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The Depression Tips and Tricks Thread

SellyCat

TRIBE Member
The Depression Tips and Tricks Thread

…Not to be confused with the Domestic Tips and Tricks thread..

This thread is for people to share their coping strategies and tactics in dealing with depression. Depression can take different forms, but there are some universal “best practices” available to make sure you keep your body and mind as healthy as can be expected under the circumstances.

Some of what I’m going to share is counter intuitive, but I’ll explain why it works. I have a lot of experience with this because I read a TON about this kind of stuff and some of my best friends and I have gone through depression(s) together with the very deliberate goal of fighting and beating it.

  • It’s important to identify that you’re actually depressed. I know this sounds cliché, but it allows you to deal with your situation in a different context. Sometimes it can seem like there is one main issue, when in fact it’s something a lot deeper or more pattern-oriented masquerading as on thing that you’re obsessing over.
  • Recognise and appreciate that your perceptions are unstable and not as reliable as they usually are. This is not to say that you shouldn’t go with your gut, but if you notice that you are getting into fights with friends, generally paranoid, over-analysing, and having mood swings, then acknowledge that you may be over-sensitive for a while. I’m going through a rough patch and it’s amazing how my perspective can change within ONE HOUR, or over the course of a meal. I’ll feel a certain way in the morning, and then the opposite at night. This is a dead give-away that something is generally wrong. Govern your impulses to avoid needless friction and trouble. (see below).
  • You can’t legislate your emotions, but you can govern your actions. Emotions are a natural, legitimate source of information about what is happening both inside and outside. The problem is that emotions are meant to serve a very specific purpose: to protect you. If you are wounded (depressed) then your emotions will be hyper-vigilant about threats and they will produce false positives about potential threats. Learn to learn from your feelings: talk about them, think about them, try to put them in a broader context. (See below)
  • It’s always an extremely good idea to VOCALISE what you’re feeling. Actually say the words out loud: “I feel …”. Then you can ask yourself why you’re feeling that way—and I mean above and beyond “this person is a fuck-face that fucked up my whole shit, and I wanna turn their genitals into a change-purse.” That’s not healthy. Something like this would be better: “I feel ______ when _____ happens, because ______” It’ll help put your feelings into a broader context, and you’ll be able to address them more effectively. This is also really good when your feelings are overwhelming, or you get one of those deeply painful twangs: “God damnit, I fee like shit! This fucking sucks! I feel lonely and frustrated! Fuck!” It prevents you from unconsciously twisting the feeling into a weapon with which you will further injure yourself.
  • Understand that you now have a far greater volume of emotional content. The best analogy is that of a pool. It’s healthy to dip into that pool of emotions for 15 or 20 minutes at a time; lie down on the couch and just feel. But keep these dips finite, because if you’re in the pool for too long, you’ll get wrinkled. (Selly’s analogy)
  • If you have the misfortune of suffering from the kind of depression that manifests itself as obsessive anxiety, keep in mind that anxiety is like a liquid: it will spill from one issue area into another. If you’re fixated on one issue, notice that when you think about another source of stress, that anxiety is still the same. This can make one prone to placing far too much importance on certain problems and not other. It goes a long way to warping your destabilising your perceptions. (More on this later)
  • Anxiety is an energy: use it to accomplish something productive. Like anger, anxiety is easier to convert into action than sadness or fear. Focus your nervous energy on anything that will better yourself. Work out, work on your hobby, study for school…start a thread on Tribe that might benefit others.
  • Start working out on a regular basis: This is extremely important. It relates to what psychologists call “agency”. You’ll show yourself that you CAN get out there and do something. Sometimes you have to just decide you’re going to do something even if it feels like you don’t want to. Do it anyway, because you know that objectively speaking it’s much better that way. Working out will also relieve the stress that gets stored in your muscles and it’s a free way to alleviate emotional pain while making your body healthier. Stress is VERY bad for your body and when you’re going through a hard time, it’s really important to take care of your body because what’s going on in your head and heart, is also affecting your physiology. The healthier your body is the better. And of course it helps to know that you’re doing something productive that will benefit your overall wellbeing and sexiness.
  • Forgive yourself: when you’re in a bad place, you’re going to make mistakes with people you care about and you’re going to resent yourself for doing it. Often people internalise their suffering and are angry at themselves for feeling a certain way or getting themselves into a hurtful situation. You’re only human and these things happen to everyone. Some shitty things accumulated and you fell down. It’s okay, you’ll get back up again and dust yourself off. You need to allow yourself the time and legitimacy to go through what you’re going through. And if you accidentally fuck-up vis-à-vis someone else, you’re almost guaranteed to blow it out of proportion in your own mind. If someone isn’t willing to forgive you when you’re down, then they don’t deserve your friendship.
  • Tell your close friends that you’re in a rut so that they understand that something is wrong. If they’re decent people, they will be more understanding and helpful. I‘m very lucky to have a couple of best friends that are just amazing in that regard, even though the majority of my closest friends and family have left this year. When you’re in a bad place, you will learn a lot about the meaning of friendship and how to identify who is really there for you and who isn’t. People distinguish between real friends and “fair weather friends”.
  • Get sunlight, leave your house, go outside, get fresh air. When you’re depressed, your visual cortex becomes less active and that promotes the stagnation that can accompany depression. You can notice that when you’re sulking or obsessing over what’s bothering you, you’re not visually connected with your environment. This is SO IMPORTANT. If you just look around you and expose yourself to visual stimuli, you will help get your mind off what’s driving you nuts. This is extremely effective and scientifically proven to make people feel better. It’s a question of practice and consistency.
  • Distraction is healthy, not a copout. Often people will become reclusive and anti-social, preferring instead to stay at home and focus on their problems. This is perfectly understandable and normal, but it’s far better to spend time with your friends and actively seek out fun. It’s not running from your problems for the simple reason that sitting at home, caught up in a mental feedback loop won’t do *anything* to help solve the problems anyway. Wallowing is only going to hurt you more.
  • Depression is addictive. The same way your brain learns anything through repetition and practice, it also becomes conditioned to thoughts and emotions. The more often you think or feel a certain way, the more likely you are to be prone to that thought or feeling in the future. (This is very important). You will notice that you begin to make yourself deliberately feel the pangs of pain that are associated with your depressed state. This is because there is something comforting about depression, but the problem is that this natural impulse is self-perpetuating and unhealthy. It’s a good idea to interrupt these impulses. One way is to just say “shut the fuck up, I’ve heard it and felt it before; there’s nothing new here. Leave me alone; you’re not helping matters.” Another way is to tie an elastic band around your wrist and snap it every time you get one of those impulses. It’s the same way that allowing yourself to be in a rage while beating up a punching bag isn’t actually relieving your anger, it’s PROMOTING it.
  • Music can promote addiction to your depression: you may notice that you have begun to listen obsessively to one song or series thereof, because it seems to so closely relate to your situation. It puts you in touch with a deeper emotional context that is comforting…but this kind of “comfort” is actually hurtful. It perpetuates the pattern of depressing impulses and thus prolongs your depression. You’ll notice that when you come out of your bad place, you no longer relate to that music anymore. Think about that.
  • Engage in Charity. Statistically, the two best ways to alleviate emotional pain and trauma are 1) spend time with your friends and 2) volunteer for a good cause.. Unfortunately, the latter is the least often chosen remedy, while actually being one of the best. Do something nice for someone: bake cookies for your best friend or relative, help someone with their homework (or whatever), make dinner for someone you like. Do anything that’ll make someone else a little happier.
  • Agency: DO SOMETHING. It will empower you and make you feel more in control. This is extremely important for proving to yourself that you can take control of your situation. Depression is characterised by a sense of powerlessness and inactivity. And definitely isolation too. You may not feel like it, but force yourself to get up, get dressed, do the dishes, take a walk, make plans with friends you can just chill with. Spending time with your friends while you’re depressed is much healthier than isolating yourself. (I’m talking generally, over the long run, because sometimes you just wanna be alone, but don’t indulge in that impulse too often, because it isn’t healthy.)
  • Reach out to people: you’d surprised at where you might find compassion and comfort if you’re willing to reach out and ask for help, or even just some company. It’s okay and normal to be needy sometimes; don’t ever let anybody put you down for moments of weakness. (That being said, moments of weakness should be just that: moments. It isn’t healthy to indulge in these moments just because you can accumulate sympathy; people don’t appreciate helping someone who isn’t willing to help themselves. And the more you help yourself, the more understanding, sympathetic and respectful people will be). One of my best friends is an amazing example of this: she has empowered herself in such a beautiful way that even when she falls down and goes through bad times, she knows what’s happening and how to deal. (And that includes knowing when she can’t deal sometimes).
  • If you’re on medication, make sure you take exactly the right dose, exactly when you’re supposed to. The stuff works best when your body is on a strict schedule of exposure to it. Girls know this from birth control pills.
  • At the end of the day, think about all the positive things that you did that day. Remind yourself of your accomplishments. They are important and you should build on them. This goes hand in hand with being forgiving toward yourself. Your accomplishments are extra-special precisely because you’re going through a hard time and that means you should feel proud of yourself for coping when you feel like giving up.

Sorry if that's too long: over to you.
 

nonlocal

TRIBE Member
Good post, SellyCat, and fairly comprehensive. I noticed that you didn't mention anything about sleep, however, and I have always found a close--if somewhat nebulus--relationship between depression and sleep.

Some folks can't sleep when they are down, others sleep all the time. Personally I've experienced a fair bit of both, although whichever end of the spectrum it is tends to come and stay for a while-- long periods of too little sleep at night, or too much. Sleep has a close relationship with the regulation of tribe's favourite neurotransmitter, serotonin, which is a fundamental player in your 'mood.' So, while trying to stay away from too much armchair neurology, one can see how a fucked up sleeping pattern would re-enforce the 'rut' of depression.

So here's the tip: If you're really down in it and can't break out, try staying up all night. I've been unsuccessfully googling to find the article where I read about this, but essentially it acts as a sort of mental reset switch to kick you out of the pattern. (And I don't mean staying up all night in a frenzy of dodgy parties, dodgy drugs, and dodgy people. While this is good fun, it probably ranks somewhere around drinking yourself into a hole and sitting in a darkened room listening to Death Cab For Cutie and Low on the list of Things-We-Do-When-We're-Depressed-That-Don't-Really-Help. It's certainly not going to help fix up yer broken serotonin. Maybe staying up all night and partying sober... but really I mean staying up all night maybe pursuing some of SellyCat's other tips-- having conversation with friends, getting something done, etc.)

...
 

rubytuesday

TRIBE Member
nonlocal said:
So here's the tip: If you're really down in it and can't break out, try staying up all night. I've been unsuccessfully googling to find the article where I read about this, but essentially it acts as a sort of mental reset switch to kick you out of the pattern. (And I don't mean staying up all night in a frenzy of dodgy parties, dodgy drugs, and dodgy people. While this is good fun, it probably ranks somewhere around drinking yourself into a hole and sitting in a darkened room listening to Death Cab For Cutie and Low on the list of Things-We-Do-When-We're-Depressed-That-Don't-Really-Help. It's certainly not going to help fix up yer broken serotonin. Maybe staying up all night and partying sober... but really I mean staying up all night maybe pursuing some of SellyCat's other tips-- having conversation with friends, getting something done, etc.)

...
I wrote a paper on this a couple years ago and I can maybe dig up some information on it later. For some people with severe depression cutting their sleep time in half works wonders. There was a case study of a man who would sleep from 10-2 am and then get up, he had done so for years and it was the only thing that kept him from extreme depression. It sucked but not as much as wanting to kill himself.
Depressed people sometimes have reduced REM latency which means they fall into REM faster than non-depressed people.
 
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nonlocal

TRIBE Member
How 'bout this for a depression quick-fix: Can we make the world suck a little less? Is anybody working on this?
 

SellyCat

TRIBE Member
rubytuesday said:
I wrote a paper on this a couple years ago and I can maybe dig up some information on it later. For some people with severe depression cutting their sleep time in half works wonders. There was a case study of a man who would sleep from 10-2 am and then get up, he had done so for years and it was the only thing that kept him from extreme depression. It sucked but not as much as wanting to kill himself.
Depressed people sometimes have reduced REM latency which means they fall into REM faster than non-depressed people.
I did forget to mention sleep.

Please put up some of the stuff from your paper! That sounds awesome. Do you have any other interesting stuff like that...for what did you write it?
 

rubytuesday

TRIBE Member
SellyCat said:
I did forget to mention sleep.

Please put up some of the stuff from your paper! That sounds awesome. Do you have any other interesting stuff like that...for what did you write it?
I took a course on sleep and arousal (hehe). I have the paper at home, I can't remember exactly how the reduced REM latency messes things up but it's also been found that reduced REM latency can also predict who is likely to become depressed.
I think sleep hygiene and nutrition are two things to be vigilant about if you have a propensity for depression, as well as exercise as mentioned.
 
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sugar

TRIBE Member
nonlocal said:
How 'bout this for a depression quick-fix: Can we make the world suck a little less? Is anybody working on this?
I have proposed that personal butlers be included in the ticket price for Harvest Festival, but as yet this has not been approved. I still don't understand why they haven't invented a slave that goes pee for you when you're too lazy to get up. Sheesh.
 

Aphrodite

TRIBE Member
don't drink.. too much. if you have trouble taking everyday life, than being hungover all the time will slowly destroy you.
 
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Aphrodite

TRIBE Member
don't take your shit out on other people.. cuz when they leave, you're all by yourself. and they may never come back!
 

mitsuko souma

TRIBE Member
Yes but when you are genuinely depressed you go full-blown narcissist and you don't really give a hoot about strangers and old people, let alone holding doors for them
 

Krzysiu

TRIBE Member
easier said than done. I think its safe to say that I'm a fairly happy guy, but the way I'm wired, when I'm feeling blue, I'm defeated.

everything sellydan posted I've been reiterated a thousand times since I was 12, and though it works for some, it doesn't have the same effects on me. I'm back on meds for the various things I'm struggling with, like ADHD, notice my posts getting longer! HELLO ATTENTION SPAN.

but as for depression, I was member prozac for four years, and that shit did nothing but make me feel zoooooooombied... now I'm on paxel and this shit doesn't do anything but constipate and kick my alcohol tolerance to zero.

I tell you what fuck really sucks, is when I'm the happy mode, I'm like undefeatable in life, everything goes my way just by sheer will of awesomeness. sadness = crushingness.
 
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mitsuko souma

TRIBE Member
Krzysiu said:
I tell you what fuck really sucks, is when I'm the happy mode, I'm like undefeatable in life, everything goes my way just by sheer will of awesomeness. sadness = crushingness.
I hear ya. Most of the last 2 yrs I was self-medicating just to make it through the day and I probably would have eaten any mood-stabilizers you threw at me. The one time I tried Paxel I felt nauseous and meh. Now I'm back on the PEZ
 
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littlejon

TRIBE Member


making shit works will for me.
this is number 4, made at a time when i was at my lowest.


my pusher doc gave me all sorts of pills:
to quiet the panic, to put me to sleep, to get me through the day.

my chatty doc gave me no pills, but let me blather.
both were useful, but no bacon.

baconpan
 

Soulster

TRIBE Member
Aphrodite said:
SMILE.

helps me
i don't get clinically depressed and i've never been medicated (though my shrink once told me i might want to consider it if the level of depression i was feeling continued for much longer), but i still can get into depressed modes that make waking and sleeping life more difficult. It's usually an overwhelming feeling of exhaustion.

smiling is such a little thing but i really feel like it can help. i once read that smiling when you're sad can actually help with releasing the "happy" chemicals in your brain... remember the show ally mcbeal and john's smile therapy?

regular and sufficient sleep is paramount to my mood. i certainly have trouble sleeping when i'm depressed, which of course makes my mood worse, but then i also have an extremely difficult time getting out of bed because i'm too "exhausted" to face the day.

when i'm depressed i mostly try my hardest to remember that it is just a phase and that i'll be back up again soon. sometimes this doesn't work because i get so depressed that i fail to see the light at the end of the tunnel anymore, but most of the time i can use this philosophy to gain at least a minor amount of perspective.

just a couple of days ago i perceived a great shift in my mood, for the better. i didn't even realize i was down until i was up. sometimes, acknowledging that you're depressed is just not that simple!
 
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