How to beat depression

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Thequietone
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Tue Sep 21, 2010 2:58 pm Post

"depression and other brain chemistry disorders"

If you are a drug company its in your interest to claim this as you sell drugs or placebos.

If you are selling religion its in your interest to claim its a spiritual problem and that you or your cult has the answer.

However with the clarity that depression brings you see the problem is life itself. That is why people turn to suicide as without life you feel no more pain.

Paul

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geoffh
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Tue Sep 21, 2010 3:39 pm Post

This article from the journal "Molecular Psychiatry" provides a alternative perspective on depression:

http://www.nature.com/mp/journal/v14/n8 ... 00944a.pdf

which I try to explain in simpler language in an article I wrote about some related research done at the institute I work at:

"In making these suggestions, the Indian team was also in tune with the very newest ideas about the role of the serotonin scavenging system in human psychology and evolution. In 2009 Belsky and his colleagues re-examined the studies that show that people who do not have both copies of the “robust” serotonin scavenging allele are more depression-susceptible. The team uncovered a fascinating pattern. While people with non-robust alleles are more susceptible under stressful circumstances, the original researchers had overlooked the fact that in neutral or positive environments, these people actually show a lower tendency to depression. Likewise Belsky's team found that other genetic configurations considered to make people vulnerable to being violent or anxious actually confer their bearers with psychological advantages in non-stressful conditions. So, various problematic alleles that had been seen as bad news for both the individuals involved, and the wider society, are likely part of a reservoir of useful variation, as suggested for Bonnet and Rhesus Macaques. Our ability to adapt to different environmental circumstances throughout our evolutionary history may have been enabled, like the macaques, by an enriched social flexibility, in turn enabled by our species’ spurning of any one “best” set of behavioural genes. As they say: It takes all kinds."

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nom
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Tue Sep 21, 2010 10:52 pm Post

PJS wrote:
nom wrote:Perhaps my choice of the word "easy" was not helpful.


Perhaps?

ps


Fair call.
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nom
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Tue Sep 21, 2010 11:21 pm Post

Thequietone wrote:"depression and other brain chemistry disorders"

If you are a drug company its in your interest to claim this as you sell drugs or placebos.

If you are selling religion its in your interest to claim its a spiritual problem and that you or your cult has the answer.

However with the clarity that depression brings you see the problem is life itself. That is why people turn to suicide as without life you feel no more pain.

Paul


Hi Paul,

I'm certainly not a drug company, nor can I prescribe medication. In fact, even if I could prescribe, I wouldn't. As noted above, medication is only recommended as the front-line treatment for severe depression. I used the term "brain chemistry disorder" to indicate that there are well-known differences in chemistry, structure and function of the brain in depression (and other mental health disorders). Whether these changes cause depression, or depression causes the changes, or some feedback loop between them doesn't matter. To me the important part to acknowledge is that changes do occur which illustrates, as Wock said so well, that depression is not just a bad day.

There have been thoughts that perhaps depression allows people to just see the world "as it is" rather than through the rose-coloured glasses that everyone else uses, however this is not the case. There have been research studies investigating this very question, and an entire field of very effective treatment (cognitive therapy) developed around it. It has been clearly demonstrated that depression focuses on and inflates the negative and often downplays or misses all-together the positives. So while clinical depression may bring clarity, it is rarely accurate or helpful. Depression may view life as the problem, and suicide as the answer, but it rarely factors in the devastating impact this has on everyone else - from family members and friends to emergency crews and innocent bystanders. Depression may believe that no-one cares and that life doesn't matter, the reality is the complete opposite. Treatment is preferable.
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nom
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Tue Sep 21, 2010 11:44 pm Post

I'm becoming aware that I seem to be dominating this thread. Please accept my apologies. I don't want to preach, nor do I want to minimise or trivialise the pain of depression. I am acutely aware of its effects. Depression is so bleak, so devastating, that sometimes it can be desperately hard to find hope. I responded because I have some expertise in this area and that I believe it is important to know that treatment is possible. There is hope.

Again, apologies for posting so much in a thread started by someone else and for inadvertently offending anyone along the way.
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Wed Sep 22, 2010 9:26 am Post

On the contrary, nom, I think what you've had to say as a professional voice is most interesting. On the basis of experience of friends who've suffered from this scourge I disagree with bits of it, but to me it's still very valuable to read the professional view amongst the lay contributions.

H
'Listen, some quiet night, when you've shirked your work that day. Do you hear
that distant, almost inaudible clicking sound? That's one of your
competitors, working away in the night in
Paris or London or Erie, PA.'

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Jaysen
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Wed Sep 22, 2010 12:05 pm Post

Hugh makes an interesting point that bears expounding:

Nom and I share a common problem, we are somewhat advanced on our specialized learning in areas that are obscure to many. What seems to us to be a common or well known problem with documented solutions, is to others a significant, potentially devastating event. Both perspectives are correct based on their relative position to the problem. Both perspective are incorrect from the other persons position relative to the problem.

Nom's statements regarding depression are the clinical perspective; one that is taken from the external observation of many examples and the aggregated results of treatment. The perspective of those who have personal experience with depression are the polar opposite; one that is taken from the internal results of living with this condition themselves or with a loved one.

Neither is wrong.

Just be glad none of us are computers. Then I would be the doctor. BWAHAHAHAHA!
Jaysen

I have a wife and 2 kids that I can only attribute to a wiggle, a giggle, and the realization that she was out of my league so I might as well be happy with her as a friend. 26 years marriage later, I can't imagine life without her. -Me 10/7/09

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geoffh
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Wed Sep 22, 2010 3:08 pm Post

Yes I have enjoyed your contributions too Nom. The only major thing I disagree with is the position your statements endorse, that the only perspective on depression is one that views it as a disease.

In saying that I speak as a scientist myself, as someone for whom depression is almost unimaginable (I'm an annoyingly perpetual optimist) and (maybe as a result of that), as someone who has ended up being asked for help (very informally) by quite a few friends suffering through depressive periods.

As per the Molecular Psychiatry article that I linked to upthread, as the quietone proposed, and as you yourself are clearly aware, there are alternative perspectives that acknowledge some - perhaps very occasional - advantage in the depressive outlook/worldview.

One can argue that such views are completely misguided, and, for me personally, the seriousness with which my depressed friends view problems (but not always the problems themselves) is a complete mystery to me. But they are highly intelligent people, and like the quietone seem to value, even when they are not depressed, the clarity that depression seems to bring. It seems somewhat analogous to the unusual skills of some people with Aspbergers, not something that is necessarily universally desirable, but not without its occasional usefulness.

I think of one of my most depressed friends as a sort of stylistic "supertaster" - his sense of what constitutes good "design" is so refined that he can give unerringly good advice on just about anything - writing, music, architecture, painting, home furnishing - you name it. But in return this means he lives most of his life suffering an almost visceral pain at the myriad poor design choices that constitute the typical urban environment.

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Hugh
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Wed Sep 22, 2010 3:21 pm Post

Yes, I used to work in an occupation where foresight was a very valued attribute. Those who were best at it had depressive tendencies. The very best - who some would say had the gift of prophecy - was bipolar.

H
'Listen, some quiet night, when you've shirked your work that day. Do you hear
that distant, almost inaudible clicking sound? That's one of your
competitors, working away in the night in
Paris or London or Erie, PA.'

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Wock
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Wed Sep 22, 2010 5:26 pm Post

One example I would say is this.

Take a war veteran that has seen a lot of combat. Say He has PTSD. Now take a love hungry hippy who has never hurt a butterfly, never served, and is a pacifist. Can the hippy relate to the soldier? Can the hippy put into perspective what the soldier has experienced? Can the hippy truly be empathetic towards something he has no experience in, has no understanding of, and has not seen first hand? Would the hippy, based on his own beliefs and experiences, unintentionally downplay the severity of the soldiers condition? Even if the hippy was a trained psychologist could he truly empathize with something he has never experienced?

Now who would be the "best" person to talk to the solider?

This hippy I described, or say a person who not only has the same psychologist experience AND is a veteran who actually saw combat.

A person who has never experienced the full depths of clinical depression is like the hippy. They can have an understanding of what is happening, they can even empathize, but they can never truly put it into true perspective the context of the severity because they have nothing to compare it to. They tend to downplay it because they have no personal experience to compare it to.

A simple example is child birth. Men have never experienced it. We can empathize but can we truly ever understand the amount of pain an put it into a true perspective the same as say another woman who has given birth before and can relate due to experience?

On a side note. One could ask themselves this.

Have you ever truly experienced true happiness if you have never had a Manic or Hypo mania episode? After all Hypomania is a "higher level" of euphoria than the happiness a balanced person feels.

With that in mind one could argue that "balanced" people never truly experience true happiness nor true sadness, but rather just small degrees of "middle of the road" emotions. :-)
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nom
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Thu Sep 23, 2010 12:34 am Post

Jaysen wrote:Hugh makes an interesting point that bears expounding:
Just be glad none of us are computers. Then I would be the doctor. BWAHAHAHAHA!

Friday the 13th meets The Matrix?

geoffh wrote:Yes I have enjoyed your contributions too Nom. The only major thing I disagree with is the position your statements endorse, that the only perspective on depression is one that views it as a disease.
...
As per the Molecular Psychiatry article that I linked to upthread, as the quietone proposed, and as you yourself are clearly aware, there are alternative perspectives that acknowledge some - perhaps very occasional - advantage in the depressive outlook/worldview.

I personally wouldn't say I hold a disease perspective, but I do view clinical depression as a disorder. It's a minor point, but to me an important one. Thanks for the article by the way, it was very interesting. However, it doesn't actually address the experience of depression itself. Regardless of whether we use the terms "vulnerability", "sensitivity" or "plasticity", some people become depressed to the point where it interferes with daily living. Whether it is a disease or, as I think, part of the normal range of human experience, doesn't matter - it reduces quality of life to the point where it is harmful. Note too that clinical depression is vastly different from pessimism, critical thinking, or just feeling down. To expand on Wock's earlier example: a headache is normal, and some people are more prone to them (for whatever reason) than others. But if you were to have a crippling migraine, you wouldn't care whether it was due to genes, environment or some interaction between them, you'd just want the pain to go away. Ditto depression.

Wock wrote:Take a war veteran that has seen a lot of combat. Say He has PTSD. Now take a love hungry hippy who has never hurt a butterfly, never served, and is a pacifist. Can the hippy relate to the soldier? Can the hippy put into perspective what the soldier has experienced? Can the hippy truly be empathetic towards something he has no experience in, has no understanding of, and has not seen first hand? Would the hippy, based on his own beliefs and experiences, unintentionally downplay the severity of the soldiers condition? Even if the hippy was a trained psychologist could he truly empathize with something he has never experienced?

Now who would be the "best" person to talk to the solider?

This hippy I described, or say a person who not only has the same psychologist experience AND is a veteran who actually saw combat.


Wock, speaking as someone who is a trained psychologist AND has had clinical depression, I partially agree with you. In your example, a lay person who has experienced war would be far better equipped to simply talk with the soldier than a pacifist hippy. BUT, when it comes to treating the soldier, it is less clear. Let's expand the analogies: gynaecologists are not all women; not every surgeon has to go under the knife; a good oncologist does not have to have had cancer; writers need not have experienced everything they write about. So while empathy is an important tool of psychology, it is not the only one. For example, I do not have to have had schizophrenia to treat it. So although I have had depression, and it does perhaps give me some greater insight into the suffering my clients experience, it doesn't contribute much to treating it. My eight years of psychology training contributes much more.

Finally, life has ups and downs. We need to be sad, upset or angry sometimes. Psychology is not about pretending the world is marvellous all the time. It isn't. Shit happens. But good things also happen, so we can also feel loving, content and euphoric. It isn't the nature or intensity of emotion that is problematic, but its duration and effects.
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Wock
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Thu Sep 23, 2010 4:27 pm Post

Yes I agree about "treating". My point was simply "understanding".

A doctor can "treat" 3rd degree burns and heal a person but can a doctor accurately describe or understand the actual degree of pain of those burns if the doctor has never experienced it firsthand?

So a person who has never experienced the degree of depression of clinical depression is like me saying climbing Mount Everest is not that hard. I have never climbed ME nor ever climbed something of that degree of difficulty but is my assumption wrong? Of course it is but based on my experiences of climbing and difficulty I may incorrectly project a smaller degree of difficulty on this due to my actual lack of experience.

I will say this. If a person does experience a degree of sadness or happiness that is beyond their normal experiences they should seek professional help. Like on the warning label of Excedrin Extra strength that states that you should seek medical help if you are experiencing the "worst headache in your life" if a person is experiencing an emotional response that is well beyond what they feel is "normal" that may be a sign that an expert should be sought out. Undiagnosed depression or mania can have adverse effects not only socially but also have adverse effects physically.
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Cjmiltko
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Sat Sep 25, 2010 10:20 pm Post

Saw this in my feeds today. Been a little behind reading them, so sorry if it's old news.
http://www.NaturalNews.com/029848_depression_electromagnets.html
Intriguing at least.

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Tue Oct 12, 2010 8:13 pm Post

An interesting thread. Having been out of circulation lately for 'life is busy' reasons, I'm a little late to contribute but I felt I'd do so as I have some experience with depression (and the flipside to that coin, mania).

I fall into the broad category of Bipolar Type II (the milder variety), although my cyclic pattern at the time of diagnosis (nearly 7 years ago) was unpredictable and far more frequent than normal. I was on medication for 2 years (Lithium is terrifyingly effective but you only realise the terrifyingly bit when you come off it) but then rejected it because it gave me a 'quieter' life at the expense of creativity and emotional experience. Now, years on I have found my own ways of dealing with my ups and downs such that I almost take them for granted.

People who know me understand this well and 'get' that I might be incommunicado for extended periods and that if I'm just not interested in interacting with people then its perfectly normal for me and I'm 'happy' enough in my own space even if not being very happy is part of that picture.

Speaking for myself, and I know many others share this opinion, if I could press a 'big red button' and make it all go away I wouldn't even consider pressing it. I imagine sufferers of the more severe forms of depression probably would.

Snapping back to the original post, there is actually a lot of truth in that that applies to the 'real thing' as well as to people just having a bad day.

Eddy
"Writerʼs block is just a symptom of feeling like you have nothing to say, combined with the rather weird idea that you SHOULD feel the need to say something." - Hugh MacLeod