Monday, June 1, 2009

What Works for Healing Depression?

After years of developing and utilizing a wide array of wellness activities--from harmonica healing to the zen of sanding--I still had a horrific depressive episode last year that lasted from November until a few days ago.

And what I finally realized was that in addition to the seasonal element of depression, I was carrying a lot of anger and rage about the way I'd been treated since my diagnosis, my subsequent medication merry-go-round that caused erratic behavior, and then the years of having to figure out all my healing activities by myself.

So, at the beginning of the year--after a very long hiatus--I returned to therapy, which has been extraordinarily helpful. I finally feel that once I resolve the issues that have been bothering me for quite some time, I can end these dastardly depressions. And, I'm also doing more research on Seasonal Affective Disorder (although I've researched it quite a bit and nothing that's recommended works for me aside from spending time outdoors), and I'm researching self-hypnosis as well.

My question for you is this: What works best for you, whether it's medication, yoga, meditation, prayer and spirituality, aerobic exercise et al? And, what is preventing you from getting well?


duanesherry1 said...


Just wanted to send you a quick note - I'm gonna take off from blogging, and the computer for the summer.

Hope you have a nice summer, Susan.

My best to you and your family.


Gianna said...

I embrace all my psyche's experience and simply don't pathologize any of my emotional experience's amazingly liberating. I do not think in terms of mood states anymore...all is weather to be all passes...I suppose I got here with meditation and acceptance.

In any case I don't personally experience anything that I can call depression or mania anymore...those words no longer make sense to me really...

unfortunately my poor bodies ills are not as easy to accept...and I certainly don't feel happy about the level of disability I'm experiencing.

Mariposa said...

I've been trying to ask those questions to myself for sometime now...and I'd say, sometimes a combination of things.

For one, yoga worked for me for sometime 'til my schedule went chaotic. That was replaced my weekend jogging with the IT Guy...which sometimes is also put to a hold because again, my schedule sometimes will not let me.

Spiritual activities though helps me always. They may be in real life or even virtually I join Word Filled Wednesday every feels good reading other's testimonies on how they get by and quoting beautiful words from the Bible.

And I may also add...doing activities with my family seem to stop my swinging and put me in the center and balance me off. I guess because when we are gathered and are so happy talking about so many stuff I tend to forget about myself and my worries and just get high with the conversation. This is not limited to families, but this also works with super close friends and spending time with the IT Guy.

The only challenge I am having right now is my work. I have an 8-hour job and it's on a night shift...and that spells a great difference on my schedule and availability. With that said, I am trying to strategize my career now, hoping in 3-5 years time I can go on free lancing and just accept projects.

I'd love to read what others do...thanks for asking! ;)

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Duane,
I'll email you offline, but I want to say that your voice will be missed this summer. But I do hope you and your family have a lovely summer together.

In friendship,

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Gianna,
All interesting things to think about. If we don't label depression and mania as illnesses, do we experience the feelings, emotions, or behavioral patterns in a different way?

If we're more accepting, do the feelings, emotions, or behavioral patterns pass more quickly?

As always, I'm so sorry about the physical debilitation you experience, and hope that this, too, will pass.


Paula Joy said...

Hi Susan!

I have to say that prayer and God works for me! However, most of the time God will use people in life to help me. So, I usually call a close friend. I don't even need to talk about what is going on in particular, just knowing that someone cares enough to take time for me helps a lot. When I would get stressed out for example, I would call up a friend and say, "Just tell me something." That in itself would help me cope.

The best thing in the world that makes me feel better is GIVING. When I give my time, my love, a gift, whatever it is, that's when happiness settles in.

KJ said...

For me I think I absolutely suffer from depression. I always wonder if it is more situational or from what I have experienced than chemical, but I just don't know. I am definitely helped by therapy and learning to overcome the experiences that wounded me earlier in my life, but also submerging myself in serving my children or other definitely lifts me out of my depressions.

I keep thinking I have to find a hobby and that would probably help too.

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Mariposa,
I agree that it will be interesting to hear from others.

In my case, there were years when I felt like you did. I would religiously pursue something that worked, in my case, exercise or music or gardening--which helped tremendously--and then my schedule would get really busy, and I would drop it.

Now, I realize that my health is my most important asset, and that these wellness activities must take top priority.

P.S. I wish I had understood that when I was your age.

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Paula Joy,
There have been any number of studies that show that people who pray and believe in God tend to overcome illness or adversity more successfully than people who don't.

And, I would agree that knowing people care for you makes a huge difference, as does volunteering!


Wellness Writer said...

Dear KJ,
I believe that recognizing one has a problem is the first step to solving it. And whether depressions are situational or biochemical--the end result is the same--you feel lousy!

That's great that your children pull you out of feeling blue. And, I'm a big believer in hobbies, just because they're so much fun and allow you to meet a wide range of people who share your passion.


Florida Sue said...

I would say that for me, the number one thing that has helped me the most is the acceptance of my depression as a part of myself. Along with that acceptance has come the awareness that I must act quickly to nip it in the bud, otherwise it spirals into a state of anger and hopelessness that pretty much takes on a life of it's own and separates me from the people and activities that I love the most. I am very fortunate that a chemical compound works for me. No placebo effect here; I know that it helps me through extreme trial and error. Exactly how an active metabolite of Effexor is able to pull me out of my anger and sadness is unclear. I have stopped railing against the illness and the drug and I am fortunate that my side effects from the medication are mild. Once I am able to physically connect to the world again, I return to my mindfulness practice and am able to continue cognitive work on my own. Gradually I am able to ease myself off the antidepressant, and usually stay symptom free for about six months. Am I happy about it? Of course not. This is what I have been dealt, and this is what works for me. I know that we all are different. (Sorry for being so long winded Susan!)

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Sue,
Don't apologize. I think it's really important for people to know what works for others.

And, as I have mentioned many times before, I'm not opposed to medication; it just never worked for me. In fact, Effexor was an awful drug for me, which just goes to show you how different we all are.

Personally, given the number of depressions I've experienced and the pain and suffering they've caused, I believe that people need to pursue whatever works for them.

And, staying symptom-free for six months is a Godsend. That's about how long I'm symptom free, except my illness has a seasonal element, which I just can't seem to overcome--no matter how much research I do, and how many different treatments I try.

But...I'm still hopeful.


Andrea said...

Susan -

A long time ago, I had a therapist who had been helping me with dealing with depression. Forms of exercise, vitamins, time with friends, time by myself, choice of literature...we covered quite a bit.

I did these things, set up patterns, but the depressions still happened and I complained that I could feel it coming and nothing I did could stop it.

She told me those things were to prevent the depression, or at least prevent it from coming on so strong. If I felt a depression coming, she advised I embrace it. Let it come, even help it along. Don't fight it - ride it out. Let your brain kick-start itself.

So now, when I feel depression coming on, I act like a young girl who has been rejected by a lover - I buy Hostess, watch sad movies, cry my eyes out, and curse my fate to suffer more than other humans. I know this sounds dramatic and silly, but sometimes an episode will just last an evening.

This might work because I'm rapid cycle, so my depressive episodes are mostly a predictable length to begin with (3-7 days). I just help speed up the process. So I don't know if this helps you, but maybe it will be of use to someone.

- Andrea

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Andrea,
Thanks for sharing. It's certainly a different look at it, isn't it? And one I plan to think about. I genuinely appreciate your sharing this idea!


Gianna said...

Andrea's idea is how I stopped even being depressed I embraced myself..

I've shared this with you before Susan, but I'll share it for your readers...

A friend and great inspiration wrote this:

in any case it's pretty much the same thing Andrea says...though I choose to go inward and embrace it in a more meditative way...but whatever works!!

I still think what Andrea is doing is a version of the same...