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Digging out of the Depression Hole - Acknowledge

I'm back after many months to share the journey to digging myself out of a period of deeper than usual depression.  I hope that these posts will help some of you in your own journey.

I want to emphasize that deep depression is not something that happens at the time of causes.  It is a result of prolonged and piled up unresolved emotions and feelings.  Being functional keeps many of us dealing with the root causes when they occur.  Therefore, do not try to find causes of depression in current situations, the damage happened in the past.  I wrote this as an 8-year-old: I have everything but I am just not happy. Well, you may have everything okay right now but the past has caught up with you.  Like when I had cancer... I was taking the treatments like a champ but 6 months later I fell into a deep depression. Emotions have a lag time.

Depression is not new to me as I have suffered it my entire life (at least all of it that I can remember). Naturally, I've dug myself out of it many…

Helping a person with depression

Helping a person with depression If you have friends, family, co-workers who suffer with depression, I'd like to offer a few dos and don'ts for you.

First, you must understand that no depression is the same. People experience this debilitating condition in unique ways so you must listen and observe carefully to what they have trouble with. Most of us have several symptoms but not all which can change over time.

There are many sources for you to get information on depression signs and symptoms. Please read about it to learn before you offer opinions that could worsen the depressed person's condition. We know you mean well but we also have too many people give opinions and advise from their 'normal' perspective which is radically different from our minds.

Here is a good starting list to get an understanding.

The DOS:Ask non-judgmental questions and be prepared to help or step away if your help is not needed.
Would you like me to do ____________ with you?
Do you want…

Depression with Bidirectional Illnesses

Depression with Bidirectional Illnesses I've said this before... depression doesn't walk alone in most cases. The importance of this cannot be emphasized enough because the coexistence of conditions often lead to worsening conditions. The constant exposure/experience of the simultaneous illnesses often end up in competition for attention which feed the cycle and make things worse for both (or multiple conditions).

While I cannot list all combinations in this post, I'd like to illustrate the point with some common occurrences.
Depression and Insomnia It has been proven by research that insomnia is a huge risk factor for depression as well as a consequence of depression.

This is not hard to understand. In layman terms, those of us who don't get enough sleep often experience lack of energy, memory problems, and a host of other symptoms that make normal functioning of body and mind difficult on a daily basis. The frustration with not being able to do all the things we …

Withdrawal and Depression

I think we all know that depressed people exhibit withdrawal from people and things at some point. For some, this is a positive occurrence but for many, it is making their condition worse. Here is my take on the matter...

Social withdrawal
Negative: According to many, "social withdrawal is the most common telltale sign of depression". The reasons for this are many but generally have to do with our unintentional isolation from people's input on our thinking.  The isolation causes an increase on our stress response thereby making the situation worse.

Positive: When withdrawal is by choice, as in intended, we make a conscious decision to take time away from people to resolve something or things that no longer serve us. I have done this many times and with good results. I also saw others gain from taking time for themselves and come out of the self-imposed isolation with better understanding of their condition, come up with avenues to do things differently, enforce their own…

Food and Depression

Depression and food
Not everyone with depression has a weight issue but most will encounter food issues like cravings, upset stomach, cramps, nausea, irregular eating pattern, mood eating, and so forth.

Weight gain Here is the first picture to ponder...
If you struggle keeping your weight down, you are probably in the depression-obesity cycle.



Cravings People with depression often have cravings, especially carbohydrates. Sugar is actually hindering the management of depression.



Stayed tuned for added materials.

Workplace Stress Anxiety Depression

The workplace should be a significant source of positive experiences boosting our self-esteem, sense of accomplishment, and professional growth.  For many, this is the case.

However, there is a growing number of people (both employees and leaders) who suffer with mental health problems, primarily depression and anxiety.

The World Health Organization estimates that lost productivity to mental illness costs $1 trillion per year to the global economy.

A recent development in this area is burnout which has been classified as an occupational phenomenon due to stress, disengagement, cynicism, fatigue, and other typical toxic work environment factors.

In this post, I'd like to highlight some things companies do that may not be apparent to the professional environment but most definitely contributes to the increase of mental health issues in the workplace.

I think we would decrease a significant amount of mental illness if we just cut out the mixed messages.  Here are a few examples.

job p…

Acknowledge v Accept Depression

I will outline attitudinal difference between acknowledging and accepting depression.

Acknowledging means that you are fully aware of your negative mental state and have the choice of finding ways to deal with it.  This also means that you are not in denial.  Those who have not acknowledged their state of mind and emotions caused by depression do not have a choice but suffer.

Acknowledging also means that you now reached the point where you can embark on the depression road to make life better.  You can seek more information about your particular version of depression, find the right medication, and engage with a therapist.

Acknowledging also means that you can start self-observation, self-examination, and self-awareness practices.  There are a lot of resources out there.  My advice would to be read some and identify a few sources that really resonates with you (like it is your style) so that you can put reading into practice.

The most important thing is to get on the road and do some…

Adolescents with Depression need more help

We are truly failing our young people with depression!

Take a look at the comparison. It is astounding to me to see that 60.1% of adolescents received NO treatment for their depression while it is about half of that for adults. The picture is even more bleak when it comes to proper treatment of medication and therapy.

The most scary thing is that these numbers only represent the population with diagnosed cases.  Depending on the source, the estimates of undiagnosed cases could be as high as two-third in the US and even more globally.

I can think of many reasons for this.

1. Young people are less capable/willing to communicate their need for help.
Ideas: school programs, volunteer therapists, online forums, mentoring, buddy system, develop a behavioral assessment list that is unique to children

2. Parents are not aware of their child's mind
Ideas: recommend psychological assessment as prevention, educate about signs of depression, provide platforms/events/forums to raise awareness…

Depression doesn't walk alone

Truthfully, I have never seen a person with depression who doesn't have some other mental and/or physical condition.

There are many studies, one of which was published in JAMA Psychiatry, that we have a 1 in 5 chance to experience depression in our lifetime.  The findings indicate comorbidity (existing together) with other psychiatric disorders as follows:
substance use disorder - 57.9%
previous anxiety disorder - 37.3%
personality disorder - 31.9%



This study also points out that we have an increased rate of self-medication with other substances like cannabis.  Personally, I use nicotine (my addiction) and Nutella.

Depression is also very common with people who have physical illness. Here is a fairly simple read from the Medical Journal of Australia that discusses the complexity of having depression and physical problems.

The gist of physical illness and depression is that there is a pretty good chance of:
- having both
- medicine often treats the physical first but misses the menta…

Intelligence Depression Pie

If you have above average intelligence, then chances are you have encountered some level of mental health issue like anxiety, depression, ADHD, ASD, and the likes.  This is no coincidence.

Research shows that high IQ people are significantly higher at risk of developing mental problems because of the hyper brain and body sensitivity.

My personal experience jives with this.  For the record, my IQ is 134.

I have many friends who have even higher IQ then mine and all of them suffer from some form of mental issue, often multiple problems.

So here is the PIE equation.  PIE = IQ + EQ (mental health).  As you can deduct, the higher the IQ the lower the mental health.

Many high IQ people know their mental problems and, being smart, develop coping mechanisms to live with the 'down' days, lack of motivation, anxiety, and so forth.  The problem is that many will try to 'outsmart' their condition(s) by telling themselves that they are smart enough to deal with it on their own.  I s…

Music Helps Depression

It's been well known that music helps people with depression.

You can read research and a lot more about how music can help at the American Music Therapy Association's website.

I won't bore you with the musical theory behind my choices (being a violinist I know a bit about it), just let it suffice that the most constructive pieces for depression (in my opinion) are written in a variation of major keys.

Here are a few of my suggestions:

Uplifting
Classical: Liszt - Les Preludes https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDEem_aEttE
Pop: Bette Middler - Wind beneath my wings https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0iAzMRKFX3c

Motivating
Classical: Dvorak's 8th Symphony https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zfP29uN33L8
Pop: Whitney Houston - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=27Lf9gEioxI

Productive
Classical: J.S. Bach - Brandenburg concertos https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NCPM8DEsvmc
Pop: Queen - Don't stop me now https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HgzGwKwLmgM

Calming
Classical: Debussy - Clair d…

Exercise is Natural Medicine for Depression

I know what some will say... I just can't get myself moving.  If you need motivation, here is a reason why.  Exercise increases neurotransmitters, the stuff in the brain responsible for regulating physical and mental well being. Here is some research you can read.

For my money, you don't have to be an athlete or exhaust yourself to get some benefit from exercise.  Start slow and small, then increase intensity as you get better.  The most important thing is to do something every day so you body develops a 'need' for moving.  I'd say you'll feel that 'need' in about 3 weeks at which point it becomes easier to get going.  Developing this healthy habit will help with your depression.

Many will also say that exercise takes time which they don't have.  As my mother said, "you have time for what you make time for".  You can do something just about anywhere!

If you think that exercising requires money, I'll show you how you can get in shape fo…

Break the Negative Cycle

Part of why depression is so debilitating is the vicious circle of negative thinking.  It goes something like this:
I feel down > I'm lazy > I don't deserve ______ > I feel guilty/anxious/stressed/pain/paranoid/whatever > I should _____ > I'm tired > I don't care > leave me alone > REPEAT

Here are some techniques I used to break this cycle:

Listen to comedy - not the sarcastic type but pure funny stuff

Search for quotes on life wisdom - ponder its truth and how (if at all) you can apply it

Clean something - it is amazing how focusing on a simple task can give your mind a break

Write a note of appreciation - like smiling, using positive language raises your spirit/mood

Breath - if you don't know how, look up yoga/meditation/mindfulness

The possibilities are endless.  The main idea I am highlighting is to FOCUS on something for a little while (15 minutes) to give your mind a break from negative thinking.  This will allow you to stop the downwa…

Early Signs of Depression

I often wondered if I was born with the tendency of depression.  I asked my Mom last night what she could remember about my behavior that would be an indicator of depression.  Here is what I learned:

Age 3
Mom's spontaneous hug and kiss attempt often resulted in my response:
"Mom don't kiss me"
I earned the label "moody" which stuck with me 'till puberty.
My parents dismissed this sign and attributed it to me being independent, smart, opinionated and the likes.

Age 5
I was often found as a center of attention 'lecturing' others.  I used my wit and reasoning ability to keep people at arms length.

Age 7
First grade offered another platform to perfect my craft distancing myself from others.  I used every opportunity to show that I was different than the rest both in mental abilities and behavior.  While I loved the 'admiration' of my peers, I was also bored with them.  I was seeking adult acceptance.

Age 8
In an attempt to write a short sto…

Mental Health Awareness Month

May is the mental health awareness month since 1949.

While there are a lot of organizations and initiatives that exist for providing help, support, education and various aids, the number of people affected by depression, anxiety, stress and many other forms of debilitating mental conditions is on the rise.

Make a point to do something every day to raise your spirit, motivation, clarity, or simply give yourself a chance to feel better.  It only takes a few minutes!  Once you get into the habit of daily 'feel better' activities, you can add more to the list.  Practice is the key to healthy habits.

Here are a few ideas to reduce the risk of getting into or going deeper into depression:

Increase physical activity - even 15 minutes will give you a refreshing break (walk/run/bike, clean, do yard work, play with a pet)

Take a break - do something different for a few minutes to clear your mind (get water or a healthy snack, water the plants, load the dishwasher, take a bathroom break,…

First Step Ideas

One of the hardest thing for depressed people is to take the first step for getting help.  I know, I've been there.  It took 10 years, 2 episodes with cancer, a break in career progression, and a ton of perceived physical pain (yes, it was not real but I was still hurting).

Here are some tips to start on the depression road:

Ask a friend or family member to help you to make an appointment and accompany you to see a doctor.  You can see your general practitioner since depression is fairly easy to diagnose.  They can get prescribe an anti-depressant immediately and refer you to a therapist.

Educate yourself about treatment methods by reading.   Learning about possible treatments (medical, psychological, life skills) is an essential part of developing skills to deal with depression.

For example, there are a lot of misconceptions around what therapy is and can do which can lead to not reaching out, disappointment due to unreasonable expectations, and a plethora of other outcomes.

Ther…

Functional but Blue

Many of us with depression are highly functional which makes it even more difficult to decide on getting help.

You don't have to go very far to see what I mean.  Michael Phelps is arguably the greatest swimmer in history and also a spokesperson for talkspace, an online platform that offers convenient and affordable therapy.

Functional doesn't mean healthy! Finding joy in our everyday activities, looking forward to the next hour and things that are coming, waking up with drive, and feeling no dread/fear/anxiety about what's coming is where your life could be... so start walking the depression road one step at the time.

Tip: Put yourself to the test!
1. Ask yourself each evening what portion of the day you spent feeling that you did chores (this is not the activity but the general feeling of having to do rather than wanting to do).
2. Keep tabs for two week.
3. If you spend more than half of your time this way, it is time to change something and feel better.

Only you can sta…

Depression in Plain English

Depression, mild or sever, is on the rise worldwide.  Why?  Contribution from pressure from work, speed of life, finances, family issues, and societal/technological changes add to our ability to cope with and effectively process the mental, emotional, physical, and psychological demands on us.  The good news is that these are triggers that can be eliminated.

The purpose of this blog is to share the techniques and tips that have worked for me and others I know who live with depression and their loved ones who support them.