Living a Productive Life with Chronic Depression
This book is my favorite one on this topic. I think it is a great place to start looking for answers on depression.
Depression Does Not Have to Control Your Life
When I was 15 years old, I was diagnosed with dysthymia (chronic depression). At the time of the diagnosis, there was no way to treat chronic depression other than psychological therapy.
However, over the years I have learned that psychological therapy is not enough to keep my depression in check over long periods of time. While it can help for short periods, mostly when things are going well for me, over longer periods of time it is not enough. Depression tended to run in cycles for me. I would do well for a while, a year or more, then something would happen to knock me off my pattern of success, and I would sink into depression lasting months.
It was only in my 30's that I really started to understand what was wrong with me, and that it was really a physical or chemical problem, not anything to do with how I thought about myself. During this time, medication finally started to be developed and with a referral to a psychiatrist from a psychologist, I started a course of medication.
My psychiatrist was the person who explained to me that what I had was a condition, similar to diabetes in a sense, in that something I needed was missing from my body that would allow it to function normally. While I might need medicine for the rest of my life, it was something that could be corrected.
Don't Be Afraid to Ask for Help
Depression, like other mental health issues, has often carried a social stigma that made it hard to understand or treat. However, I have learned over the years that depression and its sister condition, anxiety, are suffered by many, many more people that I ever knew. While some people have a lifetime condition like I do, others develop these conditions due to a triggering event or a build up of stress over a period of time. Any type of depression should be treated seriously as it affects the lives and decision-making abilities of the sufferer and all those people that surround them.
We are lucky to be living in a time period where there is help for most people who suffer from depression and anxiety. Medications have been developed over the last 20 years that can treat a person for depression while allowing them to live regular lives. My biggest concern when I started taking medication for depression was that it would turn me into a happy giggly-type person that I was not. However, that is not what the medication does. Instead it levels out the lows of depression so that they are much easier to handle. I still feel the full range of emotions. I am sad and happy, and everything in between. What I don't feel is the bottomless pit of depression that alters my behavior and is so very difficult to climb out of.
Medication allows me to live a regular life with all that life brings to me without the vast influence of constant depression.
How Does Depression Affect You?
Depression and anxiety are more prevalent that most people know. Someone you know may suffer from these disorders. Do you know someone personally who suffers from depression?
Medication is Not the Answer for Everyone
Although I have found that medication is the answer for me, that doesn't mean that it is the answer for everyone. There are many psychological therapies, herbal therapies and nutritional/exercise therapies that can help soothe or alleviate depression. Many of these can also be used in combination with medication.
You have to decide which type of help you need, however it is important to realize that you need to ask for help and keep asking until you get the help you need.
Whether it is your spouse, partner or friend, find yourself a solid support system. Having someone who accepts you unconditionally will help you immensely when you do suffer from bouts of depression. Depression is a condition that isolates you. Often people who are depressed just want to hole up and be left alone, sleep or hide. Having someone else who is consistently with you will force you to interact with someone else even when you are depressed. This will help you recover faster.
If you don't have someone like this in your life, then look for an external support group that you can join.
Is There a Cure?
While symptoms of long term depression can be alleviated, it is rare that it can actually be cured unless is it due to another physical problem that is curable. That means you may still get depressed for periods of time.
Other issues that can crop up are growing tolerances to medications or other supplements that you are taking. Over time, you may need more and more of a medication to get the same result. When this happens, you will need to consult with your doctor to replace the medication with another one. Or they may add a supplemental medication.
It is helpful if you create a plan with your doctor so that you use more than one technique to combat your depression. Many therapists advise healthy eating, exercise for more overall good health. Better physical health will support better mental health.
The complete answer is different for each person. I have provided resources to help you learn your options below on this page. Good luck.
"Changing Our Minds" movie trailer: Depression & Dysthymia - information, drug facts, therapy
Depression Resources and Help
Not all depression is the same. There are numerous resources on Amazon that you can take a look at on video and in books. This list is just a few that I like.
© 2014 Paula Atwell