

    And from, http://healthyliving.azcentral.com/stretching-release-endorphins-6612.html

    Almost any form of physical activity, from frenetic to gentle, releases endorphins. Physical activity, including stretching, increases production of endorphins, the neurotransmitters in the brain that can elevate mood and alleviate pain and depression. “Being active can boost your feel-good endorphins and distract you from daily worries, ” says MayoClinic.com. Stretching is controversial in some circles, with conflicting studies over the value of stretching before or after a workout. Whenever you choose to stretch, you can expect an endorphin buzz. As fitness expert Kristin Anderson wrote in the Huffington Post, stretching releases endorphins that tend to make you happier, stronger, calmer and more confident. …

    Stress, Anxiety and Depression

    Endorphins not only assist you in managing stress, they help alleviate clinical anxiety and depression. MayoClinic.com says virtually any form of exercise or movement, including stretching-type exercises such as yoga and tai chi, can increase your fitness while decreasing stress. Stretching and other exercise can even reduce the symptoms of major depression.”

    • Paula Says:

      What’s funny is that no one knows why yoga works beyond trying to explain it in terms of an endorphin “high.” I don’t do yoga because it gives me a high like cross country running used to. (I don’t run anymore and can’t because of an injury.) Although running gave me that high, I hated running. Yoga does not give me that same immediate and short-term high, but I look forward to practicing every day. This is the secret. There is a sustained “high” I get from yoga, which I do not associate with an endorphin high, if that makes sense. Endorphin highs are short-term and fleeting. Even these articles can’t explain it beyond the temporary endorphin rush, as they claim, are associated with any movements we make with our bodies. It’s the rush of the movement of the mind WITH the body. I must focus on specific, small movements of my body parts. I’m
      Not focusing on a ball or a racquet or a path or track ahead of me. I am not outside of my mind in yoga like all other sports. Even dance requires one to be aware of the material world or else fall into a wall or trip over another’s foot. No other activity provides long-term release of stress and anxiety like yoga for me. It’s detoxifying; it doesn’t trick me into thinking I’ve been detoxified, which is what running used to do.

      • Paula Says:

        And which is also coupled with an adrenaline rush in high-cardio activities.

      • Sex, Spirit, Soul Mates and Chocolate....Ivonne's Journey Says:

        I have never gotten any kind of “high” from working out–hmnn maybe I did not work out hard enough. So I can’t relate to the high aspect of working out, unless I am so depressed that what would be a “high” for somebody else would be for me just not feeling sad. I think ever body is different and I mean body not just persons. What you describe when you dance is not what occurs for me, which is a connection to music on a soul level which is then expressed through my body moving hopefully in a rythmic fashion. Dancing is very easy for me–it’s not something I think about. I just exprience it. I think endorphins are a good thing–it’s the bodys way of helping a person to feel better. Even breastfeeding mothers release endorphins.”As you nurse your baby, your body releases the hormone oxytocin, which produces calmness and even sleepiness. This may explain why breastfeeding mothers experience less postpartum depression and have fewer incidences of child abuse and domestic violence. Even better, your body releases endorphins during breastfeeding which contribute to your overall well-being and gives you that natural high.” – See more at: http://www.mamanatural.com/10-breastfeeding-benefits-you-may-not-have-heard-of/#sthash.0QeL6eye.dpuf

        A natural high, created by the body from doing something that benefits you I think is a good thing which is dfferent from getting a high from drugs such as heroin or cocaine.

        But the articles don’t say that there is a high from yoga–just that endorphins are released similar to the runners high. Having never been a runner I have never experienced that high.

        I love the way I feel relaxed after yoga–as I tend to be high energy (spastic). So for me it has a calming effect.
        I don’t think you can compare yoga with cardio or dance or anything else. I beleive they all have their benefits and they benefit different people in different ways.

        When one is fighting with depression/suicidal thoughts I think anything that can help that person get out of that dark abyss is a great tool.

        And certain activities such as yoga, work-out or dancing can keep you from falling into the abyss in the first place.

        • Paula Says:

          And you noted my point about dance…you go outside of yourself and make a connection to music. I’m not saying there aren’t other ways that work for others. I’m saying that for me, going outside of my self in other activities only distracts me from the work I must do internally to overcome the depression…which I no longer suffer.

          • Sex, Spirit, Soul Mates and Chocolate....Ivonne's Journey Says:

            I totally get that. I think that yoga benefits everyone. I have only heard good things thus far from the people that I have met in class the past three weeks. It has been all your post about yoga that finally got me back into a class. 🙂

  6. lyndacan Says:

    Read the book “The Mood Cure”. I have done a lot of emotional release work on the underlying causes of my depression. There was significant improvement without anti-depressant medication but I got to a place where I hit a plateau of improvement. The addition of an amino acid, N Acetyl Cistine (NAC), lifted the dark cloud.

    • Sex, Spirit, Soul Mates and Chocolate....Ivonne's Journey Says:

      Thank you for the tip Lynda. I will check that book out. 🙂

  7. sakuraandme Says:

    Hi Ivonne! 🙂
    Good post and great advice. CBT is something my shrink has been wanting me to do for sometime.
    It’s so incredibly easy to be negative and so I suppose when Depressed, we all try to stay as positive as we can possibly muster…which we don’t usually get very far with! By then it’s too late and negativity has taken over. The older I’ve become the more I’m aware of certain triggers in my life. There’s a lot! 🙂 I don’t have any answer, I wish I did! What I do know is having Bipolar I’ve learned that life will be sometimes a little more challenging and it’s up to me how I handle it. I will make good decisions and bad ones and depression is like a bad love affair that will always be near me, even when I don’t want it to. I think I’ve read every self help book out there and I’m tired of looking for some magical cure that doesn’t exist. So, I surround myself with happy positive people and generally their vibe comes over to me. I take my meds and do all the right things and the rest I suppose is up to the universe.
    I really hope things are going well for you and the girls. You deserve happiness Ivonne and much much more. I hug you, Paula xxxx

  8. Sex, Spirit, Soul Mates and Chocolate....Ivonne's Journey Says:

    Hi Paula, we are doing fine at the moment. The ususal stresses and triggers over here. And even though I don’t live by the beach at the moment I do love the peace and quiet out here and how it’s very rural. And I start classes at the local city college tonight. I am taking a photoshop class, music theory (maybe this time it will stick) and classiscal guitar. Those are the things I do to occupy my mind. I want to live long enough to make it out to Australia so that I can meet you and Jenny hugs and love back at you.


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