Can I Head Off a Depressive Episode?

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I have always been a melancholy person, and struggled with anorexia as a teenager. In my late teens/early twenties I started having depressive episodes. They started growing worse, to where I would find myself in a fit of rage because I couldn’t open a jar. I also suffered anxiety, sadness, suicidal thoughts.
I’ve chosen not to pursue anti-depressants, as after much reasearch I’m convinced they do more harm than good, and I don’t want to be dependant on them for the rest of my life. I’ve started attempting various natural treatments, such as exercise, herbs, supplements and yoga. I’d like to see a psychiatrist but can’t afford to.
My question is this: The episodes still come, and I accept that and have reached a point where I can recognize it and sort of deal with it as it comes. But is there anything I can do when I’m in the middle of an episode to pull myself out?

A: I’m sorry you are so on your own with this. Although you deserve a lot of credit for all the work you’ve done to manage the onset of bad times, it must sometimes be very lonesome. I hope you will explore services in your area. Since you are not interested in medication, you don’t need a psychiatrist. A social worker, psychologist, or mental health counselor can support you through the bad times and help you learn some coping skills when you are up to doing so. Please look into whether there is a community mental health center nearby that offers help to low-income people. Other places to look for help are women’s centers, church organizations, and the Y. Many private therapists offer a sliding fee scale. Ask your doctor to make a referral as a place to start.

In the meantime, the book “Feeling Good” by David Burns offers practical strategies for managing mood disorders. You might also find it helpful to join an online community for support. Check out the “community” tab on PsychCentral.com to find others who are struggling with the same issues.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 1 Feb 2009

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2009). Can I Head Off a Depressive Episode?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 26, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2009/02/01/can-i-head-off-a-depressive-episode/