What To Do About Depression?
If you suffer from depression, what to do about it? It’s easy to give in to the idea of simply popping a pill to fix it, but pills are only a crutch on the way to feeling better, not the entire solution.
A Depressing Flame War
Several months ago I was reading an article about bipolar disorder on the Huffington Post. It went something like this: Depression is a chemical imbalance in your brain, you are not alone and the good news is you don’t need to feel depressed anymore, because now there are plenty of medications to treat your depression and anxiety. And it went on pretty much saying take some drugs and it will go away, or some of it will go away, and if it doesn’t, then there are other pills you can take to give your current pills a bit of a boost.
Me, being as passionate about depression as I am, because I too used to struggle with it, decided to leave a comment. That turned into a war that made me shut down my Huffington Post account, because I just couldn’t anymore take the attacks of people who were completely ignorant to what I was proposing. Not even for a second did any of them stop and think, could what she is saying possibly make sense?
Do you want to know the comment that I left? It went like this:
Several years ago I was diagnosed with depression, or bipolar disorder, the fancy name for it. They also told me I have an anxiety disorder and the only way I can ever get my self to feel normal is to seek treatment. They made that diagnosis by asking me some questions, no other tests necessary I guess, just a few questions these days can decide whether you are or you aren’t bipolar, and 99% of cases they will tell you that you are indeed. I did seek treatment for a while which made me really sick, no matter what they gave me I was not feeling better I was getting worst.
Eventually I just said enough and stopped taking all those pills, got my health into my own hands, started to exercise daily, eat a lot of organic foods etc. It was very hard, I’m not gonna lie I felt like I was losing my mind, but deep down I knew I was doing the right thing and that this was only happening to me because I allowed them to give me treatment. About a year later I slowly started to feel normal again.
Then I went on to give advice to people who are currently taking pills for depression. I told them that if they ever want to not be depressed, they need to not only take pills, but also find the root of their problems.
After I left that comment, I got attacked. I received a stack of replies where I could tell people were foaming at their mouths with hate. How dare I tell them that healthy eating and taking their life into their own hands is going to help them? I realized that fighting with these people is useless, because they are completely convinced in the belief that they have a chemical imbalance. I know this, because I used to be one of those people.
Hormones And Lack Of Exercise
I strongly believe that sometimes eating conventional foods and lack of exercise can be one of the main causes of depression.
When we eat meat that has been treated with hormones and antibiotics there is at least the possibility that it can affect our own hormones and cause imbalances in our brains – that simply is common sense to me. Now, on top of that, imagine taking all that medication, that further artificially alters the hormone household. I find that very scary, because once it has happened, it can be hard to get back to your normal self.
I think most people realize all this, but they choose an easy way out. Pills will never treat the root of your depression, they will only cover up the symptoms. And if all you do is cover them up and keep taking different medications that keep altering your brain, you are setting your self into a trap: the longer you do it the harder it will be to reverse the damage.
I’ve learned that for the pill industry it often is not profitable for anyone to get better, because that doesn’t make them money. Sometimes it makes money if you stay sick and can keep prescribing you different medications. The fact that some doctors tell us that we have to take pills for the rest of our life is disturbing on its own. Think about it: are you comfortable with the idea of always having to depend on pills to stay happy?
Take Stock Of Your Situation
Me personally, I didn’t want to do that. I knew it was never going to really help me. I felt the only thing that could achieve that was taking control of my life, stop plugging the holes and instead fix the boat. Have you ever taken stock of where your depressions may come from? Is it events in your past or something to do with your current situation? I think many people who are depressed are better serviced by identifying the true causes of their depression than depending on doctor’s prescription.
I am not completely against treatment, because there certainly are different circumstances for different people and temporarily you can benefit from such a treatment, but not for the rest of your life. Depending on pills for the rest of your life will never make you truly feel better, period. But what will make you better is finding the root of your problem. If you can do that, you will be able to help yourself without depending on pills for the next half century. If I did it, so can anyone else, because I am not special in any way, I was just sick of being sick. Next time you are taking a trip for your refill, give it a second thought: are you planning to do this for the rest of your life?
Pictures courtesy of “Avenue G” and Melanie Tata.
Dopamine, neurological hormone balances, etc. whatever that jargon may be, it can be induced by lots of factors, from my understanding, too! Even if eating right and exercise isn’t the direct problem per se, there’s a huge chance of that supplementing the solution either way – it’s not just about taking on a new hobby where you see progress and results. Within those results, you gain confidence, meaning, and control over your life (literally, it’s like the endurance or walking up those long stairs is set on easy mode). Not to mention the hormonal effects from just exercising, too (the adrenaline and dopamine release).
Of course there are many different factors to consider. I just think many people only want to consider the easy way out, because the other way is much harder to go through with, but I believe in the long run the hard way is worth the try.
Oh yeah, definitely. I meant to say that those chemical balances can be a result of lots of factors in our lives (choices we make, our environment) – and we really can change them without pills. You’re right that we’re just treating the symptoms.
I also strugled with depressión for many year (bordeline suicidal the psyquiatrist said), I was very active and my eating habits was ok, I tried with many therapys for years, finally I decided I couldn’t do it by myself and I needed help and went to see the psyquiatrist, after some studies he gave me a prescription, but before handing it to me he said “this isn’t the holy grail, if you really want to get better you’re gonna need to fight, the pills are not gonna do the hard work for you, they’re just gonna help you not to suffer that much during the process”, after 6 months he took away the antidepresives and let the anxiety pills for another couple of months, after that I was good to go, I haven’t take them since then (about 4 years ago), of course I get sad and angry, but I don’t have dangerous toughts anymore.
My point is that I think this kind of pills can really help some people, but they should be the last option and they have to realize they’re not magic, I know a lot of people that had been taking antidepressives for more than 5 years with no results and they get surprised when they know I only needed them for 6 months. Like you said, there are many factors to consider, but I also think that nowadays a lot of people like to hide behind a label like “bipolar” or “depressive”, it’s an easy way to have an excuse, and sadly, there are a lot of doctors that doesn’t care about the people and just want to make money.
Very interesting article Tatianna 🙂
I am so happy you found such a good doctor, all the doctors I went to always told me I had to take pills for the rest of my life. You are another living example that if we fight it we are not going to need these pills in the long run. It’s ok for a short period of time like you said to help you in the process, but after a while it’s best to stop taking them.
I am very happy to find more and more people who are like you and me!
I have borderline personality disorder. I’m born with this disorder. I have been depressed my whole life. But a few years ago I started losing weight. For about sixteen months I fitness 5 days a week and I run 3 days a week. My depression is gone. I feel happy. I do have some problems but I’m getting help for that. But eating healthy and exercising changed my life!! Awesome article.
Good for you Barbara!!! It makes me so happy to be reading your comment 🙂
Barbara, what an amazing transformation!
Absolutely amazing article Tatianna. This is a topic that runs deep with me as well. (And because of that, this response may be far too long. Oops.)
I was diagnosed with clinical depression around the age of 14. As with you, I was told that it was a chemical imbalance in my brain that caused my depression, and that antidepressants would be the best option. At that point, my parents decided to send me to a number of different specialists. Rather than help with my depression though, they actually just came to the conclusion that I had attention deficit disorder as well.
When an authority figure like a doctor sat me down and told me these things, it was actually quite an appealing concept to accept. It gave me the idea that it was out of my hands (chemical imbalance), and that there’s an easy solution (pills).
The reality of depression is that it WAS in my own hands, and the solution was anything but easy.
With me, the pills didn’t do a damn thing. Now I don’t think the pills themselves are harmful, but the result in my situation was a feeling of overwhelming helplessness. The doctors told me the pills were my one chance at happiness, and that one chance was failing me. This spiraled into a brand new level of depression where I was saturated in self-pity. And pity was a great feeling. It was one of the only ways I could really feel any sort of lasting happiness.
This lasted 4 years of my life.
It wasn’t until I completely threw out my helplessness and took over my life that I became happy. I got off the pills at 18 years old. I’m 21 (soon to be 22) now, and I can say that without a doubt, I have completely overcome depression. More than overcame really, because I’m at a point now where I’m more happy and more positive than the average person.
When I look back at my situation, it becomes absurdly apparent to me why I was depressed.
I was fat, nerdy, ugly, girls wouldn’t even look at me, my group of “friends” picked on my daily and drilled my self-esteem through the ground, ate 2 meals a day which consisted primarily of oreos and doritos, (along with about 5 cans of soda), was tired all the time, and the only time I spent outside was waiting for the school bus.
With all of that, the best explanation anyone could come up with for me being depressed was a chemical imbalance. I feel like if anyone had ever actually sat me down and helped me through these problems, I could have overcome them a lot sooner.
What I will say though, is that because of depression I have gained an invaluable appreciation of life and happiness. Like you said, overcoming depression was less about overcoming the depression itself, and more about overcoming the underlying issues.
Once I started taking those first steps towards solving my issues, my happiness started to snowball. I started eating healthy and working out, which resulted in looking better. That led to a new appreciation for appearance, fashion, skincare, and grooming. That caused me to become more self confident, outgoing, and social. Before I knew it I was at an entirely new level in my life.
So, in short: I agree with you. 😉
Oh god that’s about 15 times as long as I thought it was going to be.
Thank you so much for sharing your story. I know exactly how you feel, when I took those pills they didn’t make me feel happy, I felt more depressed and zombie like, it was just a really weird feeling. Things that should of bothered me didn’t bother me at all, and that was scary. I’m glad you took control of your life, because deep down I think all people know that the only person in charge of how they feel is Us our selves.
Paul, my hat is off to you!
I understand what you mean, saying “I’m depressed, there’s something wrong in my brain and I can’t do anything about it” it’s very convenient, the ultimate excuse to feel miserable and it’s something that you can feel very comfortable with, I still believe the pills helped me a lot, but I also think it had a lot to do with the fact my doctor didn’t “sell” them to me as my only chance to be happy like yours, or like a burden that I was going to carry with for the rest of my life like they told Tatianna, but as something to help me trough the process of making me feel better… The first month was horrible, I was lacking a lot of energy, but instead just dealing with it, I went to the doctor and tell him it was too much for me, so he change the dosagge to a smaller one that would aloud me to have energy to work out and keep my life going and that treatment was combined with a more agressive therapy, where he wouldn’t ask me about my childhood traumas, but challenge me to find a way to overcome my past in order to enjoy the present. Im really thankful to him, but in the end it depends on yourself.
And I think that is a prime example of how antidepressants should be used, and the outlook that goes along with them. I think it’s awesome that your doctor approached it like that. For me, it was pretty black and white. He straight up told me that I would most likely be on them for the rest of my life. When I came back at 18 and told him I was happy and wanted to wean off the antidepressants, he actually suggested that my happiness was possibly temporary, and that I should stay on the medication “just in case.” Which is silly, because by that point I had pretty clearly overcome the issues that depressed me in the first place.
And it sounds like therapy worked well for you as well. From what I remember from my therapy, my therapist just tried to pin more disorders on me. I really wish I had an experience where I was encouraged to find a way to overcome problems on my own.
I read your post above too. I’m really glad to hear a viewpoint from someone who has had success with the medication outside of it becoming a staple in their life. Usually when I hear people arguing for the pills, it’s with the idea that they can actually cure you (and usually it’s from someone who’s never taken them or been depressed.) From what I hear through others suffering(at least here in the US,) it seems most doctors pitch it as a one option miracle drug.
Your experience with your doctor and the pills gives me hope that maybe they can be a force for overcoming depression, rather than being suggested a permanent solution.
Ohh yeah therapists are always trying to find more illnesses. Sometimes I watch TV and I see some new anxiety disorder they came up with and I just shake my head. These doctors are even trying to get children all drugged up.
I now go to homeopathic doctors, they are just amazing. So caring, always asking so many questions and looking at many different symptoms, and they always recommend teas and herbs to help to work with the body, so the body can heal it self, unlike the other doctors who just cover up the symptoms.
Hi Tatianna, I am so grateful to come across this post. I am 37 years old and for as long as I can remember I have always been weighed down with feelings of depression. About three years ago, I was struck down by the worst depressive state I have experienced in my life to date and I finally sought advice from a doctor. As so many others, I was told that I had clinic depression, hormonal imbalance in the brain blah, blah, blah and that I would need to take medication for the rest of my life.
So home I went and started my medication….2 years later I was still in the same depressive state with my life spiralling out of control and I was still waiting for the “magic pill” to take effect. By now, I was unemployed, no longer having contact with friends or family, eating poorly, gaining weight, constantly tired and venturing out of the house only as required. Added to this were my feelings of guilt over what effect my state of mind would be having on my poor little girl.
About 8 months ago, I decided that I would no longer take the medication that I was given. It took quite sometime to get over the effects of having taken medication so long. I was very irritable and moody and just generally felt very out of whack.
About 4 months ago, I began to really look closely at all the events that happened in my life to bring me to my current state. Whilst, I know that I have issues that stem from a very bad childhood from which I know my deep seeded problems arise, I also know that there were also a number of determining factors which contributed to my demise.
If I am to be really honest, I know that my depression became truly unmanageable due to a mismanagement of issues over which I had total control over. These included areas in my life such as poor job satisfaction, poor financial management, decreased physical activity, poor nutrition and surrounding myself with negative people.
I am now on the path of taking control over my life again and working on becoming more efficient. My first step was in getting more organised and it has been an eye opener to see that such a simple thing can impede on so many aspects of your life. It has allowed me to become a better mother, more aware of my financial position and spending habits, taught me to set realistic goals and on completion of each task or goal I have gained more self satisfaction and respect for myself.
I really feel that at an age where all countries are crippled by a failing and overburdened health system the easiest and cheapest option is to refer people to the magical pill which will solve their problem. I think back now over all the time I had wasted and the despair I felt when even the supposed magic pill did not provide me with the relief that I was hoping for, when really all I probably needed was a fresh pair of eyes and some advice as to how to improve me situation. As a result I believe that there are a number of factors which would assist someone in releasing themselves from that depressive dark beast, these would include;
Eating healthy, exercise, an understanding support network (I cannot stress enough the importance of this since this is what I lacked the most and made my time even more difficult), surrounding yourself with positive people, movies, music etc, getting at least 10 minutes of sun time each day (since now a days the number of people suffering from vitamin D deficiency is staggering and only increasing), setting small realistic and achievable goals, recognising that depression is transient and it can be overcome one small step at a time, taking stock of your life and taking control over those aspects of your life you CAN control, relieve yourself from stress and seeking those things that give you some enjoyment (this on is hard….especially when you are so low and unmotivated…a good friend is helpful).
I really believe that if you were to advise someone that you would prescribe medication as a way of assisting them to take back control over their lives in the interim and arming them with strategies for doing so and providing people with information on support groups which could assist with this I believe that this sort of therapy would be more successful.
As I have said, I am still a work in progress and I still have a long way to go but in reading this I feel more justified and assured in my belief that what I am doing is the right thing. Thanks so much.
(I am soooo sorry about the long post)!!
I am very thankful that your shared your story, trust me I know how it can be. I am also very glad that you were able to recognize all of those things in your life your self, because sadly not very many people are able to do that. It makes me really happy to know that there are others who are just like me, who were tired of living this nightmare and decided to take control of their life, now we just have to spread our message to others as much as we can.
im so going to show this to my mom
All the best to your mom!
Yes, definitely show this to your mom.
I believe you make a valid point in this article, pills should not be the permanent quick fix that allows people to deny or ignore the underlining issues causing Depression, that they should be used as an aid to proper problem managment.
I feel that I must correct you in saying that Depression is not Bi-Polar Disorder, but a facet of Bi-Polar Disorder in the Bi-Polar spectrum, with Manic Depression at the extreme bottom end and Hypermania at the extreme top.
A very interesting read none the less, 😀
Thank you :), I am glad you enjoyed the article 🙂
Best antidepressant ever = Been Fit, Eating properly and Sleeping well.
Put those THREE together, and there is no way a person won’t be mentally and physically much much stronger
And it is not as if we are discovering a new continent.
Mens sana in corpore sano (“A sound mind in a sound body.”) Thales 600BC
The concept that we can only be mentally/emotionally healthy if and only if our body is overall healthy is at least 2,600 years old.
Selling pills on the other hand makes the CORPORATIONS ( which provides the funding for most of the UNIVERSITIES researches ) A TON OF MONEY. And they are not gonna let that slips away without a fight. The “indoctrination” starts from the very top.
Just like Nurse Mildred Ratched ( One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – 1975 ) would say in a polite and gentle manner: “Medication Time, Medication Time…”
PS.: I was on the TUBE once and two guys came to me asking for donation for CANCER research. I ask them: ” is this money for researching a cure, of for researching the cause ?” They replied: “the cure” and I said: “well then you won’t get a penny out of me.”
This is an absolute awesomest comment ever!