What can I do to help slay the sadness demon?
September 18, 2007 10:31 AM   Subscribe

What is the single best thing you have done to help control your depression?

Was it a certain medication? Lifestyle change such as exercise? Moving to a different city? Whatever it is, I might be willing to try it. I'm specifically interested in the lifestyle changes since those can be implemented along with medication/talk therapy.

posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (71 answers total) 211 users marked this as a favorite
Lifestyle change such as exercise?

posted by bluishorange at 10:36 AM on September 18, 2007 [2 favorites]

I go outside. Every day.
posted by FlamingBore at 10:39 AM on September 18, 2007 [5 favorites]

Therapy, yes, but also waking up and saying to myself every morning, "These feelings aren't real. Feelings aren't facts." It is a motto I learned from a friend of mine who was watching me go through a tremendously difficult time, and I repeat it to myself OFTEN.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:39 AM on September 18, 2007 [21 favorites]

Took up running.
posted by hollisimo at 10:43 AM on September 18, 2007 [4 favorites]

Get enough sleep. I don't get enough right now, and I can tell how it negatively affects my moods and ability to focus.
posted by cadge at 10:44 AM on September 18, 2007

Definitely try a change of location if you find that a lot of your negative emotions are based on or triggered by past memories. You still bring the depression with you, of course, but it's sometimes easier to deal with in a new place free of any weird history or reminders. Everyone is different, but moving has helped me more than any medication ever did. Make an honest attempt to live differently wherever you end up next.
posted by qz at 10:47 AM on September 18, 2007 [2 favorites]

I've always done the 'Five Point Check', where I ask myself the following five questions?

1) Are you improving your health?
2) Are you improving your education?
3) Are you improving your career?
4) Are you improving your relationship with your significant other?
5) Are you improving yourself spiritually?

Gather the results of this. Typically, if I'm scoring 'yes' on 3 out of 5, I'll know I'm doing okay. Otherwise, it's time to get to at least 3, and ideally 5. Currently, I'm probably getting a 4.

I'm a believer that, in many ways, we're sharks, and need to keep moving forward and improving ourselves. If we can see/feel forward direction, (and attainable goals), it holds the languid torpor of depression at bay.

For me, the easiest thing is to get on a bicycle, whether I want to or not, and ride twenty miles. Usually, by the end of that time, I'm ready to tackle the other 4 questions.
posted by The Giant Squid at 10:48 AM on September 18, 2007 [70 favorites]

Not sure how practical this is for you, but the single best thing I did was live abroad for six months during my lowest depression. It might seem counterintuitive, but going somewhere on my own where nobody felt like they had to behave delicately around me was really pretty great.

Now, my particular living-abroad was as part of an academic exchange, so there was structure and built-in sociability there; I wasn't alone. I would hesitate to recommend uprooting unless you are heading somewhere where you know you have a built-in social network and aren't going to have to work not to be lonely. That is not extra work that you need at the moment.

But yes, exercise and sunshine too. Consider it medicine in non-pill form.
posted by catesbie at 10:51 AM on September 18, 2007

I try to find things to occupy my time. It's the absolute pits when I'm sitting alone, bored, in my apartment. So, I take up projects that occupy a lot of my brain function (so, turn the TV off). I just started teaching myself the guitar, actually, and it's really lifted my mood.
posted by backseatpilot at 10:57 AM on September 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

I bicycle every day. If I'm working that day, that means at least 16 miles. If I'm not, it means at least around town (grocery store, etc.) or possibly a longer one (20-30 miles or more). If I'm unhappy at night, I sometimes bike to a coffee shop (night riding is fun -- but remember to use lights, etc.) This has been absolutely the best thing for me. It means exercise (I've lost weight), the "natural high" that exercise brings, going out regularly, something to look forward to everyday, a feeling of accomplishment everyday, and so forth.
posted by R343L at 10:57 AM on September 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

1. Took lexapro.
2. Got off the lexapro when it was time.
3. Ongoing talk therapy.
4. Regular exercise outdoors.

A lot of it for me has been recognizing that this is something I'll probably have to struggle with on and off for the rest of my life and it does come and go. I know that in 6 months I may feel completely different - I know that things are going to change. Sometimes I need to repeat that to myself 10 times a day. Still, Lexapro when I'm really down at the nadir has helped me tremendously over the last few years. I refuse to stay on it for more than about 5 months at a time, because it messes with my memory, but it does the trick and gets me over the hump.

I was having a lot of luck last year with fish oil - 6000 mg a day - and exercise. Exercise is key and for me it seems to have to be outside. I take the dogs down to the river to run every day or I go hiking way out in the woods and that makes all the difference in the world.
posted by mygothlaundry at 10:58 AM on September 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

Exercise with a team.
posted by dame at 10:58 AM on September 18, 2007

1) Better diet (vegetarian, bordering on vegan)
2) Regular exercise (no goofing off)
3) Read David Burns' "Feeling Good" (educate myself)

Worked like a charm.
posted by willmize at 11:00 AM on September 18, 2007

Moving to be closer to friends and family, and changing from freelance to salaried employment helped me a lot.
posted by rmless at 11:01 AM on September 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

posted by four panels at 11:04 AM on September 18, 2007

Reading this helped :
" Human Givens: how to lift depression...fast"

Regular exercise has been amazingly beneficial, and when I miss my workouts I can actually feel the fog of depression return. I do simple weights and cardio with Power 90 DVD's.
Contact me if you need more info on the book.
posted by swiffa at 11:04 AM on September 18, 2007

1. Stick consistently with your medication (hard for me coz I'm forgetful) and give it a chance to work, so that your emotions can be stabilized and you can think straight.

2. Honestly examine your life and figure out if there are factors which are directly causing the depression. Then bite the bullet and remove those causes from your life, however difficult. In my case it was leaving a job that I subconsciously hated, but was sticking with because I had invested so much into.

3. Simplify, simplify, simplify your life so that you have the time, space and energy to focus on getting better.
posted by randomstriker at 11:05 AM on September 18, 2007 [2 favorites]

posted by gaspode at 11:06 AM on September 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Also talk therapy. 79% of people in therapy do better than controls of people who want but do not receive therapy. The effect size is ~.80, a large effect in the social sciences.
posted by OmieWise at 11:13 AM on September 18, 2007

As mentioned by other people:

Outdoor exercise,
~8hrs of sleep per night,
Stop being so mean and critical to myself,
Moving to be closer to extended family,
Getting a new job in a better (more fun) field, and...
Finding a new girlfriend who is good to me.

This took several years - but it worked like a charm. I'm actually quite happy now.

Don't give up.

If you work - everyday - to bring positive things into your life, your life will get better.
posted by LakesideOrion at 11:17 AM on September 18, 2007 [4 favorites]

The best advice I have found is in these videos on Positive Psychology. Also the mindfulness exercises in this book. It's not for depression per se, but the exercises are helpful.
posted by RussHy at 11:18 AM on September 18, 2007 [2 favorites]

I like randomstriker's #2 piece of advice.

Get out of the house and do something, anything, that makes you feel like you've accomplished something. For many here, that entails running. For me, it entails singing in public. YMMV, of course.

Best of luck!
posted by LN at 11:21 AM on September 18, 2007

I have found that you can't be mentally depleted and physically exhausted at the same time (the physical exhaustion takes precedence).

Also, helping others (although I can imagine if you're really depressed that may be hard to do). But having contact with other people seems to help too.
posted by Taken Outtacontext at 11:21 AM on September 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

I know people hate to hear this, but after almost 10 years of consistent medical diagnosis of (not self-diagnosis), and unsuccesful treatment for, depression, earlier this year I decided to stop being depressed.

That is to say: I decided to stop thinking of myself as "sick". I decided to stop whining that the chemicals in my body were making me feel bad after I refused to leave the house for two days. I decided to stop refusing to leave the house for two days, even if all I do is take my dogs to the park. I decided to stop blaming lack of appetite on the aforementioned "sickness" and suck up reality by eating healthy foods, and getting some exercise. I decided to stop thinking every single miniscule bad thing that happened to me was important. I decided to stop using depression as a crutch that excused me from making tough choices, or spending time caring for others, or addressing my responsibilities. I decided to stop participating in conversations with friends for whom the decision whether to switch to Lexapro or Celexa is the most critically important thing that will ever happen. I decided to even sometimes just PRETEND to be happy so that my darling husband and I could wring an hour of non-misery out of every day.

These basic things let me make even better decisions. I decided to start running. I decided to eat really healthy foods with minimal junk food. Then I decided to drastically cut drinking, and I stopped taking Xanax as needed and sleeping pills daily. I decided that healthy people could have bad days too. I decided to pick up some hobbies (so what if I ONLY like to paint birds?).

These stronger decisions made me want to do things, let me have fun and relax and trust people, want to see my friends and go out and travel and have fun, allowed me the patience and stamina to work hard at work, and then play guilt-free. Somewhere in all those decisions, I stopped exhibiting the symptoms of depression, and now I BELIEVE it.

(But don't take that as an implication that I feel, for a second, that anyone who can't or doesn't decide to stop being depressed is wrong, bad, lazy, etc., or that it's that person's fault they feel depression. I know different people have different experiences, etc. and so on.)
posted by bunnycup at 11:25 AM on September 18, 2007 [34 favorites]

I'm not sure if 'enough sleep' was a symptom or a solution for me, but I found my depression was much easier to control by other means - exercise, therapy, appropriate medication, support groups, etc. - when I started eating spicy food. A lot of spicy food.

Something about the feeling of a pepper burn - probably endorphin levels, and I'm sure that's one reason running has been suggested frequently - makes it a lot easier for me to break the "I'm depressed so I deserve to be depressed and I'm 'happier' when I'm depressed" thought loop.
posted by ziz at 11:26 AM on September 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

Surfing. It's like starting your own religion and being your biggest believer in it. It changed my life radically. I have learned more about myself in the last three years out there in the water than all other avenues combined.

You always hear people say this about surfing. Fanatics, the whole lot. The reasons and rationales are too many to explain here. But I'm happy to proselytize about my faith if anyone is curious about why so nuts about this. Email in profile.

Changing my diet is the close runner up. Figuring out which foods I am sensitive to and regulating what I eat so that I don't end up a whirling dervish of funkiness has been key as well.

FYI, running is great if it's your bag. Like anything, it's not for everyone. I tried, tried, tried to enjoy it, but in the end, all I remember is miles upon miles of torture. Your miles may vary.
posted by iamkimiam at 11:31 AM on September 18, 2007 [4 favorites]

I have had a year of creative and other therapy, been admitted into a ward (not so good), but the best thing for me was (and this is not a cure for depression!) to have a baby. The daily routine, the love I could give and the simple fact that I did not count for a year because life was all about the baby helped me over it. He is now 6 and I have not had a depression since or use any medication.

I do not think one should have a child to cure anything, marriage, depression or for the use of organs but I do think that change of lifestyle, routine, exercise and to focus on something "bigger" then yourself can help you.
posted by kudzu at 11:33 AM on September 18, 2007

Lots of things that help

1. Stop being so antisocial. Dont spend all day in front of the tube/pc.

2. Losing the chip on one's shoulder/losing the "i should be a millionare by now"attitude.

3 relaxation exercises.

4. optional: sprituality. pick the religion/practice that offends you the least and run with it.

5. Stay the hell away from negative people. Its amazing how we aborb the environment we are in. This might mean old friends and family. I have a strict time limit on how muc time i can spend with certain family members.

6. A nice stimulant like caffeine used as an occasional "kick i nthe pants."

7. Get some decent sleep in. You can supplement this with valerian root or something.,

8. Healthy eating.

9. take a trip. develop a mindset to go somewhere every 2 months. even if its a roadtrip to a hotel 2 hours away in a neighboring city.

10. get a good selfhelp book. maybe get started in therapy.
posted by damn dirty ape at 11:39 AM on September 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

The thing that worked best for me was trying to see myself as clearly as possible. This is hard when you are depressed, but I always challenged how I felt and asked myself why I felt that way and then investigated all of my reasons and so on back until I couldnt take it farther. I found that I was in the habit of lots of unproductive thought cycles that were place holders for action. Once I started to pare down my thoughts it quieted my mind and I was able to ask myself serious questions. I was on oodles of medicine so that was certainly part of what gave me the ability to take that path, but I willingly quit taking all my medicine at once last year and I've never looked back. I went from a diagnosis of severe depression/anxiety to not remembering the last time I felt depressed. I think forcing myself to face myself with as little illusion as possible, to see who I was and what my motivations were allowed me to see through the illusions that depression creates. I would get so caught up in feeling terrible and painting everything in my life in negatives that I just kept throwing logs on the fire, and descending even further into it.

Even though I hated more than anything when people around me asked me to just snap out of it or to just stop feeling the way I did, I think there is some truth to what bunnycup said above; if you have the mental will to get better you will. I remember the first time I was hospitalized a psychiatrist told me that she thought I would be ok because medicine only worked for people who wanted it to work- if that isn't an endorsement for the power of the mind I don't know what is.
posted by zennoshinjou at 11:42 AM on September 18, 2007 [2 favorites]

I've dealt with depression most of my life (my first major depressive episode was around 4th grade, so it's been a specter for nearly 30 years for me). Successfully managing it has ultimately required not a "single best" thing but rather a combination of things: medication (specifically Serzone, which I'm not on now, but was for about 6 years), long-term talk therapy (not just short-term crisis management therapy -- this was absolutely crucial for me), yoga/exercise, moving to a warmer/sunnier climate (though I do still miss Chicago a lot!), eating healthier, and drinking only moderately.
posted by scody at 11:42 AM on September 18, 2007

#1 for me is keeping busy, both mentally and physically.

Other than that, sunlight and bike rides (on the trail, or just to get around town).
posted by puffin at 11:45 AM on September 18, 2007

I started exercising every frickin' day, I got out and met people, I made new friends, I accustomed myself to a morning and evening routine, I got a hobby, I read new books, I found unconditional love, I rediscovered my neighbors and neighborhood, I took classes and I started to find humor in the smallest of things.

In short, I got a dog.

It's not the answer for everyone, and you have to be ready for the responsibility, but it was one of the best things I ever did.
posted by annaramma at 11:49 AM on September 18, 2007 [6 favorites]

no magic bullet, but the biggest factors for me seem to be:
medication (effective to varying degrees)
diet (eliminating junk food, sugar, adding more veges)
bright light
awareness of depressive thoughts, defusing them
mindfulness, meditation
posted by DarkForest at 11:50 AM on September 18, 2007

Exercise (running)
Proper medication.

The depression is still there (been living with it since early childhood) but the combination of the two help even-out the peaks and valleys.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:51 AM on September 18, 2007

Here, have ten single things! If you must just have one then go straight to number 3. Otherwise, the things that have saved me:

1. Eating healthy food. Organic, clean, unprocessed, lotsa fruit and veg, grilled fish etc. In short good fuel for mind and body.
2. A multivitamin, Omega 3 oil capsule and 900mg of St John's Wort every day.
3. Exercise. So very, very important. The feeling after my 3 times a week 40 minute run is the highest high.
4. A good night's sleep. Which meant cutting back on drinking in the evening.
5. Meditating every day for 20 mins. I don't always succeed but the feeling of peace afterwards is second only to number 3.
6. Drinking plenty water. 1.5 to 2L a day. Makes my brain feel good.
7. Self-forgiveness: I finally stopped giving myself a hard time about everything. No excuses.
8. Family and friends: It's good to have them.
9. A goal: Anything, be over ambitious, just work toward it.
10. Take everything in moderation.
posted by brautigan at 11:55 AM on September 18, 2007 [22 favorites]

DarkForest's mention of mindfulness and meditation is great, and reminds me that reading about buddhism has also helped perk up my disposition considerably. I find the First Noble Truth -- that life inevitably contains suffering -- to be extraordinarily liberating. Because it then follows that you can, to a great extent, choose how to respond -- by clinging to the things that cause pain, or by choosing to let them go. This is not the same as simply "snapping out of it," which is (as mentioned upthread) pretty much an impossibility for clinical depression; rather, it's a practical philosophical approach to understanding and accepting both the joys and the sorrows in each of our lives. Check out When Things Fall Apart -- I've found it incredibly useful during some dark times, and I know several other friends who have as well.
posted by scody at 12:00 PM on September 18, 2007 [2 favorites]

I keep a journal in which I write down everything that's bothering me, and why it's REALLY bothering me, and all the nasty fears and stuff. And then why they make no sense, and what I can do about it, if anything. And somehow the act of writing all the stressors/fears/demons down and "containing" them on a page, and also the way it somehow helps me ascertain what's really wrong as opposed to just what I THINK is wrong, is incredibly cathartic.
posted by np312 at 12:09 PM on September 18, 2007 [2 favorites]

nth-ing daily exercise, sunlight, and meditation, plus a good night's sleep every night.
posted by vytae at 12:34 PM on September 18, 2007

Wellbutrin & staying in touch with my friends. Making myself go out and interact with people even though I didn't feel like it. The biggest boon: Talking about the depression with people who can relate and understand (but I haven't seen a shrink)... it made me feel like I wasn't such a freak, & wasn't alone.
posted by cuddles.mcsnuggy at 12:35 PM on September 18, 2007

Just adding my name to the "hard exercise" pile.
posted by Vorpil at 12:46 PM on September 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

posted by makonan at 12:48 PM on September 18, 2007

Medication. Then therapy and exercise.
posted by wryly at 12:52 PM on September 18, 2007

I've tried a lot of things, and these are the only ones that have ever helped me:

- Exercise
- Caffeine
- Sunlight

That's it. YMMV, IANAD, any of those can kill you depending on your medical history and current prescriptions, etc.
posted by Reggie Digest at 12:53 PM on September 18, 2007

(And I'd reverse wryly's list.)
posted by Reggie Digest at 12:54 PM on September 18, 2007

Make your bed every morning.
posted by snowjoe at 12:57 PM on September 18, 2007

I wouldn't necessarily recommend this strategy, but going to fire academy really worked for me. I'd break that down into:
1) lots of exercise, to an exhausting degree
2) the feeling of confronting a worthwhile challenge
3) eating well
4) a structured environment of high expectations and no way to hide
5) stopping smoking and greatly cutting down on alcohol
6) belonging to something bigger than you
7) bonding with colleagues
posted by itstheclamsname at 1:04 PM on September 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

Quit eating refined sugars.

Quit eating refined grains (as in, no white rice, no white flour/pasta)

After I did that I ended up with the energy to exercise more, which also helped.

I still get depressed, but if it lasts more than a couple of days, it's usually because I've fallen off the sugar wagon.
posted by small_ruminant at 1:15 PM on September 18, 2007

And quit drinking alcohol, (which in my mind is linked to sugar, so I forgot to add it to my post).
posted by small_ruminant at 1:17 PM on September 18, 2007

Three things that helped me a lot:

a) Natural light. I now try to be always by a window when indoors, and to avoid fluorescent lighting.
b) Sleep by night, live by day. My psych told me there is a feedback loop between depression and nocturnal habits (not saying that all nocturnal people are depressed, but rather than depressed people who are nocturnal get better when they go back to diurnal). Worked for me.
c) Exercise. Cycling is great, running can be good, but even walking to errands gets your body juices working for you.

Ah, and the golden rule: be kind to yourself.

Good luck.
posted by kandinski at 1:18 PM on September 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

Lots of good advice in this thread. I'd like to add one long-term coping strategy that has helped me often:

Concentrate on doing something nice for someone else. I've found that when I'm at my lowest, focusing on doing something good for another person really gets me out of myself.

Good luck to you.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:36 PM on September 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's not the only or even the first thing on my anti-depression list, but it's the most effective. I tend toward insomnia in the first place, and it feeds into a cycle: no sleep -> distorted view of reality -> lying awake worrying. Exercise does help with sleep, but if I'm not getting enough rest in the first place I tend to injure myself.

posted by moonlet at 1:36 PM on September 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

Medication. Wellbutrin is activating for me, so it got me motivated to the point where I could actually get out of bed when I could see no compelling reason to do so.

It's harder now that I don't have health insurance, medication or therapy but just remembering that things can be better helps a whole fuck of a lot.
posted by Space Kitty at 1:38 PM on September 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

When I feel depressed, I usually want to curl up into a ball and sleep for days. Unfortunately, that's not always productive. I force myself to get out of the house or at least have a friend come over. After my grandma died I wouldn't get out of bed and I had the blinds closed and my room was a total wreck. My friend (also a MeFite, of course) came over, thew open the blinds, dragged me out of bed, made me change out of my pj's, and literally forced me to snap out of it. I am very very grateful to him for that.
posted by radioamy at 1:53 PM on September 18, 2007 [2 favorites]

The single best thing was Paxil.

The other single best thing was my dog.
posted by happyturtle at 1:57 PM on September 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

- This isn't the absolute number one, but make sure your living area is clean. There's a very distinct difference between living in clutter and living in a bright shiny house; it's almost as though your emotions get "cluttered" as well. If your house is already clean, re-arrange a room. It's like a tiny fresh start, and I find it can really recharge you.

- One thing I would add to the exercise/get out/explore hobbies/eat better suggestions: Tie these to something structured. I mean, rather than just saying "yeah, I should jog today, but I'm tired, so whatever," hit up Craigslist and find a running partner; instead of vaguely deciding to pick up knitting someday, find a beginner class nearby. It will give you something concrete to put on your calendar and look forward to, and it's harder to flake out when it's not just you involved.
posted by sarahsynonymous at 2:06 PM on September 18, 2007 [4 favorites]

I had to be gentle in allowing myself to break things down into tiny, tiny steps. Set a timer for ten minutes and pick up the trash in your room. Wash three bowls. Every time you give yourself a goal, no matter how tiny, and then accomplish it, you've come closer to winning the fight.

Be gentle to yourself.
posted by lauranesson at 2:21 PM on September 18, 2007 [3 favorites]

Running. Every day, even now after retiring from racing and it serving no purpose other than to regulate my mood. No television, I noticed a link to feeling cranky and having a tv on years ago, any time I'm forced to be in a room with a television on for any length of time I notice ennui creeping in again. Also, seconding being outside for at least an hour a day, regardless of temperature and weather conditions.
posted by stagewhisper at 3:33 PM on September 18, 2007

Quit drinking.

Closely followed by: quit antidepressants; quit sleeping pills; actually started talking about how I felt.
posted by WPW at 4:03 PM on September 18, 2007

n-thing exercise- but do something you like. running makes me feel horrible about myself. swimming makes me feel great.

also, getting the right amount of sleep at consistent times: no staying up late, but also no sleeping in! this makes sense if you consider that depression is linked to the neurotransmitter seratonin which is also involved in circadian rhythms.

good luck!!!
posted by genmonster at 4:43 PM on September 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

Therapy. Sleep. Medication. Routine. Day job that matches my values. Lifestyle that matches my values. Job part was probably the most important.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 5:55 PM on September 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

Get out of bed every morning, don't wait until noon. Shower, then head out of the house, do not return for at least 5 hours.
posted by JujuB at 8:16 PM on September 18, 2007

The single best thing I did to control my depression was to get a 9-to-5 job.

It made me:

a) Get out of bed every day before 8
b) Socialize with a variety of people
c) Be truly productive
d) Proud of myself for doing those three things
posted by nessahead at 9:44 PM on September 18, 2007

Single best thing: Cardiovascular exercise.
Second best: Eating well.
Third best: Therapy.
posted by Skwirl at 11:47 PM on September 18, 2007

I really appreciate (and identify with) bunnycup's response: (paraphrasing) basically about "owning" your depression and not giving in to "being a victim" and feeling bad/negative about yourself. There comes a time when you just have to draw a line in the sand and say (to yourself) "being depressed is NOT an option". You are a beautiful human being with valuable things to offer and dont let anyone (including yourself) tell you otherwise.

I also think lauranesson's advice about taking things slowly and "being gentle to yourself" is really excellent. (and worked for me). Breaking things into small pieces and setting small goals (even as small as "in the next 5 min I'm going to put my shoes on") is a great way to break down the stress into more manageable pieces.

As others have mentioned, the following things worked well for me:

1.) try new things. drive a different road home. find some new music/food/hobby/book. Basically anything to give your brain a brand new experience.

2.) Just "be human" and not fake. In your daily life if someone asks "how are you today?".. reply to them with exactly what you are thinking instead of the fake "i'm fine, thanks" when you are not. You'll be really surprised at the warm and caring replies you get when you answer honestly, even if the answer surprises them.

3.) Running. .... ... (just kidding.. I HATE running :P

4.) Recognize the things that frustrate you in life, and find creative solutions to them. The internet is VAST and there is probably someone whose had the same problem and found a great solution. Create the life you want instead of feeling like you are forced to live the life you've been given.
posted by jmnugent at 1:39 AM on September 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

Started taking an anti-depressant. And started smoking.

Ok, no, in retrospect, I'm sure it wasn't actually the smoking that helped (and I've quit since then), it was the fact that it got me outdoors in the sun MUCH more than I had been for years. I'm an indoors type of gal who started smoking when smoking started being banned indoors in most places. It's just my guess that getting more sunlight helped.
posted by INTPLibrarian at 7:31 AM on September 19, 2007

In dealing with my existential depression, I've found a combination of two things to help: medication, and keeping my mind busy on other things. The first is easy enough with health insurance; the second takes some active self-nudging when I feel myself slipping into a nasty, quite logically coherent "life is pointless" loop (the universe is mechanistic, all my actions are ultimately determined by physics, if I ever die it will be the same as if I never lived at all from "my" perspective, yay!). If I can get myself to, say, start reading a book or watching an anime series, it helps distract me.

I still haven't found a magic bullet (or magic buckshot), but these tactics are a stopgap in the meanwhile.
posted by korpios at 6:17 PM on September 19, 2007

I agree with a lot of things being said here, but I feel compelled to add a note of caution to The Giant Squid's answer: this might not be the wisest advice for people in the WSATBOTO stage of depression: I for one know that had I been presented with that 'list' in that state I would quickly conclude, no, I am not improving my health, career, education, relationships or spiritual being, and boy do I fucking suck.

Which was all true, except for the fact that I didn't suck. I was just trying to finally relax a little, feel not so infathomably lethargically useless before I moved on to the Five Point Check. Which might then become like a rosary, a touchstone.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 6:57 PM on September 19, 2007 [2 favorites]

Again: Running. There is a reason people are fanatic about it. It gives you hard goals to strive for and it's amazing to see your body change and for everything to become easier. That things will get easier if you stick with is an important life lesson that's harder to learn as one gets older.

Also, I take Zoloft two weeks a month. It keeps me off the roller coaster but doesn't make me feel dependent on medication. It's changed my life, really.
posted by jrichards at 7:26 AM on September 20, 2007

goodnewsfortheinsane said exactly what I wanted to about this answer. That list is a really good way to start spiraling hard; avoid, avoid, avoid. (I answered 'no' to every question. Twice on #4, even. I guess that makes me a horrible person? Yeeesh.)

But this part at least holds true, and is hopefully the main reason that answer got favourited so many times:

I'm a believer that, in many ways, we're sharks, and need to keep moving forward and improving ourselves. If we can see/feel forward direction, (and attainable goals), it holds the languid torpor of depression at bay.
posted by Reggie Digest at 4:20 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

posted by ms.v. at 6:41 PM on October 3, 2007

DLPA. 5-HTP. (Read about these first if you are going to try them!) Fish oil.

Getting outside for a walk first thing in the morning during the winter. Exercise, sunlight.

Avoiding reading lists that include improving my relationship with my SO as an important thing I should be doing. (List assumes the reader has an SO, and implies that they should.)
posted by yohko at 12:04 AM on June 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

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