Clinical Depression, Struggles With

AstylahAthrys

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I was diagnosed with clinical depression and a general as anxiety disorder when I was 15. From 15-19 I was a barely functional shell, and my grades and relationships faltered greatly because of it. I'm almost 21 now, and I do have advice to help you get back on track:

1) Take your medication, especially if your depression is caused by a serotonin imbalance, where your body is physically not making enough to allow you to even feel that happy.
2) Therapy. Professional or even just a place where you can talk to someone without being judged. Someone who'll allow you to speak, express yourself and organize your thoughts.
3) Think about yourself and put you first. Do what makes you feel comfortable and happy. Push yourself a little bit by bit until you can start fully functioning again. Avoid as many triggers as possible. Focus on simple pleasures.

Of course, results may vary and always consult a doctor if you do think you are depressed, especially if you feel suicidal.
 

KaosuHamoni

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I think I have it. I don't want to be one of those guys who self-diagnoses themselves by looking at WebMD, but everything honestly seems so bleak. My home situation is possibly irreparable between my mother and I, my grades are awful, despite the fact that I should be getting A's. These days, I do little more than go through the daily ins and outs of going to VI Form, and then coming home, thinking about doing work, shrugging it off and watching anime instead, until 11pm.

Honestly, the idea of going to the doctor's about it scares me. I've been to therapy before, more than once, and all it succeeded in doing, was making me feel worse. And I absolutely hate the idea of being drug-dependant. But I'm not entirely sure what to do anymore.

Edit: I played that game. Ended up with what seemed like the worst possible outcome =/
 

bastardofmelbourne

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AstroSmash said:
Wow, big pharma really does have an influence over today's society. Especially now that everyone is convinced they are suffering from some sort of "clinical depression" or "chemical imbalance".
I'd get mad at you, but something tells me it wouldn't be worthwhile.
 

Gardenia

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AstylahAthrys said:
I was diagnosed with clinical depression and a general as anxiety disorder when I was 15. From 15-19 I was a barely functional shell, and my grades and relationships faltered greatly because of it. I'm almost 21 now, and I do have advice to help you get back on track:

1) Take your medication, especially if your depression is caused by a serotonin imbalance, where your body is physically not making enough to allow you to even feel that happy.
2) Therapy. Professional or even just a place where you can talk to someone without being judged. Someone who'll allow you to speak, express yourself and organize your thoughts.
3) Think about yourself and put you first. Do what makes you feel comfortable and happy. Push yourself a little bit by bit until you can start fully functioning again. Avoid as many triggers as possible. Focus on simple pleasures.

Of course, results may vary and always consult a doctor if you do think you are depressed, especially if you feel suicidal.
As someone who suffered for 7 years and is now more or less free of it, these points are well worth remembering, and I will add a fourth one of my own:

4) Don't try to improve everything at once. You will most likely fail, and that will bring you down to the level you were, or worse yet, end up with you being more depressed than you were.

My advice is to take it slowly, improving a little each week. you're not supposed to be cured of depression in a months time. If you are reading this,you are most likely young, and contrary to what people tell you, the average lifespan is a looong time. You can afford to take a year or two to fix your mood:)
 

Frungy

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I'm a psychologist professionally, and I'd like to just chime in with some really common-sense tips ... that are all too frequently ignored.

The three pillars of health, psychological and physical, are sleep, exercise and diet. The keys are "what", "when", "how much".

Poor sleep patterns are a major indicator of depression, but they're also a major cause of depression. This naturally creates a spiral when someone becomes depressed, where they can't get to sleep, because they're depressed and all they can think about is how incredibly hopeless things are, and so they don't get enough sleep, which causes fatigue and makes you less able to cope with the depression. Note that if you're waking up multiple times during the night then this is an indicator of anxiety, not depression, although very frequently people have both anxiety and depression, so they can't get to sleep, then when they do get to sleep they wake up again at random intervals during the night... and can't get back to sleep.

Exercise is another big factor. Despite what your "ripped" friends may say you can get too much exercise, and you can also get too little. Over-exercising can lead to brain chemistry imbalances that normally cause anxiety, but can also cause depression (also people often over-exercise because of underlying self-esteem issues). Under-exercising likewise isn't a great idea since endophins are released during exercise and these can help counteract mild depression and anxiety, as well as keeping your brain and body healthy. Likewise the current media emphasis on being "trim" leads to self-esteem issue for those who are viewed as overweight.

Diet is s dirty 4-letter word for many people. I'm not using it in the sense of "Atkins" or whatever the latest insane fad is. Rather I'm using the term to refer to what you eat, when you eat, and how much you eat. Our bodies are chemical engines, and what you put in is critical. If you haven't watched "Super Size Me" then I recommend it. What most people don't think about though is how much they're eating and when they're eating. Too much of a certain chemical entering the bloodstream at once can cause psychological problems. Just think about when you were a kid and you'd eat a candy bar, get a huge "sugar rush" and then collapse asleep an hour later, exhausted ater running around like a maniac for 30 minutes.

The three pillars are heavily inter-related, for example eating turkey or chicken (rich in tryptophan) makes you feel sleepy, and while you sleep tryoptophan metabolises into melanin and melatonin, and when you wake up in the morning sunlight helps transforms melatonin into seratonin, creating a sense of well-being.

Here are some very simple tips that anyone can follow to decrease the symptoms of depression (note: decrease the symptoms. No-one is immune to depression, we all have good days and bad days, and the expectation that we should be "happy" all the time is both unrealistic and a big problem with modern society. Aim to be "contented" and you'll be a happier person):

1. Sleep
- Avoid coffee and other stimulants for 2 hours before bed time.
- Do not exercise for 2 hours before bed time.
- Avoid computers, TVs and other bright screens (like iPads) for 1 hour before bed time. The frequency of light emitted by these devices makes our brains think that it is day time, and impairs our ability to get to sleep.
- Go to bed at the same time every night, even on the weekends. A couple of late nights a month is okay, expecting yourself to be okay on Monday when you normally sleep 10pm to 6am, but have been sleeping 6am to 10am on Satuday and Sunday is just ridiculous.
- When in bed lie down and go to sleep. Beds are for two things, sleeping and sex.... and you can have sex lots of other places too, so keep your bed for sleeping.
- Sleep for 7 to 9 hours. Not more, not less. Yes, you can "cope" with less sleep, but it is damaging your mental health slowly but surely. If you're sleeping less than 6 hours a night your risk of major depression doubles to triples.
- Follow the 20/40 rule. If you're not going to sleep in 20 minutes by just lying there with your eyes closed then get up and do something light (washing dishes, reading a book - not watching TV or playing on your computer) for 40 minutes, then get back into bed and try again. This method is somewhat brutal, but it sure beats lying in bed allowing your mind to dwell on everything that you're worried about. Repeat the 20/40 cycle regularly until it works (I've never had a patient that it didn't work for inside of 4 days).
- Meditate while going to sleep. No, I don't mean buy some cheap incense and saying "Om!", I mean when you're in bed try some meditative breathing exercises. The one I suggest most often is to breath in slowly and lightly through the nose (lowering your diaphram as opposed to expanding your chest) for a count of 4, then hold the breath lightly for a count of 2 or 3, then breath out slowly through your nose or mouth (personal preference) for a count of 3 or 4 (allow your lungs to empty normally, don't push). This is known as parasympathetic breathing, and it does a lot of good things, from lowering blood pressure to encouraging voluntary control of automatic body processes... also, on a most simple level, it distracts you from all the stuff you're stressing about. Initially this exercise will seem difficult, but if you practice is regularly then a few breaths will induce a sense of well-being and control after a few months. Initially it will just feel like this irritating exercise this guy on the internet told you to do. Stick with it.

[Note: There is some personal variation in all of the above. For example some people favour a 15/30 pattern, and some people hold their breath on the breathing exercise for just 1 second. Human bodies aren't all the same, find what you're comfortable with)

Exercise
- Exercise at the same time every day, for the same amount of time. This establishes a pattern and helps to regulate your metabolism, allowing your body to know what to expect and when. Make changes to your exercise routine slowly and progressively rather than dramatically. I started with 3 sets of 15 push-ups, then 15 sit-ups as my morning routine, now my regular routine is 3 sets of 100 push-ups and 100 sit-ups, slowly increasing with 1 extra push-up and sit-up a week over 2 years. Initially 3 sets of 15 push-ups was hard work, now I get a light sweat from 100.
- Exercise lightly and consistently. The goal is to get a light sweat doing. Cycling, hiking/walking, moderate weight lifting, tai chi, yoga, or just push-ups and sit-ups in your room... these are all good choices. Heavy weight lifting or sitting behind your desk lifting a can of mountain dew are bad choices.
- No pain, no pain. I hear the idiotic phrase, "no pain, no gain" repeated endlessly. Pain is your body's way of warning you that you're damaging things. Exercising until you begin to feel a "burn" is good. Continuing to exercise when you're in pain is idiotic. Don't do it. It has extremely negative effects on brain chemistry.
- Meditate while you exercise. This is a good way to tell if you're doing too much. If you're panting and can't maintain an even breathing pattern then the odds are good that you're overdoing it. Stop, take a breather and dial it back a notch.

Diet
- Eat at the same time every day, and roughly the same amount. Again, this is critical in allowing your body and brain to know what to expect.
- Eat half. When we're hungry our brains tend to flash warning signals and demand FOOD... LOTS of FOOD! Normally when you're hungry your assessment of how much you need to eat is off by about 50%. When you're hungry bear this in mind. Eat half your food slowly (try to take more than 15 minutes) and then take a break. If you're still hungry 30 minutes later (the time it takes for your brain to send the "I'm full" signal) then eat the rest. If you're not then put it in a tupperware for your next meal. Remember that different foods have different calorie values, so the "eat half" rule is a guideline.
- Eat a variety of things and don't stress too much about what you're eating unless you have an allergy/intolerance. The key here is "moderation in all things". A cola every now and again (maybe small 200ml cola once or twice a week) isn't going to hurt. Drinking a liter/quart of cola every day will seriously damage your health. Likewise a beer a couple of times a week isn't a problem, but if you're drinking until you get drunk every day then you definitely need to get help. There's a lot of fuss made about butter vs margarine, etc. Mostly if you're only eating small amounts occassionally then it isn't going to make a huge impact on your lifespan or general health. One of my personal bugbears (warning, personal prejudice ahead) is MSG (monosodium glutemate), because it interferes with the brains' "I'm full" signal, causing you to eat more than you should, so I avoid MSG like the plague. Generally though I'd simply advise people to avoid being "extreme" in their diet. If you want to be a vegetarian then I'd say fine, but try to eat a little chicken/fish/eggs once in a while if you can do so without feeling too bad about it. If you want to be a carnivore then fine, but try to regularly include some nice leafy vegetables in your diet, and experiment with some vegetarian dishes a couple of nights a week (a couple of nights a week without meat won't kill you... although the expression on many meat-eaters' faces when I tell them this suggests that they think it might).


There are lots of other hints and tips that I could share, but this post is already approaching TL;DR territory, so I'll leave it there. If you just remember one thing them remember that establishing a regular, consistent pattern is probably the most critical thing, and the most frequent mistake. Most people treat their weekends as "responsibility-free" zones, going out and boozing all night, eating junk, not exercising, and sleeping strange hours... and then wonder why Mondays and Tuesdays are hell. It takes a little self-discipline, but keeping a regular pattern is totally worth the sense of balance and contentment it will bring to your life.
 

TheRightToArmBears

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AstroSmash said:
You might be right (I'm in the UK, I don't know enough about how it's dealt with in the US to really argue with you. I know that Brits are less likely to go for any kind of treatment, so it's not the same here), but it's worth pointing out that this thread probably isn't very representative of wider society.

For starters, only a few people have claimed an actual, diagnosed, clinical depression, out of all the people that have seen the thread. This site in itself is probably a poor indicator too, considering the demographic (males, 16-30) are one of the higher risk groups for depression. Besides, not everyone's cases are going to be as severe as each others', it can be hard to express properly. I'm fairly confident there's something wrong with me beyond being a bit sad, but on the same token I'm not a suicidal wreck.
 

sky14kemea

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Well.... That really was depressing.

Good thing I don't date anyone, 'cause according to the game, it won't end well.

Damn.

I googled that 'Social Readjustment Scale' you mentioned as well, and I feel there were a lot of things missing from the small test it gave me. :/
 

Living Contradiction

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AstroSmash said:
Snippity snip
Thank you, AstroSmash, for dismissing those of us with mental illness as merely being drug addicts who suffer from sadness. Your empathy warms the cockles of my heart.

Turning my sarcasm off, yes, I have depression and yes, it nearly killed me. Twice.

Not from a chemical imbalance, not from hallucinations, but from my brain going "Suicide. What a good idea" and taking steps to put said idea into existence. What brought me back? The people I love. Not pills, though the scrips I've had to eat to be able to cope do make a difference and I'm grateful for them, but people. My wife, bursting into tears because I told her I was going to leave her so that when I killed myself it wouldn't hurt her as much, who insisted then and there that I get therapy right fucking now. My family and friends, who kept me sane when I lost my wife to heart failure and held my hand as I went through the nightmare of burying the woman I loved and putting my life back together afterwards.

I've always struggled with what I call my internal saboteur, a part of me that always takes a negative outlook on the world and my place in it. I deal with that voice every hour of every day, fight against it when I talk to my girlfriend or attend class for college or go to work. Hell, I had to deal with it when I played Depression Quest (and thank you, mitchell271, for linking that game to this thread). It goes well beyond "being sad"; it is a constant, unending, undercurrent of bad feeling with no reasonable cause and no reasonable solution. I can do something about it though, whether it's taking a pill or talking to someone or just taking a nap.

I live with depression, the operative word being "live". I've lost friends because of it. I've lost days and even weeks of my time dealing with it. But by gods, I'm still alive and so are a goodly number of people who would've ended their days much sooner without a pill. If that means I have a "drug problem" and I'm part of a larger shift towards chemical enslavement of the self, so bloody be it. I'll live with that, because that beats the option of dying from my mind whispering, "End it. Do yourself a favour and just end it."

Mitchell, I hope you get the help you need and want. Being willing to seek out help is the start towards something better.
 

SadisticFire

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Note to self, reflecting on life, bad.
According to most people I had depression since five years ago, up to April in 2012. I never really thought about it, cuz' it just felt normal, and had nothing compare it to. At any rate I guess looking back on it now I was really expressed being depressed. But I got better, but now after I played the game, I had to reflect on the last few months. Was also recently diagnosed with aspergers and said it was quite likley I'm going to fail high school. Don't know if it's a placebo affect or legit that it seems I'm about to go back down.
Suppose it's time to handle it like everything else, go forward,think later, use sarcasm.
 

TehCookie

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I got a good ending in the game, the character was still depressed but they were dealing with it and could live their life. Can't say I made the exact same choices, but that was limited by the game since the character found therapy helpful so he continued going while I found it a waste of time and money.

My mom is clinically depressed and it's not something you get over, but it is something you can deal with. In her case she needs happy pills. She's not struggling with it but she also knows she has to keep on her meds or her depression will become a major issue.

I have no clue if I'm depressed or not, though I think I fit more in bipolar where I have my ups and downs. Thankfully I can recognize my down-phases and know they'll pass, also known as the "get over it" mindset. A lot of people get mad when you tell them that but that helps me the most when I'm feeling the worst. If you don't feel like it will stop, make it stop. There is no fate but what you make. If you don't feel like doing it today, do it tomorrow. At least you have a goal to wake up for.
 

MetricFurlong

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Interesting game. I got a fairly 'meh' ending, largely by answering what I'd normally do in those circumstances. I found that a little amusing, given where my depression and those sorts of choices ended-up taking me.
Anyway, makes for an interesting comparison with Actual Sunlight [http://www.actualsunlight.com/]. Depression Quest is maybe a bit more accessible, but lacks Actual Sunlight's punch. (A note on those interested in Actual Sunlight, it is likely to prove quite difficult going especially for anyone with depression. Especially the end. Just be aware of that.)


For my own experiences, I've had depression for a little over a decade now - of a variety that's not of a similar species to what LivingContradiction describes. It.. hasn't gone very well, all things considered. My uncle also suffered from depression, but didn't make it out alive. Two of my sisters have some first-hand experience with the disease as well. As have a fair few of my friends, over the years.


TehCookie said:
[line redacted]
While I understand that this has helped you, I must say that that sentence is perhaps not be the best thing to say when a lot of depressed people may be reading.
 

lacktheknack

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AstroSmash said:

America has a drug problem.
Congratulations.

In one link and one sentence, you put up possibly the worst response possible for a thread of this type.

There's a time and place to discuss overmedication of depression, and guess where that time and place is?

Not in the middle of a goddamned depression encouragement thread.

Do you ever consider what your actions might cause? Do you ever consider the appropriateness of your actions? Have you ever wondered to yourself "Maybe this isn't a good idea, seeing how there's potentially suicidal people here, and posting a video of someone screaming "You can't handle the truth" while telling them that one of their last bastions of hope is useless and unnecessary might result in some ugly consequences"?

Do you ever consider other people beyond what your brain wants to talk about right here and now? Do you have a filter?

Actually, scratch what I said about "worst response possible".

It would be worse if you quoted this and said "yes".

I saw your edit, and I don't give a damn about it. It's a discussion that should definitely be had... ANYWHERE ELSE.
 

TehCookie

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MetricFurlong said:
TehCookie said:
I have no clue if I'm depressed or not, though I think I fit more in bipolar where I have my ups and downs. Thankfully I can recognize my down-phases and know they'll pass, also known as the "get over it" mindset. A lot of people get mad when you tell them that but that helps me the most when I'm feeling the worst. If you don't feel like it will end, make it end.
While I understand that this has helped you, I must say that that sentence is perhaps not be the best thing to say when a lot of depressed people may be reading.
Well I changed it but I don't see what's wrong with people killing themselves, it's their choice.
 

lacktheknack

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TehCookie said:
MetricFurlong said:
TehCookie said:
I have no clue if I'm depressed or not, though I think I fit more in bipolar where I have my ups and downs. Thankfully I can recognize my down-phases and know they'll pass, also known as the "get over it" mindset. A lot of people get mad when you tell them that but that helps me the most when I'm feeling the worst. If you don't feel like it will end, make it end.
While I understand that this has helped you, I must say that that sentence is perhaps not be the best thing to say when a lot of depressed people may be reading.
Well I changed it but I don't see what's wrong with people killing themselves, it's their choice.
For the same reason you don't let a friend jump off the twentieth story balcony when he's falling-down drunk: He's in a state which his decision making skills are heavily stunted and will cause massive trauma among those he's close to.

It's my choice to lie to a co-worker, for instance, but that doesn't mean that it's a good idea or that I should do it.

The idea that people should be allowed to kill themselves on a whim is... infuriating and terribly thought out, quite frankly.
 

Something Amyss

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AstroSmash said:
America has a drug problem.
I'd like to see your credentials. This sounds like layman "doctor phil" conspiracy-level stuff, but I'm sure if you can preach so definitively....
 

Saw767

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I have depression and aspergers, so...to say that I've been hit with a "double whammy" would be putting it quite mildly. Dealing with both has gotten easier over the years, but they complement each other so well that odds are I won't be rid of either for good. I used to take medication, but it stopped working for me and finding one that would work turned out to be quite impossible.

What worked for me was getting out of high school, away from the social sharks. Weird as though it may sound, caffeine is my medication. Since my anxiety keeps my thoughts racing, the rest of me needed something to keep up with that pace and caffeine has been a very useful tool. Perhaps I'm a special case in that...and since I get very into what I'm interested in, I seem to block out other things. Escapism is very much in my nature.

Don't get me wrong, I still feel the depression some days, but it has gotten much more tolerable since I decided what I wanted to do was...to do all the things I wanted to do and never stop. Suicide is a very real thing and...it is also the incorrect response to "What will I do?"

No matter how terribly bleak and dark life may seem, you must remember that you are a soft, clever, sensible, amusing, sweet, splendid person that, among other things, deserves to hear their favorite song on full blast through the entire fucking house.

Be wondrously, fucking incredible to everyone, including yourselves.
 

TehCookie

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lacktheknack said:
TehCookie said:
MetricFurlong said:
TehCookie said:
I have no clue if I'm depressed or not, though I think I fit more in bipolar where I have my ups and downs. Thankfully I can recognize my down-phases and know they'll pass, also known as the "get over it" mindset. A lot of people get mad when you tell them that but that helps me the most when I'm feeling the worst. If you don't feel like it will end, make it end.
While I understand that this has helped you, I must say that that sentence is perhaps not be the best thing to say when a lot of depressed people may be reading.
Well I changed it but I don't see what's wrong with people killing themselves, it's their choice.
For the same reason you don't let a friend jump off the twentieth story balcony when he's falling-down drunk: He's in a state which his decision making skills are heavily stunted and will cause massive trauma among those he's close to.

It's my choice to lie to a co-worker, for instance, but that doesn't mean that it's a good idea or that I should do it.

The idea that people should be allowed to kill themselves on a whim is... infuriating and terribly thought out, quite frankly.
I never said killing yourself was a good idea, but people make bad choices all the time. If you want to make the good choice and talk people out of stupid ideas you can do that as well. As for them not being in the right state of mind, I would love to know what the correct state of mind is. If you choose to lie to your co-worker knowing it's a bad idea are you still in the wrong state of mind?