Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Medical Extreme depression-how to deal with in the interim period

  1. Nov 8, 2012 #1
    Hello PF,

    I know this is a weird place to post it, but I can at least hope for some anonymity.

    This Christmas I plan on going in for counseling. I was wondering on how I could cope with depression in the meantime. Up until recently, I thought I was just feeling down with the standard intro to college stuff, but I've started to wonder if there isn't something more serious going on.

    The BEST chance of happiness lies in success in a couple of areas of my life that aren't going well, but I'm not counting on that happening. If you've read my past posts, you'll know that I haven't done well in college so far. I'm doing better this semester(new major helps. It's hard to do worse than how I did last year, honestly), but not to the extent which I need to be to have a shot at my goals. I've talked to my professors, on what I can do, so I can finish strong. I have a good relationship with a couple of my TA's, and they are willing to help me(they are very nice, and they say they've observed me working hard lately, so they are willing to help) They've pointed out some things that I can do, and I'll try to implement them.

    Gotten off track here....

    Please help? I've had some REALLY creepy thoughts that I'd rather not be having lately.


    For those of you who haven't seen me before(most everybody), I'm a 19 year old physics major in college. I have another mental diagnosis from a few years ago(which I'd rather not disclose), so that might play a part in it, although I'm a little skeptical about it.

    I'm already seeing people, and doing what I can. But I need some tips for how to think when depressed-"at the moment", so to speak. I've noticed that small things-a subpar midterm, a kid saying an unfavorable comment, a couple holding hands-really send me further than I'd like. These are among the concerns that I will bring up when the Holidays come and I'm home, but I need some help in the meantime.

    I guess what I'm saying is-I could use some help on how to deal with it, when it comes. What to think and do, and what not to think and do. I know nobody here is a licensed professional, but maybe someone has been in the same spot?

    I'm already beginning to feel a little better-I had a REALLY bad wave of depression after a midterm I took an hour ago-but it can't hurt to post this.

    Got to go study for another midterm. If there is one thing that needs some SERIOUS tuning, it's study skills, so I'm probably not going to reply to anything for a day...
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 9, 2012 #2


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Sorry to hear you're having such trouble! But I'm glad you will be seeking medical advice.

    How are your sleeping habits? And are you getting regular exercise?
  4. Nov 9, 2012 #3
    Consider medication on top of therapy if it is severe and recurrent. I've dealt with depression since I was young and getting on meds recently has completely changed my life for the better.
  5. Nov 9, 2012 #4
    My sleeping habits are irregular, but they have been since I was a little boy. I can work all night long if I'm focused on something(which can be anything from Bangladesh to DNA computing), but when I'm depressed, I can sleep for ten hours a day... That's another reason I'm trying to control the "impulse" of depression. It interferes with my work-I couldn't study for the exam I had today properly because yesterday I was depressed about how my Waves exam went... the problem seems to be a "snowball effect" here.

    I make an effort to walk and run whenever I can, but I haven't been going to the gym much. I walk miles a lot of days, so I didn't think it mattered that much. Ever since my bike was stolen... that was my main source of exercise. :( But, I'm hoping that once I get enough money, I can buy a new one and start that up again.

    Neither of these things are anything new with me though, so....

    I'm a little leery about medication, because I don't want a chemical controlling me, but my parents said we will discuss that too. I was on it in my senior year of high school and first semester at college(albeit irregularly then), with mixed results... is it for the best?

    I've found a new hobby if that helps. I'll be helping a graduate student with her English(in exchange for her teaching me a little Mandarin). It will involve some socializing, assuming it works out, which it might not. And I've made plans to meet with professors/TA's. I don't know if I can get A's the courses anymore, but I'm going to at least try my best to finish it out(I've already discussed it with them, and they say it's not because I don't get the material-they actually say that I get the physics faster than most do-or I lack work ethic. I'm still struggling with the details-I made the most irritating exam mistakes that you could imagine yesterday, including one where I had the right answer from deriving it, but I didn't trust my own judgement enough. I made a complaint about that here last summer.) A couple years ago, I blamed everybody except me for my predicaments, and I'm making an effort not to do that anymore.
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2012
  6. Nov 9, 2012 #5


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Do you have access to any kind of psychiatric counseling before you go home? It sounds like you need it. Your school should have a psychiatrist on staff for students.

    If your conditions are real (not caused by temporary problems in your life), you will most likely need medications, which only a psychiatrist can help with. You can't think, ignore, or exercise away problems with your brain. Neurological problems are very common, and nothing to be afraid of or ashamed of. The most important thing is that you get proper help as soon as possible.
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2012
  7. Nov 9, 2012 #6
    I went there earlier, they gave me a bunch of links to off campus sources, which cost money and time to schedule. I have to really focus this month on coursework and research, so I don't know if I have time to do anything now. After mid-December, I'll have a few weeks with nothing to do, so it seems logical(if possible) to cope for now, and then go in.

    They do have walk in sessions. I suppose I could do that if I'm really feeling down.

    Are you SURE that there is no other way than meds though? I really don't like the idea of imbibing my body with foreign substances-I hated doing it when I did it. However, if it is for the best... I'll ask my parents if they noticed if I was different when under the influence of meds tomorrow.
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2012
  8. Nov 9, 2012 #7


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    If it's neurological, you will need medicine. Of course finding activities that you enjoy and getting the right amount of sleep is important.

    I have mild OCD and severe anxiety and panic attacks started about 10 years ago. I really can't tell you how important medication is. And it's hit or miss, everyone is different, there isn't one medication that works for everyone, even if the symptoms seem the same. You may have to try several until you find one that helps and that you can tolerate.

    Just know that there is help available, you're not alone. I think over 90% of the members on this forum are on medication, and they'll tell you how it's saved their life, literally in some cases.

    If, on the other hand, it's just normal test anxiety, then studying, sleep, exercise and maybe a friend to vent with will help. I think you know which you have.

    If you just need to vent, we're here, vent away. :smile:
  9. Nov 9, 2012 #8
    Thank you very much. I am in a very calm mood right now, despite all the bad tests lately. Maybe because I talked to my professor, and I've also become a little more rational now that time has passed...

    I will discuss medication with my parents tomorrow. I'm still a little uncomfortable with it, but when it comes to stuff like paying attention, it might really help.

    Maybe I'll vent later if I need to, but right now, I'm actually OK. :)
  10. Nov 9, 2012 #9
    I might be in the same situation; I just want to ask, how did you manage to get help? Because I've never been on medication.
  11. Nov 9, 2012 #10
    What you need for this is Cognitive Therapy. Cognitive Therapy might be described as logic specifically adapted to the problem of depression. It's based on the obvious cause and effect relationship between your thoughts and your mood, that how you phrase your situation to yourself as you think about it can become quite distorted in the absence of realistic thinking, leading to a miserable emotional state. It's exactly what you need to deal with specific events like the ones you mentioned that send you down emotionally.

    The most widely available book on CT is called "Feeling Good" and it's by David Byrne, M.D. It sold about a gazillion copies and went through many editions so just about every library or used book store has a copy. Very easy to get a hold of.
  12. Nov 9, 2012 #11


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    I have to disagree strongly. Cognitive therapy can not change a neurological problem. The OP has already stated that he has a diagnosed condition that he doesn't wish to discuss. I would not dismiss his problems as simple inability to handle his emotions.

    You cannot talk your brain into changing. If you don't have a neurological problem, then medicine won't help, so you can try therapy. If your problem is neurological, then medicine will help. If you still want to talk to someone, that's optional.

    Zooby, you're talking about someone going through emotional/situational depression. Where a change of situation or change in attitude toward the situation is all that is needed.
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2012
  13. Nov 9, 2012 #12
    As much as I hate to admit it, I'm leaning toward thinking it's neurological in nature. After all, a doctor is a doctor... I've paid attention to some of my skills lately in paying attention and other stuff, and they need a fundamental change, which I think medication might help. If I were to really focus and pay attention to details easier with this, than I might get a sharp upturn in grades next semester. I promised I'd get straight A's this semester and I dread the thought of having to face the family with my failure....

    Twofish-quant is right, I should NOT think about the future when depressed. Which is hard, since I'm used to contemplating the future more than the present.

    This is something I really want to tackle on my own. But part of being an adult is realizing when you need to swallow your pride and do something for your own good.

    I guess I could always put these circumstances on the grad school app-assuming that's what I want to do, I'm really enjoying research more than anything else right now-and hope for the best.

    As for the depression-the only thing I can really do is hang in there for the next 6 weeks and talk to my family if it gets really bad.
  14. Nov 10, 2012 #13
    I've been in a similar position before, and I can offer some practical strategies to help while you're working on the longer-term solutions to kick in (life changes, therapy, medication, those hard things that will need time to take effect). I have found that one way to get through a short period of depression when you have a goal in sight is to set rules for yourself- you must do things that you know are healthy, like defined exercise and food choices and avoiding self-destructive practices like drinking alcohol alone or or seeing depressing movies, websites, chat rooms, etc. You must also police your ruminations, and do your best to avoid replaying situations you feel you handled badly- social interactions or past memories or test performance or whatever you may be judging yourself on. Whenever depression starts to act up it seems that people become hypercritical of themselves. I read somewhere that depressed people weren't necessarily incorrect in their perception of their performance, they were stripped of the blinders most people have as protection against their own inadequacy. So that you suddenly see in black and white all the little stupid things you constantly do that everyone else is oblivious to, or forgives themselves for, without thinking. And you focus on each one of these until all you can see is a mountain of failures. Yet most people would not even notice or remember those incidents that you are worrying about! I am middle-aged now, but I have gone through several periods of depression such as you are describing. At first it took medication and therapy to overcome, but I also learned to realize when I was being too absorbed with my own reactions to small events. Obviously long term you must deal with your issues, but short term it does no good at all to re-play and agonize over interactions- make a plan to address your problems, then each day focus on a healthy day and positive situations that keep you from re-playing events instead of focusing on the present And realize depression makes it harder to memorize things, so use memory aids- when you feel better, your memory skills will return to normal too Hope this helps you
  15. Nov 10, 2012 #14

    Now THAT was along the lines of what I was looking for. Thank you very much.
  16. Nov 10, 2012 #15
    I'm glad if it helps. I've come to look at it as aggressive holding on- there are definitely times when you need to face the demons and focus on your issues. That takes a lot of emotional energy and ultimately makes you a stronger person. But in a crunch like the end of the semester, if you can focus on short-term steps, police yourself, use exercise (a natural antidepressant), light therapy, whatever, don't judge yourself, then you can meet the goal and succeed in improving your mood. It got me through freshman year...and internship....
  17. Nov 10, 2012 #16


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

  18. Nov 10, 2012 #17
    I prefer dogs, Evo. :)

    I'm putting the idea to practice right now. All of what you say makes since, and that is what I will do. I'm a first semester sophomore, btw.

    And if things really get bad, I know I can come to PF to rant now...
  19. Nov 10, 2012 #18
    First off, there's no neurological condition called "depression". It's a psychiatric disorder, specifically, an affective disorder. It's not accurate to speak of "neurological depression". A neurologist would send you to a psychiatrist if your only symptom were depression. The OP has that plus some other psychiatric ("mental") dx, so none of this is neurological.

    Secondly, I am not suggesting he eschew meds in favor of CT, but that, since he's already got the appointments set up, CT is what he can look into in the meantime, which is the strategy he asked for.

    I have a diagnosis of "Major Depression", myself, and have variously tried several anti-depressants, none of which made a dent in it. Cognitive Therapy worked wonders. The San Diego County Mental Health system uses it in all their group therapy sessions (which, of course, are done in conjunction with meds).
    No, Cognitive Therapy was developed for people with severe, lifelong dysfunctional depression.
  20. Nov 10, 2012 #19
    He has pretty much just outlined Cognitive Therapy. I still suggest you get the book because it breaks the strategy into detailed tactics.
  21. Nov 10, 2012 #20
    In the time it has taken me to register Zooby has pretty much said all I wanted to add. Ibelk, I too thank you for good advice. It does seem to me an outline of CT. I appreciate a cautious nature in approaching any drugs, and must note that many I've seen saying how helped they are by the drugs do not see themselves from the outside where they appear just not to care anymore. I would submit that in some this lack of caring goes too far, thus the thoughts of suicide cautioned about in the med info. I would also like to submit that all depression in the end is neurological. It may self right or be long term, but it touches the roots of our being. While drugs can be found that suit an individual, it is wrong to ignore that in tests placebos often help as much, and exercise more. In the interim, the root question here, we do have some choices we can make. Ibelk outlines them. The fact that many have come to the same conclusions underlines that we can influence our bodies through the behaviours we choose. There may be an interim to that too. And that interim may need drugs. There definitely is a time to care less.
    The article on math vs memory on this site is not quite a tangent. There is an inverse relationship in brain activity regarding them. For me, I cannot often go to sleep, even with drugs, without quieting my mind by doing some kind of nonverbal activity, ie sudoku or tanagrams. - a matter of focus.
    Thanks everyone for your thoughts on the Intelwanderer's plight on another who shares it.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook