roses27: I can remember being suicidal at age five. Now at 44, I still have those moments. This is supposed to be treatable but there doesn't seem to be an answer for me. I've had therapy, medications, homeopathic remedies. Are there some of us who cannot be helped?
Dr. O'Connor: Has there been no joy in all those years? Recovery doesn't mean you'll never be depressed again. It means putting together a string of good days.
Sunshine1: How does one find a good therapist and is cognitive therapy better for our problem with depression?
Dr. O'Connor: Cognitive therapy for depression is a good approach. You can contact the Beck Institute in Philadelphia to get a list of certified cognitive therapists in your area. But it's also very much a matter of chemistry, how you feel about a particular therapist. You should shop around, take a few therapists for a test drive. Our feelings won't be hurt if you don't come back. Of course, I'm ignoring the financial aspect of all this right now.
daffyd: Is there a way to reach someone (in my case, my mom) who is depressed but will not seek help?
Dr. O'Connor: There is a good book on depression by Rosen and Amador called "When Someone You Love is Depressed." It's the best advice I've seen. It's very hard on loved ones to have someone who is depressed and not getting help for it. You have to accept that there is really little you can do to make it better. There is a lot you could be doing to make matters worse, so be proud that you're not.
David: I received a comment from an audience member who didn't want to be identified: "I would never take medication because it would be like admitting I don't have control over my life." I think many people feel this way. Could you comment on that, Dr. O'Connor?
Dr. O'Connor: It sounds to me that the audience member already knows he doesn't have control over his life, he's just afraid to admit it to himself. People who need insulin or thyroid medication to maintain life don't feel that there's something shameful about them because their kidneys or thyroid aren't working right. Why do we feel that needing something to restore brain chemistry to normal is so shameful?
Hope1: Do you believe that there are some people that cannot be helped?
Dr. O'Connor: No.
David: Here are a few more comments to my earlier question "what helped you the most in dealing with your depression":
SunnyD: For me, taking my medication and seeing my psychotherapist regularly and taking care of myself is helping me over time. I am on disability now and taking one day at a time helps.
Sylvie: Becoming stable on Lithium after 10 years of refusing to take it was the first step. I still had depression though (no mania). Becoming a creative artist has resolved the depression and keeps me on a natural high most of the time.
Helen: What helped me most: people who believed and hoped for the best for me - but when they couldn't understand, knowing that God was always with me and understood me and would lead me through the "valley of the shadow of death", as it were.
Chlo: How come it is said that depression is anger turned inward?
Dr. O'Connor: It goes back to early Freudian psychiatry. The observation was that many people become depressed after the death of someone they're ambivalently attached to--love, but also hate. The theory was that because we couldn't admit to ourselves the hate side of the ambivalence, we turn it against ourselves. We know now that things are not that simple, but most people with depression do have trouble with anger. Most appropriately assertive people aren't depressed.
Karma1: Lately, I've been spiraling into a major depression and I find it hard to think and process, sometimes even my speech is slurred and I am so fatigued, is there a physiological reason for this?
Dr. O'Connor: Probably, but no one understands it in detail. Loss of concentration and fatigue are primary signs of depression. Slurred speech is unusual. You should be sure your overall health is OK.
Ashton: Karma- you may want to talk to your doctor about Multiple Sclerosis. Just to be sure! Those are some side-effects.
Dr. O'Connor: Good thought, Ashton.
nutwithoutashell: Why is it that a person can be doing well and suddenly suffer from major depression and not be able to function.
Dr. O'Connor: There's always a reason. We get very good at severing the connections between what's happening to us and how we feel inside. I have a tool in my book called the Mood Journal which I urge people to use to track the connections between their external and internal experiences. I think a mood change is always a sign of a feeling you're trying to avoid.
sad1: If I stop my medication will I get worse or can I help myself with out the meds.
Dr. O'Connor: The guidelines are that you should go six months WITH NO SYMPTOMS AT ALL before you go off meds. Talk to your pharmacologist.