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self help

Prozac Nation

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For that was the terrible power of the dementors: to force their victims to relive the worst memories of their lives, and drown, powerless, in their own despair…
– J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Edmund Husserl Image under the CC license By Arturo Espinosa

Edmund Husserl, a German philosopher established the field of phenomenology, the science of how things are experienced subjectively by us. In his opinion, we can better resonate with someone else especially when we share a context with them.  Suffering from depression, it appears, feels as though nobody shares your world, your context, and you are all alone. You feel otherworldly, empty, heavy and in pain. There is no hope. Your life circumstances are not so bad, (although they might be in other cases). You look like the alien. People don’t get you. They ask you to just “snap out of it.” You think to yourself, if that were the case, why would  I “snap into it” to begin with. They just don’t get it. That you are so stuck. There seems no way out. You feel like nobody can help you. If you suffer from depression, be assured that what you feel is real, it is authentic. Time has probably, indeed slowed down for you.

Under the CC license from the National Archives Archeological Site , via Wikimedia Commons

How is (normal) sadness different from sadness in clinical depression?

Normal sadness is not the same as sadness in clinical depression. Researchers Horwitz and Wakefield (2007) point out 3 differences between these two types. They say that normal sadness is context-specific. It is proportionately intense to the provoking loss and most important, it resolves when the loss ends. Brown and Harris (1978) write on the Social Origins of Depression and identify how stressors, protective and risk factors contribute to the illness. Recent research emphasizes how you could have everything going for you, and yet be clinically depressed. You could be an infant, a child, an adolescent, an adult, or elderly person, male or female and suffer from depression. Depression can also co-occur with chronic illnesses,  cardiovascular diseases, post-pregnancy and during menopause.

The Learning Curve

1. Tell someone. Get them to get an appointment with a psychiatrist that they think you will most likely get along with both ideologically, and whom they consider medically sound. Give it 2 months.


2. Start psychotherapy after 2 months to build your resilience.


3. Until then, getting through the day is all you need to do, treat yourself like a person with a disability. Don’t set goals so high that you set yourself up for disappointment. Brushing your teeth, eating, bathing should be your goals. 3. After the depression lifts, cognitive behavioral therapy works via various mechanisms. Primarily, we work on small behavioral (not emotional) goals. Baby steps.


4. Next we work on early experiences that contribute to the formation of your belief systems. An example of a belief system, ‘Ghosts are real’. If you believe so, your behavior will reflect this belief. You will feel anxious if you are faced with certain triggers. This will not apply to someone who believes that ‘Ghosts don’t exist’


5. Next, we work on your triggers, your assumptions, your negative thoughts, your attributions, your avoidance behaviours and your emotions. In this manner, cognitive behavioral therapy helps you while recovering from a major episode but also afterward, when you are trying to build your resilience.

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