If you or a loved one is in the depths of depression, I’m sorry, it is a horrible place to be. The good thing is there is hope. One thing I have noticed is people keep going back for the same tricks that are not working for them or don’t get help at all. They feel trapped by the fact that they have always been this way, and they can’t imagine a life where it could be any different. There are solutions. Do you think the only cures for mental illnesses are medication and classic therapy? A whole world of options exists out there, and I’m sure I have not even heard all of them.
Loved Ones: First things first, your person needs you, you will need to support them. This is a real illness. You will need to help them navigate the medical and insurance system. You will need to be supportive of getting them to try new things and get to appointments. If they are unable to manage their life you might need to financially support them, however, I believe you should only do this if they are actively seeking help as not to enable them just to dwell in depression.
So what can I do?
- Medication and Classic Therapy. I put this in one bullet point because I believe that if you are having enough difficulties to warrant medication you also need to be in therapy. Some variations on this are group therapy. Be very careful with the medications because some of them can make you worse. I also believe when choosing your therapist pay attention to their specialties and find one that fits you and offers a wide variety of therapy types so they can help you find what works for you.
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). EMDR is something you can attempt to do with a qualified therapist after you have done some normal cognitive therapy. It is mostly used for past trauma. EMDR is what had the biggest impact on me, and I strongly recommend it. I went into it skeptical, how is moving my eyes from side to side while talking to my therapist going to change anything, but what could it hurt.
25 years of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR): The EMDR therapy protocol, hypotheses of its mechanism of action and a systematic review of its efficacy in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder Rev Psiquiatr Salud Ment. 2016 Feb 11. pii: S1888-9891(16)00019-7. doi: 10.1016/j.rpsm.2015.12.002.
- Hypnotherapy. This is the process of putting you into a relaxed and suggestible state, then receiving therapy while in this state. This is not the volunteering for a magician and being controlled image most people have in their minds, and there are proven benefits to this practice. I have heard of everything from changing habits in your life to curing skin conditions.
Cognitive hypnotherapy for major depressive disorder. Am J Clin Hypn. 2012 Apr;54(4):275-93.
- Diet and Exercise. These two things, of course, help every aspect of your health. These things are however hard to keep up on when you are in a depressive state. If you are struggling in this department, you can always get a plan from a registered dietician.
Nutrition and Bipolar Depression. Psychiatr Clin North Am. 2016 Mar;39(1):75-86. doi: 10.1016/j.psc.2015.10.003. Epub 2015 Dec 23.
- Vitamin D. Go outside, get 10 minutes of sunblock free sun a day (avoid peak hours 11am-4pm), take a vitamin D supplement. This small thing makes a dramatic impact on a lot of people.
Vitamin D deficiency and depression in adults: systematic review and meta-analysis. Br J Psychiatry. 2013 Feb;202:100-7. doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.111.106666.
- Ayahuasca and other hallucinogens. I would not try this unless all other methods have failed you just do to the legality, risks, and access of it. However, I know personally several people who have had profound positive effects from this. If you are considering this I suggest you speak to an open minded psychologist about it.
Antidepressant Effects of a Single Dose of Ayahuasca in Patients With Recurrent Depression: A SPECT Study. J Clin Psychopharmacol. 2016 Feb;36(1):77-81. doi: 10.1097/JCP.0000000000000436.
Classical hallucinogens as antidepressants? A review of pharmacodynamics and putative clinical roles. Ther Adv Psychopharmacol. 2014 Aug;4(4):156-69. doi: 10.1177/2045125314527985.
Last and certainly not least, if you or a loved one is currently suicidal, get help now: