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Coping With Depression, Anxiety & Everyday Life

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I feel inspired to share some ideas I've encountered in life's journey. This is not advice just my story that some people might find interesting or useful.

Having experienced life long feelings that come under the labels of depression and anxiety then trying to treat it with excess alcohol I eventually took a different path.

Aged 32 I quit alcohol initially by attending AA for about a year but AA left me wanting. It did stop me drinking though so it did work for me. Then I was left to bring up a 5 and 6 year alone with little help of any kind. I found this very tough.

To fill the nights at home alone I done a Psychology Degree through the Open University. I also became interested in meditation and now and again continued to go to my GP who prescribed antidepressants. Occasionally I was referred to psychiatrists and psychologists where I was labelled/given therapy.

I graduated in 2006 with a !st Class Honours in Psychology and also learnt more about and practised meditation based in the Buddhist tradition although I have no religious beliefs at all. Thankfully I'm age 56 now and able to cope independently with life free from anxiety/depression.

I found it useful to have insight into the major perspectives of Psychology, their assumptions, treatments for anxiety/depression. It certainly made me think about life!

In very general terms the following is my resume of each of the major perspectives. Please feel free to correct me or elaborate on anything I've written. Bear in mind, perspectives are not cut and dried as there is overlap between perspectives and the discipline of Psychology is rife with disagreement:-

Scientific/Biological - People are inherently the same and driven by things like environment, genetics and biological processes. Because anxiety/depression is viewed as biochemical the treatment of these conditions is by medication to resolve faulty biochemistry.

Scientific/Cognitive - People are information processors. Anxiety/depression is viewed as not thinking correctly. For example feelings of inadequacy would be treated with Cognitive Behaviour Therapy which would attempt to find examples in your life where it could be proven that you are not inadequate.

Unscientific/Psychodynamic - A more individualistic approach where a person is viewed as the product of the unconscious mind and their early socialisation, the latter which is often inadequate causes anxiety/depression. Treatment is by Psychotherapy which attempts to resolve unconscious patterns of thinking which hamper individuals.

Unscientific/Social Constructionist - People are social through and through; a product of influences from their culture, family and social experiences. Anxiety/depression is caused by social factors therefore treatment should not be aimed at individuals but by aiming for social reform to create societies which promote well being in the population.

Unscientific/Humanistic - A person is viewed as a unique individual who faces the existential problems of life that everyone faces. Anxiety/depression is viewed as an existential problem and therapy attempts to encourage the individual to resolve their own life problems in their own particular reality.

All food for thought!

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Excellent stuff / a good read,

Thanks for posting.

Can I ask what SSRI's you have experience of?

I've tried:

Mirtazapine (very good but high weight gain)

Citralopram (weight gain and teeth grinding)

Sertraline (hard start up phase to get through but no appetite increase in fact lost a few pounds)

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I've read your excellent exposition. It is comprehensive of the mainstream of psychological thinking on depression. However, it didn't cover the increase in depression sufferers over recent years, which in my opinion stems from the increase in population (for whatever reason - I'm not into bashing immigration) producing unwanted (antisocial) behaviours in some of the population and depression in others.

Have your studies touched on this and, if not, what do you think of the proposition?

Well done for conquering your depression in such a positive way.

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Clinical depression is more prevalent than ever, and has surged in the last 10 years http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/nov/20/antidepressant-use-rise-world-oecd The industry will say doctors are better at diagnosing. But I suggest in the 21st Century, we are creating depression with the media, work life balance, and the quest for material wealth.

The only way out of depression I have found is to be a driven person, and "just keep swimming". Whether it be world domination or be the top of your hobby. Look after your health by exercising, and looking after your mind. Be in touch will real people, rather than just online.

I can Longboard, Rollerblade, Cycle, Scooter ( I have an adult one), and walk at the very least a few times per week.

Yesterdays thought for the day, on Radio 4 I found relevant to this, and we need to start changing how we shape our children http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p024c3hp

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We should stop social engineering that is propagated more often by academics who lack human empathy and are themselves mired in rational thinking and the belief that everyone should act rationally and conform to rules laid down by "leaders".

That whole idea is itself irrational.

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How to avoid feeling down is to start loving yourself and thinking of others.....nobody is perfect but everyone has some good in them, all people need other people to bring out the best in themselves...... Look to and work to improve what you are good at not beat yourself up about what you are not so good at.

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I feel inspired to share some ideas I've encountered in life's journey. This is not advice just my story that some people might find interesting or useful.

Having experienced life long feelings that come under the labels of depression and anxiety then trying to treat it with excess alcohol I eventually took a different path.

Aged 32 I quit alcohol initially by attending AA for about a year but AA left me wanting. It did stop me drinking though so it did work for me. Then I was left to bring up a 5 and 6 year alone with little help of any kind. I found this very tough.

To fill the nights at home alone I done a Psychology Degree through the Open University. I also became interested in meditation and now and again continued to go to my GP who prescribed antidepressants. Occasionally I was referred to psychiatrists and psychologists where I was labelled/given therapy.

I graduated in 2006 with a !st Class Honours in Psychology and also learnt more about and practised meditation based in the Buddhist tradition although I have no religious beliefs at all. Thankfully I'm age 56 now and able to cope independently with life free from anxiety/depression.

I found it useful to have insight into the major perspectives of Psychology, their assumptions, treatments for anxiety/depression. It certainly made me think about life!

So you had problems at 32, started the psychology course at about 43, ended it at around 48 and are now depression free at 56? At what age did you get out of the hole and what were the main contributing factors? Stopping the alcohol would help because that is a depressant. Did the pills and therapy help at all? Was the Psychology course in effect, another form of therapy because it made you think differently?

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I feel inspired to share some ideas I've encountered in life's journey. This is not advice just my story that some people might find interesting or useful.

Having experienced life long feelings that come under the labels of depression and anxiety then trying to treat it with excess alcohol I eventually took a different path.

Aged 32 I quit alcohol initially by attending AA for about a year but AA left me wanting. It did stop me drinking though so it did work for me. Then I was left to bring up a 5 and 6 year alone with little help of any kind. I found this very tough.

To fill the nights at home alone I done a Psychology Degree through the Open University. I also became interested in meditation and now and again continued to go to my GP who prescribed antidepressants. Occasionally I was referred to psychiatrists and psychologists where I was labelled/given therapy.

I graduated in 2006 with a !st Class Honours in Psychology and also learnt more about and practised meditation based in the Buddhist tradition although I have no religious beliefs at all. Thankfully I'm age 56 now and able to cope independently with life free from anxiety/depression.

I found it useful to have insight into the major perspectives of Psychology, their assumptions, treatments for anxiety/depression. It certainly made me think about life!

In very general terms the following is my resume of each of the major perspectives. Please feel free to correct me or elaborate on anything I've written. Bear in mind, perspectives are not cut and dried as there is overlap between perspectives and the discipline of Psychology is rife with disagreement:-

Scientific/Biological - People are inherently the same and driven by things like environment, genetics and biological processes. Because anxiety/depression is viewed as biochemical the treatment of these conditions is by medication to resolve faulty biochemistry.

Scientific/Cognitive - People are information processors. Anxiety/depression is viewed as not thinking correctly. For example feelings of inadequacy would be treated with Cognitive Behaviour Therapy which would attempt to find examples in your life where it could be proven that you are not inadequate.

Unscientific/Psychodynamic - A more individualistic approach where a person is viewed as the product of the unconscious mind and their early socialisation, the latter which is often inadequate causes anxiety/depression. Treatment is by Psychotherapy which attempts to resolve unconscious patterns of thinking which hamper individuals.

Unscientific/Social Constructionist - People are social through and through; a product of influences from their culture, family and social experiences. Anxiety/depression is caused by social factors therefore treatment should not be aimed at individuals but by aiming for social reform to create societies which promote well being in the population.

Unscientific/Humanistic - A person is viewed as a unique individual who faces the existential problems of life that everyone faces. Anxiety/depression is viewed as an existential problem and therapy attempts to encourage the individual to resolve their own life problems in their own particular reality.

All food for thought!

There is no magic complex solution.

It is actually really simple. Don't spend time sitting around thinking about yourself. This is self indulgent and the path to misery. Be busy doing interesting things all the time.

Don't listen to therapists who encourage you to spend time thinking that everything that happens to you is not your fault and therefore there is nothing you can do about it.

The past is set. The future is not. Understand that control is yours for the taking and its up to you to make things happen, not expect the world to bring it to you on a plate.

And as CCC says, keep your body in as good shape as your mind.

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There is no magic complex solution.

It is actually really simple. Don't spend time sitting around thinking about yourself. This is self indulgent and the path to misery. Be busy doing interesting things all the time.

Don't listen to therapists who encourage you to spend time thinking that everything that happens to you is not your fault and therefore there is nothing you can do about it.

The past is set. The future is not. Understand that control is yours for the taking and its up to you to make things happen, not expect the world to bring it to you on a plate.

And as CCC says, keep your body in as good shape as your mind.

Why would a therapist do such a thing?

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Why would a therapist do such a thing?

I believe that's the essence of cognitive behavioural therapy no? as it's based on ancient Stoicism.

Or at least, a slight distortion of it. The essence of Stoicism is to not spend time worrying about things which are not under your control, but to accept them, as you can't change them anyway.

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Or at least, a slight distortion of it. The essence of Stoicism is to not spend time worrying about things which are not under your control, but to accept them, as you can't change them anyway.

An attitude which leads to a few self-centred knobs with power and who don't give a damn about anything other than their own wealth and power screwing up everything. If fewer people didn't just sit back and shrug saying "there's nothing I can do about it" and hence accept it it would happen less. In other words stoicism is precisely what allows those things to continue.

If more people actually cared and were prepared to say so then perhaps we wouldn't be on a path of making the country a pleasanter place to live in instead of a worse one. Or perhaps not, since most people just seem to want things quick and easy and don't give a crap about anything that makes life worth living. Scum, the lot of them.

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An attitude which leads to a few self-centred knobs with power and who don't give a damn about anything other than their own wealth and power screwing up everything. If fewer people didn't just sit back and shrug saying "there's nothing I can do about it" and hence accept it it would happen less. In other words stoicism is precisely what allows those things to continue.

If more people actually cared and were prepared to say so then perhaps we wouldn't be on a path of making the country a pleasanter place to live in instead of a worse one. Or perhaps not, since most people just seem to want things quick and easy and don't give a crap about anything that makes life worth living. Scum, the lot of them.

I think a general investigation into the way society affects people mentally would be worthwhile. I actually think the modern world is insane. But I have to live in it.

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An attitude which leads to a few self-centred knobs with power and who don't give a damn about anything other than their own wealth and power screwing up everything. If fewer people didn't just sit back and shrug saying "there's nothing I can do about it" and hence accept it it would happen less. In other words stoicism is precisely what allows those things to continue.

If more people actually cared and were prepared to say so then perhaps we wouldn't be on a path of making the country a pleasanter place to live in instead of a worse one. Or perhaps not, since most people just seem to want things quick and easy and don't give a crap about anything that makes life worth living. Scum, the lot of them.

Epictetus, who founded Stoicism, was a slave.

Still, some people definitely "care too much" in my experience. The world is in many ways a shit place, you can't let starving Ethiopians ruin your life.

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Lots of interesting comments on this topic and I hope the following responds to specific questions. If not ask again.

Drinking excessively did not help at all. It only created another problem to address. "This too shall pass" is a phrase used to deal with cravings. I have found this phrase useful for dealing with any unpleasant feelings or circumstances.

I tried many antidepressants up until approx 2005 when I eventually rejected them because I never felt they helped and in general I dislike taking medication. Likewise I rejected therapy because I found meditation/mindfulness the most useful approach for me to overcome my problems.

I realised that there are no quick fixes. My recovery has been very subtle and gradual over 24 years. Anxiety has been less troublesome for years but it's only for the past 3 years that I have been free of depression. Interestingly my financial circumstances have been easier since then and my offspring are coming 20 and 21 at the end of the year and are not totally dependent on me now.

As has been mentioned the past cannot be changed one can only come to terms with it. For example, I always brooded about having an unsupportive family and being a skint, divorced, friendless, single parent. Nowadays I accept my parents had their own struggles to deal with in life and done the best they could. Also I view myself as being alone instead of lonely and accept that I'll never be the life and soul of the party as I can find too much company draining. I've learned to enjoy my own company and interests.

I find exercise very beneficial for well being and have walked a lot for years. Exercise was one of the first things I embraced.

Indeed it is reported that anxiety/depression is increasing in the population. As has been mentioned this may be because the stigma is lessened and more people seek treatment or it may be because life circumstances are becoming more adverse for more people. I really don't know. All the perspectives will have their view on the matter.

The reason I embarked on doing a Psychology Degree was because I was interested in the subject and I hoped it might help me earn more money. I found the insight into the human condition invaluable at a personal level but I have no desire to become a psychologist as I have no real idea how you would advise individuals how to overcome problems. Scientific Psychology is dominant and mainstream. In fact it is under the umbrella of the Department of Trade and Industry! I'm more drawn to social and humanistic strands but they are unable to present scientific evidence so don't enjoy the hegemony and power of the scientific perspectives.*

Someone mentioned they thought the world was an insane, crazy place. That's what I think and all we can do is try to find a way that we can tolerate living in it.

*Edited to add that mindfulness is making headway with scientific evidence as many studies seem to show mental health benefits.

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Because therapists need/want people to therapise.

Presumably, then, you also believe that mechanics routinely sabotage cars, doctors make people ill, and software developers deliberately code in bugs. Would be par for the course in HPC off-topic, I guess.

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Epictetus, who founded Stoicism, was a slave.

Still, some people definitely "care too much" in my experience. The world is in many ways a shit place, you can't let starving Ethiopians ruin your life.

And surely if all slaves throughout history had followed his example we'd still have actual slavery in this country (as opposed to the de facto slavery we've got).

Maybe I care too much but that's only because I see a continual erosion of what I find makes life worth living by people whose only concern seems to make it easier, or makes them wealthier. It's bad enough when it's a necessary evil (like building more houses), worse when no effort is being made to try to even consider a way around it, or simply to keep the impatient and uncaring happy.

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Presumably, then, you also believe that mechanics routinely sabotage cars, doctors make people ill, and software developers deliberately code in bugs. Would be par for the course in HPC off-topic, I guess.

Uh-oh, I've been rumbled.

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Presumably, then, you also believe that mechanics routinely sabotage cars, doctors make people ill, and software developers deliberately code in bugs. Would be par for the course in HPC off-topic, I guess.

In my experience, the two former, at least, are true.

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