General Question

zookeeny's avatar

I need supportive advice on how to shake off this agonising depression?

Asked by zookeeny (875 points ) January 9th, 2010

I wont go into all of the details as to the root causes of the depression as there are many and they are complicated and varied. The advice I need is how can I eliminate the immense greif and dark sorrow I am feeling. It has crashed over me like a heavy black wave after a hugely tension filled Christmas period and then a suprise visit and contact from some people from my past. That has only aplified how deeply unhappy and lonley I am.

How do you ask for help? What help is it I am asking for? I am on anti depressants and in therapy but this almost feels beyond that. The will to continue on is blackening my every thought and seems like a better option then this agonising pain. It is pain I have lived with in a range of forms all my life and I am coming up to 30 and I dont think I can cope with more of it.

How do I hold onto sustained hope and joy? What words do I need to use to ask for help? What help do I need? How can internal pain be removed for long enough to go on with a good fulfilling life?

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35 Answers

Shield_of_Achilles's avatar

Pills dont work. Trust me.

You just have to find a reason to live. Fortunately enough for me, I chose my country. as long as I am American, I will have a reason to continue living.

Find something to live for, and happiness will follow.

Times get hard, but you just have to get harder.

Evian's avatar

I know it sounds trite but it really works. EXERCIZE!!!! One hour a day anything works—walk- Run- ride a bike- rollerskate- find a friend- make a friend – pretend you’re friends!!!! Meds r ok if itz severe but get out in the air also. It really does wonders two weeks every day makes a habit. It’s just two weeks try it!

MissAnthrope's avatar

I have suffered some really serious bouts of major depression. Effexor worked briefly, but pooped out on me after a month. The only other thing that has worked is regular exercise. I never believed it because everyone is always telling you to exercise, and I was like yeah, yeah. Then I had a bout of serious depression and made myself walk 30 minutes a day. I was frankly amazed at how much my mood improved, it was like taking an anti-depressant.

I know that if you are depressed, you won’t feel like doing it, but I’m here to attest that it will really help your mood if you can make yourself do it. Hope you feel better. :\

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

@Shield_of_Achilles Your opinion about the efficacy and benefits of medication are unsupported by research.

For those who are severely depressed, medications provide at least enough relief to make therapy a viable option. When you can’t sleep, or care for yourself, you can;t benefit from any kind of help. Therapy is hard work but very productive. It takes time to start working just as medications don’t start working with the first dose.

@Zookeeney You will start to feel better and you will learn how to keep depression from coming back and beating you down again. You may just have to take my word on it for now.
I hope your therapist is skilled in cognitive behavioral approached for depression. They are not new, but they are the most effective and have the most long-lasting benefits.

Try to avoid being isolated and engage in activities you used to enjoy or think you might enjoy and don’t give up.

If the medication you are on doesn’t work after a month or so, you may need to be on something else. Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor for more or better help! It’s your life and you are an important partner in your treatment.

If you have a question you want to ask privately, do that.

Shield_of_Achilles's avatar

@Dr_Lawrence Ive been on 3 different types of medication for this. My friend has been on 7. My ex has been on 13. In all of my experience, and from remarks from my friends. None have worked. Please excuse my skepticism.

wundayatta's avatar

Meds (go back to your psychiatrist and get your meds changed, and if you haven’t seen a shrink, get to one. They know more than doctors or therapists). I know people who have been through a dozen or more meds before they find something that helps and is tolerable. You gotta keep trying.

Therapy (you’re already doing that).

Exercise.

Helping others—volunteer.

Proper sleep: don’t stay up all night and sleep all day. Go to bed at a normal time, and get up in the morning. Get the hell out of bed (I know that can be hard nearly impossible, but do it).

Get a light therapy system. Get outside in the daylight. Do not stay indoors.

Hang out with friends as much as possible. Talk. Have fun.

Dance. Play music. Do something creative—anything that gets you out of your head and into your body.

Meditate. Do yoga.

Learn about mindfulness. Practice it.

Some people swear by cognitive behavioral therapy. It didn’t work for me, but there’s no harm in trying it. Like meds, there are many varieties of therapies, and keep on trying one after the next until you get one that works. Same with therapists.

If you get really suicidal—like you are planning it and getting the stuff together to do it, check yourself into a hospital. Check yourself in sooner if you are scaring yourself. Call a suicide hotline if it catches you faster than you think.

Find a support group. Nothing like fellow sufferers to help you gain a perspective.

Find one fellow sufferer and talk to them. Day or night, phone or in person.

My life was saved by a fellow depressed person. One night I was closer than I’d ever been to checking out, and we were talking on the phone about how we would do it. We thought of method after method, and the more we talked, the funnier it got, until we could actually have died of laughter. Neither of us could catch our breaths, and my stomach felt like bands of steel tied it up.

Fluther. Fluther helps. It was a great source of support for me.

The other people kept telling me, but that I didn’t believe, was that it would end. In my case, it did end, although I fall back regularly. It’s not as bad now I’m medicated. But it can get pretty bad, pretty fast. Have hope. The pain can feel like it will never end. It is unbearable. None of us want to die, though. We just want the pain to stop. There’s a lot you can do, and you are not thinking right when you are depressed. Do not make any major decisions for at least three months. You have to give yourself a chance. At least, that’s what my shrink told me. Turned out that I did see things differently three months later.

rhodes54's avatar

@Shield_of_Achilles Well, the FUN pills (much like booze and exercise) don’t work except as a short-term balm. In the long term however…..
ah nuts @Dr_Lawrence just said everything I was going to write and he done it more better too.

Depression meds are nothing to be ashamed of anymore than taking blood pressure or diabetes meds. It’s a quantifiable chemical condition. That said, it sounds like you just need to try something else. It can be like a long term lottery with very short odds, meaning you MIGHT get lucky with the first or second type/brand, and it may even take a few more tries than that, but with a good doctor, you WILL get a winner.

@Shield_of_Achilles I’ve lost count of all the mountains of MAOIs, TCAs, TeCAs, SSRIs, etc I climbed since I was 17. (Does Nardil ring a bell? I think they outlawed it during Prohibition because it was contraindicated with bathtub gin) Cymbalta and Adderall have been doing wonders for about 4 years now and I can consistently get out of bed in the morning without having to agonize over every single meaningless detail of the Herculean effort it will take to just walk to the bathroom.

Evian's avatar

Medz are a starting point. Do what is necessary and don’t stop until you’re well. Talk, move, medicate, Be brave! Everybody’s got something…. Some you can see and some
are hidden. Most are faking it and you are at least acknowledging your situation and doing something about it. Reaching out us half way there! Cover the basics- eat well, sleep well move well.

stemnyjones's avatar

I know your depression will tell you to isolate, but go out into the world. If you have close friends you are comfortable with, have them come over to hang out, or go somewhere with them. Even taking a walk in the park alone on a sunny day may help you out.

And if it gets too serious, call the suicide hotline please.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

1. You are doing the right thing by reaching out for help.
2. You are asking the right questions. Can you print out your explanatory notes for this question and take them to your next doctor visit and therapy session? Just print them out and hand them over.
3. Wash the dishes by hand. Sing LaLaLa. Take a walk. Get into some kind of action. Do something. Action is the key. Do something.
4. Do one nice thing for yourself each day, even if it’s as simple as brushing your teeth.
5. Take your meds as prescribed. Don’t miss a dose.

Importantly, be careful about following medical advice from strangers on the Internet.

SABOTEUR's avatar

Well, after you stabilize yourself a bit with professional assistance, I would suggest continual practice of conscious awareness.

mammal's avatar

@Shield_of_Achilles You are an American and that gives you a reason to live, yeah right, at the expense of every poor fucker that tries to live a life independent of America, give me a break. Why can’t you just try and be a decent human, forget the nationalist bullshit, being an American is nothing to be proud of. Sheesh, when will you people learn. Being an __American__ is what __causes__ people, depression.

Sophief's avatar

Pills do not work. I have been on them long enough to know that. I always hoped I wouldn’t live to see 30, but here I am. The pain inside me is unbearable and no one can seem to see that. I go to the doctors but because I look ok on the outside, they dismiss the inside. My mind is completely scrambled, my Depression has only got worse. I feel like I have a million people in my head all at once that are shouting at me and I don’t know who to believe or listen to. I just want a free mind. I guess what I am saying is that you just have to try to learn to live with it, I don’t know how you do that. People will say this helps, or that helps, but unless you have been, or are going through it, then no one understands. I understand what you are saying completely and I am sorry that I can’t help. I just wanted you to know that you are not alone in your feelings.

JesusWasAJewbot's avatar

Old, loyal friends. Good marijuana. Amazing music that stirs emotion in you.

Enjoy.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@ those who say pills don’t work: I have to say that they work for me. I am bipolar and have suffered severe, debilitating depression. Pills work for me. And I was on a seemingly endless round of trying this and that, but finally found a combination that actually works.

@zookeeny : There are many people in this world who understand. Talk bluntly to your doctors and therapists. Explain to them what you’ve written here. Don’t give up. Talk. Talk. Talk.

wundayatta's avatar

@Dibley I wonder if you have been diagnosed correctly. Do the docs treat you carefully and seriously or just get you out of there as fast as possible? Do you have other psychiatrists you can go to to confirm your diagnosis?

I wish people would stop saying meds do or don’t work. This is an individual thing. They work for me; they don’t work for you. That doesn’t mean anything about how they will affect someone else.

nebule's avatar

Everything that @daloon said… and I really want to second the exercise thing… it really does work…instantly! (and I hate exercise…), stay with Fluther…, surround yourself with supportive loving people that are patient and will care for you…

read self-help books…any and everything that you feel jumps off the shelf at you… that speaks to you…

write a gratitude journal…start awakening to what you have in your life and writing it down…5 things a day… its amazing and will change the way you see the world… this hasn’t stopped the depression for me but has made me want to live and want to get better…and that’s a great place to sit in….even if you can’t feel the joy yet… it’s waiting for us!

Shield_of_Achilles's avatar

@mammal I’m sorry that I love my country? I don’t always agree with the decision of its politicians, but I love it none the less.

MissAnthrope's avatar

I second what @lynneblundell said about the gratitude journal. They’ve done studies that show that people who do this and/or other gratitude practices are happier and healthier. GA. :)

I also echo the volunteering suggestion. Helping others can pull you out of yourself, not to mention you get to meet high caliber people who are also interested in helping others. It ties into the gratitude practices; seeing that people are less fortunate than you can make you really grateful for what you have. Plus, it just feels so good to help other people.

You probably won’t feel like doing any of these things.. depression is SUCH a bitch.. but I can practically guarantee you’ll feel at least a little better if you make yourself exercise, volunteer, etc.

srmorgan's avatar

I have been on various anti-depressants over the years and am now on three. I am bi-polar but the lows are much longer and deeper than the highs, but I function and have been a successful corporate executive for many years.

You need a good physician, one who will listen to you what you are experiencing and who will then work with you to counter the source and the effects of depression.

There are personal reasons that will trigger depression, loss of a close relative, problems with a marriage or other relationship, pressure at school or work, et al.

But overall, it is an issue of chemical deficiency or oversupply. Something organic gets out of balance and you are on a downward spiral that you don’t know how to control.

Find a psychiatrist who listens to your symptoms and your situation in life. Different drugs work differently, counteracting one symptom or process as opposed to another.
If you hear something like this: most of my patients do well on XXXXX, and that is what I usually prescribe, I think you need to reconsider who you are seeing.

It is not an easy process nor is it an overnight process. One drug I am on has a six-week period before results are seen. My doctor prescribed a different one last spring in response to some issues I was having and I felt a difference in just two or three days.

There is no easy answer or single clear path to working this out.

You have been given excellent non-medical advice (except for Dr, Lawrence) here and you will do yourself a lot of good if you carefully consider what you have been told and then do something about it. The worst thing is to do nothing or to hope that you will suddenly snap out of it, you must take an active role in helping yourself.

Good luck.

SRM

srmorgan's avatar

I would like to add one thing:

I had a problem not too long ago and my psychiatrist, who is an expert psychopharmacologist, decided to treat it without medications.

We did a few sessions of actually talking out the problem, finding what triggered it and working out a way to deal with it. He also had me read a book about cognitive therapy by David Burns called Feeling Good which led me to some interesting insights about how I have been dealing with something for over 20 years.

This is what worked for me, everyone is different and I wish you luck on this.

SRM

zookeeny's avatar

Thank you for your responses. I totally agree with the exercise advice. I am in the process of organising to borrow an exercise bike from a friend who doesnt use it. For me I need to exercise in the privacy of my own home as I carry alot of shame with the fact that exercise and fitness used to be part of my life when I danced and was heading for a career in it then after a series of life events and then being raped my spirit broke and my body buckled and depression and anxiety flooded through me causing numerous knock on effects. I know that when I can regain my fitness (I have to accept it wont be as fit and healthy as I was once – as a perfectionist this is hard to come to terms with) but once I get as good as I can get now then I know I will feel quite a degree better. The only thing is the greif for the career and time I lost is stirring in me and weighing heavy on my heart. Once released I am sure it will help me a great deal but I cant let go of it for fear of its enormity. Exercise is a very good key to my getting well but the breathlessness and anxiety of increased breathing and heart rate of just normal exercise causes me to be triggered into a panic attack. It is a difficult situation to get the balance right but hopefully exercising at home will help to begin with.

My doctors are fine. They are just doing their jobs as best they know how to and with the best meaning and hope for me to get well. I just know the next bit is up to me and it is hard to fight the battle of a black heavy fog of depression to motivate myself to push on when internally it feels hopeless.

I have my sisters 3 children who I live for and would never want to opt out of life because their hearts would break as I am very close with them. I wouldnt want to cause pain to my family. So I sit with the battle of the blackness trying to see which way is out and feel bile and darkness in my throat blocking my breath from flowing freely.

I was once a high achiever now my highest achievement is getting out of bed :(

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

Remember, doing your best is always relative to what your best is at that time. Sometimes getting out of bed is a major accomplishment. Wash up and shave and you’re a superhero for that day! That’s perfectly all right! Your best was amazing when to gave advice in another thread yesterday! Keep battling that depression and you will be glad you did!

Moegitto's avatar

Hey, I’m in the same boat as you!!! One of my first memories in life is my mother trying to abandon me at her friends house, then getting the cops called on her just to make her come pick me up. I’m a ugly, unliked, always left out, 27 (28 in Feb) male. I’ve been on pills and alcohol. There have been times when I wished I was dead, never born, or just wanna disappear from the area. I’ve never had a girl friend, let alone sex, LET ALONE been kissed. I was left homeless by my family and friends forcing me to join the army, just to have some food and a roof over my head. I see the army therapists once a week, and it’s “kinda” helping. I say kinda because he thinks he has me figured out, but he does say some good things. The one thing I found to help me move long is to kinda be selfish. Music and video games are 2 of the most important things to me, and those two things have been keeping me strong for years!!! I get depressed when I focus on the stuff I’m missing out on, but then again, I feel better when I focus on the stuff I like doing. Giving up means letting the situation win, and I’m too stubborn to allow that to happen. STAY AWAY from the drugs (anti-depress/mood elevators/stress/whatever you wants to call them), I can explain fully, but it’s easier just to say stay far away from anything that alters your mental state in ANY way.

wundayatta's avatar

@Moegitto I hope your therapist is helping you with techniques that can help you not be affected so much by those thoughts about what you don’t have.

If not, I think you should look into Dialectical Behavior Therapy.

Evian's avatar

You don’t always have to do an A+job on every single thing! Some things are just fine with a B and others just need to be done- any old way will do! Give yourself permission to get some B’s and C’s!!

Response moderated (Writing Standards)
tacres's avatar

Oh sweetie, there is some good advice being given here. Take what you can from it. Everyone experiances depression differently. Do one thing for me. Each and every day look in the mirror and tell yourself ” Yeah I am worth it.” Love yourself and above all realize that your depression is not you. It is a chemical imbalance. That’s a physical thing. That’s not you. Not any different then having cancer or diabetes, or having a amputated limb. Your depression is not your soul. So take the advice given here. We have all been there or have seen others struggle thru.

tacres's avatar

My apologies. I totally missed your last post @zookeeny . What a terrible thing for you to have gone thru. I ‘m just ordinary joan blow but it sounds as tho you got stuck in a loop & your brain just won’t let go of the terror & panic you felt . Have you asked any one about hypno- therapy? I don’t know much about it . Any other Fluthers have any input on it? Our brains are amazing things but unfortunately they don’t come with repair manuals.Fear & bad situations can kick it into over drive to protect us. It’s finding the shut off that is hard. Hang in there. There are people in your life who want you with them. Don’t let some loser who needs his pecker yanked out thru his nose win or keep hurting you. You are stronger than the bad things.

FutureMemory's avatar

@mammal Being an __American__ is what __causes__ people, depression.

Ridiculous generalization.

Ron_C's avatar

I went to a shrink and got medicated and felt pretty good for a couple weeks. Then I had a crash and they put me in a locked ward and straightened out my meds. That worked for another month then I called the veterans suicide hot line and ended up in the hospital again. This last time, I cut my wrist and didn’t even notice until blood dripped down into my hand. I saw the shrink that day and spent Christmas and New Years eve in the hospital. I’m out now and feeling pretty good. The most important thing is to monitor your meds.and be aware when they stop working. In my experience, they always stop working. Just be ready for it.and good luck!

wundayatta's avatar

I’m glad you’re still with us, @Ron_C. I know how isolated I feel when I’m ready to end it. I don’t know you well, but I care just because we’re fighting the same demons. If you lose, we all will feel it and it will affect us, making us wonder why we shouldn’t just do what you did. But you are winning at the moment, and we feel that, too, and it gives us courage. This is not bullshit. I hope you can tell that.

Ron_C's avatar

@wundayatta thank you very much. I still have to work on “positive thinking” but feel much better than when I went into the hospital. Messages like yours really help, even if we don’t know eachother very well.

Thanks again,
Ron

Inspired_2write's avatar

I know that it can sound easy but it is not.
For every negative there is a positve.
Look for the positive.
I remember a documentary on the Deli Lama.
He said that If everyone knew that it takes 200 years for a spirit to take human form again after there death, that evryone would take better care of themselves and appreciate even the worst days in there lives
As life is precious and to be able to feel, touch, hear, see and experience is a gift.
It means that you are alive, breathing in lifes experiences.

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