I have suffered from severe depression for 30 years. I have literally been on every medication and combos listed in the PDR. I have been on medication for well over twenty years, I have had numerous therapists and psychiatrists. I have had ECT. I havve been hospitalized many times. I have done every thing from Bi-lateral stim, energy tapping, aromatherapy, exercise, relaxation techniques, yoga, etc… I have had several suicide attempts. I can not afford the $10,000 of Transcranscranial Stim, nor the $40,000 for Vagus Nerve, or the newer brain surgeries, because they are all “experimental”. I suffer daily with bouts of hysteria from the frustration and pain of the depression and anxiety. I yell and scream “help me, help me”, “I can’t take this anymore” like a mantra. All I want to do is die, because I am worn out and exhausted. I am so tired of the pain. I feel like I am being crushed but will never die. There is nothing left of me, and even finding a peaceful end of life is elusive. Even this feels like throwing a message in bottle. What do I do?
A. I am very sorry to learn of your depression. The tone of your letter suggests that you feel exhausted, overwhelmed by your depression and perhaps hopeless. I want to convey the message to you that there is hope even after 30 years of severe depression. In every case with which I am familiar, with treatment, the depression eventually dissipates and in many cases disappears completely. There is hope.
For many people it’s a matter of finding the right therapist. You have tried many treatments but finding the right therapist can make all the difference. I typically recommend evaluating at least five or 10, and more if necessary. You should continue to interview therapists until you find one you are comfortable with. One therapist may work well with one client but not for another. The reason for this may be that cognitively both are different. The same is true for reading a book. Perhaps you read a book by a particular author about a certain subject and find a partial or total disconnect. You may read another book, by a different author, on exactly the same subject but the text makes perfect sense. What’s the difference? It may be that you and this author are cognitively on the “same page.” It is a form of communication. You and the first author were speaking slightly different languages. You and the second author were speaking the same language and thus the communication of information was quantitatively and qualitatively greater. This effect is true with authors, plumbers, MDs and therapists.
In addition to interviewing other therapists, I would also encourage you to read several books. These include Life After Life by Raymond Moody, The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck and Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl.
Life After Life is a book about individuals who have had a near-death experience (NDE). This book is particularly good because it discusses the profound impact on attitude and the approach to life that the experience of a NDE can cause. Many who have read it report that it helps them to fully appreciate life in a way that they had not before.
The Road Less Traveled is a classic and timeless book. Peck discusses common life problems. It addresses anxiety, depression and how one can change their attitude to improve their life. To get a sense of how important this book has been for many people, read the reviews on Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Your library likely has a copy and I would highly recommend it.
Man’s Search for Meaning can show you how to see all the good in life. Dr. Frankl saw the good in life while living in a concentration camp. That horrific experience allowed for the creation of logotherapy. Logotherapy focuses on the idea that life is difficult, suffering is unavoidable but great meaning can be found in suffering. Pay particular attention to the section about how to create meaning in one’s life. Dr. Frankl discusses how his techniques have worked with individuals who have suffered from severe depression and were seriously contemplating suicide. I think you might find this book particularly beneficial.
Please realize that even though you’ve suffered, things can change. Your life can improve. It has for many people and it can for you too. Please take care. I wish you the best of luck.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 27 May 2011
Randle, K. (2011). Severe Depression For 30 Years. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 25, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/05/27/severe-depression-for-30-years/