Depression: It’s Not Hopeless

A book that says "healing"

Facts About Depression

Symptoms of a Depressive Episode
depressed moodloss of interest or pleasuresignificant weight changediminished concentration
sleep difficultiesfatigue nearly every dayfeelings of worthlessnessrecurring thoughts of death
Symptoms must cause significant distress.Symptoms must last for at least two weeks.
DemographicsRisks for Depression
·Women are 2x more likely to develop depression.·   Family history of depression or similar disorders.
·   About 1 in 10 people will experience depression during their lifetime.·   Poverty, unemployment, social isolation, and other stressful life events.
·   Most people experience their first depressive episode between ages 20 and 30.·   Regular drug and alcohol use. 
      Psychotherapy(Cognitive Behavioral Therapy)
CBT works by changing self-defeating thoughts and behaviors. CBT has been found to be equally, if not more effective than medicine in many cases. CBT is the most researched form of psychotherapy for depression.
      Medication(Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors)
SSRIs increase the level of serotonin (a chemical related to depression) in the brain. Studies suggest that SSRIs are most effective when used to treat severe depression. SSRIs don’t work overnight—it might take up to 6 weeks before they reach their full effect.
A combination of both psychotherapy and medication has been found to be the most effective form of treatment.


Other Facts
·   Over ½ of those diagnosed with depression also suffer from anxiety, such as self-defeating thoughts.·   Physical exercise has been found to have a significant antidepressant effect.
·   60% of those who die by suicide suffer from depression or a related mood disorder.·   Depressive episodes also occur during bipolar disorder alongside manic episodes.

Cognitive Distortions

Cognitive distortions are irrational thoughts that have the power to influence how you feel. Everyone has some cognitive distortions—they’re a normal part of being human. However, when cognitive distortions are too plentiful or extreme, they can be harmful, such as with “I want to die.”

One common type of cognitive distortion is called catastrophizing. When catastrophizing, the importance of a problem is exaggerated, or the worst possible outcome is assumed to be true. By learning to question your own thoughts, you can correct many of these cognitive distortions. Such as “Why do I want to die?”,

What are you worried about?
How likely is it that your worry will come true? Give examples of past experiences, or other evidence, to support your answer.
If your worry does come true, what’s the worst that could happen?
If your worry does come true, what’s most likely to happen?
If your worry comes true, what are the chances you’ll be okay…
In one week?   %In one month?   %In one year?   %

How to Support Someone With Depression

Recognize that depression is an illness. Feelings matter. Just like a cold or flu, a person cannot simply choose to “get over” depression. Also like other illnesses, depression can affect anyone. A person can develop depression even if they seem to a have a good life with little to be upset about.

Make a point to reach out. Many people with depression will isolate themselves, often falling out of touch with friends and family.  It’s not a healthy habit. That’s another time to remember that depression can affect anyone. You can’t make someone accept help, but you can provide the option. Check in regularly, invite them to talk, and reemphasize your support.

Just listening can help. You don’t have to fix your loved one’s problems or convince them that their negative feelings are wrong. Even if you disagree with some of their thoughts or feelings, respect and acknowledge that these experiences are real to them.

Be supportive of healthy habits. Exercise, healthy sleep habits, and socializing all contribute to mental health and combatting depression. Support these activities by giving encouragement, offering to accompany your loved one, or providing positive feedback.

Encourage professional help. Mental health counseling and medication are effective when treating depression. If your loved one is unsure where to start, offer to help them find the right provider, such as a physician, mental health counselor, psychologist, or psychiatrist.

Connect your loved one with social support. In addition to professional help, your loved one may benefit from other sources of support. These could include community organizations, religious groups, or mental health support groups.

Take any mention of suicide seriously. Symptoms of depression include intense sadness, despair, and thoughts of suicide. If you feel that someone is in danger, don’t hesitate to call 911, take them to an emergency room, or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for free and confidential support available 24/7. Again, take any mention of suicide seriously.

Make time for self-care. Feelings matter. Supporting someone with depression can be frustrating, tiring, and emotionally draining. It’s okay to take a break just for you. Make sure you are getting adequate sleep, eating properly, exercising, and taking time to relax. This is especially vital. Make time for self-care, such as healthy habits.

You are not responsible for curing your loved one. Your love and support are valuable, but ultimately, you cannot make them better. It is unfair to yourself to take responsibility for another person’s depression, or their recovery. Make time for self-care.

What Can We Do?

Deep Breathing

I’ve left out the psycho-babble so here are the conclusions of the study: ” . . . increased comfort, relaxation, pleasantness, vigor and alertness, and reduced symptoms of arousal, anxiety, depression, anger, and confusion.”

If you’re interested in reading more:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6137615/

Perhaps it’s more useful for mild depression, but I’m sure it brings benefits to anyone. What to do if you’re depressed? First, focus on your breathing!

Exercise

I feel I should point out, when I was in the throes of depression as a teenager, these methods were laughable to me. I knew breathing wasn’t going to stop making me want to kill myself, and I couldn’t possibly bring myself to exercise. But we all have different levels of depression and remaining energy and motivation while depressed. Some have mild depression and some have more severe depression. Both are awful. It’s not a contest! If you find you can force yourself to exercise, it can have tremendous benefits. I could cite a study, but I feel like this is something we can simply agree on. What to do if you’re depressed? If it’s possible, exercise! You may even feel something!

Force Yourself to Do Something You Normally Enjoy

You don’t even have to enjoy it. Just do it anyway. It may bring some benefits. It may not. It will very unlikely make things worse. But the chances are, you’ll enjoy it at least a little bit, and it might give you the energy and motivation to do something else afterwards, creating a snowball effect. 

Talk to a Friend or Professional

Talking about your problems with a friend is proven to be beneficial, but even if you don’t want to talk about what’s going on with you, just chatting can be a great help. If you don’t have a friend you can talk to when you need it most, just text “Home” to 741741, and you’ll be connected, through texting, to a 24/7 crisis counseling line, which you can utilize as often as you need. I’m a crisis counselor for this program and can vouch for its excellence as a program. 741741 can be a great help.

Behavioral Activation

Depression saps a person’s energy to do just about anything—even activities they enjoy. As a result, people with depression tend to become less active, which causes the depression to worsen. However, even a little bit of activity can help stop this cycle. Even reading blogs about emotions can help.

  1. Choose activities you are likely to complete.
exercisewalk, go for a bike ride, weightlift, follow an exercise video, swim, practice yoga
socializecall or text a friend, organize a group dinner, visit family, join a club / group
responsibilitiescleaning / housework, pay bills, professional development, homework
hobbiessports, gardening, drawing, playing music, hiking, playing with a pet, cooking
personal caredress up, get a haircut, prepare a healthy meal, tend to spiritual needs
  1. Practice your chosen activities. Use the following tips to improve consistency.
start smallIf needed, break activities into smaller pieces. Some activity is better than none.
make a planSet an alarm as a reminder, or tie an activity to something you already do. For example, practice a hobby immediately after dinner every day.
bring a friendIncluding a friend will increase your commitment and make things more fun.

Social Support

Social isolation is a common symptom of depression. Related issues—such as fatigue, lowered self-esteem, and anxiety—exacerbate this problem. Resisting social isolation, and instead leaning on social support, can improve resilience to stress and depression. As you can see, a lot of the time, you do the opposite of what you want.

Lean on your existing relationships. Make it a priority to socialize with friends or family every day. If this is proving difficult, or if no one is nearby, plan times to interact remotely. Try cooking together on a video call, playing a game together, or sharing a coffee over the phone. Maybe you’re doing the opposite of what you want.

Say “yes” to socializing. Depression makes it tempting to stay home, isolated from friends and family. Make a habit of saying “yes” to social opportunities, even when you’re tempted to stay in. You do the opposite of what you want.

Join a support group. Support groups let you connect with others who are dealing with issues similar to yours. You’ll benefit from sharing and receiving advice and support.

Three Good Things

Negative thinking is a defining feature of depression. Positive experiences are minimized, while negative experiences are magnified. Gratitude helps combat this tendency by shifting focus toward positive experiences, rather than negative ones.

1

Write about three positive experiences from your day. These experiences can be small (“The weather was perfect when I walked to work”) or big (“I got a promotion at work”).

Choose one of the following questions to answer about each of the three good things:

2
  • Why did this happen?
  • Why was this good thing meaningful?
3
  • How can I experience more of this good thing?

Repeat this exercise every day for 1 week.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness means paying attention to the present moment. It means taking a step back and noticing the world, and one’s thoughts and feelings, without judgment. The goal of mindfulness is to simply observe. Mindfulness helps reduce the worry and rumination that often accompanies depression.

One way to practice mindfulness is through meditation. During mindfulness meditation, you will simply sit and focus your attention on the sensation of breathing. By focusing on your breathing, you will put yourself in the here-and-now.

Time and Place

Find a quiet, comfortable place where you can practice mindfulness for 15 to 30 minutes every day. Frequent and consistent practice leads to the best results, but some practice is better than none.

Posture

Sit in a chair or lie down in a comfortable position. Close your eyes or let your gaze soften. Let your head, shoulders, arms, and legs relax. Adjust your posture whenever you feel uncomfortable.

Awareness of Breath

Focus on your breathing. Notice the sensation of the air as it travels in through your nose and out through your mouth. Notice the gentle rise and fall of your belly.

Wandering Mind

During meditation, it’s normal for the mind to wander. When this happens, gently turn your attention back to your breathing. You may need to do this frequently throughout your practice. Focus on your breathing. Tell yourself that again and again. Focus on your breathing.

And don’t forget about being able to text “Home” to 741741 for crisis counseling.

Do You Have Depression?

1. Do you experience feelings of sadness, emptiness, or hopelessness, nearly every day, for most of the day? 

2. Have you lost interest or no longer take pleasure in all, or almost all, activities for most of the day, nearly every day?

3. Have you had a significant change in weight without dieting, or have you had a drastic change in appetite?

4. Have you had insomnia or excessive sleepiness nearly every day?

5. Would others observing you say that you either have been moving in an agitated manner or that you’ve been moving unusually slow, perhaps accompanying excessive sleepiness?

6. Have you had fatigue nearly every day, perhaps accompanying excessive sleepiness?

7. Have you been experiencing feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt nearly every day?

8. Have you had difficulty thinking clearly, concentrating, or making decisions nearly every day?

9. Do you have recurrent thoughts of death, thoughts of suicide without a plan, such as wondering how to kill yourself or thoughts of suicide with a plan?

***Do the above-mentioned cause you significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning? 

If you answered “yes” to 5 or more questions AND the final question, you qualify for a diagnosis of depression and should seek help.

If you answered “yes” to any of the questions in bold, you should seek help.

If you answered “yes” to 3-5 questions, there is something to be concerned about, whether or not you would be diagnosed with depression.

If you answered “yes” to 1-2 questions which are not in bold, your issue is mostly likely not caused by depression.

*the above questions are based on the DSM-5, the Diagnostic Statistic Manual, Version 5, one of the standard manuals used in the diagnostic process in the U.S. 

If you have thoughts of suicide, talk to a trusted loved one or a mental health professional about your feelings.

Proven to Work Supplements

Here we’ll be discussing some supplements for depression, supplements that have the potential to alleviate some depressive symptoms, to an extent, when it comes to overcoming depression.

St. John’s Wort

This is a common recommendation as a supplement for depression. There are some studies suggesting it may be helpful if you’ve been feeling depressed. There are also some studies suggesting it does nothing. The results are not conclusive. If you are taking an anti-depressant, do not take this in addition to it. That could cause a dangerous condition known as serotonin syndrome. 

The recommended dosage is 900mg in 2-3 divided dosages, so 450 twice a day or 300mg three times a day.

St. John’s Wort for Sale

 Rhodiola Rosea 

According to some research, Rhodiola Rosea may be effective in treating stress, fatigue, and depression. It is an adaptogen. This is the brand I recommend for this product. The recommended dosage is approximately 400mg-600mg, split into two doses.

Rhodiola Rosea for Sale

Saffron

Saffron has been found to be a helpful treatment for depression for those with mild depression. Although it still is a treatment for depression for other forms of depression, sub-clinical depression is where it shines. The only one I have found that matches the dosages used in the studies is this one. The recommended dosage is 30mg-60mg per day.

Saffron for Sale

Fish Oil

Although it’s still in its early stages, research is promising that fish oil can help to overcome depression. Fish oil consists of EPA and DHA, and it’s primarily the EPA that has an effect on depression. Therefore, a supplement should be higher in EPA than DHA, like in this one. The recommended dosage is approximately 900 EPA and 600 DHA.

Fish Oil for Sale

NAC (N-acetylcysteine)

Strong evidence suggests that NAC may be a treatment for depression.

NAC for Sale

The recommended dosage is 2g/day. That may be more easily achieved with the powder: 

NAC Powder for Sale

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is certainly a depression treatment but not in all people. It’s not a guarantee that it’s how to feel better, but if you were to get a large enough group together, it would be a guarantee that it would raise some of their moods. Either way, it’s healthy to get enough vitamin D. Many people don’t get enough. So even if it unfortunately doesn’t improve your depressive symptoms, let it improve your health. Here’s a perfectly acceptable option. The recommended dosage is at least 2,000 IUs. 

Vitamin D for Sale

 B Vitamins

It’s quite nearly proven that B vitamins improve depressive symptoms because B vitamins are directly involved in mood. The recommended dosages are at least 50mg of B6, at least 400mcg of Folate, and at least 500mg of B12. This one is not bad:

B Vitamins for Sale

SAM-e

This is more like an anti-depressant. This is something already found in our bodies. Taking it as a supplement is mildly energizing and mildly mood-boosting. You can take it up to four times a day. 

SAM-e for Sale

 Ginseng

This seems to take a while to make you feel better, helping you gradually overcome depression. Ginseng has been shown in many studies to improve mood, among other things. Its effect on depression is gradually becoming clearer. The recommended dosage is anywhere from 100mg to 800mg. Always start low and then go up.

Ginseng for Sale

Sulbutiamine

This is a synthetic derivative of thiamine (vitamin b1). It increases alertness levels, mood, and reduces anxiety. It can be purchased both as a powder and as capsules. This could be part of a plan on how to feel better. Here is a link to the capsules. A dosage of up to 600mg is okay. 

Sulbutiamine for Sale

Coffee/Tea/Caffeine

These will quickly make you feel better, as you may know, but they won’t necessarily be overcoming depression. As the public seems to understand, coffee, tea, and caffeine provide boosts. The reason “caffeine” is separate is because you can buy caffeine separately, in the form of capsules, powder, gummies, etc. Coffee and Tea, though, contain more than just caffeine and so will provide more benefits than caffeine alone, but they all have their place. I won’t be linking to any of them. I just wanted to mention them. This, too, could be part of a plan on how to feel better. 

Lithium Orotate

This is a great supplement to overcome depression with. You may recognize the word “lithium.” The lithium prescribed by doctors is lithium carbonate, a different form of it. Lithium orotate can be bought OTC. It’s shown to provide many benefits, one of those being a reduction in depressive symptoms. You would start at its lowest dose, and if that is not effective within a couple weeks, you would go to the next dose up. The highest dose you would try is 20mg. Here’s a link to the lowest dosage: 

Lithium Orotate for Sale

L-tyrosine

This is an indirect supplement for depression, working on how to feel better. This is an amino acid which may provide a mood and energy boost. You can safely take it in high doses, but, as always, start with the lowest dose to assess for tolerance. You can get it as a powder to put into a drink, or you can get it as a capsule. I will be linking to the capsules.

L-tyrosine for Sale

Amino Acids

Amino acids are found in proteins and convert to the chemicals in our brain that we want, such as serotonin and dopamine.

Amino Acids for Sale

Noopept

Noopept is a nootropic and in addition to its purported cognitive benefits, it may also improve mood and reduce anxiety. You would take 10mg at a time, up to a maximum of 30mg a day.

Noopept for Sale

Essential Oils

Lavender perhaps has the most evidence for its efficacy, as an essential oil for depression. Studies show that it may reduce stress and anxiety, improving mood. This is perhaps done through the releasing of oxytocin, as demonstrated in this study. Many other studies attest to similar results.

Lavender Study

Lavender for Sale

Some evidence hints that frankincense may be good for mental health, boosting your mood. 

Frankincense

Frankincense for Sale

Bergamot

Some evidence exists for the use bergamot to improve mood. More specifically, the study shows it improves feelings of well-being. This is just one of the many benefits that bergamot has been studied for. This may result then as an essential oil for depression.

Bergamot Study

Bergamot for Sale

Yuzu Oil

Studies from Japanese scientific journals demonstrate that the scent of Yuzu oil may decrease negative emotional stress, as well as several other markers of a negative mood state. Yuzu oil is indirectly an essential oil for depression.

Yuzu Oil Study

Yuzu Oil for Sale

Tangerine Oil

A study demonstrated that tangerine oil is capable of altering brain waves, possibly improving mood. 

Tangerine Oil Study

Tangerine Oil for Sale

Rose Oil

Rose oil has been shown to be capable of increasing physical and mental relaxation, as well as decreasing pain levels and anxiety levels. This is also indirectly an essential oil for depression.

Rose Oil Study

Rose Oil for Sale

Jasmine Oil

Several studies show the effects of jasmine oil, possibly of being stimulating and mood-boosting, with some studies looking at the potential cognitive enhancements.

Jasmine Oil Study

Jasmine Oil for Sale

Medications

So you go to a psychiatrist, stammer that you’re depressed, and the doctor chucks an SSRI at your face.

SSRIs

These are the most commonly prescribed depression medications. It stands for selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. That basically means more serotonin. SSRIs encompasses many drugs. The most commonly prescribed one is Zoloft. SSRIs seem to have about a 40% to 60% success rate. Unfortunately, I’ve come across many patients who try an SSRI, it doesn’t work, and they give up on medication entirely, but there are so many other viable option.

SNRIs

Now not only increasing serotonin, these drugs also increase norepinephrine. That should have an effect on energy, arousal, alertness, etc. Cymbalta and Effexor are two of the most known to be effective. Although we don’t have statistics on it, SNRIs are known to be more effective than SSRIs. But it’s certainly possible neither works, and even then you should not give up.

Atypical Antidepressants

Atypical Antidepressants are what worked for me. Each medication in this group works differently. I take Wellbutrin, which, rather than affecting serotonin, primarily affects dopamine. Therefore, it’s an atypical antidepressant. Everybody’s depression is different and serotonin is clearly not always the answer. Sometimes we have to ask our doctors about alternatives to SSRIs due to doctor’s tendency to prescribe nothing but them. Some of us respond better to atypical antidepressants.

But now let’s talk a little more creatively. What if something other than an antidepressant were to help with your depression?

Adderall

Adderall is meant to be used to help a person with ADHD stay calm and focused. That’s great, but Adderall also provides a mood and energy boost, for some. I’ve heard of it not having that effect in a noticeable way, but that seems to be the exception. 

Gabapentin

Gabapentin is used for nerve pain and seizures. It’s also used off-label for anxiety. It works primarily by increasing GABA concentrations in the brain. GABA improves mood. This and Adderall have had dramatically life-altering effects for me, in relation to mood.

Mood Stabilizers

Mood stabilizers will typically only be given to those diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, but however they’re prescribed, they can potentially help with mood. An example of a popular mood stabilizer would be Lithium. 

*Nothing here should be construed as medical advice. This is for informational purposes only. Please consult with your doctor when considering supplements or medications.

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