Saturday, January 20, 2007

Cure Fort Depression

You’d think Aristotle and Sophocles bandied the question about, it has been such a plaguing question, one that has been asked for decades, for centuries, even: what is the cure for depression? A consideration of the symptoms, the causes, and the studies to find that all elusive cure for depression might at least set your mind at ease enough to realize you are not alone. A couple of examples might help to realize the search for a cure for depression is an insidious struggle, a desperate measure, a do-or-die imperative shared by millions.
According to US News (2006) online, approximately 18.8 million people suffer with depression. They don’t feel like eating, socializing or sleeping. They sleep too much. They have feelings of doom, of loneliness, of alienation. They feel worthless or consumed by strange guilt for nothing they have done wrong. They feel wiped out, exhausted, weak. They carry a truckload of trucks on their souls. Simple things are impossible, important events are meaningless.
In seeking a cure for their depression, they might find the information first reveals that each cause or set of causes calls for different treatment or treatments. The cause can be genetic, biological, psychological, can be clinical or conditional. I was depressed from an early age. One of the first articles I read on cures for depression noted that depression is anger turned inward. Though this didn’t help much, as I was still not able to or allowed to express whatever anger was roiling away, it did set me on a path to find out what depression was trying to tell those of us who carried it on our shoulders 24/7. For some of us, the depression is conditional, based on a traumatic incident that we never got liberated from. For others, it comes with the family package of tics, mania, or other mental disorders and illnesses. For many others it is caused by a chemical imbalance, a broken or missing wire in the network that is the brain.
So the cure for depression, then, becomes as complex or as simple as the causes and effects are or are not. Medications, the first answers, are not always such a bad (knee-jerk) solution. For those of us with chemical imbalances, the evening-out by a reuptake inhibitor is a dream come true. (SRIs draw the serotonin levels up into pools in the brain—around the hypothalamus, etc., and trap the pools there, so the moods do not plunge but stay even.) For others of us therapy (with an MFT, a psychologist, a psychiatrist) will work to help us adjust, adapt, even accommodate. My therapist, for example, taught me that to fight it was to invite it to come on even stronger, so I learned to accept it and go with it, climbing into bed surrounding by my favorite things, wallowing in, really. (I took many “mental health” days off from work when there was no such thing, save “sick” days, so I had to call it something the non-depressed would accept—and pay for, if I had sick time coming to me—flu, allergies, etc..)
Still others opt for exercise, meditation, visualization, aromatherapy, changing food plans/diets, and more. I had tried all of these. Zip.
My mother was severely depressed all the years we were growing up. I carried on the tradition, feeling chronically, clinically depressed and seeking a cure for my depression for over twenty-five years. I was, oddly enough, one of the “lucky” ones: my depression was partner to an equally common disorder called Attention Deficit Disorder. So though I was at first treated only for the cure for depression alone, with Prozac, which saved me from offing myself but added a hundred pounds to my already hefty frame, I was eventually (in my early forties) treated for ADD with medication that took away the depression for the most part. Some days I can hear it coming, can feel in my gut the angst churning and brewing, but can embrace it for what it is, climb in bed with books and toys and whatever other comfort items I choose, and ride that bitch of a malady out. For it does pass. And as to a “cure” for depression, I still say really good drugs help.