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"What are you depressed about?"

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"Why are you feeling so bad?" "What can you do to feel better?" These are natural questions, but after many years of hearing them, it becomes a little bit annoying. I have clinical depression and anxiety. I don't need a reason to feel depressed. It's just there, I didn't ask for it, and I'm not wallowing in it. Now, if there's a negative life event, of course I'm going to feel more depressed for some period of time. But for me these events don't cause depression itself. If I'm having a problem, solving it isn't necessarily going to result in a pronounced reduction of my symptoms. In fact, that's part of the problem - I don't feel satisfaction or pleasure from things! This is a very difficult concept for people to understand if they've never had depression.

I'm not speaking for everybody because I know that a lot of people do get depression as a result of "things" happening to them. Traumatic life events can definitely create situational depression. PTSD is real and it can cause people to suffer from depression when they otherwise wouldn't. In other words, their brains weren't broken before the trauma occurred. They may have gone their entire lives with no depression at all.

"It's all in your head." Yes, it IS in my head, in my brain! Something doesn't work right up there. I know this because of "before and after" experiences. I can feel the difference. If my treatment is working, something that bothers me when I'm depressed won't bother me as much, if at all, when I'm not depressed. It's pretty simple.

I have analyzed and reanalyzed all of this, from both sides of the fence, many times. I've done exhaustive research into mood disorders. I've tried to be as objective as possible. I second guess everything, but in a positive way - just to keep myself honest.

I just can't get away from the fact that, for me, biology is the cause. My brain feels broken. The only thing that's ever worked to any significant degree is medication. And that's not a cop-out. That doesn't mean I'm "giving up." I said that to my sister once and she didn't quite understand and made me feel like I wasn't taking responsibility for my depression. I don't talk to her about this stuff anymore because it only leads to arguments.

I do therapy but honestly, it really has never helped much. I wish it did. I put an honest effort into it too. But if my brain is muddled and working slowly and I lack energy, stuff doesn't "sink in" anyways. I really can't help the anxiety part. It runs in my family. When you have high anxiety, it's difficult to think or focus on anything. 

I don't know what the point of this thread really was. It was just sort of a random thought. It's not really about what other people think, but what I feel based on my experience.

Do you feel that the root cause of your depression is primarily biological?

Do you feel that therapy helps significantly?

 

 

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I totally get it, standup. I feel like it's such an easy conclusion for people to make when they've never suffered from it. It must be you. "You must not be trying. Everyone has bad days; quit whining about it!" How is it fair to us to be asked WHY? It's a sickness. It's not normal to ask a person who has cancer WHY they have it. It irritates me too, but I have to tell myself that ignorance is like a sickness, as well.

I have a long family history of mental illness. Even if I hadn't suffered trauma and specific hardships in my life, I believe I'm predisposed to depression.

Now. Do I believe therapy is helpful? I don't really know. I suppose it depends what you really need to feel better. I think in some cases it can help establish a plan for finding a way out of the dark. But it all comes down to you doing the work. Then again, some of us already know that we can't fight that wave when it crashes over us, and we just have to learn how to ride it out when it does.

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Yeah, I hate these kinds of questions too. A lot of people don't understand that it's a chemical imbalance of the brain, not just 'I'm feeling low today.' I think once you explain this it becomes a bit more clear to people. I think what's worse is that (at least in my case) after I was diagnosed with clinical depression the people in my life kinda just forgot about it. For many of us it's a lifelong struggle that we have to deal with and it doesn't help that others think it can just get better over time without proper support/care. It's frustrating!

 

Edited by Turnt

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Hey, standup, thanks for being wiling to share with us. I'm sorry to hear you're having a hard time. I, too, was horribly frustrated that I couldn't control the way I felt. I did go to counseling, and thank God, the guy was really good and after two sessions realized I was having a medical problem and needed to see a medical doctor! 

That doctor quickly diagnosed me with a dysphoric disorder, and then began the fun of trying different meds to get my hormone levels to even out. It was a horribly frustrating process, but we finally found the right one! waHOO! It's been almost 10 years since my diagnosis, and I am so grateful that I went to counseling, went to a medical doctor, and kept trying meds until the right one worked. 

I'm not sure why God allowed me to experience all of that, except that I often meet people (both in real life and online) who are also suffering from some sort of disorder, and I can try to encourage them. I have a lot more sympathy for fellow suffers, too! The next time someone tells you to "just feel better" you can kindly tell them that just like you cannot tell a person with cancer to "just feel better," you also cannot tell someone whose hormone levels are off (or whatever is causing the mental problems) to "just feel better." 

I see it as the same thing. Hang in there, I believe you can find the right thing (either prescription drugs from your doctor or going to therapy, or both!). 

Check back with us in a bit and let us know how you are! 

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I have IBS, and it makes it harder to control my anxiety and depression. It's always on my mind - will it act up today? will it last for a day, week, or month? It makes me so tired. I don't know I think I will go for a walk.

Edited by Manytries

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My mother is an alcoholic, so perhaps I have a genetic predisposition to depression. I also had a lot of very negative experiences in childhood that encouraged behavior which begot depression.

Therapy hasn't helped me so far. I felt much worse after seeing a therapist.

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45 minutes ago, Hermitic said:

My mother is an alcoholic, so perhaps I have a genetic predisposition to depression. I also had a lot of very negative experiences in childhood that encouraged behavior which begot depression.

Therapy hasn't helped me so far. I felt much worse after seeing a therapist.

I changed therapists today in hopes that I will start to fell better. Maybe It's because I did  not feel like I could talk openly with him. My new therapist talked about how this relationship is important to making progress. I want to keep going because I don't want to give up on it just yet.

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Even though depression would be the result of some unwanted / tragic events in your life, the reasons can still be very complex. And that's why depression just doesn't go away even if those things would be removed from your life. 

I think I know fairly well what led me into depression and having anxiety. And it has something to do with my surroundings as well as how I am as a person - and those two not working too well together. There's no straight simple answer to it though. For anxiety I know well what triggers that but depression is not so easy to explain / understand.. even if things would be going rather well, it sometimes tries to creep back / take over. 

I've been told too that it is just in my head, that it's not "real" as such. But when you also start having physical symptoms besides it just affecting your thoughts and mood, it sure does start feeling like a physical illness at times, and it's not "just in my head" anymore.

I haven't been to therapy.. but I have talked with a psychiatric nurse about it few times. She did have some insight that helped me understand what triggers for example panic attacks. But talking about it when you feel ready for it, having someone listen and not judge you, just let you pour it out..  that often helps me. 

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You should ask them "What do you have cancer about?"

Yeah, people don't understand it, and most of them aren't trying to understand it at all

Edited by Shacke

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Occasionally...when I could not possibly care less...I have told more casual enquirers the truth.

I did this not because my truth is important to anyone that is neither me nor close to me but to make sure they never asked again.

Nothing I ever discovered finishes a conversation quite so reliably as "When I was 16, my mother, in an epic fit of otherworldly pique, stabbed me in the neck..."

Gotta own it, right?

 

 

 

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Thank you for posting Standup, I am with you...can relate to your post. I have clinical depression, and anxiety. Born with it, and had traumatic things occur, so I have ptsd, and whole bunch of other issues.

It's exhausting to have to explain yourself to loved ones/friends etc that don't understand mental illness. 

I have been in and out of talk therapy for over 25 years. At times it helps just to release some of the horrible thoughts that run through my mind. Other times, it's helpful to go through the tools I need to get through. When I am going through dark cycles, simple things like getting outside, going for a walk...just escape my mind, so therapist reminding me is good.

Other times, well...I walk out and think...I could of spent that $ on something else.

Each of us need to do what works for us as individuals, everyones tool box has different things to help them.

You are not alone

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1 hour ago, One More Red Nightmare said:

"Snap out of it."

"Man up."

"Think positive."

"Don't be a p*ssy."

etc.

Exactly it. This whole thread is a breath of fresh air, because I too, am so frustrated trying to explain my condition to people.

Telling a depressed person to "snap out of it" is like telling someone not to be scared when they are being held at gunpoint. Yeah, I'm sure that would give them a taste of their own medicine!

Also, people think that ALL feelings are the result of our thoughts. Some are, but there are times where I can see something that triggers my PTSD instantly. It's the emotional equivalent to putting my hand on a hot stove. The emotions come skyrocketing before thoughts can even enter my head.

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18 minutes ago, Rocker said:

Exactly it. This whole thread is a breath of fresh air, because I too, am so frustrated trying to explain my condition to people.

Telling a depressed person to "snap out of it" is like telling someone not to be scared when they are being held at gunpoint. Yeah, I'm sure that would give them a taste of their own medicine!

Also, people think that ALL feelings are the result of our thoughts. Some are, but there are times where I can see something that triggers my PTSD instantly. It's the emotional equivalent to putting my hand on a hot stove. The emotions come skyrocketing before thoughts can even enter my head.

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It's unfortunate but it's the sort of thing people don't "get" until they've lived it themselves. I try to believe a lot of the friendly advice is just that: friendly. People don't understand so they think it's easy. Since everyone's felt a little depressed at some point in their life they hear "depression" and they equate it to their experience. They think you're just low for a while and then "you snap out of it." I don't think they're being mean. I just don't think they understand. If they did, they wouldn't make those comments.

Peace

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1 hour ago, Rocker said:

Exactly it. This whole thread is a breath of fresh air, because I too, am so frustrated trying to explain my condition to people.

Telling a depressed person to "snap out of it" is like telling someone not to be scared when they are being held at gunpoint. Yeah, I'm sure that would give them a taste of their own medicine!

Also, people think that ALL feelings are the result of our thoughts. Some are, but there are times where I can see something that triggers my PTSD instantly. It's the emotional equivalent to putting my hand on a hot stove. The emotions come skyrocketing before thoughts can even enter my head.

I know how difficult it can be to explain depression, especially while you're in the middle of a deep depression and your brain is bogged down. If you ever need ideas, you'd be surprised at the quality of stuff out there if you just google something like "how to explain depression." 

A lot of it is just personal accounts, not just textbook information like you'd find on webmd or something like that. I googled "depression hell" and found one of the best personal accounts I've ever read. There are some really good writers out there who can put this stuff into words much better than I ever could. 

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For example, it's hard for me to explain anxiety in the context of depression. Anxiety is a big issue for me, so I particularly liked this....It's from a blog entry called My Journey To Hell: How Depression Hijacked My Soul, And How I Finally Wrenched It back.

1. Anxiety

Depression’s BFF. A mental illness in its own right, and typically the first buddy depression calls over once it’s hijacked your brain. Imagine you’re about to jump out of an aeroplane.

You’re 13,000ft above ground level, stood in the open door, heart racing, brain mashed, plane engine hammering in your ears. Now you’re just about to jump and your heart feels like it’s gripped in a vice. You feel a tap on the shoulder from behind – it’s your boss: “Sorry George, I really need to know what your projected response rates are by segment for the Christmas mailing?” Feeling a mixture of incredulity and panic, your response would probably be along the lines of, “What? You think I can concentrate on anything right now?! I can’t even process what you just said let alone answer the damn question!” You could probably get away with this if you were indeed stood in the doorway of a micro-aircraft, about to launch yourself out of it. Apart from, I wasn’t – I was just in the office. But I had the exact feeling of being about to jump from 13,000ft, almost 24/7. And I mean the physical symptoms too; I demanded an ECG because I was convinced something must be wrong with my heart for it to be beating so fast all the time. In this constant state of on-edgeness, here are some activities that were near on impossible for my brain to carry out:

  • Concentrating
  • Holding a conversation
  • Organising anything
  • Making a decision
  • Having even the smallest share of responsibility for something
  • Remembering things I should remember
  • Problem-solving (the worst)
  • Talking in meetings
  • Coherently responding to an email

Unsurprisingly, all of the above either feature or are implied in my job description. At work, I felt utterly incompetent. Any ambition I once had deserted me. I decided that I was only good enough for a stress-free, low-paid job where barely anything was expected of me. Luckily, my boss was understanding and supportive, but I still had to do my job. And naturally, anxiety didn’t just affect me at work; functioning in social situations was a constant and exhausting challenge. Of all depression’s demi-devils, anxiety was by far the most debilitating. And like my assumptions about ‘personality change’, I thought this state of anxiety would be permanent, too.

It was also a terrible state to wake up in. I was so on edge that my morning alarm was enough to give me a near-on heart attack; I’d wake with a violent jolt and my heart feeling as though it were about to leap out of my chest.

In hindsight, this is funny: due to a complete lack of judgement, I agreed to go white water rafting with a friend. Here’s an activity not to do if you’re ever suffering from crippling anxiety: white water rafting. I was a wreck and I hated every ******* second.

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Thanks Standup and to you all for your posts, As a 49yr old man, dealing with depression over many years, its helped me at least make alot more sense of my own chronic dep/anxiety when asked by others "what are you depressed about?" 

Because, most of my life, I've found myself going around in circles trying to explain it to myself in my own head. 

Let alone continually trying to explain it to others and their criticisms or half-baked opinions including some family members who don't understand &/or don't want to even try to, think that I should "just man up", "grow a set" and/or just "get a job" and then everything will "magically" OK... 

Well unfortunately here's "the real news, that's not the way it works "

Otherwise, none of us would even be here talking about it and the effects it has on us...and/or significant others in our lives 

It's been extremely frustrating, time consuming and totally exhausting in even attempting to try and change their mindset about mental illness while constantly trying to deal with all of my own mental health issues on top of it all. So now, I've decided "they can all go get stuffed!!!." 

When and where possible "I'm going to concentrate on me and go at my own pace in getting better and dealing with my own dep/anxiety issues and damn what anyone else ****** well thinks!"

"After listening to all their bulls*** for far too long," all I can say for now is "Forget about their definition of what being a man is all about."

Sometimes just "being a man" means doing "what's best for you," even if others don't truly understand you, your reasoning or motives in trying to deal with your own mental health. 

Well at least that's what I've been trying to do, hopefully at some point in my life, I'll succeed at overcoming it completely, or at least understanding/managing it far better in my own head on a daily basis than I have ever managed to previously. 

Thanks Standup and to you all again for sharing some of your own stories to a forum newbie like me. I trust you will all have successes in dealing with your own illnesses on your journey too.

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Wow, what a discussion.  

For me it is hard to know if my depression is all chemical, or circumstantial all set off by triggers.  My therapist feels both.  But everyone is different.  It sucks having this.  We didn't ask for it.   

I have hope with all my therapy and psych meds things might pop back to normal.  But that seems a pipe dream.

Stay strong.

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For me it's been a mix of both. There was a lot of family drama (to say the least) when I was first diagnosed, but my grandmother also suffered from it, and even had electroshock therapy when she was young to try and cure it. :coopcray:I think some people are predisposed to it, and sometimes it's triggered by an event, sometimes it's not.

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On 7/23/2016 at 0:31 PM, WastedGC said:

Thanks Standup and to you all for your posts, As a 49yr old man, dealing with depression over many years, its helped me at least make alot more sense of my own chronic dep/anxiety when asked by others "what are you depressed about?" 

Because, most of my life, I've found myself going around in circles trying to explain it to myself in my own head. 

Let alone continually trying to explain it to others and their criticisms or half-baked opinions including some family members who don't understand &/or don't want to even try to, think that I should "just man up", "grow a set" and/or just "get a job" and then everything will "magically" OK... 

Well unfortunately here's "the real news, that's not the way it works "

Otherwise, none of us would even be here talking about it and the effects it has on us...and/or significant others in our lives 

It's been extremely frustrating, time consuming and totally exhausting in even attempting to try and change their mindset about mental illness while constantly trying to deal with all of my own mental health issues on top of it all. So now, I've decided "they can all go get stuffed!!!." 

When and where possible "I'm going to concentrate on me and go at my own pace in getting better and dealing with my own dep/anxiety issues and damn what anyone else ****** well thinks!"

"After listening to all their bulls*** for far too long," all I can say for now is "Forget about their definition of what being a man is all about."

Sometimes just "being a man" means doing "what's best for you," even if others don't truly understand you, your reasoning or motives in trying to deal with your own mental health. 

Well at least that's what I've been trying to do, hopefully at some point in my life, I'll succeed at overcoming it completely, or at least understanding/managing it far better in my own head on a daily basis than I have ever managed to previously. 

Thanks Standup and to you all again for sharing some of your own stories to a forum newbie like me. I trust you will all have successes in dealing with your own illnesses on your journey too.

Hi WastedGC and welcome to the forum.

I had meant to reply to your post but I just forgot and then had a couple of bad days. I hope you come back and stick around. It's really good to know that some of our personal accounts helped you out, even if it's only a tiny bit.

I know it took me a long time to be able to sort all this out in my own head, let alone explain it to other people. It takes years, decades even. But that's the purpose of this place. How are you doing now? Have you had the opportunity to discuss any of this with people?

Let us know how you're doing.

BTW, the whole masculinity concept/ "be a man," etc has been discussed at length on this board. I think I saw a thread recently about it. It's a pretty common theme for men with depression. The thing people don't realize is that you are indeed "being a man" simply by surviving with depression, day in and day out. That takes a certain kind of toughness, but most people can't see that.

Edited by standup

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On 7/25/2016 at 9:35 PM, standup said:

BTW, the whole masculinity concept/ "be a man," etc has been discussed at length on this board. I think I saw a thread recently about it. It's a pretty common theme for men with depression. The thing people don't realize is that you are indeed "being a man" simply by surviving with depression, day in and day out. That takes a certain kind of toughness, but most people can't see that.

I think if they want us to "be a man" we should be standing up to them.  Anger is the only thing these people really understand.  I hate toxic masculinity, but sometimes the only way people learn is if you go off on them.  Then they at least know that certain statements won't be tolerated.  I'm enough of a fighter that I'm not willing to take their insults.  Depression is frustrating enough to just to have life with.  If they can't handle that, **** them.  Get them out of your life.

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On 7/24/2016 at 9:46 PM, highanxiety said:

Wow, what a discussion.  

For me it is hard to know if my depression is all chemical, or circumstantial all set off by triggers.  My therapist feels both.  But everyone is different.  It sucks having this.  We didn't ask for it.   

I have hope with all my therapy and psych meds things might pop back to normal.  But that seems a pipe dream.

Stay strong.

From my experience, if I'm lucky and my meds are actually working I can get somewhere close to "neutral" if everything in my life is going peachy.  If either my meds aren't working or something stressful is going on I'm going to be miserable and mostly anhedonic.  My highest point is just feeling "okay".  Both circumstances and chemicals can detract from that and send me on a downward spiral.  Sometimes I can tell it's 100% chemical.  Other times I can't tell how much is chemical and how much is circumstantial.  There is constant fluctuation on top of the general "low" feeling.

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Another thing.  Lately when someone asks me "what's wrong" I'm reluctant to say "I'm depressed" when I know there isn't a "reason".   I just say "I'm not feeling well".  Usually it's the truth anyways.  In my lows I often have a vague headache or feel slightly nauseous.  It often feels like there is something vaguely wrong, physically - almost like the onset of a flu.  The myriad of medications I'm on also creates bad physical feelings that are difficult to distinguish from the baseline depression.  It's ironic how a lot of the side effects are things like "fatigue", "headache", or "nausea", when it seems like my depression alone can trigger those exact same feelings.  I sincerely can't even tell the difference.  You can imagine how frustrating it is to try and explain all this to doctors.  I don't even know if it's worth explaining.  The treatment is almost as bad as the disease itself - especially when it isn't working well.

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I don't wish this feeling upon ANYONE !!! And I've had co-workers, friends, people in my life who have asked me "what do you have to be depressed about? and "just take fish oil, stop feeling sorry for yourself you will be ok" . like  I said I don't wish this upon anyone, it's the worst feeling in the world.

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