A recent reader question has my brain churning on the issue of depression. So, I thought I'd offer a few tidbits that helped me survive the Broke and Depressed years. I've found that people on limited budgets often feel depressed and hopeless about their situation, but it doesn't have to be that way.
(Please note--I am not a health care professional. If you are experiencing depression or any other health issue, please seek qualified, professional help immediately!)
Although antidepressants can be lifesavers, they're grossly over-prescribed. Our consumer culture, with its idiotic, unrealistic expectations, can leave many of us feeling as if we are Less Than and will Never Measure Up. That sense of defeat is perfect soil for depression to take root.
For some folks, antiDs don't actually help much (I know, I'm one of those peeps). For others, meds can bring sanity. If you are suffering from mild to moderate depression or have found that meds just don't cut it, there are other options. And whaddya know, those options are free!
Cognitive therapy has been the most effective tool I have found in combating depression. Most simply, cognitive therapy is built on the notion that thoughts create emotions. If you can change your thoughts, you can change the way you feel. I know, I know--DUH!
As a result of using simple techniques, I moved from feeling hopeless daily to rarely suffering extreme lows. Like the rest of humanity, I have ups and downs, but no longer suffer long depressive episodes. When I combined cognitive therapy with regular exercise and local, fresh foods, I found myself experiencing that weird emotion called joy on a regular basis. Who knew?
Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not going to start acting like crazy Tom Cruz (and by crazy I mean full on mentally ill and in denial of it) and tell you that if you want to throw your brand new baby out the window, all you need are some vitamins and a treadmill. That's ridiculous. Let me say it again--if you are suffering, get help!
What I am suggesting is that there need not be an isolated solution to any health issue. Nutrition, movement and careful thinking can be added to any medication regime. In my case, they proved to be more useful than the drugs.
The beauty of cognitive therapy is that you don't need a professional to learn the techniques. Dr. David Burns created the cognitive therapy bible, Feeling Good, so that people suffering from depression could become active participants in their healing. The exercises are simple, easy to implement and can have a tremendous impact.
If you're determined to kick depression out on its ass, I would suggest buying the book from a local bookseller or independent dealer. At the very least, check it out from your local library and start doing the exercises. More than likely, you'll begin to feel better which will provide you the energy to start exercising. Hope will rise. Gaining control over your emotional state will help you take better control of your finances. That snowball will grow and whaddya know? Chances are you won't feel quite so broke and depressed anymore.