What to Expect as You Overcome Major Depression

Learn what to expect as you go through treatment and recover from major depression.

After a bout of major depression, it’s a relief when you start to feel like your old self again. Overall, you’re improving as you go through treatment for major depression, “but it’s often two steps forward and one step back,” says Shoshana Bennett, PhD, a clinical psychologist. “It’s rarely a straight line up.” Just knowing to expect some bad days with the good can help you be more patient with yourself. “These are dips, not relapses,” Dr. Bennett says.

A risky time during depression recovery is when you start having several good days in a row. It’s easy to think that — since you’re not having symptoms — you don’t need treatment for depression anymore, but going off medication or quitting therapy for depression too soon can lead to symptoms coming back.

American Psychiatric Association guidelines recommend that people with depression who have been successfully treated with antidepressants keep taking them for at least four to nine months, and sometimes longer. Similarly, people with depression who have fewer symptoms with talk therapy should talk with their therapist about how long to continue treatment.

Keeping Depression Symptoms Away Besides sticking with your depression treatment, you can take steps to keep symptoms under control. Connecting with friends and family, thinking positively, staying active, eating well, and getting enough sleep all help, but there’s a catch, says Jon Allen, PhD, senior staff psychologist at the Menninger Clinic in Houston: “The nature of depression makes it difficult to do those things.”

Don’t be surprised if these healthy steps feel unnatural at first. Depression fosters hopeless thinking, so you may have trouble believing that they’ll ever get easier. “They will,” Dr. Allen notes, “as you pull out of depression.”

Friends and family might see a change in your depression symptoms and depressed behavior before you do. “It’s remarkably common,” Allen says. “People will say, ‘Gosh, you look better,’ or ‘You sound better,’ and the depressed person is thinking, ‘Well, I still feel terrible.'” It can be very frustrating for the depressed person, who ends up feeling that other people don’t understand how tough things really are.

Building a Depression Support Network A support group is one place to find other people who know what you’re going through because they’ve had depression themselves. To locate in-person and online depression support groups, call the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (800-826-3632).

If you pulled away from friends and family while depressed, now is the time to start rebuilding those bonds. Allen suggests making concrete plans; for example, to meet a friend for coffee. “By making that commitment to someone else, you may feel obligated to show up,” he says. It’s added motivation to get out and rejoin the world. Friends and family can also be a source of encouragement on days when depression symptoms or worries about symptoms get you down. Gradually, you’ll start to feel more hopeful, too.

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Herbal Remedies and Dietary Supplements

Some people find herbal remedies and dietary supplements useful in relieving the symptoms of depression. Herbs and supplements commonly used for this purpose include:

  • amino acids and their precursors
  • DHEA
  • folate or folic acid
  • SAMe
  • St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum)

Scientific evidence supports the effectiveness of at least one herbal remedy (St. John’s wort) and two dietary supplements (DHEA and SAMe) for reduction of depressive symptoms. However, herbal remedies and dietary supplements do not help all people and in some cases, the effectiveness of these treatments has not been completely established.

A Healthier Way to Stay Energized

Say “get iron,” and most people think they need a side of beef — or at least a hefty plateful — to stave off fatigue and refuel their immune system. The fact is, you don’t need red meat at all to get plenty of iron to power you through your fusion yoga class, four client presentations, dinner with your in-laws (but you might need some red wine here), a walk with the dog, and maybe another type of romp or two in a day.

Too much red meat can overload you with heme iron, a form of the mineral that can boost your risk of type 2 diabetes. We know you already know that meat can overload you with saturated fat.

Fortunately, heme iron is far easier to dodge than the perfume-spritzing people at the mall. Plant-based foods contain only nonheme iron, which is free of any dirty links to diabetes. It’s pretty easy for men to get what they need — about 8 milligrams (mg) of iron a day — from food: A cup of cooked spinach alone contains 6.4 mg, versus 3.4 mg for a burger. Other good options: kidney beans (3.6 mg per half cup), oatmeal (3.4 mg per cup), and almonds (1 mg per ounce).

However, premenopausal women need about 18 mg a day, so taking a multi with iron is smart, especially since iron from plants tends to be harder to absorb than iron from meat. Help your body soak it up with these tricks:

1. Eat iron-rich foods with vitamin C-rich foods. (Think oatmeal and OJ, chili with beans. See? It’s easy.)

2. Calcium blocks absorption of iron, so separate your calcium supplement and your spinach by a few hours.

3. Coffee and tea interfere with iron, so keep those apart, too.

What Your Liver Can Teach You About Burning Fat

Happiness Secrets: Feel-Good Tricks for Blah Days

I think it was the Cosmopolitan where I came across the following article.  Since I had found the article some tips have proven benefitial to me maybe you find some benefit was well.

1. Take an iPod time-out. Put in your ear buds, and lose yourself in your favorite tunes. A slower tempo will relax you, but music that’s heavy and throbbing will let you work through anger or annoyance so you can get those negative emotions out of your system quickly, explains Los Angeles psychologist Yvonne Thomas, PhD.
2. Slick on red lip gloss. Red lips exude confidence and sex appeal. The reaction you get from others will help replace your bad mood with sexy self-assuredness.
3. Crack up in front of your computer. It’s impossible to feel bad when you’re laughing, so download a video from funnyordie.com or collegehumor.com.
4. Switch on your desk lamp. Harsh overhead lighting can amplify stress and irritation, while a softer glow can help soothe you.
5. Surround yourself with yellow and orange. Studies show that people become more joyful in these warm, bright colors, explains Leatrice Eiseman, author of More Alive With Color, possibly because they remind us of the sun. If you don’t have a yellow or orange garment to wear, pick up flowers in these hues.
6. Visualize your happy place. Maybe it’s a tropical beach or your childhood bedroom. Whatever the location, close your eyes and conjure up the image. Changing your mind’s wallpaper to a place you adore will make you happy, says Thomas.
7. Have a quickie. If sex isn’t possible, reveling in the memory of a sack session also will flood your system with blissful sensations, says life coach Martha Beck, PhD, author of Finding Your Own North Star.


8. Put on clothes you look hot in. Every chick has something in her closet that nets her positive feedback from friends, coworkers, and random strangers. Change into it — even if it’s just a pair of sex-kittenish heels — and enjoy the ego boost.
9. Snack on citrus fruits. They can improve your mood, says psychologist Dale Atkins, PhD, author of Sanity Savers. And because they take time to peel, you’ll likely eat slowly and not end up pigging out.

10. Breathe away bad vibes. Inhale slowly and deeply for five seconds, then exhale for five. You’ll breathe yourself into a more affirmative mind-set, says Atkins.
11. Be a nature girl. Eat lunch in a park. Lie on the grass in your backyard and watch birds fly overhead. Exposure to the outdoors will lower your heart rate and defuse a pessimistic outlook, says Atkins.

Still connecting the dots

As I stated in my last post, I’m trying to connect the dots.  I’m starting to make sense of it all.  Slowly a clear picture starts to emerge however I’m still lacking the ability to spell it all out.

Maybe because others before me have phrased it better like Nietzsche who said;

“He who has a WHY to live for can bear almost any “HOW”.

Connecting the Dots

Now that my Behavioral Therapy Study is coming to its end, I was asked to reflect and review.

I’m slowly connecting the dots.  I still have a few more weeks to get a clearer picture.

Now, I’m sitting here waiting, waiting to conveniently remember, remember, remembering what I had held true, what had guided me through.

I’m starting to see what caused the tumbling down the rabbit hole and why Kansas went ByeBye.

One of my new activities is my volunteer work with Hospice. At first I thought, it would help me coming to terms with my father’s death. I thought facing the finite nature of humankind, head on, would help.  Maybe it does but so far it’s not helping it just makes everything even harder.  I can’t buy into the whole theory of “accept your suffering and it will be easier”.  Then again, I easily accept the fact that life sucks and if you get your cookie be happy, you may not get it tomorrow.  I guess it’s all the same one is just a little deeper than the other.

One of the reason why my volunteer work with Hospice makes it harder is, not only do I stare death in the face each time I enter the hospital or the care center.  My patient maybe doing well but each time I walk down the hallway to her room; one face along that hallway has left, replaced with a new one, which may not be there the next week.  It’s the question, the question that drives us all, “what is it all for”.  What is it, this what we call life, this illusive idea of living a meaningful life? What is it really?

When I sit and contemplate the meaning of it all, I hear my Dad’s voice echoing in my head.  What the meaning is, how one should live life etc.  Maybe one day after I figured it out for myself the voice will go away, maybe one day I’ll find comfort in its presents.

Volunteering for Hospice made me realize how materialistic our society is. I’m questioned constantly why I’m doing this, if I’m not getting paid.  One person, said, “Well I could understand if you are doing it for your course work or study but WHY what is in it for you”. Trying to find the answer to the question, I said.  To which, I gotten the obscure answer, “you just need to come to peace with yourself”.  To this the answer would be “Cotidiana vilescunt”, I guess.

Still, kind of interesting how we in this modern western world, measures everything that matters in relationship to matter and then we turn around and act surprised about the large depression population and the overuse of the depression drug class.

Over the last six months I read a lot of reports of people with terminal illnesses.  A patient enters Hospice if their life expectancy is six months or less. Some fight against the odds and live longer but in the end they all die, we all die.

Still connecting the dots.