The Artistic Mind: Staying Creative through Depression By David (Wolverton) Farland

Depression is a common ailment.  At one time or another, the average person suffers through at least one episode of major depression in their lives. 

Among writers, according to one article in the Scientific American, rates of depression may be as much as ten times higher than in normal populations, the rate of suicide as much as 18 times higher. 

So what can you do about it?  I’m not a doctor.  I’m just a writer who has suffered through depression a number of times in my life.  It runs in my family.  Both my father and my grandfather attempted suicide on multiple occasions.

You should know that there are several types of depression, and each needs to be treated differently.  I suffered with bipolar disorder as a teen and into my early twenties.  By my mid-twenties it went away, but in my early thirties I began to suffer from seasonal affective disorder.  I beat that, but in my mid-forties got hit with a bout of clinical depression which I believe may have come about as the result of a virus.  (Bet you didn’t know that you can “catch” depression, did you?  You can.)

My first advice to you is this: Don’t accept depression, beat it.  If you try one treatment and it doesn’t work, try another.  If your doctor isn’t helping you, find another.  This is serious.  When I got my last bout of depression in 2001-2003, I went to a psychiatrist who prescribed serotonin- reuptake inhibitors, Prozac.  The side effects were significant and the pills didn’t do much good at all.  I was watching television one morning and a doctor on Good Morning America said, “If you’re a male suffering from depression, it’s probably not because your body needs serotonin, but because you need more dopamine.  So get your doctor to give you Wellbutrin.”  I asked my general practitioner to give me Wellbutrin, and my depression vanished within hours.  Three months later I quite taking it, and haven’t had a problem with depression since.

So try different treatments if your depression isn’t responding, and don’t forget to look into herbal treatments and alterative medicines.  Some tests performed in Germany showed that Saint John’s Wort was effective in twice as many patients as some over-the-counter medications.  Other herbs, such as ginseng, ginko biloba, and green tea—along with various mineral and vitamin supplements—can also help.

Some types of depression are easily treated.  I began suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder in my thirties, a form of depression that hits when the days begin to get shorter.  The treatment?  Get more sunlight.  It’s easy to do, and it doesn’t take effect immediately, but it does work.  Yet many people who suffer from S.A.D. refuse the treatment.  I now make it a habit to spend at least 40 minutes per day outside, usually taking a long walk.  By getting a healthy dose of sunlight and exercise, I kill two birds with one stone.



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