12-16-09, 09:49 PM #1
Depression, a chemical problem?
No, this thread isn't me sobbing about my life or anything, I'm doing just dandy, thank you
I have, however, moved to a new place, made some new friends, and I have made a friend with a depression problem the likes of which I have never seen. Most people I've known with depression had some sort of circumstance to go with it (boyfriend dumped her, dog died, etc.), and after they decided to go to a doctor, the doctor diagnosed them with such-and-such disorder and send them home with a subscription for socially appropriate uppers. So, you must understand, I've had a longtime belief that depression was more of a behavior and social circumstance problem then the idea that it's a "chemical imbalance", which I suspected was just an excuse to sell pills.
Well, this friend is forcing me to challenge my own beliefs. The depth of her despair for really no reason is kinda blowing my mind. She's in bed all day, she's already tried the combination of Tylenol and vodka, she IS seeing a counselor (that's right, nobody here is using sciforums as a first stop in medical advice, sorry guys), but, well, I'm worried. I'd like to ask if anyone here who has or had serious depression problems would like to weigh in on this. Lemme know what side you're on, and if you have personal experience from a chemical-imbalance-induced depression, I apologize in advance for not believing, and I'd like to know what I should know as I try to help my friend out.
Thanks much guys for helping me out, and I really am curious which side of the argument people are on, so speak up!
12-16-09, 10:11 PM #2
Yes, it's a chemical problem, granted you can modify your behavior to change your chemicals... say by increasing cardio, meditating, light therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, etc.
Ordinary, happy people can suddenly become seriously depressed. Postpartum depression is a serious type of depression and I'm quite sure it has to do with chemicals. Also seasonal affective disorder is another type of depression that comes and goes with seasons. I'm not sure what it is, perhaps lack of light, but something about the seasons change the chemicals and can have a serious influence on people.
There are things that just happen to people with no change in their own behavior. The body is continually jostled throughout life by external factors. Sometimes the jostling affects the affective system, which is regulated by chemicals.
12-16-09, 10:35 PM #3
I don't fully understand the chemical side of it, however balance is the key.
We can balance ourselves with practice, the mind is a powerful tool!
It sounds to me like this girl is stuck in the negative side of the extremes, so staying as positive as possible while in her presence might be all you can do until she starts to see the good for herself. Don't disregard her negative perspectives, just offer positive perceptions of the same thing. You say she lies in bed all day, so give her a reason to get up - something she loves. Getting out to do and see things always helps when overcoming mental issues, even if it's just a walk or a trip to the local mall.
Balance is found from both the positives and the negatives, so staying positive all the time while around her might leave you needing to find a way to vent for yourself when she's out of sight. Other people's stress always pours into those around them, so part of being her friend is gonna have to involve releasing your own stress on your own time, so that you can be a calming pressence for her.
I will say that the root of the problem likely involves losing some form of love(s). Emotional pain doesn't generally surface until we lose some sort of love. Love comes in many forms, lost love can be something we use to do, a routine we miss, people we miss, oppertunities missed, etc... But pain is the opposite side of love, and we all feel pain from time to time, sometimes it is difficult for some people to deal with, because they don't take control of themselves, usually because they don't believe they can control their own emotions when their emotional states are heightened.
The mind can overcome anything, as long as we know it can.
12-17-09, 12:39 AM #4
I'm Bipolar type II. When severe depression hits, it is not dependent on reason or my "dwelling on bad things", whatever.
My life is going great, then it hits. I walk around the surrounding city for hours in the middle of the night, eventually, I'm laying in my bathroom floor, completely naked, holding a pillow, with all the lights turned out, because it's so comforting to me.
Absolutely wracked with depression.
Or another time, I sit in my car, by myself, and sob for hours. Why am I so sad? I couldn't say "It's because everything is meaningless and futile, and because I don't want my mom to die", even though I do think on these things. I'm sad because my brain isn't working properly.
I take meds, I don't experience this depression. Not that sort of depression.
12-17-09, 12:42 AM #5
"The mind can overcome anything, as long as we know it can."
I would probably be found in the camp that says that we can't WILL our cancer or aids away, and that we can't regenerate our heart when a bullet has punctured it. I don't think I'm a minority, either.
"You say she lies in bed all day, so give her a reason to get up - something she loves."
So...even if you haven't had any experience with clinical, chemical depression, surely you've at least seen the commercials on TV.
When I'm in a depressive low, I do not get enjoyment from things I normally enjoy. None whatsoever.
12-17-09, 11:35 AM #6
Remember, at a fundamental level the brain is a chemical machine. If you are sad for any reason - either clinical depression or because your girlfriend just dumped you - it can ultimately be traced back to specific chemicals. So rather than talk about whether or not depression has a chemical cause, I think it's more appropriate to phrase the question more along the lines of "Do people have brain disorders that cause them to be overly sad when there's no reason."
12-17-09, 12:26 PM #7
Brain chemistry can generate the wrong output for a myriad of reasons, there is no single reason. It can be completely psychological, or it could be down to genetics, eating the wrong foods, not breathing correctly, not exercising... the list can go on.
Drugs that doctors prescribe will attempt to either replicate a chemical that isn't present, or change how the brain responds to certain stimuli, or just try to drown out the brains natural chemical balance in an attempt to create a new balance via artificial means. (The latter is more of a chemical lobotomy than an actual neuroscience, Doctors that use this method are nothing but Quacks.)
In the case of LostInThought7's laying on the bathroom floor, you could examine that comfort is caused by the removal of stimulation. Making the room dark removes light stimulation, removing clothing, removes the sensation of touch from clothing or feeling smothered by being clad. The holding a pillow and curling up is a classic foetal position which psychologists sometimes talk about. A pillow in this instance is a comforter, soft, an old friend you can comfortably sleep with, in fact when you sleep the first thing you probably do is get positioned correctly with the pillow to feel comfortable.
In fact there were many old treatment methods involving removing stimuli from around a person to get them "feeling comfortable" by removing whatever had been causing the distress. This could just be general stress, attempting to multitask beyond your bounds or the myriad of thoughts that can cause feelings. The most part though it's a reflex in regards to Anxiety.
LostInThought7, you might want to try overcoming your lowest of lows by slowing introducing things into your comfort zone. When you are at a low and curled up in the bathroom, try introducing some music, perhaps a lit candle, definitely include a scent from something like a Jos stick or something similar. Perhaps even things that you would normally feel depressed about.. at least eventually. I guess you can class it a form of "retraining" in regards to how you think and how you feel. Give it a bash, you never know you might gain control over what you felt previously was uncontrollable.
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