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Monday, April 30, 2012

I'm Afraid I'll Suffer from Depression my Whole Life

Dear Ms.Curtiss,

Do you remember me? I am Lithuanian. I am writing to you because I want to say thanks one more time..Your book "Brain switch"  opened my eyes . You remember I was pregnant and I used anti-depressants.  Two weeks before the birth I stopped taking medicine. Your book helped me. I was lucky, I gave birth to a healthy daughter. She is 3 months old now.  I continued to reside with your book. But sometimes my daughter is very choppy, so then my depression is worse. Can you advise me to do something. Dear Curtiss, every day I wish you health, because you help me. I am very sad that I do not speak very good English, because I would like you to write so much. Sometimes I want to give up, but than I think of you. You probably are very strong. I would like to be like you. My mother is suffering from  depression, too, and I see her and fear I will be suffering from depression my whole life. Write back if you can.

Dear L.

I suffered with depression for almost thirty years of my life before I “got” the idea that I could be in control of my thinking and depression was, essentially, a pattern of thinking that I fell into habitually. Much of depression is a habit. With persistence, and thanks to the neuroplasticity of the brain (which makes new neurons every day of your life), you can, with repetition and persistence develop new neural get-out-depression thinking patterns and use those habitually instead of the get-into-depression neural patterns.

The brain is complex and you also need to understand how it works so you don’t give it the wrong signals that get you into depression. You need to know where depression is produced in the brain, how the process of pain perception works, what learned association is and how the brain uses it, a few mind techniques such as thought-jamming and brainswitching. All this you can learn by reading my book Brainswitch out of Depression, which you have read.

The thing you fear is true, you will suffer from depression for the rest of your life, just like the rest of humanity. These neural patterns of anguish will never be erased from your memory banks and they can be triggered off at any time. However, with some knowledge and habitual USE of the techniques you can call up the helpful neural patterns (also in the memory banks of your brain) and use them to get rid of depression by jumping off the neural pattern that is carrying depression in your brain, and hopping on one of the more helpful neural patterns which you have developed by doing the exercises.

However, as you remember from the book, when you are deep into depression, it is hard to remember about the techniques. You have to work very hard to connect (via learned association) your helpful neural patterns with the depressive neural patterns so when the painful one is triggered, the helpful one is triggered at the same time. The trick is commitment. A solemn promise to yourself to do a dumb exercise, no matter what.

The trick is to remember what needs to be remembered. Commitment helps with this. This is what takes persistence. Depression makes you apathetic, helpless and hopeless, so you think “Oh, this is too horrible, I need some help,” or “nothing will work so why bother with the exercises.” When I first created the techniques for myself I found it extremely hard to use them when I got depressed because depression is hopeless so why would I do anything? But finally I was able to do the exercises every time. I just did them because the neural pattern of my commitment to do them was there and, after a while, instead of thinking about my depression, I succeeded in thinking only the exercises. One time I’d use one exercise, another time a different one. But I always used one of them.

After a while, although depression generally hit me every morning, it took me less and less time to get out of it. Now, after so many years, when depression hits me, my reaction is so quick to latch on to some dumb little exercise that the depression never really gets a chance to set in and develop into a big hit like it used to. I am much better at noticing right away when I start going into a downer mode and grab on to an exercise.

And these days, I don’t get hit with it every day, maybe a couple of times a month, where it used to be a couple of times every day. My brain is a different brain than it was when I was depressed all the time. It is a different brain because, as an act of will, through persistence, and the practice of repetition, I made myself a different and more helpful brain. This is not an overnight success. Yes, you can get rid of depression every time it hits, and if you do the exercises right away it will be easier. But you have to build your own brain. No doctor or psychotherapist can do that for you. The anti-depressants provide no new brain development. Only you can do that.

You have a choice every moment of your life. Shall you do a dumb exercise, and get about choosing some more productive neural thinking patterns instead of thinking the depressive ones, and change your behavior patterns from passive to active, or jog, or do yoga, or shall you give up and fall in the depressive habits of thinking and behavior. You always have a choice to pick a more productive thought than the depressive one. For the rest of your life. And as you change your brain, you change your life. Keep in touch. I care. A. B. Curtiss

Below are the two letters of original correspondence between L. and me.

Dear Ms.Curtiss,

At first, I wuold like apologise of my English. I am from Lithuania, it is east Europe. I have read your book "BRAIN SWITCH". It is a wonderful book. I believe yuo are the best doctor-
psychotherapists that I have ever meet. I have got very big problem. Can you advice me, please. I am 35 years old. Depression came into my life when I was 29. Now I am pregnant and I use drugs (Cipralex 10 mg). I know you was in depression for along time. Did you drink the medicine when you were pregnant? Do  yuo know what is the antidepressant effects for a baby. I started use drugs 23 week of pregnancy. I am very much afraid of my baby. Maybe you can share your experiences, please. Your book helps me very much, but I am very afraid to refuse drugs. I think this will take time.I know you are very busy, but  I wuold like ask you respond to my letter, please. It is very important for me. Thanks in advance.

I never took any drugs for my depression because I was more afraid of the drugs than the depression. In this country there are now big suits because Prozac and other anti-depressants have caused problems for pregnant women. On the other hand, many women took these drugs and had no problem so all may be well with you and your baby.  I don't know how to advise you because I don't know anything about drugs. I don't think anti-depressants do any good. I do think that hormonal problems and lack of nutruients in some people can cause depression which can be alleviated by natural homeopathic supplements such as vitamins, hormone replacement etc. I hope all goes well for you and I'm sorry I can't be of more help.
A. B. Curtiss --

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