Help me reset my brain from depression
October 26, 2014 8:24 PM   Subscribe

School and life have gotten tough in the past few weeks, I have become depressed and I want to prevent it from getting worse

I have become depressed due to being busy nonstop for the past month and am looking for ways to re-set my brain.

I moved to a new city 2 months ago. It is the 9th time I have moved to a new apartment in the past 8 years. I am living with my younger brother which I am finding tough because I was expecting us to become closer but it seems we are drifting farther apart and I almost feel as though he despises me because he leaves the house without saying goodbye and stays out for hours at a time. My mother lives alone and I think she is going through a depression but she won't talk about it and she doesn't really have anyone as her best friend recently got re-married and is often MIA.

My coursework is very interesting but also very political and at many times quite bleak. I'm very sensitive and reading these texts affects me deeply. A lot of anti colonial theory which I am passionate about but which challenges a lot of my ways of being in the world.

Then last week there was the shooting in Ottawa, which is my home town, and now Jian Gomeshi has been fired and all these things are upsetting to me. I am also worried about my mom because she is upset about the shooting too, and she is all alone and there is nothing I can do to care for her. At the same time I have a huge project due on Tuesday and an essay due on Wednesday.

I am feeling a lot of despair right now and am looking for ways to reset the way I am thinking. I journal every day, work out twice a week and walk to and from school every day (20 minutes each way). I try to keep my willpower up by thinking about all the cute guys in my classes. Any other tips for dealing with being overwhelmed by life?
posted by winterportage to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Antidepressant medication.
posted by Jacqueline at 8:25 PM on October 26, 2014

Can you take some time to yourself? It sounds like you're going, going, going, and a break (maybe a spa day or a trip to the theater or the zoo or something) might help you reset a little bit?
posted by xingcat at 8:26 PM on October 26, 2014

Before you run to the medicine cabinet, try running outside. The human body has an amazing system of chemicals that go to work when you exercise, and the many benefits to both body and mind are incredible.
posted by four panels at 8:30 PM on October 26, 2014 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Try to remember that your Mom is a grown up lady who has just as much ability to deal with being depressed as you do. And if she's any kind of good mom, she would not like you to be distracted from school by worrying about her (unless she were like, stranded in the desert and you decided not to come get her because you were working on a paper that was due in 3 weeks or something ridiculous like that). And if she's not a good mom, then she's not worth all this mental energy from you.

Whenever your schoolwork gets depressing I would think about what your goals are after you finish the degree. "Yes, this is stressful, but it will be worth it because ____" is what kept me going during school.
posted by bleep at 8:40 PM on October 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

When you are depressed you have an intense cognitive bias towards the negative, and pretty much no ability to assimilate the positive. You are currently holding these sorrowful events large in your consciousness and ignoring the 100s of good things around you. Possibly CBT, some other kind of therapy would help?. Exercise more if you can bring yourself to do it, and get out and enjoy the beauty in nature. The tricky part of depression is that your thoughts about it are real but not necessarily true. That is to say, the phenomena you are focussed on is real, but you have a distorted perception of it. Since your experience feels 100% true it is a hard point to grasp. But think of it this way: there are thousands of other people around you undergoing the same or even more challenging stimulus as are you, and they are not necessarily having the same reaction to it at all. It is just stimulus. The depression is your particular response to it, and just because you have that response now does not mean it has to stay that way. I hope you find a way to feel better soon. kind regards.
posted by jcworth at 8:54 PM on October 26, 2014 [6 favorites]

I recommend cognitive behavioral therapy (sometimes called just "cognitive therapy"). You can do it yourself -- you don't need an actual therapist. I read some books about this, and they really helped me. Also, if you don't sleep well, try to improve your sleeping habits. Sleep can have a big impact on depression.

Antidepressants did not work well for me (I found out later that they're essentially glorified placebos). The drugs also had the side-effect of causing a fair amount of weight gain -- weight that I never really lost afterwards.
posted by akk2014 at 9:01 PM on October 26, 2014

Let me just say that for a lot of people, myself included, antidepressants aren't working via the placebo effect. This is of course consistent with them a) working for many people, as they do; and b) working via the placebo effect for many people. For some of us, if you gradually replaced our meds with sugar pills, we'd be unable to function.

None of us know in which category you'd fall. You should see a psychiatrist if at all possible.

In the meantime, I also suggest cutting out as much news as you can. I have to do that sometimes.
posted by persona au gratin at 1:38 AM on October 27, 2014 [5 favorites]

A few things that sometimes help me.

R Sapolsky's Stanford lecture on depression is on youtube.

23 1/2 hours is also on youtube.

The "sliding vs deciding" video on youtube.

Any of Brene Brown's ted talks about shame.

Then, really focusing hard on self care. Making the bed. Eating hearty food. Getting hugs from people who are good huggers. Listening to happy music.

I don't own a lamp for SAD but you might look into using one. If you are in the northern hemisphere, then the onset of winter is something you can battle.

Gratitude journal. Write down three GOOD things from each day. You can also make a similar journal for morning. Three things you are looking forward to.

Finally, the emotion regulation module of DBT was amazing for me.
posted by tulip-socks at 5:29 AM on October 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

I'm surprised that most of the advice so far is against antidepressants. They don't work for everyone, true. But when they do work they can make all the difference in the world. If you give the self-care suggestions an honest try (like, for a few weeks, not just trying once and giving up) and not noticing a difference, medication can be the catalyst that helps all those things work. It can also make therapy work better for you; I need to be at a certain baseline before therapy helps me, and antidepressants get me there. You're not guaranteed success, but don't rule them out.

Whether or not you choose the pharmaceutical route, getting checked out by a professional is wise.
posted by Metroid Baby at 5:51 AM on October 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

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