It’s no secret that I suffer from depression, sometimes major, sometimes moderate, sometimes mild. It was only a few years ago that I got actual medical help, and as it turns out, treatments can be quite expensive. In the past few years I’ve also read a lot of the medical literature on depression and have used myself as a guinea pig to gauge the effectiveness of some of the remedies. I’ll share with you some of the things that worked for me. Before I get into the list, I’ll add the caveat that these are most effective for mild or moderate depression; if you suffer from major depression, you’ll probably need some more powerful interventions.
It’s no secret that generic equivalents to brand name medications can be just as effective and cost less. There’s a few ways you can save even more money: many pharmacies offer incentives of $25 to switch, shopping around may reveal one pharmacy that charges less than others, and you can use a mail-order pharmacy service. There is one catch with generics: sometimes they don’t work. This week it was found that generic buproprion (aka, Wellbutrin) made by Teva Pharmaceuticals was not equivalent to the brand-name drug. While this is definitely an exception and not the rule, it’s a risk one takes when saves a little money and switches to generic.
When I realized that my bouts of depression were worse in the winter than any other months, I realized that I may suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder. Basically, my body and brain conspired against me and stopped making chemicals necessary for me to be a functioning human being. But I have learned that I can fight that with SCIENCE! I bought a daylight therapy lamp to use in the winter months. Make sure to follow the instructions as the light has to hit your eye in a specific manner for a good amount of time. I would do this in the morning and read the news on my laptop at the same time. But honestly, these days with a toddler around, it’s difficult to get up in the morning just to shine a light in my face. Which leads me to my next item…
There’s a vicious cycle when it comes to sleep and depression. If I don’t get enough sleep, my mood worsens; because of my depression, I am often unable to get good sleep. Just like with kids, it helps to have a bedtime routine to follow so that I’m able to get my mind ready to sleep. Like many things, it takes practice to get a good night of sleep, but a wealth of scientific data show that getting enough sleep is a Very Good Thing. A few weeks ago I was feeling AWESOME — I was sick and went to bed at 8 pm for four nights in a row. That was four nights of 10-hours of sleep! I got enough good sleep to get back on track sleeping well consistently and have been feeling better because of it.
Now when I say exercise, I’m not always talking about putting on a leotard and hitting the gym for a good sweat session. Anything that raises heart rate and gets blood flowing for a good amount of time is ok. According to research, 30 minutes of moderate activity 3-5 days a week can do the trick…and it doesn’t all have to be done at the same time. Take three 10-minute walks a day. Play basketball in the morning and tennis at night. Have morning sex, a few quickies, evening sex, and, uh, however many sexytimes it takes to get to 30 minutes. You get the picture.
Depression sucks and the answer to feeling better is often more than “hang out with friends” or “watch a funny movie.” There’s real changes going on with the central nervous system that are causing the malaise. It’s important to not be depressed to be able to fully participate in life. And it doesn’t have to be expensive.