Depression is Defeatable.
Signs of Chronic Depression
Depression in its Infancy Stage
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that an estimated 1 in 10 U.S adults report depression. Basically there are two types of depression, clinical and situational. The difference is that clinical depression deals with a low level of serotonin in the brain, whereas situational depression deals with traumatic life-events. We’ve all been depressed at one point or another and is a normal part of life. However when depression becomes chronic or debilitating, that’s when we need to take action. The Oxford dictionary defines depression as “unhappiness, sadness, melancholy, melancholia, misery, sorrow, woe, gloom, despondency, low spirits, a heavy heart, despair, desolation, hopelessness; upset, and tearfulness.” I call it a big, heavy, black cloud.
In 2009 when the economy took a nose-dive, I was laid off from my job in Irvine California. All of a sudden at the age of 43 I couldn’t sleep. I started off with using cough syrup to get to sleep, then OTC sleep aids, progressed to Xanax, then Ambien, then a combination of the two. The insomnia turned into anxiety which led to my first bout of major depression. It’s hard to describe, you can’t sleep, but then when you do get to sleep, you don’t want to wake up. Just getting out of bed to get to that first cup of coffee, took a band of cheerleaders in my mind to complete the task. The mind preferred a downward spiral of despair and suicidal thoughts took on a great fancy, the pain of actually living out another day became unbearable. It’s almost like a tight black blanket engulfing you (you can’t breathe), and there’s no escaping it, because you have to live with your thoughts. Alcohol and antidepressants for me, amplified it. Oh yea, the alcohol would numb my mind short term, but going through 8 bottles of wine and two cases of beer each week wasn’t living, it was merely existing. I was of no good use to anyone, let alone my kids. I had to find a way to beat this depression without the use of drugs or alcohol.
I’d seen three different doctors and each one of them prescribed a different antidepressant. One made me sleep for three days straight, the other two made me want to jump off a cliff.
These doctors diagnosed me with clinical depression. Why? Because they based their diagnosis off of what I told them, their intentions were good, their prescriptions were not. I firmly believe it was my situation that caused the acute onset of chronic depression. I was looking for the quick and easy fix, and they did their best to give it to me. The Journal of Psychiatry & Neuroscience states:
“Clearly, pharmacologic approaches are not appropriate, and given the evidence for serotonin's role in the etiology and treatment of depression, nonpharmacologic methods of increasing serotonin are potential candidates to test for their ability to prevent depression. Another reason for pursuing nonpharmacologic methods of increasing serotonin arises from the increasing recognition that happiness and well-being are important, both as factors protecting against mental and physical disorders and in their own right. Conversely, negative moods are associated with negative outcomes.”
Simply put, when I was chronically depressed I thought/felt (psychosomatic) I had a slew of illnesses, headaches, swollen glands, swollen prostrate, frequent urination, fatigue, nausea, restless leg syndrome, the list went on. I went and had a slew of tests performed, they told me I was healthy as a horse and to ignore the pain in my armpit. I had an attractive female practitioner stick her finger in my anus to check my prostrate. She said it was of normal size. Talk about a quick intimacy with a stranger, that was a real eye opener.
If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms below as defined by the Mayo Clinic then a conscious course of action will be necessary:
- Feelings of sadness, emptiness or unhappiness
- Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters
- Loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities, such as sex
- Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much
- Tiredness and lack of energy, so that even small tasks take extra effort
- Changes in appetite — often reduced appetite and weight loss, but increased cravings for food and weight gain in some people
- Anxiety, agitation or restlessness — for example, excessive worrying, pacing, hand-wringing or an inability to sit still
- Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or blaming yourself for things that are not your responsibility
- Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things
- Frequent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts or suicide
- Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches.
The Road to Victory!
Here’s what worked for me and hopefully it will work for you too. The more of these steps you can do the better off you'll be. If you’ve read this far you’re serious about battling depression and want victory. Below is the plan of attack.
- Start off with a healthy diet, round off your diet with a daily multivitamin to make sure your mind and body are getting all the proper nutrients you need. Eliminate all fast/junk food. It will make you feel better in the long run. Ever wonder why your stools smell so bad after a night of binge eating? That’s for a reason, it’s a reminder that something real bad has entered your body and must be eliminated. Comfort food is a myth, sure, it produces dopamine in the brain (along with cocaine) both gives you a short state of euphoria, but the short term positive effects have negative (coming down), long term damaging consequences.
- Exercise on the other hand produces euphoria as well ( chemical-dopamine) yet has long-term positive consequences (weight loss and increased energy). For me it levels me out in my mind, there’s no high and no crash and burn. Any type of exercise, walking, jogging, swimming, etc. will produce the same effects. Exercise for at least 30 minutes a day (six days a week) give your body one day to rest, the mind will try to convince you not to exercise, that you don’t need it. Don’t listen to the mind or the body, listen to your heart. This is one of the most important steps in warding off depression.
- Volunteer at a soup kitchen. I volunteer at a soup kitchen every Monday for 2 ½ hours. Feeding the homeless brings humility to my soul and gets me outside of my mind. I used to travel from state to state trying to escape myself, the self was always there in tow.
- Read books, read anything that interests you, especially if you can’t sleep. A nurse practitioner at a free clinic in Rapid City, SD told me to do this (I was there to get an Ambien prescription). I scoffed at her recommendation, a year later I tried it and it worked (slept beautifully). The sleep aids would put me to sleep for about two hours, a book would put me to sleep from 4 to 6 hours. I firmly believe the serotonin levels would have a chance to naturally increase at stronger, deeper levels. There’s no drug to interfere with the body’s ability to induce longer periods of sleep (i.e. drug tolerance). A body builder coming off steroids with a low testosterone level is a prime example of a drug's interference with the body.
The above steps are five simple steps that set me free and can do the same for you or a loved one. It's safe, practical, and efficient. Remember, the doctors don't really know why people get depressed, whether its low chemical levels in the brain or some traumatic event, the diagnosis is always the same; depression. The above steps, condition the chemical, physical, and spiritual aspects of our lives. The common denominator is "taking action", not just thinking, or drugging.
People Who Know A Depressed Person
Who do you know that struggles with depression?
Robin Williams Dies After Battling Depression | NBC News
Depression Is No Respector of Persons
Chronic depression, just doesn't go away on it's own, it's a life-long battle. Some people choose/chose therapists to help them fight the battle and change their way of thinking, like Marilyn Monroe. Her therapist, despite drugs and cognitive therapy, couldn't help her, in fact, Marilyn wore out her therapist, he flew to Europe to get away. Cognitive therapy is like watching a sermon and trying to remember its content, and making it stick in the heart, sure it sounds good, looks good on paper. But there needs to be an actual active, doing, to recovery, not just cognitive, analytical thinking. Cognitive thinking is depression's best friend.
Robin Williams was loved by the entire world and had a loving family. Yet depression was his own battle, and tragically, nobody could help him. Chronic depression is real and effects not just the person who has it, but their loved ones as well.
If you have or know someone who has chronic depression. Realize there is hope. There is a way out. Each person's course is different. The person who has depression (from personal experience) doesn't see a way out and needs some safe, practical solution he or she can do, to take baby steps out of their quagmire. I Hope and pray this hub is of help to someone in need. God bless, and peace be with you.