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Am I screwed? I have seasonal depression and badly need help.

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Showing 76-100 of 662 posts in this discussion
In reply to an earlier post on Mar 17, 2009 9:27:41 AM PDT
Hi, I can help you out with this. If you would like to contact me via my website we can chat either by email or via Skype. Don't despair. You can sort it.

Posted on Mar 17, 2009 9:32:59 AM PDT
Hi Mia -

I have suffered from SAD my entire adult life as well. After years of going on and off several different anti-depressants, I have found that there is no one silver bullet that will take care of the problem. Last year was my worst ever and I became suicidal. I finally decided that I needed to do something different. I am currently trying several different things together and I have had my best winter in years. I realized that I needed to address it from a whole-body perspective: physical, emotional and spiritual. If I leave any of these elements out, it doesn't work. Here is what I am doing in each area...maybe something can help you as well:

- Fish oil (omega 3)
- Inositol (this has helped decrease sugar cravings)
- No sugar. This is a hard one...I was addicted, but it has been a huge help in elevating mood and increasing energy. I also have never been one to drink caffeinated drinks, but from everything I hear, going off of caffeine will help as well.
- Regular exercise
- Bio-identical hormones. I also have been tested and retested for thyroid and always came back "normal." Once I started visiting a Dr. who knew which tests to give me, it turns out that I *was* low in thyroid and am now being treated for it...the difference in energy level is significant. I am being treated for other hormonal deficiencies and I'm realizing that hormones are a huge part of my depression.
- Whole food vitamin (Catalyn is what I use)
- Light box as needed, depending on how much the sun is out. A word about this: I use the Apollo goLite, which is a blue light. This company has done the research and discovered exactly which light wavelength is needed to help with depression and regulate sleep. Make sure you are not looking directly into the light...this gives me headaches if I do...but have it at an angle off to the side so that it's in your peripheral vision. I also switch sides so that I'm not getting it just through one eye all the time.
- Vitamin D - there are two ways to get this: supplement or through your skin. I am using a high % UVB tanning bed to help produce it through my skin. This is new for me and the jury's still out on whether or not it's working, but I know that vitamin D levels are crucial. Vitamin D is not really a "vitamin," but a precursor to a hormone. It is important to point out that the lack of light that we feel during the winter needs to be treated in two ways: through our eyes *and* through our skin. One won't replace the other.

- I am working with a therapist who is wonderful. I have been to several and there are some bad ones out there. Don't hesitate to switch if someone isn't working for you.
- Let friends and family members know what you are going through. Choose those whom you can trust to talk to when things are difficult. I know this is hard...sometimes reaching out to someone is the last thing you want to do. Because of this, I talked to my friends and family while I was feeling good, so now that it's winter there are a couple of people who keep tabs on me and can recognize when I'm struggling.
- I am going to a chiropractor who uses a holistic approach in treating me. He does the spinal adjustment and all of that, but he also uses a whole-body approach that works with emotions as well as physical concerns. I don't know how to describe what he does, but it works!

- Prayer, meditation, or something that feeds your spirit. No matter what your spiritual beliefs are, don't ignore this part of your healing. Whether it's attending a worship service or reading something inspirational or spending time in nature (even when it's snowy and cold!), this is a vital part of my treatment. As I have made spiritual connections and spiritual progress, I have been guided to specific treatments that work for me.

Ok, this has been a novel :) I hope that there is something that you can glean from this that will help in some small way. I have found that a lot of small things have helped me feel like myself through this time of year, not just one magic pill. I also started slowly, adding each thing one at a time as I had the energy to do so. The underlying thing for me has been hope. It hasn't all been perfect, but I have a strong hope that I can continue to feel better and continue to find things that work. Good luck!

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 17, 2009 12:56:56 PM PDT
ggirl says:
You are a beautiful person. Read Joyce Meyer book Battefield of The Mind this book will really help.

Posted on Mar 17, 2009 2:23:18 PM PDT
Seascape says:
Can you move? Somewhere like San Diego? I wish I could.

Posted on Mar 19, 2009 10:33:48 PM PDT
Hi, Mia. Here's a thought that may be worthless, but . . . if you want to leave no stone unturned, literally, you might want to try this suggestion.

Have you ever thought to stop struggling over it? Simply allow it to happen. If you want to sleep, sleep. If you can't move around much, don't. If you can't concentrate, don't try. If you don't feel like getting dressed, put on your favorite flannel pajamas. Watch a light movie, the kind you don't usually watch, something comical and mindless. Don't fight it at all, don't see it as a problem, and most of all don't feel guilty. Give yourself permission to do exactly what you feel like doing, and nothing more.

Once in a while a person who does this for a few days finds that by the end of the week they have much more energy, and that they also have a better intuitive sense of what to do next. I realize this may not work for you. But if you truly have tried everything else, then giving yourself over to your condition seems to me like the one thing you haven't tried, and for that reason alone I would try it. There is another reason, too. You anxiety over having SAD and all of the effort you've put forward to fight it, and the stress this has caused you, may be sapping more of your energy than you realize. It may have become a vicious circle for you. Everyone always berates a person for "not trying." You are always obligated to "try to do better." You are always given endless "to-do" lists. Every new therapy gives you more things "to do." I'm telling you not to try. Throw away the lists, forget the guilt. SAD is simply something that happens, like the common cold. It is perfectly all right to have SAD. I'm giving you permission.

Hope this works!

Posted on Mar 19, 2009 11:00:57 PM PDT
Mia says:

I don't know how realistic it is to not fight it, but just reading your post made me feel less burdened. Just hearing someone, even a complete stranger, give me permission to feel the way I do lightens my heart.
Thank you.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 19, 2009 11:11:44 PM PDT
Book Browser says:
RUN - don't walk - to a health food store like Whole Foods and look for 5-HTP and St. John's Wort. I'm in the middle of 'The Mood Cure' by Julia Ross, M.A., and her book sheds light on conditions such as SAD. In fact, she explores four (4) negative moods that have similarities but are caused by different bodily conditions. The good thing is that the solutions are more simple and approachable, i.e. 5-HTP and St. John's Wort don't require any prescription whatsoever. Give it a go...

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 20, 2009 1:46:26 AM PDT
nidia sugey says:
hey there is many reazons for your condition can be fisicaly, mentaly, even just bad habits, if is mentaly make a balance think what you have and if there somthing that you dont, but you need, a family husbad, bouyfrend , kids friends etc, ahbits'' do hang out whith friends, eating habits ,too much too litle , not a helhty diet and also somthing so simple and insignificat as breathing habits, have you ever consult and a psicilogist ? cus i bealive and realy hope im wrong sounds like pts meanes port thraumatic sindrome or estrss but in yor case sounds realy easy to handle just a few sesions and your redy to enjoy the bast plesure of this beatiful world and remember no mater what is it, there's allways reazon to lough and you got to try every second it allways works it workd for me though

Posted on Mar 20, 2009 4:26:36 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 20, 2009 4:27:46 AM PDT
jemphd says:
Mia, your first questions is are you screwed? Yes, you are, but so are the rest of us! We all struggle with issues and it's great you are recognizing this so early in your life. It is great that so many are contributing to this forum, but ultimately, you will have to find a solution that works for you and it may be nearly unique. Cover the physical bases first: a comprehensive thyroid function exam and a visit with a wholistic nutritionist would be a good start. If that doesn't get you where you want, then contact the nearest support group to see who they recommend regarding a skilled diagnostician you could see. Here's one support group network for depression to start with:

I suggest talking to no less than ten different people and see if there are any professionals mentioned by more than one. I am a psychologist with 25 years experience and I know the people around here, but not SE VA. If you want you can reach me at jemphd at gmail dot com, substituting the at with @ and the dot with . Best of luck to you.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 20, 2009 7:14:57 AM PDT
LB says:
.... being sold in a "health" food store doesn't make it healthy...

having a master of arts degree sure doesn't make Ms. Ross a good mentor for dealing with a neurological condition.

yes, 5-htp can, for SOME people with SAD, help... but not in the forms most supplements (including "natural" and "whole" and "organic" ones) offer in pills. She'd need pharmaceutical grade prescribed by a physician, plain and simple.

As for STJ... that stuff is bad. Very bad. Read up on actual university medical center studies... The repercussions for taking St John's Wort are not worth any temporary (and considered placebo effect most often) relief...

Some things are NOT worth the risk... if you were reading the last 10 years of research on herbal supplements, you would see far more caution and concern than optimism, EVEN amongst natural/alternative health providers, for St John's Wort, echinacea, high amounts of flax (prostate cancer anyone?), folic acid taken by men (for women it hugely recommended, but it's worse than taking iron for men)...

Give it a go? You act like taking arsenic would be fine just because it's natural...

Don't forget that being natural doesn't "not" make them drugs. St. John's Wort should be illegal ... the US is really fruit loopy about letting people buy herbal remedies that have no proven benefits (nothing statistically relevant, even, to give hope for benefits) and that have a lot of evidence that maybe messing with our neuroreceptors with uncontrolled doses of drugs that we haven't even established dosing guidelines for... is stupid. It is stupid. People like Ross who market and monetize by manipulating people who are desperate for help... especially mixing things like STJ and 5HTP... taking good and bad makes the good go bad... it's immoral at best. Their choice to reincarnate as rocks, though, as a monk once told me, and as my mom taught me for decades, "you can't argue with crazy..." so all I try to do is prevent crazy from taking over sane (since SAD isn't a psychosis... it is far closer to chronic fatigue, a legitimate autoimmune caused condition, than mental illness)...

Posted on Mar 20, 2009 7:26:29 AM PDT
S J B says:
You don't mention which part of the country you're in, or whether your food choices are substantially different in winter. Seasonal allergies can cause physical exhaustion, without causing much nasal congestion. The worst time of year for Ashe Juniper (also know as Mountain Cedar) is right around the time of year you mentioned.

Another possibility is food intolerance. Try keeping a food diary when you are feeling well and aim to stick to similar things during your down times. For seriously sensitive people, even a teaspoon of the 'wrong' food can cause flu-like symptoms for days.

If all else fails, the Florida Keys may be worth the cost of living there.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 20, 2009 11:45:14 AM PDT
Book Browser says:
I think you need help, too...

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 20, 2009 12:00:49 PM PDT
Re:"Have you ever thought to stop struggling over it? Simply allow it to happen. If you want to sleep, sleep. If you can't move around much, don't. If you can't concentrate, don't try. If you don't feel like getting dressed, put on your favorite flannel pajamas. Watch a light movie, the kind you don't usually watch, something comical and mindless. Don't fight it at all, don't see it as a problem, and most of all don't feel guilty. Give yourself permission to do exactly what you feel like doing, and nothing more."
"I don't know how realistic it is to not fight it,"

Please listen to this and take it to heart. This is a "survival permission" from a wise guide. It took me years to take this in and now it is my advice to anyone suffering from SAD. I now plan sedentary events for my SAD time of year, since forcing myself to "perform" to someone else's or my own "shoulds" only gets me injured.

I do knit, crochet, reading, internet, work, writing, art, etc. I move slowly and I cook with a "spotter" on hand, as my brain is not fully engaged. Part of this is age and MS and part of this is SAD.

I do slow stretches when I can and mild exercize throughout the day - - slow leg lifts when I go to set the table for dinner and when I get out of bed, march lightly in place, ect.; Things that are light aerobics and not jarring and taxing.

I suddenly wake up in the Spring and am more functional. Please be good to yourself and pamper this aspect of your life.

It is not a reflection on your character, as many would have those of us with it believe. It is a biological imperative that is part of our makeup and we have no control over it.

They have put together schools in my state for kids suffering from this, so people are beginning to recognize and validate the existance of this phenomenon that many of us are gifted with. It indicates that we are tied into the universe! Celebrate this wonderful connection in you and please allow for it; find ways to navigate it and be functional.

Good luck to you.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 20, 2009 12:06:08 PM PDT
Re:"5-HTP and St. John's Wort don't require any prescription whatsoever."

I am curious about this book you have mentioned, however, I take Lisinopril and other prescriprion meds and would not recommend anyone take anything, including and especially OTC or health store items without consulting your doc or pharmacist. Interactions to seemingly innocent things can kill, as has been evidenced on recent news reports. Be safe, but be open-minded about finding ways to help oneself. I plan to seek out info on this and, if safe, "give it a go."

Thank you for the information. I am humbled and most appreciative when suggestions by others contribute to positives and healing in my life.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 20, 2009 2:07:42 PM PDT
annielaurie says:
Har! Tell that to my son, who has a master's in math and can't find a job ANYWHERE except as a part-time teacher at the U (which is not what he wants to do with his life). Hopefully working all those math problems will mitigate the depression caused by his not being able to find a job! Any suggestions on where he could look? He lives in the Twin Cities area.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 20, 2009 2:16:05 PM PDT
Lee says:
I found out I had clinical depression at the age of 16.
I have to disagree with you statement because it was proven that
my body doesn't produce one hormone that is needed to keep me on
an even note, therefore I need to take a med to make my body produce it.
NOT all depression is the same. You should take that into consideration
when making blanket statements. I am 49 now and have lived a NORMAL
live since they found the cause and corrected it with PHARM'S. Thank you.

Posted on Mar 21, 2009 1:32:27 AM PDT
K. D. Schon says:
Lots of compassionate folks on here, and well-meant advice. But I don't believe you really understand what she is saying or just how UNBEARABLE her depression is. Fish Oil? Forget it, it doesn't do anything and has recenytly been found to exacerbate bipolar symptoms and trigger manic episodes. Light box therapy? She already said IT DIDN'T WORK for her. Celexa and Lexapro? ANY SSRI carries the EXTREMELY dangerous possibility of triggering mania if she has bipolar disorder - and the worst part is - she won't actually HAVE bipolar disorder until the SSRI triggers it. Also Celexa is also known as "Nosexa". Everything from lack of desire to inability to achieve orgasm (in my case for two entire years - plus I got the surprise bipolar trigger. A year later, my life was completely destroyed - divorce, financial ruin (millions of dollars, ok?) arrests, uncontrollable anger, idiotic business decisions, choice of inappropriate (ok, hookers) companions, drug abuse, alcoholism, and near-death. Think I'm making all of this up? I wish. I saw several different psychiatrists, went on lithium (actually helpful, but I gained 15 pounds), Seroquel (an antipsychotic med that is really a great sleeping pill but has the unfortunate side effect of causing diabetes), because I also suffered from panic disorder, which continued to worsen over time, I was given xanax, which made my life bearable, but eventually my doctor stopped giving it to me in case I "abused" it (ummm... cocaine addicts aren't interested in slowing down), plus, I was sober and doing pretty well, but as soon as the panic meds were removed guess what I did to counteract my panic? Alcohol is a depressant, so down goes the panic. A rollercoaster ride in and out of Hell for years and years, over several cities.... NYC, London, Los Angeles... new doctors, every one with a DIFFERENT diagnosis - bipolar, not bipolar, ADHD, Panic Disorder, Narcissistic Personality Disorder (my personal favorite, of course...) if it's in the DSM -IV, I've had it, have it, or will have it. Every psychiatrist put me on something new or took me off something I was already on - THEY ARE PLAYING A GUESSING GAME and the truly good ones will admit it and be compassionate, kind, and helpful - the rest pay no attention, ignore pleas for help with panic (one tried to teach me how to breathe properly - years of meditation have already done that , and no, the meditation didn't "fix" anything either) - my medical doctor of over 12 years tried to stop my pharmacy from giving me ANY type of calming agent by having a note placed in my file (they have it in the computer still, it is completely ignored, they leave it there to remind them of the sheer arrogance and insensitivity of so many doctors - every time they fill my scrips for xanax and Clonapin. And no, they are not being abused, in fact, I have so many of each, that the refills expired. I had finally found a psychiatrist who understood what I was bound to abuse (and why) and what I wouldn't. I am still on lithium, but also we discovered a hormonal imbalance (low low testosterone, now corrected) he diagnosed me as ADHD and DID something about it, placing me on a low dose of Vyvanse (fancy version of Adderall - speed, ok? Except you can't abuse it - it's time-released in the liver) and gave me enough xanax in both traditional "bar" and "instant" sublingual versions and in varying dosages, starting at .5 mg up to 2 mg. My panic anxiety disorder is severe and dibilitating enough to qualify me as disabled - but I won't accept the designation and don't have to. 1 1/2 to 3 ml of injectable B12 has also worked wonders. There are days when I never need a dose of xanax, and days when I need 4 mg. For years I could not get on an airplane unless I was drunk and stayed that way. I no longer drink and fly with no difficulty - still averaging 125-175,000 miles/year.

Enough about me. Here is what I wish for you - complete and total recovery and no more suffering. My advice to you: get OUT of the northeast if that's where you are (that's where my worst depression first hit at age 40- I always had SAD, even in So. Cal. where I grew up, but it took living in New England to push me over the edge), if that is not possible, you must find a competent psychiatrist (good luck) who is not a "drug Nazi" and is willing to LISTEN to you (they don't do therapy, really, just prescribe medication) - DO NOT FOR ANY REASON accept an SSRI (I won't argue with the person who said they made them feel incredibly good - of course they do! I did too... kept feeling better and better and better.... ) until it is CERTAIN that there is no chance that you are bipolar. As I said, you won't be (if there have been no "manic" episodes) until you take the SSRI - I have had a 50/50 diagnosis agreement from my shrinks all told for and against. I still take the lithium because it tamps down my predisposition toward hair-trigger anger and rage reactions ( my teenage son suffered through a couple of years of this, then, he just got better. I am opposed to the use of psych meds in children, but I lost the toss on custody, but I finally got him away from the idiot shrink who was treating him and in to see someone with more knowledge and the ability to listen - it is very rare, sadly. He takes no medication of any kind and has been happy, healthy and becoming more so every day.) If you drink, stop. Just stop. Not cut down. Not just wth dinner. Knock it off. I am not suggesting you are an alcoholic, it doesn't matter. Keep it away from your brain.

Ok, have to shut up now and go to bed. I'm so sorry for your sadness and take some comfort in knowing that there are many like you, and a lot of them have found SOMETHING that helps.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 21, 2009 10:13:12 AM PDT
Bookgirl says:
K.D. Schon, I agree that (most) psychiatricts want to give out meds. That's why I truly feel that a psychologist is a lot better for actual counseling. Mine calls the psychiatrists "the medicine men". But there are times when a person does absolutely need a medication. You yourself take meds. If a person is suicidal, for instance, they better be on an antidepressant. I don't believe all SSRIs are horrible and can be beneficial. JMO. I think the original poster should have her thyroid checked in addition to other testing. Thyroid problems can make a person have all sorts of problems, including mental.

Posted on Mar 21, 2009 10:33:37 AM PDT
Mags says:
This is so obvious that you have a Vitamin D deficiency. Just start taking large doses of the vitamin and you will feel better very quickly. It worked for me and many of my clients.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 21, 2009 11:31:20 AM PDT
Bookgirl says:
I have read a lot about Vitamin D deficiency lately. BUT, I think her problem is probably bigger than that. I have read so much lately about most people lacking in Vitamin D. I take D3, Mags. How much D, do you take?

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 21, 2009 10:38:49 PM PDT
Mia, I am so glad to hear that . . . this is funny, I didn't even realize it, but I wrote this post to you on my birthday!

Quite honestly, I know my suggestion may not work, but if you're coming upon Spring Break and have the time, I think it's worth a try. But whatever you decide to do, and whatever happens, always keep in mind that this is NOT your fault. Sometimes we lose sight of that. Self-blame is an illusion, and a seductive one at that. Sometimes people will even praise you for it.

I do know one thing that is very realistic -- too many people don't schedule some "down time." It is normal to need that. It's not a symptom of anything, apart from our common humanity.

I am so glad the idea at least lightened your heart. Makes my day, don't you know? :)

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 21, 2009 10:43:28 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 21, 2009 10:44:22 PM PDT
K. D. Schon, great post. Please do not "shut up." I'll be looking for your posts here and elsewhere. This was fascinating, and I think it was very valuable advice, especially about the danger of SSRIs for someone who may in fact be bipolar. You may have kept someone from ending up in the hospital with your contribution. Don't doubt it!

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 21, 2009 10:56:38 PM PDT
T says:
Mia, dont be so hard on yourself; try to stay strong. It sounds as though you may be suffering from a hormonal imbalance/adrenal insufficiency. These types of imbalances are caused many things such as diet. My step-dad suffers from the exact things you describe and he was diagnosed with a testosterone deficiency. Dr. John Lee, MD, although deceased, is a pioneer on the subject. He coined the phrase "estrogen dominance". His website is

Maybe this will help you. I hope everything works out for you.

Posted on Mar 21, 2009 11:04:53 PM PDT
Try to examine your diet during those blue months to see if it changes. You may have a dietary deficiency that crops up during those months.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 22, 2009 7:31:25 AM PDT
LB says:
jipsii M'Sina : Thank you for being wise about your own treatment...

5-HTP can be helpful for some people... but not all people with SAD are helped by it, and it should only be taken in pharmaceutical grade (prescribed, though worth it and not terribly expensive last I looked... though I can look again and find you a pharmacy that will have it at much better prices than Whole Foods(!!) if your doctor prescribes it to you...

The St. John's Wort... please do not start this. It has, as you mention being possible, had fatal interactions and has a slew of conditions it is thought to be a contributor to (where young people who were otherwise healthy suddenly get ill or elderly people who were sick suddenly go to the hospital and are experiencing, depending on what it interacted with, anything from heart palpitations to end stage renal failure... to go from a healthy liver and kidneys to end stage in a number of weeks when all that happened was the add on of STJ is severe and a sign that the body underwent acute distress of a toxic variety, much like getting carbon monoxide poisoning or lead poisoning... only in this case, it's STJ poisoning that makes the kidneys bail (and case studies signal caution, especially when it's an uncontrolled medicine available OTC... and when they legally don't have to have the amounts stated in it... and can have other substances altogether as "fillers" that... in herbal supplements... they rarely bother checking whether things mixed within the pill are safe or if it makes something therapeutic suddenly do the opposite of its stated effect)...

Don't take anything without your physician's permission, please... If nothing else, I see your name all over this community, and your contribution here is wonderful and you're a very conscientious and thoughtful person... the idea that someone like you is inevitably going to show up the next time I do rounds in the urgent care center or ER... it's saddening. It honestly hurts to see our government not doing anything to get this product strictly regulated, as it can and does kill... it has a far higher mortality rate than most street drugs, yet... they don't bother because someone could grow it in his or her yard? They bother when it's marijuana... why not STJ is bewildering.

Be safe, and keep talking to us. It's refreshing. Your perspective is always appreciated here. (and there's no harm in reading a book... I have one to suggest, too: It's Smolin & Grosvenor's Nutrition: Science and Applications... for the people I've suggested it to, it's changed their entire lives... just by teaching them about the stuff they consume every day... the real down and dirty about foods!! ALL kinds of stuff that will make you feel like an expert... even if you have to google a bit to follow the advanced parts--but the nice thing is that if you don't want to get down to molecular levels of stuff, you can read the overall main chapter info and not worry so much about diagrams showing where in a cell, like the mitochondria, something is processed, stored, converted, the works...)
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Initial post:  Mar 12, 2009
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