How Does Depression Change You? Can You Ever Be Yourself Again?

Fractures and Changes

Have you ever wondered if multiple episodes of depression change you so much that you’ll never get back to your old self? Most people I hear from say: I want to be myself again. That’s their definition of recovery. Can it happen?

I found an interesting discussion about long-term changes in an online journal called Medicographia. The editors posed a question to psychiatrists and researchers from around the world and printed their responses together.

Here’s the question: Is the patient really the same after a major depressive episode?

The experts cover a lot of ideas, and I can’t summarize them all. But here’s an overview of their findings. Most of them believe that you’ll never be quite the same again.

Full Recovery

Naturally, some people do better than others. Many cope well with depression, avoid negative thinking and can spring back from the illness. They’ve got good resilience. If that picture fits you, there’s more good news.

If you’re in great shape after an episode of major depression, meaning full remission of all symptoms, it will probably be a long time before you have another episode. You may even be done with depression for good.

Even if you do get another episode or a whole series of them, you’re more likely to get back your full health in between each period of depression. More depression is not a happy prospect, but being totally yourself after each episode is about as good as it gets.

Residual Symptoms

Others don’t do so well. (I wish I didn’t always fit into this unlucky “others” category.) They have repeated episodes that cause long-term biological and psychological changes. Those changes lower your threshold for getting depressed the next time around.

Any residual symptoms after you’ve “recovered” mean you’ll likely have a much shorter break before depression strikes again than the folks who get rid of all their symptoms.

There’s a big problem, however, in figuring out whether you’re symptom-free or not. A physician who’s treating you, whether psychiatrist or primary care doctor, usually doesn’t measure your response to treatment with a formal rating scale, such as researchers use.

Your doctor wants to know how you’re doing with the major symptoms you’ve been most concerned about. If those are going away, you’ve “responded” to treatment. In other words, there’s been a reduction in symptoms. Great. You’re both feeling good about the outcome.

But there could be other symptoms you haven’t mentioned because they didn’t bother you so much – or perhaps you never connected them with depression.

Research is showing that there are many differences among people who are considered to be in remission. To measure these differences, they use to a formal rating scale, consisting of a series of questions about the severity and frequency of symptoms. The Hamilton scale is the most widely used. It assigns points for each answer, and an arbitrary lower limit has been set as the boundary between full remission and illness. However, that boundary isn’t 0. It’s 7.

Many “remitters” have mild symptoms ( with a score of 3-7) and face a much greater possibility of having a recurrence than full remitters (0-2). Apparently, even mild remaining symptoms predict more rapid relapse. So medical professionals are now urged to keep treatment going until every symptom is gone.

Long-Term Changes

The changes depression brings with it can reach into many dimensions of your life: biological, psychological and social.

  1. Social:

    Family: Depression is an illness that affects the whole family. In the midst of an episode, you may have a lot of conflict in your closest relationships and try to isolate yourself from the people who need you the most. The damage doesn’t disappear overnight after you’ve started feeling better. If depression has continued for some time, or you’ve been through many recurrences, your family, especially your partner, can begin to get depressed as well. These are long-term wounds that take time to heal.

    Work: Depression can affect the way others think about and behave toward you, especially at work. They may regard you as unstable or unreliable and be reluctant to entrust new projects to you. Stigma can affect your attitude toward yourself as well. It’s easy to internalize an opinion that you’re diminished by the illness or that you should have been able to handle it better.

  2. Psychological:

    Fear: After you’ve been through a serious depressive episode and lived with its disabling effects, you don’t want to go through it again. You may feel a lot of anxiety and fear about recurrence. Everyone wants to avoid a return of the illness and usually follows a treatment path to prevent it from happening.

    Some people also get very cautious about avoiding stressful conditions that might trigger a new episode. That’s understandable and often necessary. But it can be hard to find a balance between realistic assessment of the risks you face and acting out of fear and anxiety.

    The risk of recurrence is all too real, so following the treatment you’ve chosen and adapting your life style to stay as healthy as possible are wise and necessary strategies. At the same time, though, there’s a danger of underestimating what you can do and avoiding taking action that could turn out to strengthen your sense of self and level of resilience.

    I’ve had a long fight with this sort of caution, fear and avoidance. Living with them has been a significant psychological change that has often blocked me from testing myself to see exactly what I can accomplish. I think of it as one of those scars of depression that needs its own therapy.

    Memory: Researchers describe a couple of long-term changes in memory brought on by recurrent depression, and sometimes by single, prolonged episodes. Memory changes have a lot to do with brain biology, but living with the effects can bring on major psychological changes as well.

    One is difficulty holding onto short-term memories. I’ve had a steady worsening in the ability to retain things people tell me as part of daily living. It’s a problem that also affected my work, which required me to track and summarize complicated discussions in large groups. This is a common effect of depression, but unfortunately it can continue after a depressive episode is over.

    One of the researchers in the symposium brought out another aspect of memory I hadn’t thought much about. Instead of emphasizing memory loss, he points out that depression is an intense experience that can etch some memories in great detail for permanent storage.

    These are the memories of emotionally and negatively charged experiences that occur during depressive episodes. As this researcher puts it, memory is a way of prolonging the past. Through vivid memories of negative experience, depression keeps up its influence long after an episode is over. Those memories can overshadow new incidents and cause them to be interpreted negatively as well. These memories contribute to a recurring cycle of depressive ideas about yourself and make you more vulnerable to a new episode.

  3. Biological:

    Social and psychological changes may be bad, but at least you can work on them in therapy and support groups. Biological changes are completely beyond your ability to control. Hopefully, medications will eventually help correct them, but right now the changes themselves and their relationship to depression aren’t clear enough to lead to specific biological treatment.

    The best documented change has to do with brain anatomy. The size of the hippocampus, an area linked to memory formation among other things, is smaller in people who’ve lived with depression – the longer the depression, the smaller the hippocampus.

    This could be related to a reduction in the level of BDNF, a protein which is crucial in the formation of new neurons. As BDNF decreases neuron cells lose the support they need to survive. BDNF is active in the hippocampus, among other areas of the brain, and a decrease in its availability may be one of the causes of its reduction in size. Depression also relates to higher levels of stress hormones that can have a variety of destructive impacts. More familiar from all the publicity surrounding antidepressants is the effect that the illness is thought to have on neurotransmitters. Reductions in the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine, in particular, have long been associated with depressive symptoms.

    The connections among these and many other biological processes and their relationship to depression are still under study. But the biological dimension of depression seems to have long-term consequences on brain functions and may make each of us more vulnerable to recurrence of the illness.

What Can Be Done?

Given the breadth of potentially long-term, even permanent changes, how effective are current therapies in dealing with them?

The consensus of the researchers seems to favor the use of varied treatments to manage each type of change. They recommend a holistic approach instead of total reliance on antidepressant medication.

The next post will explore the brighter side of treatment. As more is known about how antidepressants actually work, it appears that they may counteract some of the major biological changes caused by depression. A variety of psychotherapies can also help deal with the psychological and social changes that untreated depression can inflict.

So there may be hope that you can be yourself again, though perhaps showing some wear-and-tear.

What long-term changes have you observed in your life as a result of depression?

Image by Cane Rosso at Flickr

71 Responses to “How Does Depression Change You? Can You Ever Be Yourself Again?”

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  1. Desiree says:

    Ive had chronic depression for almost 2 years now.. I had the best life anyone could ask for. I had a family, i had friends, i had a boyfriend that i loved more then life itself. I lived it up everyday being thankful that i had a family to come home to, friends i could rely on if i ever needed anything.. About three years ago my dad got into a horrible accident. He ended up having major back surgery, and bad problems with his legs and feet. He could’nt walk for days, he still has trouble walking.. He got addicted to the pain killers and things went downhill from there. Our family wasn’t a family anymore. My dad got into car accidents, social problems, family problems.. and of course problems that we will never forget. I would have to call an ambulance for my dad almost every week. One day my mom and i where driving up to camp and i saw my dad , i went to wave him goodbye and he collapsed on the ground. As my mom was driving i opened the door and jumped out. We called the ambulance and he had a heart attack. My family slowly started to fall apart. I got into drugs and alcohol. I would sneak out every night and go to parties with a bunch of people i didn’t even know. I got into car accidents. Everything was horrible. My mom found a new boyfriend and i hated him. He spoiled me just to get me to like him by buying me dinner, phone cases, Xbox games, head phones (beats) ect , a flat screen ect.. But he wasn’t my dad. My dad tried killing himself when he found out my mom found someone else to make her happy. They where together for 17 years. As i explained to my mom one night i wasn’t happy and that i missed my dad and i hated her boyfriend she heard me out. I set my mom and MY DAD up on a little date night and they clicked automatically. My mom broke up with her boyfriend and went back to my dad and they’ve been together every since. Now the accident that my dad got into a while back that i was telling you about..? My dad sewed them and we won the law settlement which meant $$$ . I stopped going to school.. i missed days. Days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months. I started doing drugs and drinking again. It fucked up my head pretty bad… I tried committing suicide plenty of times. I spent nights in the hospital 2 or 3 times a month. A few weeks later i found out we where moving to Florida.. that meant i had to leave everything and everyone behind. My friends my family my boyfriend MY LIFE. I was with my boyfriend Nevan Palmer for a year an a half. My family was like his family and his family of course was like my family. Moving to Florida ruined everything we built up and worked for together. Well.. it came the day.. time to leave and start a new life , a “fresh start” in Florida. The entire trip i cried, for hours on hours until i eventually passed out. That was probably the worst mental , and emotional pain ive ever felt in my life. I’m here now in Florida and well.. to tell you the truth. Its a fresh start.. i hate it. I have no friends, i have no social life, i have nothing. I have a beautiful new house, and a new dog but no life. i miss my friends , i miss my old life. I got back into cutting. I went four months clean but all the stress and hopeless memories… made me break that four months. The point of this story is no matter how hard things get, do not give up. No matter how long things take, never lose hope. Believe in yourself, love yourself, BE YOURSELF. This is my story. Thank your for reading

  2. Matt says:

    Hey I believe I am having purely a situational bout of depression, meaning I’m pretty sure I don’t have chronic depression. I have one question, as my situation improves will I experience some of the long term affects of depression? I would imagine so but I feel as though I’d be less likely to fall back into a depressive episode.

  3. tony says:

    hi.my name is tony.im a 58 year old male. ive a afew bouts of depression over life. but this latest one has lasted over a year now i was hopilised for a month due to sucidal thoughts.i have everything in life i want. 3 lovely grown up kids 4 beautiful grand kids lovely partner.good job 38 years service.on the sick at the monment.its a struggle every day.

  4. Conni says:

    I found this article today and it gave me some useful insights. I have a family history of depression [father, mother, brother, etc.] and have gone through counseling/medication from time to time to deal with it. That is why I am so surprised that I missed it with my husband! He lost his father in 2008 and his oldest brother in 2010, both of whom he was very close to and visited daily. After his brother’s sudden death from complications following a surgery, there was a great deal of family turmoil due to no will having been made and an estranged daughter coming onto the scene to stir things up. My husband not only was grieving for his brother, but felt guilty that he couldn’t carry out his bother’s wishes because no will had been drawn. First he was very angry with everyone then, like a light switch being flipped, he just shut down. It took me 2 years to get him to agree to see someone about this and by that time he was showing signs of dementia [He was 55 at the time]. This year he has had to quit working because, after 35 years of running his own mechanic shop, he couldn’t remember how to do simple jobs any longer, couldn’t understand what customers were saying, family and friends names, etc. Luckily his son is running the shop for us, but it is just another loss to him. Several rounds of neurological and physical testing showed no physical reason for his signs of dementia. A neuropsychological workup determined he had pseudodementia due to depression and anxiety. He has been seeing a psychologist for 2.5 years with trials of numerous anti-depressants and boosters with no lasting effects and some awful side effects. We have also been seeing a behavioral therapist but he has been unable to get my husband to make any lasting changes. At this point, my husband just sits around the house all day and broods. Next week he is to start ECT therapy and, while I hope it does work, I fear that he is set on being in this down mood and brooding.

  5. Mike C says:

    I want start by saying how thankful I am for finding this article and all of your posts. I have been battling depression off and on, mostly on, for around 12 years now. I was un-diagnosed for the first 3 of those years. During that time I self medicated with drugs and alcohol. It wasn’t until after a suicide attempt that I began the road of real recovery. It has been a rocky and winding road but I now have 5 years of continuous sobriety. I wish I could say just getting sober curd my depression but that wouldn’t even be close to the truth. I do believe my bouts with depression and recovery would have been more difficult had I not been sober. Five years ago I lost a job and that combined with the loss of a significant love relationship sent me into a depression that I still struggle with today. My experience has been I have periods of improvement followed by periods of relapse into depression. I can’t say I’ve felt like I’ve fully recovered t be the person I use to be. I don’t think it’s realistic for me to think I will be the person I once was. (Btw I’m in my mid 40’s now). I don’t view that opinion as a sentence to being depressed the rest of my life but the pathway to accepting and loving myself as I am. New activities can bring me joy. I’ve tried several different antidepressants trying to find the right one or combination. For me, it feels like they work for awhile then stop or don’t work at all. Right now I’m taking Pristiq and Prozac and feel like I’m getting good results. Anyway, I’m not sure where m going with this post except to say I’m so grateful to have read all your stories. They are helping me get perspective on where I am with my depression and they le me know I am not alone.

  6. Lisa says:

    I am 16 – before depression I was a healthy, active person who passionately enjoyed various hobbies and loved learning. Since then I have had to take a year and a half off from school – I went from a straight A scholar to someone who is no longer capable of basic studying. My concentration is shot, so is my ability to memorize and form coherent sentences – especially to what it used to be. My family has had to pay for all the expenses regarding a private school, therapy etc. and nothing is getting better – I remind myself that they, in essence, have lost a child. Don’t know why I am sharing this.

  7. Marissa says:

    I am going to try and make this as short as possible. I have never posted in any kind of forum for any reason at all before so i am new to this. I lost my father at the age of four to a fatal car accident. I come from a patriarchal society which eventually led me to become weak. My family made me believe I rely on no one but them specially older sister, aunt and mother. I was never taught to be independent. I learnt myself. I have been depressed since age four. My memory of how life was like initially after my father passed away is vague. Although, I remember events from before his death. I have been underestimated all my life by my family and friends. Bullied at the age of 12, penalised and suffered from joint families drama. Im going through a serious financial crisis right now. I was sent abroad to attend university but was asked to come back due to lack of funds. I have been going through financial problems since the past five years. Started university two years ago. Had to take a loan of my friends to attend this one time. I have been in an abusive relationship and a lot more but I dont want to ramble on anymore. I have never seen a psychiatrist because the country where I come from its considered as a big deal. I believe and I am convinced that I suffer from depression having done excessive research. I usually stumble upon my words, forget names/words, cant retain memory, social anxiety, complex, not confident , isolate myself. I feel hopeless and helpless sometimes. And I can’t fix myself regardless of how much Ive tried. I believe people are smarter and better than me and I partially blame my family for making me think this way.

  8. Marie says:

    I ll try to be short at telling this. I am from Portugal, a small country that everybody know is in deep economic crisis. But let me tell how this started. As a child, I was always a fun, hyperactive, creative and adventurous girl, grew as a teen being that as well. I aimed for big dreams, for backpacking nature, very active, very . Unfotunatelly i am from a low income family. So my adult life has been a hell of a struggle. I was in a career i struggled hard to get, i had a nice income, not a big thing, but enough, i was building my life, my art, my passions and all that has meaning to me, and being near who i love. But then, four years ago, then lost it due to things other people did, others guilt and irresponsability of them. My depression then, i know, much sorrow, loss, stress, started when the attorneys could not solve this case and when the contract of many workers there in the institution ended, we were put away into an increasing violent unemployement as the crisis ravaged my life over and over, people i love died, or some got sick, still i made efforts, close to poverty, I studied, graduated and paid all with my hard earned money under the violent pressure of getting no job. But i struggled still. But I got no job. No benefits. For more than long time. Humiliation, suffering, no open doors, nothing. Poverty sets in and it is an unbreakable cycle. All i got was a temporary job, near my 40’s and about to come an end. The job will end there is no more jobs anywhere, and i cannot emigrate due to personnal reasons and if i do, loneliness from who i love will destroy me, i just cant!. I have no choices left and all these hopeless years took away my happiness and my life. Pills dont really solve anything they just make me sleepy when i feel suicide urges. When my heart races so fast that i really have to stay away from windows or i jump. I am suffocated, it does not stop, i cant change my life and the crisis dont go away. What started to be a sadness, became frustration, hopelessness, hate and now i just cannot smile anymore. I want to retire me due to psychiatric illness but social security does not allow me (it would be barely 200 $ per month as income…) but even so they dont let me. I think i am making it to the end of my days, i cannot smile anymore, i hate everything and mostly i dont feel nothing but a deep hole where my heart was. Pills are doing nothing, because the economic crisis just dont lift and the true root of all…i feel fear when i feel suicidal, but i think i will not avoid it.

  9. Lisette says:

    Hi,
    I have been dealing with major depression formore than 25 years, now. The influence this had on me is that I fear life. I recently got fired from a job I had been hating for over 6 years now. Fear of change had kept me there way longer than was good for anyone. I have been single for the past 11 years because I fear the effect intimate relationships can have on me. Strong emotions have resulted in depression in the past.
    Today I find myself 46, single and out of a job. I am very depressed and I am acutely aware that it is my fear of depression that got me here in the first place.
    I do hope there is a way out of this.
    L

    • Jane says:

      Hi Lisette

      Although I have been depressed since I was 15 years old (I am not 50) I have found several things throughout my life that has helped. Exercise on a daily basis – I don’t like exercise but it is better than taking anti-depressants and I feel help me much better. Also my severe symptoms of depression left me when I went gluten free 4 years ago – it took 4 months and I could not believe how the cloud lifted from my head and shoulders – weird. I did go gluten free for depression, I did it because my husband became a celiac and later I found out that gluten does cause depression. You might want to try it, I am not saying I don’t have bouts of depression, but they are extremely managable now, everyone should try it.

  10. Bill says:

    Hi Folks,

    I’ve had severe depression for a little more than 3 years. I’ve tried almost every medication. Recently, I underwent Ketamine infusion therapy for treatment of my depression. I’ve had 5 treatments so far and feel much better. Not perfect but so much better than before. If anyone on here is almost out of hope due to medicatioons not working, you might want to consider this therapy.

    Best,
    Bill

    • Keith says:

      Is that still in trials .are there any side effects

      • Bill Foster says:

        Hi,

        To answer your question I have not felt any side effects other than a kind of euphoria type feeling during the IV administration. You can find outpatient clinics in most big cities offering this treatment. The only down side is the expense. I’m not sure yet if my insurance will cover any of the treatment expense. You can find more information on http://ketaminenetwork.org. Let me know if you have any more questions.

        Best,
        Bill

  11. anna-lisa says:

    I’ve been off work now for 1 year going into my second. This is my 2nd and possibly 3rd episode of depression. This time round it was debilitating in every way. I’m still not out of the woods but to learn I may never be is at best disheartening at worst he’ll on earth. How have all of you managed to keep going knowing it WILL happen again. I’ve wasted years of my life feeling lost and hopeless. It’s scary to think it may never change.

    • Michael says:

      Anna-Lisa, I am writing to tell you that there is hope. You do not have to remain bound by depression and anxiety. Are you familiar with Jesus Christ?

      He died for all our sins and our iniquities.
      Do you understand what that means?
      That means everything that could possibly go wrong in our lives whether emotionally or spiritually and most physical things are brought under his authority. We cannot control other people. Plus we are not responsible for the thoughts, feelings, and actions of other people.
      We are responsible for our own lives. But if we give our lives over to Jesus then he is responsible and he will make all things right if we surrender to his will.

      • Micheal if there was not hope in Christ we wud hav no hope . Christ is r hope r redeemer r healer of both physical & mental illness . By his strips we r healed . I hav know the healing power of my saviour when on life support & expected 2 die but r hope is in God Christ is my anchor in every storm of life . Giddy loved us so much he sent his 1 & only son 2 die on the cross . Nothing in my hands I bring simply 2 his cross I cling . Because of Christ we r free & him who the son sets free is free indeed .

        • Julie says:

          This Jesus stuff is really annoying. There are depressed people out there who have different beliefs. Also, your Jesus doesn’t cure everyone, or no baby or child would ever die from disease. It’s just silly.

          • Ma says:

            I’ve been on this board off and on for years. If you don’t agree with a comment don’t respond. That simple. It’s always been peaceful and respectful here. I’m not religious myself but everyone finds their way and can share it without reservation.

            Thanks.

    • Kris says:

      Hi Anna-Lisa
      Just hold on. It sound like we have similar depressions. I went through about a year and a half where I just slept or was in constant mental anguish. I pulled through that and went on to finish college, and do many other things. I know it hurts and it feels so lonely, like no one could possibly understand, but there is hope. I actually now work in mental health and I’m lucky to be surrounded by people who ‘get it’–I’d recommend connecting to a support group like http://www.nami.org for help. It helps me to think of this illness as a physical one that affects my emotions–just like someone with diabetes may have mental symptoms based on their condition. Good luck and there are people out here rooting for you =-) it will get better.

  12. Nancy says:

    I have been on antidepressants for 4 years. I know that I need more but cannot afford ability . I can honestly say that I do not expect to ever be my old self. My family always asks why I feel this way. The best way I can describe it is:

    I do not have the mental capacity I used to have . I am not “sharp”. I don’t catch on as fast as I used to.

    My memory is terrible and requires constant written reminders of even the most basic things.

    I have lost my drive and ambition. I really need both since depression has bankrupted me financially .

    • Julie says:

      I’m sorry you’re going through this. I had to file for bankruptcy because of depression, and I’m still going through it. I’m convinced that anti-depressants don’t work for MY depression, but they do help my anxiety. As for Abilify, I wouldn’t touch that stuff with a 10 foot pole. It’s an anti-psychotic with a host of terrible side-effects. I also know a lot of people who tried it, but discontinued because it did nothing. I wouldn’t take an anti-psychotic unless I was schizophrenic. I worked at a mental health center for 8 years, so I know a lot about the different drugs. Good luck to you.

  13. Angela S. says:

    Thanks for this post. I have never read your blog before, but am glad I found it. I have been feeling really blue, and this helped me feel less alone.

  14. Wendy says:

    I have suffered with depression since the age of about 17 and I am now 52. Every episode seems to wear me down more and I am scared I will not come out of it. This episode has been about 2 months and is not lifting has anyone got any advice.

  15. Naresh says:

    I am also asking the same is there a permanent solution for this i want enjoy my life but i can`t ..quickly scientist as to answer this i am waiting i feel hopeless hanging on drugs is this my life i f… this thing

  16. Sarah says:

    Letting you know there is so much hope! I have been in the ugly grasp of this stuff and honestly wasn’t sure I would ever make it out. Even though it doesn’t feel like it now, things can get better.

    I’m doing great.
    Wanted to let you guys know that happens too.

    • Clemence says:

      thank you so much Sarah! I’ve been fighting against depression since decembre. Sometimes I feel like i’ll never see the light again.

  17. Katie says:

    Hi Guys!

    I’m just coming off a six month bout of depression- I’ve been fighting it for the past 20 years & this past one was particularly bad, it almost ended a six year relationship- I’m worried about my lack of ambition towards anything. I have time off work & should be going to the gym to prepare for going back (it’s a construction job & it’s vital that I’m fit), I should be looking for some supplemental income also, but I just can’t muster the motivation. How do I start caring again?

    • antonia says:

      I never get depressed, ever, I mean, no matter what. Thats what the doctors should be studying, people like me. Don’t understand why they are not doing that. I’m hoping they will find a cure soon, with the advances in medicine these days, they will probably find a cure. Charlotte Dawson, Former Australia’s Next Top Model Judge, Found Dead at Age 47. She suffered from depression and took her own life, how terribly sad. I saw on the internet how they scan a depressed persons brain to study it. They are on the right track, but I still don’t understand why they are not studying the brain of a person who is resilient to depression and compare it to the scan of a person with depression. What are they waiting for, I don’t understand why they are not doing this. I’m not a doctor, but I think personally, that they can find some answers there, even a cure that doesn’t involve those tablets

      • C.j says:

        It’s probably a money thing. Antidepressants are big business these days. I’m sick of being on meds – they don’t work and you just feel numb. I don’t take them now, can’t afford more. There’s no enjoyment for life anyway.

  18. exo says:

    lately i found that i dont trust anyone, not even my close family .

    • Sue says:

      I encourage you to trust anyone still “there” for you. Trust those who you have neglected or even hurt and they are still present. I found those people had no other reason to be there for me unless they had good loving intentions. Just my hindsight and experience.

  19. Mike says:

    Hello all,

    As somebody that has gone through several torturous episodes of depression over the past 17 years, I can say that I think each one may take a little piece of you but these can be recovered in time.
    I’ve resolved myself to the fact that I do need medication for life and that studies show that this is the best way to maintain brain plasticity and the potential growth of new neural pathways.
    The hardest part of depression for me is the rumination: bad/painful/doom thoughts that tend to cycle over and over for months at a time. The loss of self, as so many have described, is awful. You feel like a stranger in your own skin. It’s as if you have some unfamiliar brain in your body that you reason is not your own.
    The key is that you have to force yourself to get into daily routines and do the things that you normally take enjoyment from…..even if you don’t get any satisfaction from them at all. Constant exposure to normally pleasurable activities can lead to actual enjoyment after time. Even the most horrific, deepest depressions can be overcome. I have overcome every single one of them and had long periods of normalcy. As hard as it may be, you need to try and redirect your attention outside of yourself. A depressive’s biggest downfall is that we tend to focus internally and ruminate and that only adds fuel to the fire. Exercise does help with anxiety symptoms. If you can sleep, it is very restorative to the brain.

    All the best.

  20. alicia says:

    oohh this really helps me understand depression and helps me for a class project. this is really deep stuff that is good. but bad for people but thanks for all this stuff that is on this site.

  21. cristin says:

    My suggestion is to pray for happiness and to read the bible. god holds true joy. He loves you and willing to give it to you. Just ask. Believe. Things will get better. you are loved. You are important. You mean so much to God. Just believe it.

  22. Mark says:

    I have been suffering from depression most of my life. I dread every single day. If it weren’t for my job I would rarely leave the house. I haven’t been able to have successful relationships/ friendships. I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy. It is extreme torture. The only time that I’m at peace is when I’m sleeping. If you have a family you are way better off than me. I only feel comfortable when I’m alone. When I’m alone all I do is kill time. I have wasted my life and continue to do so. A normal life just seems so far out of reach. I feel like the only way for the pain to end is when I die. I can’t find joy in anything. I’m sorry for being such a downer. I’m just trying to convey how my depression feels. I think I have what’s called walking depression. Thanks for reading!

    • faith says:

      I have struggle with depression for over 4 years. The first year I couldn’t sleep couldn’t eat. My sister took care of me. My mind just couldn’t function. I remember those dark times. Nobody understands unless you have been Through it. I wanted to commit my self in a ward hospital
      . I just couldn’t take it. Yes they also proscribed me medication. I took it for a month because I decided I did not want to live off medication to get by. But that was my choice. I believe if you need to take it and it helps then that’s one step to recovery. I took another route and that is to continue to cry out to the Lord. To pray and go to church. Have those pray for me. I can say its my faith in God that got me through. How am I today I’m 90% recovered. I believe I will be 100%. I will not give up hope. I’m working and living. Do I go through a spell yes. I find my self crying but I cry to the Lord and it passes. Its hard and painful. But I will not give up my faith for Nothing impossible with God. How do I know this I know how I was 3years ago and know that i overcame because of the Lord. It gets better not worse hang on! I’m praying for every post I read. Have faith in Jesus. I know I do

  23. Myra says:

    Although I hadn’t realised it at the time, I’d suffered with depression for some time but it reached a climax in July 2012 when I had to go to my GP and was signed off for a month and diagnosed with chronic depression.

    I was prescribed all sorts of different medication to try to alleviate the symptoms but nothing seemed to help and eventually I was passed onto my local mental health team who prescribed even stronger medication. Nothing seemed to work and my mind seemed to be totally ‘broken’ as did my spirit and love of life.

    My recovery was almost non-existent. Eventually and, heartrendingly for me, after eight months on sick leave, my employer felt that they couldn’t keep my post open for me any longer. This broke my heart and my dismissal came in February of this year(2013). After 11 years of hard work and being reliable, I was just cast aside and the rejection I felt was enormous. ABSOLUTELY HUGE. It couldn’t have come at a worse time for me.

    I have however, another 10 months on, I have now begun to come to terms with this rejection and think that it’s actually their loss and that they should be ashamed at their heartlessness. It was a company that supported vulnerable people and I, a staff member who was ill, became vulnerable and they cast me out.

    I’m still ME – Myra – and I’ve just been ill, nothing more. Although people that I thought were friends avoid me as if I’m contagious, I know that this is just fear and ignorance.

    I don’t even really know what I’m trying to say here. I’m sat at my kitchen table typing this because I’m so scared of life now, scared that at 55 year of age, my life is over and that I’m a waste of space.

    Apart from my dear husband and children, who have been so supportive, I see no-one. But when the opportunity to see others arises, I don’t have the courage to meet them. My self confidence is so low and I don’t feel that I can hold a lucid conversation without stumbling over my words or over-explaining what I’m trying to say. It’s as if someone else has moved into my body and taken the sensible, outgoing, lucid Myra away and left us with this shell of a person who doesn’t particularly like herself.

    My memory is so extremely poor that I despair. I used to work with computers on a day-to-day basis, ran a successful office and dealt with staff and the public efficiently. Now, apart from the simplest tasks on my computer, all the skills I possessed previously seem to have become so very, very jumbled up. My brain just seems to be a mess and I can’t seem to retain any information beyond the simplest of instructions. Even crosswords defy me now – a favourite pastime.

    Will I even return to my old self, my healthy self who was a worthwhile and productive person?
    Does this strike a cord with anyone out there because sure as dammit, no-one seems to understand here.

    • Julie says:

      Yes, Myra! Yes! Our stories are very similar, but I’m too depressed/apathetic to write out my whole story. I am not married, now broke and having to live with my mother. I’m 45 and have never been married. I fear that I’ll never be able to find another job or get my life back on track. I have no answers. This all started 3 years ago for me.

      Julie

      • Joy says:

        Hi Myra, I’m in my twenties and I relate to everything you mentioned. I can’t hold a proper conversation, I can’t concentrate or remember things. My mind is blank and I’m numb most of the time..I feel very detached from it all..

        • Dawn says:

          I have just been reading your comments and I am crying. I suffered depression from the age of 17. I got better at 22 but then had a major episode two years later where I was bedridden. I just languished in bed putting on weight not wanting to speak to my own children and partner. I then got better two years later but since then I don’t know who I have become. I thought I was going mad. I tried to tell my fiancé and he didn’t seem to understand. I thought maybe I am imagining things because who else can I be but my self. This was 10 years ago and since then I don’t like myself, I am negative 80% of the time. I used to be so bubbly and confident but now I prefer to hide away at home. The odd times when I do make a friend I can’t keep up the friendship because I find it to too tiring so they give up and I’m relieved. I used to have a lot of friends. I still struggle with my hygiene. I buy things that I think I like but then I just put them in a drawer and lose interest. However, the main problem is that I find it hard to communicate. If I am part of a conversation I find it mentally hard to keep up with what is being said to give the right response. Then afterwards I reflect on what I say and realise it was stupid. Other times I structure what I want to say but when I speak, it doesn’t come out the same. I over babble. I forget to include information so I stick it in later in the conversation and sound like I’m all over the place. My mind goes blank trying to find the right words sometimes even though I used to have a large vocabulary.

          Yesterday I had an interview for the biggest job of my life. I know I can do it with my eyes closed. I had a telephone interview and I babbled, incoherently. I didn’t answer the question properly. Then after the interview I could structure what I was meant to say but the point is I didn’t say it at the time.

          My last episode was mild and two years ago. I am supposed to be recovered but I don’t think recovered. I am 33 and I feel as though I lost the best years if my life. I can no longer tell if I am depressed or not because even though I am not in a black hole. I am still trapped. I have had this hope that I will be the articulate, quick, slim and positive person I used to be but it’s been ten years and I am tired and scared to accept the person I am because if I do that I fear it will destroy me but I keep on like this. I am wondering if I take anti depressants again will it help me with my issues, maybe I should have stayed on them for longer. I am doing yoga. I have done the mindfulness etc. I feel as though I am running out of options. Sorry to write this. It just after all this time I have keep this to myself thinking I was alone and the sheer relief that I am not has made me feel less alienated. Thank you.

    • Diane says:

      Dear Myra- I understand so much. I got deppression out the blue 7 years ago and almost didn’t survive. I had never had anything before so wasn’t sure what was happening it took almost 3 years. They tryed every drug there was but nothing worked then finally I came out of it but that was 4 years ago and I have started down the same path about 3 months ago. All I ever wanted was to be myself again. I have memorys everyday of who I was why she can’t stay present with me. I guess I will always wonder if the damage was just to much and my brain can’t stay balanced now. I too am scared because when this is happening I feel so embarrsed about myself!!! I send you blessings -Diane

  24. Jane says:

    Hi,i had this vivid memory of mine when i was still a kid and we visited a reunion party of my clan(i together with mommy and my younger siblings) when i heard our cousins of same age whispering “that the province kids are here” with eyes rolling.we grew up in a province while all of my cousins grew together in the city. i still remember that moment that all my cousins are very close and playing together but me and my siblings just remain sitting in one corner. the hard part is that while growing up and staying now in the city together with them, we always feel the pressure talking to them and mingling with them. they party people and we’re not.we have friends in school and offices and really enjoyed their company, but with my cousins, we always feel anxious, neglected and out casted. And as the eldest, my heart breaks when I see my siblings suffering from this anxiety. But we keep going..

  25. Toni says:

    I am just coming to realize I have been living with severe depression for almost 2 years now. I was horrible to my partner, made her feel like everything was her fault, when I am realizing now it was not. The things I thought were horrible weren’t even a problem. Looking back, I remember sitting on the couch thinking, “just get up, walk into the kitchen, wrap your arms around her, kiss her neck and tell her she is beautiful”, but when I would get up to do it, I would walk right past her and go get into bed. Has this happened to anyone else? I would think about doing nice things to show her I loved her all the time, but when I would go to do them, my body wouldn’t do them. I lost all interest in sex, and felt like I was un loveable, even though she was right there, loving me. I was angry and irritable all the time. No one in my life could do anything right. They all tried to tell me I was being unreasonable, overbearing, and irritable, but I didn’t believe them, I denied it and didn’t understand why they were saying those things and being so mean to me. I can’t count how many times I would be driving down the road and think, “hum, that looks like a good bridge to drive off of.” It is scary to think how close I came a few times to taking the whole bottle of pills with a bottle of alcohol. I have everything to live for. I have a beautiful daughter and a girlfriend who is willing to try again even after I destroyed our relationship and left her for another woman. After all I have done she is willing to try to make things work. She has been a tremendous support and I know we can come out the other side. As long as I can stay mindful and pay attention to what the people around the most are seeing, and not shrug it off, I will stay strong and hopefully depression free.

  26. Saviour says:

    Dear dear all,i have been going through depression for 10 years.it is so terrifying.i am not the person that i used to be.my personality seems changing and what a pain that it causes wondering who am i really.?in addition to bad feelings and reduced abilities, slowed body functions ,this loss of self is so painful.dear friends you are not alone in this world.others may say you are lazy or fake but dont be sad over that.we are doing all that we can do to survive and get well, it is disease that is pulling us back.thinking of my past i think if anyone else had to face ordeals like mine they would never have survived it.i came out of it with a deep depression and is still hanging on.keep faith in god.submit your problems to him and ask for his help.he will hear you.a day will come when you will have all the happiness in the world.take care all.

  27. Rhona says:

    Someone the other day likened recovery from Depression as like learning again after a Stroke. I feel like I am having to learn again. Learn to write, communicate, do every day tasks. I wonder if there is research showing any clinical similarities between the two? My brain function is definitely damaged- I am slower in doing things now and I can’t multi-task anymore. But I have also learnt to be kinder to myself. And “Be kind to yourself” has become my new Mantra.
    Thankyou John, for your article. Reading other people’s responses to this very physical and debilitating disease is useful. I found that listening to my self through meditation and Yoga, to my authenticity, has changed the course of my Depression. I have chosen to change my job, move home- move country even. I had a realization that i needed to live true to myself.
    I find nature helps. Looking up at the trees whilst walking in my local park may be the only thing I manage to do all day but it is soul-food. Feeling the Earth beneath my feet grounds me and just taking deep breaths in a clean environment amongst nature reconnects me. It’s the simple things that seem to help the most. Especially as other more basic things that I was once so capable of I find hard to do now.
    Medication I have always believed helps me to not want to jump into the traffic- it’s a first aid bandage- it doesn’t deal with the ongoing whys. The only way to deal with that and slowly recover (and it is slow) is to take one step in front of the other and not be disheartened when sometimes you have to take a step back again. Exploring alternative remedies is also something I would strongly recommend: Bach flower remedies are great, visit a medical herbalist, acupuncture, Yoga, sing, dance, but above all… be kind to yourself.

    • Minnie beaux says:

      Your letter broke my heart! You and your siblings are fine! Who said YOU are the ones that have to change? Who said THEY are the ones who have to change? Be yourselves, and be proud of whom you are. If there’s something you don’t like about yourself, by all means work on it, BUT only if it is for your own sake and no one elses. Everybody is different, and everybody is beautiful in their own way, provided they are not nasty or cruel people! Relax in your own skin! If it causes too much anxiety going to these reunions… Don’t go! On that night/day go somewhere nice with a friend … He he! And think how lucky you are not being there puttin up with that lot! Wish you all the best!

  28. mssaira says:

    I have stumbled across your article as I am a going through a recurrent phase at the moment, and was looking for advice/experiences.
    I have to say a lot of your symptons ring true for me, in terms of the memory loss and annoyingly the tinnitus (anecdotally, a friend told me that tinnitus can also be a side-effect of St. Johns Wort, which I use; another thing to consider is how close you are to your wireless modem, which can affect some, if you’re only noticing tinnitus at home).
    I have also found my recall of happy experiences to have been damaged, and my visualization faculties compromised also. However, I don’t know how much of this can be attibutable to the long term effects of depression, and how much to the way everyones personalities evolve and alter through the course of their lives, and also the gradual erosion of our ‘faculties’. I have been told I used to be funnier! I still have a sense of humour, but it takes a lot longer to get it going, in fact in general all responses that used to be spontaneous take longer to bubble up now, as it were.
    I believe that a lot of this damage has to be due to the elevated cortisol, and I do experience very negative and unpleasant come-downs from social anxiety, to the point where avoidance behaviour has become my default setting.
    Dietary-wise, I overcame IBS, switched over to decaffeinated drinks and pay the price of suicidal ideation if I imbibe of processed sugar or fructose (conversely, I ‘top up’ with a little high quality, dark chocolate most days, which seems to give me a lift without crashing)
    On the other hand, I have learned, as I age, to be more accepting of myself, to put up boundaries, to not blame myself for everything, and to stop pursuing normalcy, whatever that may be, as a state to aspire to.
    I think diaries, or journals are really crucial for depressives, as memory keepsakes, and I wish I’d been better able to keep them, but I have a few surviving scraps, and letters (pre-internet) that still have the power to surprise when I rediscover them decades later.
    Thanks very much for posting your precis of the research, and of your own observations.

  29. Anno says:

    (Jump to after effects below to skip the details)
    I didn’t take any medication during my depression (just for a week, but there were side effects that seriously scared me). It lasted for about 6-7 months until I could start thinking reasonably again. it was impossible for me to handle the chaos in my head because the depression kept me arms and legs bound to the ground and pressed on me with such a weight. When all of it reached its peak I noticed that something in me was cracking, I knew it would have it’s cost at some point.
    How it felt:
    I have never in my life experienced something as mean and frustrating and really continuously painful before. I was so exhausted and confused and somehow socially disabled by my depression that I had trouble to communicate what was my problem, which is why I was often perceived as unreasonable whiner. Seriously, I just didn’t have the strength anymore to respond to that. I could just accept it even if it made it all just worse. It felt like I imagine it to be when you are in a wake coma, everyone thinks you’re unconscious but you hear people around you and see them, you wanna cry out to them and tell them how bad you feel and that you need help, but none of it reaches them.
    Some of the most discouraging things I heard later was “it seemed like you didn’t even try hard to get out of it.”
    It’s what a depression wants, make you look unreasonable, like an irrational crybaby maybe even a like a person who just wants to get attention or gain advantage over others.

    Having overcome most of this I noticed that some things just weren’t the same anymore.
    AFTER EFFECTS:
    1. memory problems:
    -difficulty to remember things before my depression, especially happy memories
    -images in my memory are all blurry, faces too
    -short memory messes up badly at times especially under stress (more than ever)
    -I sometimes remember things that didn’t happen or I’m not sure anymore about certain events
    (while some of those occur normally to a certain percentage the occurrence has risen)
    2. I don’t know if there’s a direct link, but I got tinnitus since then.
    3. stress management skills have dramatically plummeted.
    4. Social problems:
    -I can’t successfully cheer people up that are close to me. if I can’t give good advice I easily panic and get pulled back into a depressive mood which is really annoying because we both feel bad then.
    -I don’t see the same in people anymore. I used to love to get to know new people and talk a lot. It used to satisfy me. But now I really just want to avoid any contact. I easily get disappointed with people, I prefer being left alone. Old friends often try to talk with me, but I feel exhausted after a few sentences and feel like leaving it at that. I’m glad to know people are doing well, but that’s it. (point here: I don’t miss being sociable)
    -however there’s one or two persons I really stick to more than ever now, people who really care about me. I kinda avoid any other contact.

    5. Personality problems:
    -I wish I would have back the enthusiasm and happiness that I had before.
    -Almost all my free-time interests have literally perished.
    -I seem to have forgotten some ideas or ways of thinking and patterns of how I used to be, meaning: I’m sure I don’t act like I used to act, but I’m not sure in which way, cause the past seems a little unreal and cloudy (I suppose cause of the pain).
    -I now somehow easily seem to annoy people because I suddenly have problems to understand their feelings. My head just doesn’t get going. I need to force myself each step to think into other persons again and often repeat the process until I realize how they must feel in crucial situations. But somehow I am stuck on myself very much, I think.
    even in trivial situations. It usually seems like a pretty bad joke to me that I can’t accomplish easy things like that at times.

    6. My Interpretation:
    I think during my depression some sections of my head just shut down or locked down and they haven’t opened up yet anymore… I have to painstakingly rediscover myself and relearn some abilities, (and what may sound banal: even thinking-processes)
    about memory: My memory worked pretty well before I had depression. It doesn’t exactly feel like all that is gone now, it just feels like I can’t access the information properly…it feels something like when you are really tired and just can’t get up cause some magical weight presses against you. You keep trying and you know you can almost do it but then you fail again.
    Just like that it feels when I try to recall some events.
    I know it sounds like something normal, and some of you might say it happens all the time also without depression, but my case is that I really can “feel” the information there, but I can’t reach it properly.

    I hope some of you can relate with what I said and verify that I’m not just imagining things. Because that is something I’m wondering about too: Am I maybe just imagining all this?
    I have problems putting it all together but here was my best try.

    • jessica says:

      Anno,

      I believe you are still suffering from depression, and some of these issue will work themselves out. My own empathy for others, interests, and humor, and social skills have returned.

      I am still trying to reconnect with my old patterns of thinking and how I used to be as well. I keep telling my husband that it feels like there’s a piece of me that I’ve just forgotten. I keep waiting for that eureka moment when everything just falls back into place. This is by far the greatest loss, the loss of self. And it’s scary because it becomes harder to know whether you’re becoming yourself again or if you’re just getting used to this new way of thinking. Maybe it’s both.

      I’m gonna keep exercising, taking my vitamins, meditating, and clinging to every glimmer of improvement I see until one day I can just put all of this out of my mind.

    • Samantha says:

      Hey I’m Samantha & I’m a fifteen year old girl just thought I’d give you a little information anyway….Everything that your saying matches everything I’m going through. I felt I was going crazy like I was the only one who felt this way but I’m soo glad to know I’m not alone. You have no idea how long I’ve felt alone when I read this it made me want to cry. I have never been an attention seeker but I’m precieved that way but its just a desprate cry for help, which no one understands or can help. I’ve had depression since I was about eight years old I was able to function properly going up to my tweens. I was a really smart witty,fun, good at socializing kind of girl I was popular had lots of friends. but something happened to me when I was about 12 years old. At the beginning of sixth grade things we’re going better than ever my new medication had been making me feel great and able to concetrate. I had lots of A’s for my grades I became a top student. I felt so proud of myself, life was good. but some reason at the end of the year the medication didn’t work well anymore & I started to fall into a deep depression. I was clueless about what it was that was happening I was sure it would go away soon but it just kept getting worse. At the end of 7th grade I got moved to a Christian school . Now they had such high expectations of me but I could barely follow a simple task. Homework was too stressful for me because anything and everything they said sounded foreign like theyre words couldnt form in my head I couldnt comprehend a simple sentence so the homework got piled up. I never felt like I was in the room it felt and still feels like I’m a ghost like I’m not really there if that makes any sense. My logical is embarrassing when i try to talk to friends anymore it really sounds like I’m an idiot. So I’ve lost a lot of friends to this. When I socialize I become awkward and I don’t know what to say at all when I used to have it all planned out and flitered in my head. Sometimes I say the stupidest things now without thinking and I cant stop it. The way I think like my thought processes and the way I view things are different and I don’t know how to explain that without sounding a little crazy nobody understands when I say that. I can never think straight & I haven’t felt like my normal self in a couple years I’m dying to know what it feels like. It feels like I’m just watching people life their happy lifes while I sit here and waste away its a horrible feeling, feeling worthless and hopeless, and even worse when your close friends start calling you an attention seeker and fake. This doesn’t even seem real at all none of this does. & I can’t stress this enough the way I used to think like my thinking pattern is just gone it changes constantly and I don’t know what to do about it. The way I act is completely different I’m more negative about things, complainy, very senstive ( so much that if you say the right thing I can burst out crying right on the spot),very irritable,& kinda socially awkward. I hate people nowadays they’re so judgemental on things I can’t change. My friends and family kinda just got tired of hearing it and thought it was my excuse and way out of everything but it wasn’t…I couldn’t help it. I lock myself up in my room everyday and the only people I talk to is my parents and two friends at school. I have more but those two are the ones that wont judge me. I just don’t have those same relationships I used to with my old friends and another thing that frustrates me also is I cannot retain things at all I can barely learn new things another reason I had such a hard time learning in school & still do. I don’t know what to do I don’t expect you to fix it but I just wanted you to know your not alone even if its coming from someone wayyy younger then you.

      • Anno says:

        Hey jessica and Samantha,
        thank you very much for your replies
        it’s been quite a while since I wrote my comment and it
        feels somewhat interesting to re-read it and your replies to it.
        I’ve forgotten some of the experiences I made during that time, since many things have changed (again) which is quite surprising. I can’t tell however, if I feel any better yet, the depression has merely changed into something more like regret about what a shame it is to feel that way.
        I think especially your comment Samantha gives a lot of insight into how depression works and how it destroys our lives, because of how unrefinedly we are judged by others. it seems like depression dislocates our way of acting to make us easy to be judged and to display a false image of what we want to others plus it makes us unable to make sense (which annoys others even more and kills their patience for our “drama”). For example like you said Samantha, as you were merely seeking help from others they only saw you as attention seeking; if I relate this to myself then the way I feel actually makes me seem exactly like that to others. And by the way you’re not really that much younger than me, I’m 20 ;)

        Another interesting thing I noticed is that you mentioned not really knowing what was going on when you started feeling worse. I had the exact same experience, and it took me some months to figure it out… although it was sort of obvious somehow, but I couldn’t really grasp it. I’m not sure if you personally found out what was the core reason for you but I noticed myself that soon enough that reason doesn’t really play a role anymore, since the depression feeds dramatically of its own impact on your life, and becomes so huge, that the reason that sparked it seems ridiculous.
        I personally think that sentence of yours “I was sure it would go away soon but it just kept getting worse” is immensely typical for something like that, cause at first we’re all mostly clueless and don’t expect something that bad, even less because of a small reason (if we are aware of it), which is why we quickly forget about a potential cause.

        There’s really so much to say about depression and the majority seems unaware of the meaning of it. It’s perceived like how someone else already said, as “irrational sadness”.

  30. pravy says:

    i want to say that i was good before 1.5 yrs ago . i was in love with someone X. after some days he started abusing me . i was working in a gym as a trainer , at that gym inbetween this i was geting closer to someone else Y . and then i was with him . but after some dyas i realize that i had cheated X.and due to Y i left my job i left X and i totaly got depressed . i started taking some tablets for sleeping. now a days i m doing my PG for the sake of somewat change but again my mind getting disturbed from X . I m not getting that what should i have to do . Because somewhere i also think that if i went back to X then he will may cheat me . I want that all bad memories should vanish away from my mind from these X or Y. I m at the stage that my life is stopped , i wont be able to concentrate on my studies ,my carrier, my family and on myself to . PLEASE HELP ME OUT .

    • motan says:

      If the situation messed up your life, it was too much. You have made a mistake. But do not massacre yourself with it. Don’t let yourself be destroyed by it.
      Take a time to think about everything. (What person you wish to be?) Be honest.
      Then concentrate on what is really important right now. You can do it.
      Take care.
      (I don’t think you should return to X, from what I’ve read.)

  31. ginny mae says:

    Well I’m 20 years old and my husband and I been going though a rough time we been together for 3 years and have a 2 year old daughter together . I feel like we grew a little apart not to bad but not good. I just want us to be happy but I feel like I get overwhelmed a lot so I get so stressed out it makes me feel low about my self then turns in to depression. And I can’t be romantic our be physical. Any advise

  32. Lorraine says:

    I have been on Lexapro for almost 4 yrs. I was fine until my husband cheated on me.. I can’t get the thought out of my head some days I’m fine other days I’m not… I just want to be normal again.. My kids see the difference in me I do try and act different around them but at times I just want to run away and never look back.. Yes I’m still with my husband and I always said to myself if any man cheats on me they are gone.. I don’t trust him and things between us were getting better for a little while but my head it just starts to think way too much.. I want me back but I just can’t get there will I ever be normal again…

    • Bernadeth says:

      Lorraine, I can relate to you. I ,too, have been experiencing depression. I have Major Depression,that’s what my Psychologist assessed me. Some days I’m fine some days not. Most of the time my depression triggers if my husband nag at me or insult me, like being irresponsible, and that I admit it. I changed a lot. . . . . Irresponsible wife and a mother to my family. This started when my depression started. I also started experiencing my depression when I knew that my husband cheated. . . .was having relationship with his ex-girlfriend. . . painful. I want to get back to normal. . . .and always praying for it. . . but. . . . so sad it’s lingering from time to time. The bad thing . . my family have a hard time understanding my situation. They’re telling me . . it’s all in the mind. Internet had helped me lot. what i did when i was in my worst depression, i searched about depression i just didn’t read it. . . . i copied. It’s more than 7 years now that my Dep, started. When my Dep. starts, i refreshed myself about by reading what i had searched in the internet. Also, when i’m in a very weak mood, I prepare ice cold water in a bowl then splash my face with it. . . . . it helps me a lot. . . . .relieved of my symptoms.

    • motan says:

      That’s torturing you. If you know you will never trust him again, there’s not much you can do. You could try to get some help to the marriage, a therapist, but… What you are experiencing, what are you feeling, isn’t wrong at all. You are normal. You felt (and still feel) betrayed and hurt. Now you have 2 options: truly forgive him (is he worthy of? are you ready to take the risk?) and take another chance, or move on.

      Do what’s best for you and your kids. And don’t try to act, children perceive it (and adults can be sad too). And remember that it’s not their fault.

      Hope is everything fine by now.

  33. Claire Gallagher says:

    great article, John. you are one smart, well informed guy.

    the question of recovery is one that i have struggled with as i had a very serious breakdown with psychosis. it was hard for me to accept that i will never be the same again. very hard. im still great. but broken.

    thanks for sharing your thoughts. you have a lovely way of expressing yourself. Claire

  34. Vartika says:

    Thankyou for your most wonderful article here. My problem is playing safe and being obsessive about the precautions and preparations that I constantly find myself making… I’ve been depressed all my life;20 years. And after two years of therapy and strictly, my desire to want to lead a normal life bought things from extreme to ‘okay’. But i’ve recently realised getting okay is a continuous effort required on your part… Why is it so hard ? Do you believe in karma? would this mean I’ll have it really easy now on? There is no anger, and I’ve reached a state where I’m in good control of my emotions and my life. My question is about karma…

  35. nikki says:

    I’ve recently noticed a significant amount of changes in myslef from being depressed. To be more specific, i cant communicate with people the way i use to, half the time im not even sure if i would like to communicate with anyone at all to be honest, ive also caught myself thinking alot more than usual, ive become a more negative person rather than a positive one, i dont laugh like i use to nor to i find joy in things that i use to. typically id be an extremly creative person but i feel as though im losing that as well. Ive also become very insecure about myself. i find it hard to focus, and feel like ive had memory lose, and thats not even the half of it… will i ever be myself agian? It scares me to think id live the rest of my life this way….any suggestions?

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, nikki –

      The changes depression brings about do not have to be permanent. Once you’re over the worst of it – and for many people medication and therapy help take the edge off the worst symptoms – you do need to find ways of re-activating yourself. There are dozens of posts on this blog describing methods that have helped me: mindfulness meditation, acceptance and commitment therapy, writing, reducing stress in my worklife, cognitive therapy, physical exercise and many more. You need to come up with the combination of activities that works best for you. I’ve never found one method that works on all the symptoms.

      My best to you in this search —

      John

      • ankitasengupta says:

        Hi, john – I’m also suffering with depression, same case..can you suggest how could I get myself better…I’m 19years old gal.

    • Bernadeth says:

      Nikki I think if you already have depression there’s a lot of changes. I can relate with you. I, too am very creative, i laugh a lot, talkative, feeling very secured. I can talk to any person. . even to a Judge. But when i started my depression my insecurities became very severe. I, too, have memory loss. I think we still have a chance to be back normally, but not as normal as we used to be. Try to fight your insecurities by trying to mingle with other people. If possible find your old friends just what I’m doing now. Or have new friends who can understand your situation. Stay away from people who are insulting you, nag at you, or people you’re not comfortable with. But if they are your family, talk to them tell them what makes you depressed. Read about depression in the Internet and it’s good you copy it, it’s a big help to people like us. The advantage of copying, when it lingers or feeling down again re-read what you had copied. For me, it helps me a lot We have to educate ourselves. … I’m thankful for myself that i was not dependent on medication. There was a time only that I took Xanor, also an anti-depressant, but not on regular bases. Only when I’m not feeling well. I stopped taking it for 2 years already.

  36. xxxxxx xxxxxx says:

    I have to smile at the use of the term ‘episodes’ of depression. I have suffered now for twenty-six years without a break. So I can say with some authority that depression doesn’t so much change your personality – I would say that I still feel like my pre-depression self – but it does inhibit your ability to express your personality. Added to that, the sheer length of time that has passed since I was last capable of feeling joy, or was able to be physically active, means that I find that I can’t remember what those things actually felt like. They have become abstract concepts.

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      We have different forms of depression – some people have both – but it’s true that the “earlier” self could be an abstraction, even a fabrication of memory, a longing for a golden age in your life. There’s a lot of debate over the role of inborn temperament in depression and whether or not the basic features of a personality can ever change. But there are different dimensions that can take turns coming to the fore or receding, even out of consciousness. Thanks for commenting.

  37. Judy says:

    I think this is a really complex question, partly because none of us are going to be the same people forever no matter what happens (or not), and then with the recent information about tardive dysphoria, how would we know, after taking antidepressants for a long time, what effects are from depression and what are from the meds we’ve taken?

    I really don’t know how I would answer this because it seems like I’ve been depressed most of my life to some degree or another and, if anything, the process of trying to recover from it, I think, has made my life better than it would have been otherwise. There is no “happier” self to look back on, to say that is my “old” self. I wouldn’t want to be my “old” self. If anything, I’d have to say that it was probably depression that saved me from my old self, the thing that finally made me cry “Uncle!” I was so used to living the victim role that I didn’t even know I had a self.

    Does this make sense to anyone else?

    • Hi, Judy –

      It sure is complicated. I’ve often written elsewhere about the impossibility of going back to an earlier me. As you say, I was always influenced by depression and had problems I wouldn’t want to experience again. When people say I want to be myself again, I think they have in mind the times they were in top form. Also, if medication works, it happens early in treatment. You feel so good – actually it’s almost like a high – that being yourself again may be just a way of saying I wish I felt like this all the time. There’s no question that I’ve discovered more about myself through reacting to depression than I would have without it. At least, I think that’s true – how can you know?

      John

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