MENTAL HEALTH MONDAYS | RANDOM BOUTS OF DEPRESSION
RANDOMLY DEPRESSED RUBY | ANONYMOUS
This personal account and information is brought to you by a bright, well-researched, thoughtful and lovely twenty-something year old woman who I (Brooke) am blessed to call a friend – we’ll call her “Randomly Depressed Ruby”. Here goes Mental Health Mondays’ first post:
Depression is such a taboo subject – Seems, either you have it and don’t talk about it or you don’t have it and don’t understand it. This absolutely shouldn’t be the case as 17% of adults in the US fight this battle at some point in their lives.
I’ve had doctors suggest diagnoses of ADD, ADHD and Clinical Depression as labels for the issues I’ve experienced. Every doctor says something different. Over time, I’ve realized that each day is different, that’s the problem.
I generally have anxiety, and I can work with that. Honestly, it helps me get things done sometimes; I’ve found way to put my anxiousness to good use. On some days though, I feel like life is 100% pointless. The classic depressive symptoms come out and it’s as though I can’t function, or don’t want to. In my case, when the depression mixes with my anxiety it feels like I just murdered someone, buried him or her in the backyard and walked into Thanksgiving dinner having to pretend like everything is okay. It feels like anxiety and guilt got married in my mind and had a bunch of little “you suck” babies.
The problem is, that’s not an everyday occurrence. My depression is not constant or even consistent. It’s 1-2 days here or there that I experience what I’d call mild to moderate depression. Sometimes it happens 5x in one month and sometimes it skips a month entirely. Each time it happens though, it’s debilitating and horrible. There are times I can’t figure out what triggered it, but 98% of the time I know exactly what did it – alcohol. Alcohol depletes your body of lots of important things, but what ultimately matters in this case are B-Vitamins and a huge drop in Serotonin and Serotonin production. Now, I’m not a doctor so please take that into consideration as you read the rest of this, but I have done extensive research on the subject…
Here’s the big brick wall I keep running into: all of my research is turning up remedies for people who suffer from depression 24/7. I don’t take any pills – nothing, not even a multivitamin. I’d rather use diet to coax my body into fending for itself and producing what I need. I don’t want to take something for 24/7 depression because I don’t suffer from 24/7 depression. As my body bounces back from my night of drinking, I don’t want my system to think it no longer needs to produce Serotonin – I don’t want my body to start relying on some new supplement to do it’s job.
What I need is a remedy to make it through that 1-2 (sometimes more) down days after drinking. I need something that doesn’t take 8 weeks to begin working or take away my body’s need/ability to do it on its’ own.
Let’s be real – I could quit drinking. Yes, I get that some of you are reading this and saying, “you’re an idiot (or an alcoholic) and you’d rather suffer depression than simply stop drinking”. Truth is, I enjoy the social aspects of drinking. I don’t drink often and as a social adult I’d like to occasionally partake – I want to come up with a way to temper the effects those occasions leave me with. Additionally, I do have depressive episodes that are unrelated to alcohol as well.
So, how do I make it through those days? How do I make it through, what I’m deeming, Random Bouts of Depression?
In my quest for a (hopefully natural) remedy for Random Bouts of Depression, here’s what I’ve found – and my opinion on each of the subjects:
St. John’s Wort
Lot’s of research later, no one can really tell me exactly why this specifically aids in relieving depressive symptoms… However, it’s an herb that’s been used for centuries for just this purpose. It reacts with other drugs though, so be wary and consult your doctor if you’re on something else. Oh, and it can void out birth control…so there’s that.
Reading all of the reviews, one thing is apparent – this will not help if you have major depression. If you have mild to moderate depression and don’t take any other medication – it looks as though the effects of this are almost immediate. If you just got off of something else, it seems it can take one to four weeks to begin working. There are many claims St. John’s Wort will relieve all symptoms. My research shows it takes 2 months, on average, for this to truly kick-in. (I believe this average is skewed by people who have taken other drugs, or who may be assuming their major depression is less serious than is true.)
This one is not exactly what I would call natural. It is a naturally occurring molecule in the body, but it is not naturally occurring in the environment so it is made in a lab. On average, it is said to work much more quickly than St. John’s Wort, which is promising if you’re not quite sure how bad your depression is. Again, consult your doctor… but it is considered relatively safe and should work in a matter of days. It could technically be considered natural in the same way Almond Essential Oil is considered natural. It is an exact replica of something natural, but made in a lab. My mantra is “everything in moderation”, so SAMe feels like overkill for me – as it’s proven to work for those with major depression.
Sounds pretty fancy, but this is an easy one. You can buy it as a supplement, but I’d rather just drink it. You can get a decent amount of L-Theanine from a few cups of Green Tea! Which reminds me, one thing to stay away from when experiencing Random Bouts of Depression – Coffee. Caffeine in general, really… but the overall benefits of Green Tea actually outweigh the negatives of the caffeine. Coffee can really cause you to take a nosedive, I will personally attest to this. I’m not just saying to avoid it for funsies or because I personally experience the issue, it truly lowers Serotonin levels <— science.
Personally, I think this is most important consideration when specifically dealing with alcohol-induced Random Bouts of Depression. I learned in college that when my lips cracked in the corners, it was my body’s way of telling me I had a B-Vitamin deficiency.
That was when I first learned of the link between drinking and depleting your body’s storage of this handy dandy vitamin. B-Vitamins, especially B6 and Folic Acid (B3) play a huge role in navigating away from those drops in Serotonin. Taking B Vitamins has been shown to improve the success of other remedies (when used in conjunction) in regards to depression.
Exercise – Yoga & Meditation
If you’re depressed but can evade the incessant desire to bang your head against the wall, or lay at the bottom of your shower for hours, long enough to hop on a yoga mat for some reflection – YOU ROCK. That’s not me. It hits hard and fast and I’m lucky if I get up to make food and don’t just stare at my fridge for an hour.
The second or third day of low Serotonin though, this is a miracle remedy for me. When my body is in the beginning stages of getting its shit together, exercise can speed up the healing process x10.
Honestly, I haven’t put much time in researching this avenue. I figure all of the prescriptions available are meant to be taken every single day and that’s just not something I’m interested in pursuing. I’m a bit of a hippie so if it’s possible, I’ll be staying on the natural-remedy-road.
5-HTP & Trytophan
These two worried me quite a bit, as there were many cautionary tales and side effects. Many many more than that of SAMe and St. John’s Wort. Are they worthy opponents to the aforementioned, I’m sure, but not for someone like me that is self-diagnosing and trying to find a minimally invasive method for feeling better. If you’re interested in these options be very, very careful.
Now that we’ve rounded the major bases when it comes to recommended remedies, I’ll tell you my regimen – what I personally plan to do next time I encounter a Random Bout of Depression.
- St. John’s Wort or SAMe
- B-Complex Vitamin
- Probiotics in the form of Kefir or Kombucha
- Cooking with Turmeric paired with Black Pepper, Saffron and Coconut Oil
- Yoga (when I can make myself)
The breakdown and whys of my new regimen:
- Both St. John’s Wort and SAMe look to have similar side effects. For me I am going to test St. John’s Wort before SAMe because it seems less invasive and more applicable for my level of depression. If that doesn’t work, or doesn’t work quickly enough, I will try SAMe. I am going to begin taking St. John’s Wort the day prior to drinking, the day of, and the day after. I will take 300mg three times a day during that period.
- A B-Complex Vitamin houses all of the B-Vitamins important to producing Serotonin. I will take this the day before, the day of and the day after drinking as well, but only once a day. It also sometimes has Biotin, so why not choose that option? Biotin gives you that Pinterest hair you’ve always dreamed of, or so I’ve heard & it’s natural.
- Probiotics! This is something I already do. A healthy gut is very important! You can take my word for it or research why. I drink a little Kefir each morning or have a Kombucha every 3 or 4 days. Nothing crazy, everything in moderation.
- Turmeric paired with black pepper, Saffron and Coconut Oil have all been linked to battling depression in one way or another. They are simple to cook with so if I choose to eat at home, (before, during or after drinking) I’ll throw these into the mix. I will also try to make these a bit more typical in my normal diet.
- On day two or three of my Random Bouts of Depression I will do Yoga. This is so therapeutic and I know that it actually does help (at least me). I also don’t blame you and understand if you feel this isn’t applicable to you.
- Sunlight – find me someone who says this one is a bad idea. If it’s winter or not sunny out, I’ve had a lot of people recommend Light Therapy (which is basically just a light that you sit in front of that imitates the sun).
***It didn’t make the list, but it always helps – PETS! If you have a dog or cat (or really whatever), try to spend some time with them! ***
Hopefully I don’t have another Random Bout of Depression anytime soon, but when it does occur I will stick to this regimen. I will report back to you as to how well it worked.
I hope that maybe this helps someone who feels helpless like I do when this happens. I hope that for someone, this is the answer they’ve been looking for.
Mental health is no joke, it’s important, so take care of you. If you bring yourself down (by drinking or anything else), have a plan in place for bringing yourself back up again.
As Selena Gomez once said, “All of the downs and the uppers, keep making love to each other…” and such is life. Who knew she was so deep and all-knowing?
Randomly Depressed Ruby