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5. Discussion about Depression

More and more, many people tell us they are depressive Ė and even, "horribly depressive". 
A lot of people tell me they donít read any newspaper, nor see any TV programme because they cannot cope with all the negative news. 

What exactly is a depression? 

How to prevent it? 

How to cope with it? 

How can you help depressive people? People planning suicide? 

Literature? Theories? 

Frustration belongs to life and has to be coped with. Compensation may help to cope with inevitable frustration. Frustration can lead to depression. Depression can be temporarily feeling blue or it may be a long lasting serious problem. In the case of the latter, it is an illness for which professional help and maybe medicines will be necessary. A characteristic of depression is to feel that one has an irresolvable problem and is in a situation that gives no chance of escape or hope. 

What to do?

The worst reaction is to stay passive and do nothing. But that's just what characterizes a severe depression. Thus, one has to (learn to) prevent that situation. 

Any change might be helpful: a break or a pause, or even small changes in the situation. 

Picking up even a tiny task and performing it completely can help. 
"If I have to cope with a sudden problem, I start with sweeping my floor and washing the dishes, putting my house in order, cooking a dinner, and so on. Then I take a long walk with my dog. So I let my hands and legs do the first part of the work. The mind will follow later on."

The most effective help can come from friends: talking with them is the only thing that helps. 

To have friends to talk with, one should be a member of one or more groups. Groups are often able to bear and solve problems. 

Talking to a therapist might be an alternative. However, in some countries one cannot describe the real problem even to a therapist because the latter has the legal obligation to report to the police.

Frequently, people take a kind of self-medication against depression: alcohol or other drugs. 

"I have been in that situation, albeit a long time ago. You might suppress your depression by taking alcohol, but if you stop drinking, you will see that the world hasn't changed. So I did, and yet the depression came - and kept coming frequently, every three months. 
I consulted a doctor, and he said: 'It is not the world around you that causes the depression, but the way you cope with that world. You cannot change the world. The only thing you can change is yourself. Thus, you have to work with yourself.
I started a kind of group programme similar to the AA. The group read a self-help manual and went through a kind of course or training. Still the depressions came and went, but ultimately they declined and disappeared. A self-help book about good ways of living (Lebenskunst) has especially helped me. Note, that you have to help yourself, but a group can be helpful to perform this."

Accepting medicines from a doctor is factually changing bad drugs for better ones. What these pills can do is only starting up a process that you have to complete yourself. Note that you yourself can start a depression by allowing yourself a lot of self-pity. 

Depressions are not caused by messages in the newspapers, nor even by seeing TV shows like those of the German undercover reporter. Some people think that the media cause their depression and they refuse to read newspapers or watch TV news shows. But in that case, they are isolating themselves and stimulating their depression. 

A depression comes from inside. Isolating your own feelings can especially initiate it. It is better to experience your feelings intensively, particularly if you feel anger. Let it come! And let that anger stimulate your fighting spirit. You should recognize your own painful feelings in good time, before they grow too much and may overwhelm you. Share your feelings with friends, and thus be a member of groups. Therefore, come out of your home. Isolating yourself makes your life meaningless. In a group, you cannot isolate yourself and you can express your feelings. 

Indeed, said another member of the group, you need people; thus establish contacts; even short and neutral contacts may help. The best is to establish broad contact with enough people in several groups or roles. 

To start the process of recovering, you need the positive experience of completing any task you are able to, even a simple one. Search through your abilities and do something. This can compensate for your feeling of frustration. If this is impossible, then you might need a doctor and some pills. Medication may diminish the strength of the earlier, overwhelming problem and make you able to make such a start by solving simple problems and achieving small changes in the situation, or doing other kinds of things. The crucial point is: do something, and do it now. Even in a clinic, this will be a start.

Even a 'small start' may break the vicious circle and may be enough to call up the recovering forces in yourself. Knowing that, we have, with some friends, cleaned someone's house and have put it in order. That was a start.

Sometimes, a confrontation may call up the recovering forces within someone. For others, creating some hope will help, even if this might be an illusion. But in some cases, cleaning the house and other rational ways will not help. In that case, changing the chemistry of the brain will be the only way.

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