Living with Depression: Series Overview

Today marks the debut of a mini-series of posts on the topic of depression. These posts (a half-dozen or so over the next several weeks) are excerpts from a conversation amongst nine BCC permas, including myself, who live with clinical depression. We have taken pseudonyms for privacy purposes, but make no mistake: we are true and living bloggers that you know, love, and/or hate here at By Common Consent.

Some readers might be surprised that 9 of the 23 permas in this forum–about 40%–suffer or have suffered from depression. In fact, the number is higher than that, since not all of the permas who have experienced depression opted to participate in this series. Of the 9 voices heard here, 6 are women and 3 are men; 6 have chronic depression and 3 have less frequent bouts.

Of course, every human being is occasionally “depressed” in the sense of feeling down or discouraged. But depression as a debilitating illness is increasingly widespread and causes untold difficulty for its victims and their families. National Book Award winner Andrew Solomon offers this summary in The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression:

I am convinced that some of the broadest figures for depression are based in reality. Though it is a mistake to confuse numbers with truth, these figures tell an alarming story. According to recent research, about 3 percent of Americans—some 19 million—suffer from chronic depression. More than 2 million of these are children. Manic-depressive illness, often called bipolar illness because the mood of its victims varies from mania to depression, afflicts about 2.3 million and is the second-leading killer of young women, the third of young men. Depression as described in the DSM-IV is the leading cause of disability in the United States and abroad for persons over the age of five. Worldwide, including the developing world, depression accounts for more of the disease burden, as calculated by premature death plus healthy life-years lost to disability, and anything but heart disease. Depression claims more years than war, cancer, and AIDS put together. Other illnesses, from alcoholism to heart disease, mask depression when it causes them; if one takes that into account, depression may be the biggest killer on earth.

Depression is a complex issue that cannot be adequately discussed in one or even a dozen posts. (Solomon’s tome on the subject, one among many, includes over 400 pages of probing, detailed text and nearly a hundred more of footnotes and documentation.) This BCC series will only touch lightly on a few facets of this issue, in roughly the following order:

–recognizing clinical depression
–impact on daily life and family relationships
–impact on spirituality/religious life
–successes and challenges of treatment
–gender issues in depression
–suicide and other complications

I’m grateful to the participants in this conversation for their generosity and candor on such a sensitive topic. It goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) that our group is taking considerable risk in publicly sharing some of our most intensely personal experiences. Our purpose in doing so is to offer a measure of companionship for readers who live with depression (diagnosed or not), and a measure of perspective for those who don’t. Please be respectful in your comments—this is not an occasion for confrontational dialogue.

Finally, please note that the content of these posts is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute advice, medical or otherwise. If you are experiencing symptoms of clinical depression, contact a health professional without delay.

Next in the series: Part I: Recognizing Clinical Depression

Comments

  1. Read the previous article, or “Dances with Shrek” and you’ll see why so many people are depressed. Too many special effects in our lives are taking real life out of them.

  2. Thank you for doing this. I’m really looking forward to reading your thoughts. This is a personal battle for me too.

  3. Thanks, Kathy. Great idea.

  4. I’m curious about the rationale of making this anonymous. Was that an easy decision, or was there some debate about it? The reason I ask is that I think discussing depression openly may be a good way—possibly the only way—to combat the stigma and widespread misunderstanding of the disease. I definitely understand the desire for privacy—I’m semi-anonymous myself—but as bloggers who use your real names and openly discuss many other aspects of your inner lives, it’s a little surprising to me that you would need to be anonymous for this topic. Is there a concrete harm that you’re trying to avoid, like employment discrimination or something?

    I hope I’m not coming across as critical of your choice. I respect your courage to discuss it at all. I’m just curious as to the rationale.

  5. An ambitious and sobering project, Kathryn. Thanks to you and your co-bloggers for discussing this.

  6. BTW, I’m going to go ahead and put in a plug for the original, groundbreaking BCC mental health series, “Mormons and Mental Illness,” facilitated by Ronan. Here’s my contribution. I’m sure yours will be better, but mine was first. So I win.

  7. Reverend Cowboy says:

    Tom (4);
    Depression, for those of us who struggle with it, can eventually become a stigma in and of itself. You don’t want others to know to have depression because those who take it seriously (i.e. as a real disease) will never separate you from the disease– as far as they’re concerned, you ARE depression. Everything you do relates back to it, and they stop seeing you as a person.
    Those who think depression’s new-age mumbo jumbo won’t understand– What, because you’re a little sad, you didn’t complete your work?

  8. you don't know me says:

    One of my daughters has just begun talking an anti-depression medication. She spent 30 minutes on the phone trying to explain her reasons for seeking treatment. I guess she thought that we would think less of her for doing it. In fact, I am pleased that she is willing to take responsibilty for herself and seek whatever she needs to keep her healthy mentally and physically. I am sure that the alcoholism that runs in my familly is related to depression even though no one would ever admit it.

    I am looking ofrward to learning more from all of you and I appreciate your willingness to discus this difficult subject.

  9. Kathryn Lynard Soper says:

    That’s a great question, Tom. You’re right: using real names lends a great deal of weight and credibility to the discussion, and helps dispel some of the stigma surrounding mood disorders. I write about depression under my real name for that reason. But self-disclosure carries real risks, and using our real names would limit what we could publicly discuss. Is it more helpful to say less using real names or say more using fake ones? I can debate it either way. In this case, though, the decision was easy: one of our group members could not risk the possible impact on his employment status, so we all opted to take pseudonyms.

    Plus, we couldn’t resist the opportunity to adopt secret identities. Particularly Shakespearian ones.

  10. Kathryn Lynard Soper says:

    And thanks for the link, Tom. That should’ve been in the OP.

  11. Thanks, Kathryn. Even if it is less than ideal, I do think there is value in discussing depression anonymously, and I look forward to the rest of the series.

  12. Reverend Cowboy (#7),
    That’s interesting. That may be another aspect of the stigma that will go away as more people are open about depression. That’s not something my wife has experienced as she has become more open about her experience with depression. At least, she hasn’t expressed that to me. Overall, I think she sees her decision to be more open as the right one for her. But each person has different circumstances.

  13. Mike Parker says:

    According to two vocal members of my ward’s Gospel Doctrine class, there’s no such thing as clinical depression, and the pharmaceutical industry is part of the “evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days” that we’re warned about in D&C 89.

    Tell that to my wife, who’s struggled with depression/anxiety for over 10 years, and my 13-year-old son who takes medication for ADHD and mood stabilization.

    We have a long, uphill climb to convince many people in this Church that mental illness is real, and not just the manifestation of some unrepented sin or imaginary ailment.

  14. Another reason for me to feel comfortable at BCC.

  15. John Mansfield says:

    How should we take it that depression-induced suicide is a leading cause of death among young people? Given how healthy young people are generally, it could be an indicator that the problem is relatively small. As I recall, suicide rates increase with age, dip around retirement, then increase even fasterwith old age. Yet there is much more concern about suicide among teens and young adults, even though they are less likely to kill themselves than are their parents or grandparents.

  16. I wonder if the pendulum has swung too far in the opposite direction. Instead of carrying a stigma, depression seems to now be the malady du jour. I read a NY Times article recently about how the U.S. is exporting its definitions of mental illness to other countries with alarming results. (The author of the book was also on The Daily Show). This article, coupled with recent studies showing that anti-depressants are ineffective should make anyone stop and think before seeking or accepting treatment for depression.

    In my opinion, I think people are encouraged to seek treatment for depression when in reality what they need is to learn how to become less self-absorbed and to develop better coping skills. Life is suffering. You can alleviate some of the suffering through yoga, exercise, hiking in the mountains, riding bikes, spending time with friends, serving others, and writing in your journal or creating art. Therapy and drugs are expensive and typically ineffective in the long run to treat mild to severe depression.

  17. Thanks for tackling an important issue. I’ve got a close relative with severe depression issues, and it is tough for all involved. I will be paying close attention.

  18. Can commentators use pseudonyms Too?

  19. #13: Mike Parker

    This is exactly why people want to remain anonymous. I do think there is a stigma in the LDS Church about depression. My own theory is that we are such a “works-based” faith as opposed to a “grace-based” faith. That implies that if you’re not happy, it’s obviously because of something you are doing, or are not doing.

  20. Kathryn Lynard Soper says:

    Therapy and drugs are expensive and typically ineffective in the long run to treat mild to severe depression.

    Isaac, you couldn’t be more wrong.

    You’re misquoting the recent Newsweek article, which we’ll discuss in a future post. In the meantime, know this: medication and therapy saved my life.

  21. As a follow up to my comment #16, I’ve spend thousands of dollars on therapy and medication over the years. Many of my friends are doing the same thing, and they are not any happier with their lives. I also see them medicating their children, and I have to admit that this is alarming to me as well.

    I think any discussion about depression should include a conversation about the definition of depression and effective treatments that don’t include therapy and medication. Therapy and medication save lives, but they are not a panacea and can even backfire and make things worse.

  22. Isaac (16),

    I appreciate your suggestions to help alleviate depression. I have certainly found that daily exercise, free writing, temple attendance, being outdoors, and being with friends help me with my mild depressive episodes.

    That being said, I am married to a man with chronic depression. If it were not for medication and therapy, he would be dead. I would be a widow and our children would be fatherless. Modern medicine, and people willing to help him through terrible terrible agony has finally allowed him to live a mostly happy/normal life. Thankfully, not everyone is so quick to pass off a terrible illness as selfishness.

    I’m sorry to be so abrupt, but this (obviously) is a subject that hits close to home.

  23. Kathryn Lynard Soper says:

    Stay tuned for that conversation, Isaac.

  24. Hi, Kathryn- we cross posted. I was actually thinking about the NY Times article, not the Newsweek article (I’ll see if I can find it). I’m glad therapy and medication saved your life, and I know therapy and medication are incredibly effective in some circumstances.

    Therapy and medication are incredibly ineffective in other circumstances, however, and people shouldn’t pin all their hopes on the medical community for a “cure”. I apologize if my first comment came across overly dismissive or harsh. This is a difficult topic, and I’m sorry if I sounded insensitive.

  25. #16 – Isaac.

    Your reference to studies showing ineffectiveness is overly broad and inaccurate.

    But if we are just sharing opinions, here’s mine:

    Dismissing depression as something self-absorbed and easily overcome by “sucking it up” is a lazy and callous position. I’ve seen struggles and sadness and I’ve witnessed depression, the two are significantly different. I’ve also witnessed the effects of medication in the lives of those I love, and they have been literally life-saving.

  26. Hmm. Clearly I am a slow typer. Much of the back and forth appeared as I was composing my brilliant comment.

  27. Again, I apologize if comment #16 was insensitive. I’m glad people here have been helped by therapy and medication. I’ve struggled with depression myself, and I think that it’s reasonable – and essential – to identify the factors within one’s control that could be helpful in alleviating our own depression. Some factors our outside our control, but it’s a mistake to think that something (medication) or someone else (therapists) can cure our depression for us.

    Too many discussions about depression leave out the role of individual choice and unhealthy habits (mental and physical) that create negative feelings that lead to depression.

    One book that has helped me has been the Feeling Good Handbook. Check it out from your library.

  28. One more thing – I don’t regret the thousands of dollars I’ve spent and the hundreds of hours of therapy I’ve had. I feel like I exhausted all of the resources I had in order to determine that my depression (not sure if I want to call it that, but that was my diagnosis) was mostly because of my own unhealthy habits of believing that I’m essentially worthless and that I’m fooling everyone else into believing that I’m not a loser and that everyone would be better off without me.

    These kind of negative thoughts are so common (sometimes subconscious) and so powerfully destructive, but they are lies. Even if you are a loser by objective measures, no one deserves to torment themselves with these thoughts. Anyone seeking therapy should have a general objective to learn how to deal with these kinds of dark negative thoughts, and your therapist should help you identify why you have this habit and should give you concrete specific tools that helps you break this habit. If all you do is get a prescription for Celexa from your therapist and a pat on the head, then you’re not going to address the real issues for your depression and may be setting yourself up for more pain and suffering.

    I’m sure the discussion here at BCC will be well rounded and appropriate – just wanted to add my thoughts and experience as well.

  29. Therapy and drugs are expensive and typically ineffective in the long run to treat mild to severe depression.

    Some aspects of this statement are just plain wrong. Anyone who has depression that is unaffected by anti-depressant medications probably doesn’t have clinical depression at all. For the vast majority of those that do benefit from such medications, compared to the alternatives (especially no treatment at all) drugs are dirt cheap.

    If relatively effective treatment at $100-$200 a month doesn’t seem like a gift from heaven, one might again raise the question whether the person concerned has any but the most shallow of conditions. Serious depression is not a persistent case of the blues, it is something that approximates (by degrees) complete mental shutdown. For people with severe cases, medication would be a bargain at ten times the price.

  30. Kathryn Lynard Soper says:

    Isaac, I agree. Let’s save this conversation for our post on treating depression. In the meantime, since you’ve struggled depression yourself, why don’t you share (on the other thread) how you came to distinguish clinical depression from normal, periodic low mood? That’s the subject of Part I of our conversation.

  31. I feel like I’m being misunderstood here. I guess that’s okay.

    Here’s my main point: in many cases, anti-depressants don’t work for people with mild to severe depression. When medications don’t work it could be: (1) a mis-diagnosis or (2) the wrong medication or dosage. In cases I’ve been personally familiar with (myself, friends and family) people who have been diagnosed with depression have not found sustained relief from therapy or medication. These people may have been misdiagnosed, or may not have been given the correct dosage of medication.

    There is a difference between “periodic low mood” and “clinical depression”, but we (both patients and the medical community) do not have the tools to recognize which is which in every case. People with a “periodic low mood” may be convinced they have “clinical depression” and with the advice of doctors and therapists spend years and thousands of dollars chasing a cure. Of course the very severe cases of depression are clear (suicidal thoughts, etc.), but there is a huge category of people who think they are depressed, are given a diagnosis of depression and then are not given the effective tools to function as a normal human being because they do not respond to drugs or therapy. Drugs and therapy are not as effective as non-medical interventions, but many people take drugs and go to a therapist because they don’t know what else to do.

  32. Issac, I’m sorry that you feel misunderstood, but your original comment was rude and inflammatory. Re-read it:

    In my opinion, I think people are encouraged to seek treatment for depression when in reality what they need is to learn how to become less self-absorbed and to develop better coping skills. Life is suffering. You can alleviate some of the suffering through yoga, exercise, hiking in the mountains, riding bikes, spending time with friends, serving others, and writing in your journal or creating art. Therapy and drugs are expensive and typically ineffective in the long run to treat mild to severe depression.

    Professionals who would “a prescription for Celexa and a pat on the head” are rare and if they do exist, operating totally outside the standard practices of the field. All your walk, bike, yoga, meditate stuff is hammered into people all the time, both with and without drugs and talk therapy to supplement. These are straw men arguments.

  33. Cynthia – if you think these are straw men arguments, you should read some of the medical research that shows anti-depressants are ineffective for many patients seeking treatment. I don’t understand your hostility and your incredulity here, because meditation and exercise have proven, sustained positive benefits in alleviating depressive symptoms.

  34. Isaac,
    It is true that often times that pshycotropic medications are not as effective in treating mild depression without therapy. However they are very effective in treating major depression.
    Studies are pretty conclusive that therapy alone is just as effective as using medication alone to combat depression. However the studies also show that therapy and medication combined work the best.

    Also, just because exercise works for some people does not mean it will work for all people. It seems you are confusing periods of sadness with a major depressive illness.

  35. As someone in the medical profession, I think anti-depressants have a role (even if somewhat placebo) but are not the be-all, end-all cure. Unfortunately, we can’t just take a pill and have our problems go away, which is what those articles talked about. There are multifactoral treatments for depression, and any doctor worth his/her salt will encourage exercise, diet, talking with a therapist/support group/etc., etc. as part of a treatment plan.

    I don’t know if it will come up in another post, but I actually found very little in the LDS faith to actually help me through a fairly major time of depression in my life. My best help was through Buddhism, meditation, and related things.

  36. mmiles – I think the bloggers need to be careful in their definition of depression, then. The opening post said that the BCC bloggers will be discussing their experiences with “clinical depression”, not “major depressive illness”. What does “major depressive illness” mean, anyway? Suicide attempts? Hospitalization?

    Chronic depression – whether manifested in major depressive episodes or not – causes millions of people to struggle with dark, destructive, negative thoughts and moods on a daily basis. There’s no need to create a pathology for dark moods where none exists, and people on this thread seem to privilege therapy and medication over alternative methods that are equally or more effective for many patients.

  37. Kathryn Lynard Soper says:

    Isaac, your points in these recent comments are valid. Just understand that many many people out there are suffering because of rhetoric similar to that in your first comment. You’re right that many others are suffering because of poor clinical practices. You’re also right about there being some bewildering findings in recent research. But let’s address these things in order.

    The most important message we can broadcast here is that depression which interferes with normal functioning deserves attention and treatment. Our first order of business is shedding light on the confusing process of determining whether one is in that boat. So, I invite you (again) to comment in the other thread about your experience in this regard. No more back-and-forth about the points you already made.

  38. Kathryn Lynard Soper says:

    Mike S, yes, we’ll talk about spirituality and depression in depth in a later post. Thanks for your thoughts.

  39. StillConfused says:

    This is very interesting. Thank you for posting this and the coming issues. I hope to see the impact on organized religion in causing or worsening depression (if that is the case).

    It will also be interesting to see if you discuss not medicine ways for treating depression – exercise and diet changes.

  40. Kathryn Lynard Soper says:

    Okay, just had a chance to re-read the thread so far.

    #8, I’m glad you’re supportive of your daughter. Depression can make you feel guilty for being depressed in the first place, ashamed of needing help, etc. Before I started treatment I thought I was being strong and responsible by refusing treatment, when actually the opposite was true.

    #13, I hear you.

    #15, I don’t think it matters how teen suicide rates compare to other populations. The fact that a teen is more likely to die from depression-related suicide than anything else besides accidents and homicide deserves our attention.

    And yes, #18, commenters can use pseudonyms too–I assume you already are, or your parents were real kooks.

  41. you should read some of the medical research that shows anti-depressants are ineffective for many patients seeking treatment

    No kidding. That is probably because they do not have the problem they think they have. Anyone who can solve their problem through any means that does not require professional help probably doesn’t have clinical depression in the first place, practically by definition.

  42. Eric Russell says:

    Not true, Mark D.

  43. Kathryn Lynard Soper says:

    Mark, I’d say that’s true for major depressive disorder. But certainly there are cases of depression that are serious enough to seek treatment that can be managed without medication. That doesn’t mean they should be, though. Just that they can be, if that’s what the individual prefers for whatever reason.

    Depression exists on a spectrum. At one end, you’ve got the maximum number of choices for effective treatment and the maximum capacity to seek treatment in the first place. Towards the middle it gets trickier–fewer things help, and you’re less able to get help for yourself. At the far end you cannot possibly get better without intervention from professionals, not to mention the friends and/or family you’ll need to drive you to the hospital.

  44. “That doesn’t mean they should be, though. Just that they can be, if that’s what the individual prefers for whatever reason.”

    I may be missing your point, but do you mean that someone should/could take medication for depression even though the depression can be managed without taking medication? If this is what you mean, then I think we’re on dangerous ground. Taking meds to alleviate the symptoms of depression isn’t like taking ibuprofen to alleviate the pain of temporary muscle aches. Or is it?

  45. Kathryn Lynard Soper says:

    Do I mean that someone should/could take medication for depression even though the depression can be managed without taking medication?

    Absolutely. Antidepressants are an optional treatment for many individuals, just like antibiotics. Some people would rather let their bodies fight an infection, however long it takes, and manage their symptoms in the meantime through other measures. Others prefer to zap the infection from the get-go. It’s a matter of personal preference in cases where your body is capable of overcoming the infection eventually.

    Some infections, however, will kill you without treatment. And some varieties of depression will as well.

  46. Taking meds to alleviate the symptoms of depression isn’t like taking ibuprofen to alleviate the pain of temporary muscle aches. Or is it?

    It is insofar as the depression is comparable to a muscle ache that merits taking ibuprofen. There are some cases of depression that can be managed without medication, but that doesn’t mean that eschewing medication is *necessarily* the best choice. There may not be a “best” choice, objectively speaking, or an “inferior” choice, for that matter, but there is the choice that the person suffering can live with, depending on his/her circumstances.

    It is possible to take antidepressants for a brief period of time and not need to take them again, even with a recurrence of the same type/severity of depression. Whether or not medication is the “better” choice for an individual depends not only on the type of depression, but the individual’s personal priorities, which can change over time and under different circumstances.

  47. #44

    Interestingly enough, an SSRI (celexa in my case) was able to relieve 6 months worth of significant body aches.

    That aside, the reality is your strawman is not as clear cut as you would have it be. There is a significant gray area, but the consequences are pretty dire if you chose the wrong way. And often those consequences impact others (your family) as much or more than you.

    For instance, I managed my depression without meds with personal coping mechanisms for years. Some of those coping mechanisms were helpful in the short run but awful in the long run (turning to find the next achievement to assert self worth and bring me out of an episode until I couldn’t logically see what the difference between normal and loserdom was comes to mind immediately).

    Second, there are instances where coping mechanisms (such as excercise) are stripped from you or not possible in that specific circumstance. The ballet floor was one of mine for years; yet when I blew out my knee skiing, that option was off. Shutting off everyone (including the phone/email etc, but also family memebers) and reading a book for a weekend to clear my mind became impossible with an infant who needed me 24-7.

    Sure, I can/did develop alternatives over time, but that was it… it takes time. And I wasn’t in a good enough mental state during those moments to know if my “I wish my life would go away” without an actual suicidal plan or “I want to throw my child out the window” and logically talking myself out of it 6 times a day for several months placed me on that continuum of needing/not needing meds. I eventually decided that I preferred to try drugs rather than throw myself into exercise because it fit my circumstance. I am thankful I did.

  48. Isaac, (#36)

    Can’t speak for other participants, but in my case, I am talking about hospitalization and suicide attempts. It’s not clear to me why one should have to reach that degree of misery before it counts as something worthy of medical attention and/or sympathy from one’s coreligionists, but if that constitutes some sort of credibility, I’ll claim it.

  49. Thank you for not being close-minded and uninformed about depression in this post; it’s refreshing. I get tired of the people who would have you believe it’s all just caused by sin.

  50. StillConfused says:

    How many posts will be in the series? Will any specifically address the correlation between religion and depression?

  51. Kathryn S: But certainly there are cases of depression that are serious enough to seek treatment that can be managed without medication

    I agree, and don’t think I suggested otherwise.

  52. Kathryn Lynard Soper says:

    My bad, Mark. I confused “professional help” with antidepressant therapy.

  53. Antidepressants are not antibiotics. But this flawed analogy does provide an instructive parallel. Patient compliance error and the concomitant ineffectiveness of antibiotic treatment has led to the ubiquity of MRSA and other lethal, antibiotic resistant infections. The use of anti-depressants may lead to similar dangerous (and lethal) consequences for you and your family. And so can depression – whether it’s treated and untreated.

    There are no simple answers, but comparing anti-depressants to antibiotics is a dangerous analogy.

  54. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 50
    I’d love to help write that post. You know how to find me, permas.

  55. “There are no simple answers, but comparing anti-depressants to antibiotics is a dangerous analogy.”

    So why use the comparison to speculate on disastrous future results from anti-depressant use? How did a flawed analogy become an instructive parallel?

  56. Issac, this series is really not the place for soapboxing. Your demands for details of symptoms and diagnosis criteria, and soapboxing about medication, are just out of place. If the post contained experiences and feelings of breast cancer survivors, would you demand lists and criteria of how that diagnosis is made?? It is totally irrelevant. This post is talking about what led these people to being diagnosed, and their feelings about the whole thing.

    Here’s all you need to know: If folks feel like crap and/or want to hurt themselves and/or are feeling like they really need to talk to someone to help them cope with some things, they should seek help. Period. Once they go to a professional, THAT PERSON will make a diagnosis. That’s their job. Just like a cancer diagnosis. And, working with the patient, will then determine a treatment plan. Maybe the diagnosis will be, well, there’s nothing medically wrong with you but clearly you needed to talk so good for you for coming in. That’s the professionals’ job, not the job of this series of posts.

    There can be lists of warning signs that can help people decide when to seek professional help, but let’s just leave it at that, ok?

  57. Kathryn Lynard Soper says:

    For hell’s sake, Isaac. I explained what I meant by that analogy, and I’m not going to explain again.

    You have a bone to pick. This is not the place to pick it. You’ve been warned.

  58. I have a relative with bipolar disorder and the road has not been a smooth one. Things look good for now, but we’ll see. There’s a great memoir, “bipolar bare” on living with bipolar disorder. He talks about the extreme highs and lows and in the end he regards his disorder as a gift from god.

    http://www.bipolarbarebook.com/about-the-book

  59. Thank you. Thank you.

  60. 13 Check your mapquest; you may have been at a Church of Scientology meeting. These mistakes happen.

  61. Kathryn Lynard Soper says:

    Funny, cwc, I was beginning to think I’d made a wrong turn myself.

  62. Thoughtful says:

    Frankly, depression scares me. I think that is because I am afraid that I have tendencies towards it. I remember a family that I taught was getting baptized (unheard of in my mission really) and in spite of that I felt like a loser. I remember my zone leader gave me a very encouraging talk and I snapped out of it. It’s as if I had a fog in my brain keeping me from thinking clearly.

    I haven’t slipped under the fog for a long period of time (I’m not taking personal credit for this) and if it weren’t for the large number of positive experiences in my life I could easily fall to pieces I think. I’m glad for this series of posts, it’s always good to be better informed in a setting where people can freely share their experiences.

  63. I’ve been warned about what? That you only want to hear from people whose experiences with depression conform to your expectations? Sorry for disturbing you. This will be my last comment.

  64. Isaac, I hope you still want to read the posts, whether you comment or not. I imagine by stepping back for a bit you could have much to offer.

    And thanks to everyone at BCC to taking on a conversation about depression. Very few want to….and as a result, very few find help.

  65. Kathryn Lynard Soper says:

    No, Isaac. We only want to hear from people who can share their perspectives while respecting the perspectives of others. That means no exhorting, lecturing, or nitpicking at people’s accounts of very personal experiences. Of course, when we’re passionate about a given topic that behavior is hard to resist. That’s where the moderator comes in. Go back and count the number of times you’ve been politely redirected, then count the number of times you’ve respected those cues. Then, maybe you’ll understand why you’ve worn out your welcome.

  66. Mommie Dearest says:

    I’ve been reading with interest but waiting to comment until I have something worthwhile to say. But I re-read Isaac’s first few comments to refresh my memory (which sucks) and I have a question about his point of view. If you don’t treat depression with any of the many choices of meds, or any of the many choices of therapy, what do you do? A morning run? Prayer? “better coping skills”? Iridology?

    After years of struggling with this problem, I no longer care what causes it. And believe me, I could get an award for my coping skills. I am interested in something that someone has tried that was successful in keeping their black dog at bay, or better yet, killing it off. Isaac piqued my interest because, even though for some unknown reason he was really irritated by depression and was dumping all that frustration here, I was watching to see if maybe he had something to offer that would be useful in my bag of tricks. Instead he gave up.

    It is hard to talk about this with full honesty. Most of my family and all of my ward are unaware of the full extent of my struggles. I even considered adopting another fake name here (Mental Doldrums?) so I wouldn’t ever have to deal with that fallout.

  67. Kathryn Lynard Soper says:

    Good to hear from you, Mommie Dearest.

    I have a friend who is treating her chronic depression with a homeopathic remedy. It’s taken daily for a number of years (3-7) and is supposed to cure the depression permanently.

    I have another friend who finds an herbal remedy helpful, another who manages her symptoms through strenuous exercise (triathalon training), and another who reaches wellness by carefully controlling her environment.

    There are lots of options out there to explore instead of therapy and pharmaceuticals, or to use in combination with them. I use light therapy and daily rigorous exercise to manage my symptoms, along with medications and talk therapy. Yoga and meditation have also helped me a great deal.

  68. Hey Mommie,
    I had suicidal, treatment-resistant depression for more than 7 years as part of being Schizoaffective. Sometimes depression is situational and other times you just need to get the chemical balance in your brain straightened out.

    I didn’t have situational depression. My life was great, but after trying diet changes, regular excercies and all sorts of things, I turned to meds. I tried more than 34 different meds and that’s not counting the combinations of those meds. My Dr would say to me over and over again “don’t give up, they are always coming out with something new to treat this.” Some of the things I did on top of the meds were . . . cutting out violence on TV or movies, listenting to feel good music, keeping a house as clean as I could, and making a list of things I was grateful for on a regular basis. That along with counseling, classes, groups, books, numerous hospital stays, ECT, regular adjustments with my meds, being completely honest with myself and my Dr, being hyper diligent with my meds (I have my watch set to go off so I always remember when to take them) and many prayers and blessings, I can honestly say I am doing really good now! I haven’t been to the hospital in 8 months, where I was going about every other month for 7 years. I actually have no problem getting out of bed, taking a shower, keeping things taken care of, I am back to work, having fun, and just being myself.

    We just started a group on Facebook if anyone is interested. It’s called “Support for Mormons with Mental Health Concerns”. We have a discussion board there and some interesting ideas to work with. Good luck. Depression is NOT easy, nor is it just being down. There is a huge spectrum, just like afore mentioned. And like there are so many types of depression there are an equal number of treatments. Just because it works for me doesn’t mean it will work for you and vice-versa. Patience and consistency is what brings life back to normalcy.

  69. I can relate to almost everything expressed in Isaac’s posts, with the exception of the “buck up” mentality. Maybe he didn’t explain his position thoroughly enough with examples of why he takes this position. Everyones experience with depression is different, and to suggest that meds are a mandatory treatment for those genuinlely suffering from a major depressive disorder (as some have suggested) is quite erroneous.

    I am 35, and have suffered from major depression off and on since I was roughly 14/15. I have attempted to cope with the issue in a variety of ways. I’ve been to psychologists, psychiatrists, and in and out of hospitals as a result of multiple suicide attempts. I have tried all kinds of meds, exercise, herbs, prayer, meditation, scripture study, service, etc. Some remedies work better than others. In my experience, meds have done more harm than good. The jury is still out as to the root causes of depression. Don’t believe everything the doctors tell you because the current understanding is still flawed and in it’s infancy. Drug companies are running a BUSINESS. Think about that.

    I’m not saying that people should avoid taking these medications, but do so with caution. Sometimes they help, sometimes they don’t, and in some cases they make things worse. I have an uncle who is a functioning schizophrenic because of modern medicine. Without his meds he wouldn’t be able to hold down a job, and support a family. As for myself, most antidepressants make me exteremely irritable to the point of fits of rage and panic attack. Several years ago, I finally found a drug that seemed to work for me, but within a few months I was having panic attacks and huge mood swings.

    The only thing that has worked for me was to find a REALLY good therapist, and lots of exercise. So many things factor into the basis for depression: genetic predisposition, trauma, abuse, loss, upbringing, attitude, circumstance, weather, etc. When discussing depression, please try to have empathy, and realize that even the “experts” are working with an incomplete understanding of an incredibly complex and difficult problem.

  70. I am really looking forward to this series. Thank you for doing it!

  71. Kathryn Lynard Soper says:

    Thanks for your comment, Jack. When discussing treatments for depression it’s essential to take a balanced approach that acknowledges the immense good medications can do as well as the potential dangers, which are just as real and life-changing. I hope it was clear from my comments that the issue with Isaac wasn’t what he said, but the disruptive way he went about saying it.

    To my knowledge, nobody in this discussion so far has asserted that medications are mandatory for managing major depression. The point has been made that professional intervention is necessary, and your comment seems to support that. I’m sure there are people out there who have recovered from a major depressive episode without professional assistance, but to refuse treatment when it is readily available is a gamble I deem extremely foolish.

    I appreciate you sharing what treatment approach has worked for you. Such input enriches our conversation.

  72. Rick in Depressionville says:

    I would like to add my insignificant voice to, as well as thanks and appreciation and for, this noble effort. I’ve suffered with both situational & biological triggers and never had any luck with pharmaceutical intervention. I’ve lost years of my life to this and never reached peak performance because of it’s crippling effects. Perhaps I’m being too optimistic, but with 40 years of off and on experience, I think I may have finally negated it’s most debilitating effects, by surviving the worst it could throw at me. In an uneasy relationship with it, I have embraced it as one of the great adversities I’ve been inflicted with. The best I can explain it, it’s similar to tolerance for drugs or alcohol. It’s been a few years since it has been powerful enough to produce the same effects as earlier. Depression is very real and it really hurts.

    To explain need for anominity, let’s paraphrase Miranda warning. You have the right to be silent, as public disclosure can and will be held against you in court of law, employment situations, etc. You have a right to seek counseling and if you cannot afford it, hopefully you find some kind of competent help in dealing with it.

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