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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Will Depression Keep Coming Back Forever? Can't I Get Rid of It for Good?

A woman asked my advice recently about going back on anti-depressants. Since starting to do mind exercises 3 years ago , she had not been on any medication. She said she was getting pressure from her friends to start medication again. Here was our conversation:

“I did so well for years without medication. But I have been worrying that depression still keeps coming back. And suppose it gets worse, and comes back even more and more often. And this woman at work keeps telling me I need to get back on medication. That I'm not being responsible. My friends are also telling me I need to get back on medication.”

“Are your friends on medication?”

”Yes. ”

”But you haven’t been on medication for 3 and a half years? ”

”No I haven’t. And I was doing good with the exercises. But I get tired of always having to do them. I want to be rid of depression entirely, and doing the exercises, I still get depressed. It keeps coming back. I get rid of it and it comes back. ”

”How was it like for you on Prozac? ”

”I hated it. I don’t like the rollercoaster emotions. But on Prazac I felt like a Zombie. I didn’t feel anything.”

“Can you get out of depression if you do the exercises?”

“Yes but it always comes back.”

”Your options are limited. ”

”What do you mean?

“First of all. If you’ve spent a lot of time being depressed, those neural patterns are strong in your brain. They are never going to go away. The depressive neural patterns are forever in the memory banks of your brain. And they can be triggered off by any number of things. That’s the bad news. The good news, though, is that you know how to get out of depression whenever it’s triggered off.

“And remember, ” I reminded her, ”medication won’t ever get rid of depression for good either. You have two options. You can be on medication like your friends, and not like the side effects, and become more and more afraid of depression and get weaker and weaker in your control over depression because you’re developing no coping skills.

“Or you can get rid of depression whenever it shows up by using mind exercises. It’s your choice. There’s no way to get rid of depression for good. But when you’re actively engaged in controlling it, and getting rid of it when it comes, you get better at it. You also become less afraid that depression has the power to take you over. I’m at that point. I no longer have any fear of Depression.

“Oh, it’s still plenty painful when it hits me. I sometimes even say to myself, OMG, this is terrible no wonder people kill themselves. But then that other neural pattern reminds me to get busy with an exercise. And I do. And then depression is gone until the next time.

“For me, I chose no medication and over the years I have learned to get out of depression so easily that the fact that it shows up a couple of time a week isn’t significant in my life. My depression gets triggered off. And at the same time the neural pattern that I have built over the years gets triggered off, the one reminding me to do an exercise. I do. The depression goes away in a few minutes.

My questioner then asked, “But how come some people don’t have depression? It’s not fair.”

“Now you are talking about someone like my husband,” I said. “He had always told me he never got depressed. But that’s not true. Everybody gets depressed. It’s just that some people have learned from childhood to distract their minds from downer, negative, fearful and depressive thoughts. It’s so second-nature and automatic to them to do it that they don’t notice the depression because it never advances beyond the very beginning stages.

“My husband used to say that he was never depressed and that I just saw myself as a tragic person. But after he attended one of my seminars, he changed his mind. After that lecture he said to me that although he had always thought of himself as someone who was never depressed, when he heard me talking about the brainswitching exercises, he remembered something.

From the time he was a very little boy, he explained, whenever he had felt sad, had that painful misery that he guessed people meant when they said depression, he would imagine some football or basketball play in which he carried the ball. He would concentrate on that until the painful feelings went away. He’s like other people I’ve met who say they are never depressed. But they all will admit to all kinds of interesting distractions, if they really give it some thought, that they learned from childhood to rid themselves of misery and painful anxiety.

“For me,” I said to the woman, “ I have decided that I have only one option. I refuse to think about depression when it pops up. I ignore it completely and do some dumb little mind exercise. It always goes away in a short space of time. Never lasts as much as half an hour.

“For you.” I suggested to the woman, “there are two options. You can take the medication, or you can do the harder work of building new neural patterns in your brain that make you a stronger, less fearful, more competent human being that is independent and strong.

“What do you mean independent.?”

“People who must rely on medication to control their thinking are emotionally dependent. They have not developed the skill to access their rational faculties when their emotions are raging. It’s a choice. Medication or exercise for depression. Emotional dependence or independence. You must make the choice.


Anonymous said...

This is very enlightening, I also believe that depression is just a state of mind. I'm only 16 and I think I have occasional depression, sometimes it would only last for a few days but at times it would last for a week or so. I fear depression, it is funny because I am fearing my own mind. I am still finding a way on how to battle this monthly depression I get. I only hope that someday it will never come back.

Anonymous said...

I find the article very helpful. I've gotten rid of depression more times than I can remember. And it always tries to come back, but I fight it back. I always wondered why depression would return every once in a while. But I'm finding it easier to think positive the more times I fight it back. It gets to be less pain in the process. Thank you for writing this article.

humanjoke said...

i've got the all time most pathetic case of depression. 19 years i have dealt with this with the last 10 on meds. it invoves a time in my life when my wife (who was my girlfriend then) and I made some mistakes. I never fully trusted that i got the truth but i found a way to cope and move on with life. but after my first child was about to be born the depression resurfaced like a freight train and has been on and off. the fact that my wife still says she loves me and hasnt left me is a freakin miracle. 100,000 would have gotten a divorce and another 100,000 would have committed suicide by now if they had my brain. 19 years PATHETIC! I feel there is no help for me and not only am i suffering but so is my family by not having me healthy. so if u think that a couple of years of depression is bad remeber and learn from this. do everything u can to fight it or end up like me. a walking shell of a person