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wundayatta's avatar

What do you do when you're depressed? What helps you get out of it?

Asked by wundayatta (58714points) August 12th, 2008

I get really down on myself. I feel worthless. I call myself hateful names, and if things really get bad, I head off for a really stinky gutter in NYC.

To get out of it, I get help. Take meds. Do therapy. And work really hard to keep myself from thinking anything that I know it is dangerous for me to think. Then, if that doesn’t work, I ask questions like this.

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31 Answers

RandomMrdan's avatar

Try using a blog, you can make them private entries if you feel it is too personal, sometimes I find it fun to look back on what I might be thinking at certain times in my life.

also if you have a close friend to confide in with your problems, you might be able to find out whey you feel so depressed and what you can do to help it out.

I think paying to see a specialist would be almost a waste when you could be more comfortable talking to a close friend you can confide in.

I also would probably just spend more time with friends too, try not to be alone, not necessarily spill everything to them about why you are depressed, just try and get out and socialize a bit, go see a movie, get something to eat, get a drink and hang out at a bar always does it for me too. Sometimes I just need a drink and to shoot the shit with friends

Monshin's avatar

Exercise has really helped me in the past. I think it’s good in combination with the other things you’ve mentioned (although prob. not with the gutter…) Have you tried meditation? It doesn’t have to be done in a spiritual/religious way. I have found, however, meditation can be difficult when in a deeper depression. My other suggestion would be some kind of diet change. I’m not preaching any kind of specific diet, but cutting out (or reducing) common allergens (dairy, wheat) may help.

jlm11f's avatar

The thing that helps me get out of it the fastest is talking to close friends about it. Just don’t let it fester, whenever something like that happens, you need an outlet, whether it is writing in a blog/diary, exercising, anything to get rid of the “my life sucks/i am a loser” feeling. i guess i am one of those “i just need to talk it out” people.

tinyfaery's avatar

Thoughts come and go, they only persist if we pay attention to them. If a negative thought comes into your head, just let it pass on through. There is no need to give your thoughts any power, unless of course you want to.

xxporkxsodaxx's avatar

I go to sleep and try to forget it all, I meditate and do somethings just to get my mind off of what’s troubling me.

lefteh's avatar

I drive.
And drive.
And drive.
Spend my paycheck on a fillup, and keep driving.

It relaxes me so completely it’s almost unbelievable.

augustlan's avatar

meds, meds, meds…sunshine also helps A LOT.

skfinkel's avatar

Depression is anger turned inwards toward yourself. (Unless there is another obvious reason like someone walked out on you or something.) So, if you spend lots of brain energy facing what you might be mad at—and realize it is hard to discover sometimes—sometimes very hard—you can turn your anger away from yourself and face what you are really angry at. You just have to see it—not confront another person or anything. Just know,. Often you can trace the thing that upset you (or got you mad) if you figure out when you got depressed—what the incident or thought or whatever that was the last thing before you got depressed. See what may have set this off. And then, like magic, you are better.. You may be angry, but not depressed.

TheHaight's avatar

I’ve done the same thing Lefteh, well.. But a bit more dangerous. I drive as far as I can while crying and the tears really impair my driving. But there is something about driving while crying and listening to your favorite mix cd as loud as you can.

Thinking about this question makes me realize I have come a long way. When I was younger, I released my feelings by cutting myself and hiding in my room. I was on meds, saw a therapist regularly, an hated the tenth grade. Now I no longer need medication or a therapist. I go jogging, call my best friend and vent to her, and write. I think that it is Sooo important to take our your feelings by doing something productive, that won’t hurt you. Wow I was reckless and

TheHaight's avatar

dumb phone won’t let me go to the bottom of the page. Just know that you’re not alone in this Daloon. And thanks for asking a question like this.

jlm11f's avatar

oooh I do the driving thing too. There is something very soothing about driving…

@thehaight – good to see how far you have come. we are all proud of you!

TheHaight's avatar

thankyou PnL :D

trumi's avatar

Cigarettes and booze.

because my best friend won’t fucking call me back. asshole.

Spargett's avatar

I understand that when you’re depressed you want something to fix the pain right away. Unfortunately, I’ve learned this doesn’t exist. Some things may fool you temporarily.

What works, is time.

kevbo's avatar

Get a cognitive behavioral therapist if you can swing it. Nowadays, it is possible to start feeling better within a few sessions, because this particular method focuses on changing thought patterns (such as being critical of yourself).

A couple of nuggets that I’ve come to rely on are: 1) to remember to get curious about negative emotions and 2) to ask “What is one thing I can do right now to feel better?” The first is part stepping out of the frame to observe what is happening and part getting curious about what is causing it to happen.

I guess that leads to a 3rd nugget, which is understanding causality. Causality basically means (as I understand it) that our two choices are suffering or lack of suffering (bliss). Our thoughts, choices, actions lead us to one or the other. So, we can either set ourselves up for suffering or make effort toward lack of suffering. Part of this effort can be letting go of critical thoughts, getting curious about our current state of mind, and asking “What can I do right now to feel better?” It can also be taking our gigantic problems and breaking them down into smaller problems. For example, someone wants to lose 40 lbs, but hasn’t worked out in ten years. They can start by doing something easy such as driving by the gym every day. Later, they can park in the parking lot for five minutes. Then maybe they can go in, etc. See if that kind of thinking helps your situation, and if it does, then give yourself permission to take really small steps. How often is it true that we feel better when we are at least making a little progress.

cak's avatar

daloon – I know it is hard for you, but reach back to those therapy sessions that have really helped you. You’ve made a lot of great progress. There are these sucky bumps in the road…I wish they weren’t there, but they are. Remember what you have learned this year…you’ve said it to me, you are worth something.

Just don’t throw in the towel and hide. It may seem like the easy thing to do, but it’s not…facing it after you’ve done it, is always harder than you think!

cak's avatar

@thehaight – I know we don’t know each other, but I’m so happy for you. That’s wonderful to hear! That took an amazing amount of inner strength!

TheHaight's avatar

thankyou cak, thanks for the PM..:)

Maverick's avatar

I’m not a doctor, therapist, or anyone significantly worthy if being listened to, but I can offer a few suggestions that work for me. First, if you drink or do drugs (of any type, including caffine) – take an extended break. At least a month. All those stimulants and depressants can really throw a body for a loop. If you can’t last for a month without any of them, then that is a seperate issue you should seek assistance with. Next, make a point of going outside every day. Also make a point of eating one GOOD meal every day. No fast food, go to a decent/healthy restaurant or make something yourself that’s healthy and that you like (I usually like to make omlettes and an occassional dinner to mix things up). Finally, force yourself to do at least 30 min of excercise at least 3 times a week. A short run or tennis, rollerblading, whatever. If I do all of these things, within 2 weeks I feel downright optimistic – usually sooner. Also, it might sound like a lot or too difficult, but once you’ve started, you’ll be amazed how easy and simple it is. Many of these actions naturally lead to each other (going to the grocery to get food so you can make a healthy meal also gets you outside, for instance). I think these activities may also help provide a clear mind which allows for reflection, which could help if you are having a reoccurring mental or psychological issue that you may want to discuss further with a friend or therapist. So, in that way I think it is beneficial too. Good luck, I know it’s hard but many many others have the same struggles, so never think that you are alone.

wildflower's avatar

I’m probably not the best to advise on this – since I probably don’t have the healthiest approach…but here goes:
I hit such lows too. I’ve had medication and confiding in others suggested to me, but I don’t want it. I don’t want my state altered by drugs and I don’t feel comfortable confiding in people because then I have the added guilt/concern of making them worry – and there’s an element of pride to it too.

For me the only thing that’s worked is to give it time and push myself to do things. Ideally make myself too busy with “external” things to have time to worry about the “internal” stuff.

Plan something, a hike, a trip, a project….something you know you want to do – even if you don’t feel like it at the time. Go through with it and just keep going. Realising a dream (even a small one) is bound to give you moments of joy and lifted spirit. Hang on to that when it happens and build on it.

If all else fails; time in isolation. Cry my eyes out. Find all the saddest and angriest songs that come to mind and just empty out the emotions. It can take a while, but eventually there’s a plateau where you can get a bit of clarity and start thinking about all the good things again.

flameboi's avatar

I drive to a lake near (2 hour drive) jujst to sit and watch the sunset, then, I drive back :)

bridold's avatar

I have to agree with a lot of people’s answers here – they said what I would have:
Write about it – whether it’s in an online blog or a journal beside your bed. That’s what I do whenever I can’t sleep or I’m feeling upset. A lot of times I end up solving a lot of my problems after writing about it for awhile. It also helps me sleep because when I get it all down on paper, it’s not floating in my head anymore.

Exercising also helps a lot.

My friend and family also usually help me. Either by taking my mind off of it or talking about it with me.

wundayatta's avatar

Wow! So many great answers! I especially liked the ones where folks talked about their personal experience.

Personally, I too, use many of these techniques. What I think works best is takin my meds. That’s because my depressions are organically rooted, not experientially. Still, it’s not enough. I’ve been working hard to get a sense of self-esteem. I do exercise. I meditate (well, in my case, that means improvisational music). I have a strict schedule (I’m holding down an academic job and I have kids). I go to therapy (a mixed method that includes CBT, but also other things).

I have a question about CBT. If you’re responsible for getting better, which is what I understand CBT to believe, then of course that means you’re also responsible for getting sick. That thought kills any sense of lifting spirits I might have.

I’ve found a way around it, though. I just rule out the thoughts that I know can hurt me. As soon as I start thinking them, I realize what they are, and I stop it. So I can hold off the negative. What I can’t do is try to do the positive stuff, because that leads me into the trap of responsibility.

Does anyone else experience this? Have you found a way to let yourself feel good by just feeling lucky, instead of feeling responsible?

I have trouble with affirmations, too. Again, if I do some kind of mental legerdemain, I can let a few affirmations through. They have to be true things, though, not wishful things. Wishful thinking throws me into the negative spiral again, because I just can’t believe it. I can, however, set a goal, but not be attached to it. I find that I often achieve these goals, though it usually takes years longer than I was hoping. With depression, that can be a problem, because a surprising portion of people who have what I have don’t survive. One number I think I saw said an estimated 11% end up killing themselves. This has to be a pretty bogus number, but even if the truth is a half or a quarter that, it’s still pretty bad.

Ok. That’s being melodramatic. It’s true, but still, melodramatic. I don’t know if I say that to remind myself of the seriousness of my effort, or to make it seem like I’m fighting a more dramatic fight than people might otherwise believe. Maybe both.

Anyway, thanks again for all your comments. This is really interesting. I do wish people who talk about CBT would talk more about what it feels like to use it on yourself.

susanc's avatar

I spend as much time as possible with my animals. They’re very confident animals.
They’ve always been treated with respect and clarity. I respect them and my love for them is very clean.
I’m learning to talk to the neglected, desperate parts of myself the way I talk to these
blameless friends. It’s the antidote to mean self-talk. They depend on me for their
survival, for comfort, for guidance. I can have those things too, they’re right inside me.

augustlan's avatar

Regarding CBT…the cause of my depression is/was a combination of chemical imbalance and experience issues. The first 2 times I tried therapy, it was the more traditional “talk therapy”...didn’t really help at all. After that I was just resigned to being miserable for the rest of my life (grim, right?). Years later, I returned to therapy to address anxiety/panic attack issues that had made my life unbearable, with no expectation of solving the depression, but, with the addition of CBT & the right meds, the third time was the charm. I didn’t view CBT as assigning me the responsibility for becoming ill, just giving me responsibility for getting better. As has been mentioned in other threads, we are not always responsible for the problems we face, but we are always responsible for the way we deal with them. Much of CBT was just mind tricks that I couldn’t get myself to fall for, but some I was able to view as “tools” for getting through the rough spots. By far, though, the meds (after MUCH trial & error) have helped me the most. I still get down, but experience has taught me that it will always get better. Keep fighting the good fight, it is definitely worth it!

theabk's avatar

I’d like to second what augstlan said about CBT. CBT is really not concerned with figuring out WHY you’re sick (i.e. it doesn’t assign blame) but rather with how you can get better. I’ve heard it described this way: if you you’re in New York and you want to get to Boston, it doesn’t matter how you got to New York in the first place, only how you can get on to Boston.

augustlan's avatar

@theabk: Very good description!

wundayatta's avatar

@augustinian: I see. The book I read said we were responsible for getting better. This logically seemed to me to say that if we are in control of that healing process, we were also in control of the sickening process (whether consciously, or not). So you are suggesting this is not correct, and CBT doesn’t blame us for our problems. Well, that’s something of a relief.

I’m still not sure how this works. Because once you take responsibility for getting better, you might not get better. Then, aren’t you responsible for not getting better, and thus responsible for remaining ill? Ah well. Splitting hairs, I suppose. I wish the book I read would have explained this mental jujitsu a little better.

Anyway, I’m glad they don’t think it’s my fault, because I don’t really think it’s my fault. That’s what the shrink and the therapists say, too, which is nice. I don’t really like being sick, although I do think I’ve learned a lot from it. But blame is one of those things it’s best not to think about. Gets me nowhere except for feeling worse. So I’ll just set that aside.

augustlan's avatar

Definitely, let blame go out the window…and I wouldn’t say you’re neccessarily responsible for remaining ill, either…what works for one does not always work for another. Just don’t hamper your recovery, by doing things you know you shouldn’t, or not doing things you know you should (take meds!).

loser's avatar

@sffinkle: Not too sure about your definition of the cause of depression.

cak's avatar

@thehaight, you are very welcome! :)

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