tami: Where is the best place to start when you have no support system left?
Dr. O'Connor: Look for a depression support group in your area. I see that HealthyPlace has a list of resources on the depression community page. Find a good therapist, someone you trust and feel safe with, who knows about depression. Make sure the therapist works with a pharmacologist (see: Depression Therapy: How Psychotherapy for Depression Works).
Sylvie: Dr. O'Connor - You spoke of episodes - How long were they, were you able to carry on with your life, and how were you when you were not having a depressed episode?
Dr. O'Connor: My episodes were gradual and long--years. I was able to go on with my life, but I made some bad decisions. Between episodes, I felt pretty good. In between those episodes, my own children were young. Being a parent to them was a great joy to me.
David: For the audience, I'd like to know if anyone has found significant relief from depression, what helped the most?
Dr. O'Connor, did you find that your depression led to other negative behaviors or that the negative behaviors led to your depression?
Dr. O'Connor: Depression is, above all else, a vicious circle. We do things that make us more depressed, and that resulting depression means we do more self-destructive things. It's pointless to argue which came first, chicken or egg. The important thing about appreciating the circularity of depression is that we can intervene anywhere. If we change our behavior, we can feel better. If medications or music or relationships help lift our mood, we can feel better.
David: Here are some audience responses to my earlier question about "what helped relieve your depression the most".
Scatter: I have suffered from depression on-and-off throughout my life. I'm in a good place emotionally right now, and I agree that you have to "get right with yourself" at least for myself! I am in therapy, but feel that I relate better to some of the people I have met online. I was wondering how you feel about the internet and it's power of social support.
grandmabb: I have behavior treatment and exercise and medication.
Kay5515: Some mild relief with good family doctor, therapist, and surrounding self with POSITIVE supportive friends ONLY. Oh, and getting a DOG was the best thing I EVER did.
Dr. O'Connor: I agree with Kay, just got a new dog, it's wonderful.
sad: MOST POWERFUL COMMENT SO FAR...REALLY POWERFUL.... "Depression is something we get good at, something that reinforces itself. We have to undo the 'bad habits' that depression has taught us", Dr. O'Connor
Helen: I really appreciated reading your book What Therapy Doesn't Teach You and Medication Can't Give You a few years ago as I was coming out of my first episode (manic/mixed). I especially appreciated the "tone" - it really helped that you'd "been there". Thanks for what you shared in there. Anyway, my question: What can we do when people regard us as "too risky" purely because of our diagnosis - in my case my request to be a lay counselor at my church was just turned down, although I've had no episodes now for 3+ years, because of my single manic episode.
Dr. O'Connor: Let me comment to Helen: depression is also a social problem, it's a legitimate response to the way society treats us. There are discrimination laws on the books now; you should really talk to your pastor about this.
David: What about the idea of "self-help" for depression? Is that a good thing and does it work in your estimation?
Dr. O'Connor: I'm afraid that depression is a lifetime disease, like alcoholism or heart disease. So if we don't learn to help ourselves, we're doomed. Self help can come from groups, from reading, from family and friends--but we have to accept the responsibility of helping ourselves.
David: Here are some additional audience comments to my earlier question and then onto more questions:
daffyd: A combination of Prozac and a concentrated effort to look for even the smallest good things in my life turned me around.
roses27: Homeopathic remedies work quickly and much better than traditional medications. Doesn't last, but at least it works in the first place. Best to find homeopath, MD.
Fran52: Tricyclics have always helped me along with therapy intermittently and a lot of self -education about AD and other areas of interest.
ipayu2000: Paxil worked the best for me.
Ashton: Yes. Getting close to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has helped me tremendously!
funlady: I am happy to say that I've been through major depression, but am doing well. I try to focus on others, so I don't wallow in my own thoughts. Also, exercise is very helpful, and I do it faithfully at least 30 minutes, 3 times per week.
Dr. O'Connor: We see that there are many ways to recover.
AldoKnowsIt: What did you mean by "After-Effects" of depression?
Dr. O'Connor: Bad habits--stuffing feelings, isolating self, not permitting hope or joy. Depression teaches us skills that we use to try to avoid pain. They backfire of course. A lot of depression is about trying not to feel anything. I have to keep reminding myself that emotions are natural and not to be feared.