Yes, we get depressed. Here’s my story

Published: June 27, 2013

Anti-depressants are not addictive. And if you take them you get can off them easily. PHOTO: MAHIM MAHER

My father keeps telling me NOT to be so honest about getting depression or taking medication or going to a shrink. He thinks it will affect my chances of getting married. But at a chronically single 36 years, I think it’s safe to say many more extenuating factors are at work there.

There are two reasons I have always been brutally honest about having had depression.

1. As a journalist, at my core is always a hankering for the truth, telling the truth and being unafraid to do so. Morally speaking, I would be a hypocrite if I expected other people to tell the truth about their lives but didn’t apply the same principle to myself.

2. I have found that telling people honestly that I have had depression helps them – especially the ones with depression but too scared to seek help. Over the years, scores of young people who have heard me make fun of my own depression in gatherings, have contacted me later bashfully, to ask for help. The classic line is:

‘I have a friend who has depression, is there a doctor you can recommend?’

I am not suffering from depression now and have been depression-free for a nice long break. But there are plenty of days I come home from work in the newsroom and feel very down. But, if you do some research you will find that clinical depression is different from having a bad day, which all of us encounter several times a month. The problem is when it lasts more than a few weeks and is accompanied by other symptoms.

And people who breezily declare they’ve never had depression in their life are probably lying.

I am writing this today because I met a young woman B this week who had no idea she was suffering from postpartum depression after having a baby. Her husband is a friend of mine and he brought her and the baby over to my house for a cup of tea. We chatted for a bit and then I realised slowly that she was just sitting colourless, with a drained face, on the edge of the sofa, away from her husband and baby. I inquired if she was feeling alright and the floodgates opened on how ill she was. As she went on, I realised just how deeply depressed she was. She was spiralling and her marriage and mothering was being affected badly.

This is what I told her.

1. No one can help you with your depression. You have to do something about it. Depression scares people; they don’t know what to do about it. They will talk to you for one time, two times and then they will get frustrated and start avoiding you.

Your husband cannot fix your depression – even if you think he is the cause of it. B was blaming her husband and in-laws for her depression. The outcome was that her husband got sick of hearing he was the cause of her depression and any motivation he had to help her dissipated.

2Anti-depressants are not addictive. And if you take them you can get off them easily. So many people make the excuse about not going to a psychiatrist because they know and assume they will be prescribed medication. This makes them feel that they are succumbing to a drug that they will have to take for life. That is not true.

I have taken anti-depressants ranging from Prozac to Seroxat. They take about three weeks to kick in and when you think you don’t need them anymore the doctor will gradually lower your dosage to take you off. The science of anti-depressants has advanced and the best thing to do is ask your doctor about the side effects or possibility of getting addicted if you are worried.

The anti-anxiety pills are entirely another ballgame. They CAN be addictive. I am talking about Xanax and Lexotanil. It is dangerous to take them on your own without a prescription because they can actually have a downer effect, which will make you feel worse.

3. Just taking a pill won’t necessarily fix your problem – talk therapy is needed too sometimes. There are roughly two types of depression I have experienced: chemical and situational. If I have been in a prolonged crappy life situation it has led to depression. Sometimes we are stuck and can’t change or remove people or conditions that are depressing us. In that case we either have to learn how to adjust or extricate ourselves.

The chemical depression, as I call it, is linked to the ‘happy chemical’ called Serotonin in my case. As it would not circulate long enough in my bloodstream, I had to take SSRIs (Prozac etc), which are Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors. A very low dose has always worked for me.

During several times in my life I was so deeply depressed that talk therapy wasn’t going to work alone because the chemicals were all messed up. So I started taking a medication and combined that with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to get better. I swear by CBT. The medication takes the edge off the blackness and helps you work with a psychologist to figure out how things can be fixed.

Just to be clear – psychiatrists prescribed medication and psychologists don’t. They offer therapy. And going to either of them doesn’t mean you are crazy. Of the two people I sought help from in Karachi, one was a psychologist with a PhD in counseling psychology from an institution in California and the other is a psychiatrist with qualifications from Brown University.

4. Some lies people tell you. People mean well but in my experience there are certain things that won’t help alone with depression if you’ve got it bad. When I used to be depressed people would tell me that I wasn’t grateful enough for what I had in life. Or that at least I wasn’t blind, or missing a limb. According to their reasoning, if I would just be grateful enough for what I did have, my depression would go away.

First of all, I am grateful for what I have. But there are certain things I want in life that I feel I can’t get. Everyone experiences that. This is not linked to my depression as my well-wishers tried to convince me. Depression is far more complicated a phenomenon to just go away by saying ‘thank you’. I can be grateful and depressed.

From time to time I suffer from existential dread: meaning, why am I here, what am I doing, what’s the point of all of this. I get anxiety, high levels of anxiety, about my parents dying, me staying single for the rest of my life, not being able to financially support myself. Never being truly loved. Becoming redundant at work. Persistent anxiety can drill a hole in your head, and be linked to depression so sometimes it is a good idea to meet a psychologist to get proper perspective on them.

Second, people tell you to pray and meet friends for coffee and your depression will go away. The truth is that these two things IN ISOLATION are unlikely to totally take your depression away. I use prayer, namaz, Zikr and Tahajjud, in COMBINATION with therapy and medication. I rely on a network of friends to get support. Yes, miracles do happen, but if you are depressed and going out of your mind, do yourself a favour and see a doctor as well. And to use the cliché, you’d see a doctor for an infection, so why not for depression?

If you read up on depression you’ll find that the more you leave it unattended, the worse it gets. It affects the brain the long run. It affects your relationships, work, self care, ability to exist.

Some people think of suicide but are too chicken to actually go through with it. That is called suicide ideation and it is a hellish place to be in. You are stuck in limbo, miserable, desperate, isolated and unable to do anything.

When depression has crept up on me, I have barely noticed it. That’s the hard part. Then I found I couldn’t get out of bed but the more I lay there the more my self loathing grew. I was not able to go to work. I hated everyone at work. I had anger. I hated myself. I hated the world. I couldn’t read, couldn’t watch films, didn’t go for pedicures or haircuts. I felt cursed. The beast clung to my back.

I am sorry if any of you reading this are depressed. I wrote this for you. I know how bad it can get. I know that people don’t understand. I know you feel it will not end. But listen, the Cold War ended, so will your depression. You are not crazy, just not well. It takes a lot to be a ‘crazy’ person.

Make an appointment to see a doctor and grab a rickshaw and go see them. Your first try might not seem like it will make it instantly go away, but understand that you have to keep at it. Ask your doctor about medication and therapy. The sessions can be expensive, the highest I have paid is Rs2,500 per hour. But she was damn good. The medication will cost Rs1,000 plus per fortnight and it varies. I saw my last therapist for three years. It takes time. I could have bought a lot of shoes with that money I spent but I would have never enjoyed them.

Depression goes away. But you have to do something about it. And even if you’re really at the bottom of the barrel, make that appointment.

(Note: As with all medical matters, medication, advice and explanations, please see your doctor as each patient’s needs are different. Always consult before taking medication)

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Here are few reliable resources that can help you figure out depression:

The symptoms of depression:

http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/depression-symptoms-and-types

http://psychcentral.com/disorders/depression/

Finding a doctor

Government hospitals have Psychiatry wards but they are usually places you wouldn’t want to go.

Instead your best bet is to approach a large private hospital you personally trust and ask what their mental health department offers. Ask for a list of doctors.

Getting an appointment with either a psychiatrist or psychologist can take weeks, so be patient. Feel good about making the first step of making one. Better than dying in bed, I said to myself. If they ask which one you’d prefer, just say anyone who can see you quickly. If you cannot explain to your family or have the money to go, try calling a hotline (see below).

Sometimes your first appointment doesn’t go well, don’t panic. You should tell the doctor what the problem is, what you think it is at least, where you need help and ask them what they can do for you. Ask them how they can help you.

Here is a short list of places that offer help. 

The Pakistan Association of Mental Health helps people at their free clinic. Walk in and ask for an appointment. Medication is also free. But I make a donation when I go to help them.

http://www.pamh.org.pk/

Free Depot Line Clinic:
Room # 19, 21-23 Rehman Plaza,
90-A, Depot Lines, Karachi
021-32257245-32232423
Email: [email protected]

The PAMH head office is here in Clifton, Karachi
Room # 13-Hilal-e-Ahmer House, Clifton Road, Karachi
Phone # 021-3537-6349 – 3583-1621
Fax: 021-3583-1011
Email: [email protected]

The Aman Foundation has plenty of resources and a hotline just in case you can’t physically go to a doctor

http://amanfoundation.org/about-aman/the-aman-foundation/faqs/

Karwan-e-Hayat is a welfare non-government organisation active in caring for mentally ill indigent patients. It is the only NGO of its kind in Karachi, providing both outpatient as well as inpatient facilities. Over 80% of Karwan-e-Hayat’s patients are treated free of cost. Located in three convenient areas of the city, Karwan-e-Hayat is one of the largest facilities for inpatient care available in Karachi. http://keh.org.pk/

Therapy Works is an organisation that provides a number of services in Karachi
http://www.therapyworks.com.pk Phone: 0213-5870767, 0301-8258890, 0300-8259890

In Islamabad one resource is:

http://www.rozan.org/reach_us.php

Rozan

In Lahore two resources are:

http://fountainhouse.com.pk/

Fountain House or the Lahore Mental Health Association (LMHA)

http://www.pimh.gop.pk/

The Punjab Institute of Mental Health

Read more by Mahim here or follow her on Twitter @Mahim_Maher 

mahimmaher

Mahim Maher

A journalist based in Karachi, Pakistan. She has worked as the city editor at The Express Tribune and Daily Times, and now writes long form investigative and explanatory pieces on Karachi’s civic and urban infrastructure with a focus on transport, public spaces and water.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • https://twitter.com/Pugnate Noman Ansari

    Brilliant blog. I think people who have suffered from and conquered depression can truly tell how insightful this piece is. I hope it can help readers who need help. I feel many who don’t take depression as seriously, even in others, lack emotional awareness. I have found that it almost a macho thing.

    Sometimes the tunnel seems like it has no end in sight, but there is always hope. Just talking to a professional can help you gain perspective and a new lease on life.

    We take the time to attain physical fitness, so why not fitness for the mind?

    No health without mental health. Recommend

  • https://twitter.com/Pugnate Noman Ansari

    BTW, Karwan-e-Hayat has a booth at Millennium Mall near Johar in Karachi with psychologists for the next few days from 12 to 8pm.

    After that they are shifting to The Forum mall in Clifton. You can go there to find more about mental health, and even have a quick talk with the doctors there. Recommend

  • Insaan

    Author “The sessions can be expensive, the highest I have paid is Rs2,500 per hour. But she was damn good.”

    Good in what way. Did she tell you something that you did not know already?
    Talk therapy is about working with your mind, how you think, what you think, your beliefs, your imagination.

    I guess she said some thing that made you feel finally you know what is going on with you.Recommend

  • unknown

    Thank you author…Recommend

  • https://twitter.com/Pugnate Noman Ansari

    Sorry, I know I am posting a lot here, but aside from prayer, meditation can be a huge help. There are a lot of meditation centers in Pakistan that provide help for free. Meditation isn’t dependent on religion. At the meditation center I went to in Karachi, the majority were of Muslim backgrounds.

    Using meditation to learn the skill of emptying your mind of ‘waste thoughts’ is a powerful weapon. For those who haven’t tried it, give it a shot. Recommend

  • Insaan

    Author “A young woman B this week who had no idea she was suffering from postpartum depression after having a baby….. I inquired if she was feeling alright and the floodgates opened on how ill she was.”

    Postpartum depression is some thing totally different from garden variety depression. Most people who are close to the woman suffering from postpartum depression know there is some thing wrong with that woman. Such women need to be seen by a psychiatrist. Advice does not work with them.

    Her depression may have nothing to do with the birth of a baby, because her family have not noticed any strange behavior.Recommend

  • VOC

    @the author

    Awesome article I must say. Being someone who has also experienced severe depression and ocd, I know how it feels. You have described it quite well.

    My two cents: doctors and medicines do help. But the real victory against depression and other mental issues comes through self talk and will power. Talk to yourself. Talk to your inner soul. Make it your motto to stay happy no matter what.
    Align your heart, body, mind and soul. Happiness comes from the inside my friend. Learn to appreciate the way life is. Adapt to it. Make an effort to get what u want. But don’t get discouraged or depressed.

    Also can you point out what are those things that you want to acheive in life but have been unable to do so? Its ok if u don’t wanna answer. If you answer the question maybe people reading it can offer sincere advice.Recommend

  • Depressed Soul

    Nobody understands depression better than me…
    Born to parents who were more concerned to make a money minting machine out of me than understand me
    Beaten, and humiliated by parents. Had troubles with bullies at school.. Friends who betrayed me… Luck that plays with me….

    I’m not sure how long I have suffered in my 27 years of miserable life…

    This taught me one thing.. Those who commit suicide aren’t cowards because you actually need a bit of strength to convert those ever coming thoughts to actions…

    I never consulted a shrink or took tablets because nothing can save you after damage is done. Nor do I like others giving me advice which I already know but the only way to solve is build a time machine

    I’m not fighting depression… I just accepted it as part of my life… Like a cripple accepting that he has to live with his malformed legs…Yes it hurts especially just before you go to sleep but I’m fighting it dailyRecommend

  • Citizen

    Thank you for sharing your story, for breaking a social stigma that we Pakistanis hate to admit. The lack of education pertaining such conditions is what leads to the development of a frivolous attitude towards diseases that could, and have already taken many people’s lives. I hate to repeat this over and over again, but EDUCATION is the ONLY SOLUTION to such issues, and collectively as a society we must work to educate each other, not just rely on governmental help and support. Your article is an example of a step forward. Now we must make further steps towards our goal of a healthy, balanced, educated society.

    Another notice to all readers, STOP shaping people’s lives around marriage offers! This is one of the main causes of our society’s collective downfall.Recommend

  • Reza

    Courageous candour! Should be helpful to many. Recommend

  • boredboy

    I am sorry for judging you when i worked with you…as i did not know of your depression ( assuming you had it in the past 3 yrs too) … i still maintain that i learnt about journalism from you and your work…i pray that you have a blessed life and keep on inspiring people, both personally and professionally… :) cheersRecommend

  • John

    Thanks Mahim. Great words. I like your honesty.Recommend

  • NP

    Thank you for talking about depression and mental health, and sharing your experience. This is a subject that too many people in Pakistan are afraid or ashamed to talk about. There desperately needs to be more openness and understanding on mental health issues.Recommend

  • Syeda Jafri

    Extremely helpful article. Thanks a lot. God Bless youRecommend

  • Sara T

    Wonderfully written. I must say, a lot of people don’t have the courage to talk about these things and you made quite a bold move. God Bless.Recommend

  • shahida kazi

    We need more articles like this.I am sure it must have helped many people.Recommend

  • leftist

    Great Work Mahim :-)… The best thing to ward of depression was to write a blog on it… and let your feelings and sufferings out… your blog would definitely convince anyone suffering from depression to see the doctor for treatment… continue to write more…

    cheersRecommend

  • Fahad

    How can i ever thank you for writing such an encouraging and well written article. That surely helped me think about getting appointment from a doctor rather than feeling worse all the time.. can only hope i can get curedRecommend

  • Asjad

    Takes courage to write such a thing I guess.Well I could say that I havent felt depressed for much longer than a week. Anybody who is reading this, as 3 Idiots taught you…make a fool out of your heart…All is well..Recommend

  • Ilmana Fasih

    @Depressed Soul:
    Hi I know you don’t like recommendation, but being a medical professional who has seen women being able to overcome chronic depression after decades, and saying it changed their lives….so I cant help but suggest, give yourself a chance. All the past trauma can’t be undone, but the hurt that it creates will instead help you regain strength.
    I totally agree, suicide is not cowardice. It takes a reasonable courage to take one’s life, but for some depressed, these thoughts are uncontrollable.Recommend

  • Mr. Lonely

    Our people (may be not all but most of them) don’t encourage psychiatrist because of the stereotypical reasons.
    My depression got worse when I kept ignoring it. I started digging some basic information on the qualified psychiatrists and eventually payed a visit to one of them. The medication costed me a few Ks per month but to be honest, it really did make a difference.
    It got my high blood pressure back to normal… Which I couldn’t do with the medications that I have been taking for months prior to my visit to the psychiatrist. That doesn’t mean I was taking wrong medication, that just means that the core reason behind my high bp was the depression.

    And yes, you are right. My anti-depressants weren’t addictive at all. I know that because I haven’t been taking them for a while now. I wanted to check if I could live normally without them and I am glad I got the positive results.
    Nowadays, I am still looking for a strict therapy session, so that I can learn to take care of myself in a better way.Recommend

  • samira liaquat

    BRAVO! First of all I must say thank you to her for such a wonderful blog ,full of information and very thought provoking. I have learned a lot out of it as my personal requirement. Its very true that its us who has to take care of ourselves no body even bother to take a pain so please consider yourself important and understand the worth of your life , take initiatives for your betterment which is only possible by giving yourself a time -a moment alone to discover yourself. Once you start finding problem or issues you will have a better solutions.
    Please keep writing your personal experiences which is difficult but really helpful for people out there.Recommend

  • Mushtaque Rajpar

    Article and follow up comments show the web is alive & more itneractive, serious, interesting, relevant and important stuff gets attention somewhere else, in blogs, not in so called mainstream.

    Indeed great peice Mahim. Recommend

  • Batini

    I’m depressed after reading your eloquent piece.Recommend

  • ramsha kohati

    How very helpful this was. It was something I needed to read. Thank you so much for sharing this.Recommend

  • I-can-so-relate

    By chance i came across this blogpost and there are definitely somethings I can relate to so well, that indeed it becomes impossible to make people understand. I have had similar responses from well-wishers telling me to be grateful, that I had everything, which made me even more depressed since I couldn’t figure out whether if people were in situation that were far worse off than mine, was I really in fact being ungrateful. Prayer has helped clear my mind at times, but my crises have been really similar as well. This led to having persistent anxiety at times that I couldnt shake off, no matter how many times I went out for coffee with friends. I am glad to see someone can write about it. Otherwise its just going to be a taboo, and many more like us will just suffer in silence as wellRecommend

  • Milind

    @ Madam – Can you try Yoga & meditation (provided your religious preferences allow you)?

    This results are slow but permanent & long-lasting…. In fact Yoga, (mantra) meditation coupled with India’s natural Ayurvedic therapy is holistic and a good alternative to allopathy (which mostly addresses the symptoms in this case, with side-effects.)

    I myself have experienced it… Didn’t have depression, but used to get bored quickly. Yoga & meditation cured all my negative emotions (anger, boredom)
    My 2 cents…Recommend

  • just saying

    Mahim thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. I look back at my life and see all the times I was actually depressed and did not do anything about it. Your article is an eye opener.Recommend

  • satram sangi

    Dear writer,
    It is very vital, important and healthy blog. I learn t lot of… really brilliantRecommend

  • Mahim Maher

    Dear everyone, thank you for the feedback. I just need to clarify that I am not currently depressed and as I state early on in the piece, I’ve had a long break from it. I wrote this for the people out there who are currently depressed. MMRecommend

  • I am a Khan

    @Depressed Soul:

    You will feel fine InshaAllah. No condition is permanent in this world. The happy days end and the sad days also end. after every dark night there is a dawn and then bright sunshine. If I ever feel depresed, I try to change my surroundings for a while ie going on a holiday or visiting places which I liked going to as a child, like the seaside, the zoo, the museum, etc

    @Mahim Maher:

    Nice insightful article. One thing I would like to add is that whenever anyone feels depressed, they should wake up the child in them. and try experiencing things that they really enjoy, be it a simple thing like having ice cream, or chocolates or buying a new dress. That keeps your mind contented that you have achieved something you like, and hopefully reduces depression and/or anxiety. Recommend

  • I am a Khan

    @Milind:

    I respect your thoughts, but if Yoga would have cured depression, you would have nil depression in India. Depression is a state of the brain not feeling contented and happy. If you put more pressure on your brain like sitting in a certain posture for a period of time or ‘telling’ your brain to relax and not think of anything, it can make your brain even more tense. The best thing is to do or get something which you enjoy and it diverts your brain from its depressed state. For example, a simple thing like learning to drive and then going on long drives or going shopping can reduce depression and divert a tense and depressed brain. Recommend

  • mokh

    What an excellent and honest piece of writing-it is set out with clarity and I hope will be published in other places as well as the blogs page to allow the maximum number of people to learn about depression and how to deal with it.Thank you very much for writing this Mahim-by the way it is also an exceptionally well crafted article irrespective of the topicRecommend

  • Milind

    @I am a Khan

    if Yoga would have cured depression, you would have nil depression in India. ”

    There are few reasons
    1. Everybody expects quick results and Yoga may or may not yield quick results, hence most people drop off.
    2. Folks don’t do it the right way and the practice doesn’t yield the right results (due to lack of qualified teachers).
    3. It was ignored since this was seen as a native/old man’s/unfashionable exercise. As with everything else, folks in India are now starting embracing it after the West confirmed it (our fascination and blind adorance of the West never ceases).
    4. Depression can occur due to psychological reasons (trauma, conflicting emotions, experiences, irrational fears lodged in our psyche) or anatomical reasons (lack of certain chemicals, neurotransmitters in the brain). Depression due to the earlier causes can be healed by Yoga, meditation, pranayama (energy breathing). Depression due to later causes can also be cured, since it helps rewire the brain and due to the fact that our mind and body are connected and affect each other. Yoga works directly on the psyche and subconscious of an individual, eradicates ‘bad’ or ‘unnatural’ and conflicting thoughts/emotions, calms the mind, restores balance, puts us in touch of our real selves, our subtle energies.

    In fact Yoga is being embraced widely in the Western world (around 16 million practice this in U.S. alone) for the same reasons ( depression, materialism or physical disorders etc.)

    One has to read the story and interview of Matthew Sanford who was asked to ‘forget his lower body’ after an accident left him a paraplegic. His life was restored (though no fully cured) by Yoga.

    Yoga definitely helps – This is from my personal experience and not second hand info.Recommend

  • kanwal

    @depressed soul
    I have seen a couple of people like you. They were girls and they were in a slightly differents contexts than you, may be even deeper troubles too. Both have overcome it now. Both are successful ladies. My point is, why not enjoy life while you can? This is what i learnt from them. Kick the world in the butt and live your life the way you like. Whoever loves you, will join you in it. The rest are good riddance. Recommend

  • Clinpsych

    I agree with most of the things you stated in your piece (which was wonderful and candidly insightful, by the way) but you forgot to mention the issue of tolerance. Tolerance refers to the state when a patient’s neural network adapts to the neurotransmitter influx caused by a particular drug. When this happens the drug loses its efficacy and the only way forward is to move towards a more powerful dosage. Eventually however, with prolonged usage, the body adapts to even this dosage and the cycle continues until finally the person becomes solely dependent on the drug and cant get off (David Foster Wallace is a famous example of this). Patients need to be aware about these risks of prolonged usage as well.Recommend

  • thedarkshadow

    An excellent blog on Tribune after a long time. Kudos to you for coming out in the open and talking about it. It’s just that in our society when someone talks about visiting a neuro or psychiatrist they are labeled as wackos. There is nothing which can’t be cured. All the very best for your future!Recommend

  • Dr Zak

    Hi Mahim

    Thank you for writing such an honest article to enlighten the people of pakistan regarding depression. I am a psychiatrist currently working in the UK but have my roots in Karachi, Pakistan . I have been trying for quite some time to talk about psychiatry to people I meet from that part of the world but very rarely do I get a positive response other than ‘”you are a doctor catering to crazy people”. I am glad that you can approach the masses and inform them in such a way that actual may get them to ponder over this issue and do something about it rather than to struggle through such an enduring illness as they are so many treatment options both pharmacologically as well as therapeutically.

    Keep up the good work and please feel free to ask me any questions regarding depression or psychiatry in general would be a pleasure to help. Also if you were to undertake any programmes regarding awareness of Psychiatry in Pakistan please do let me know I would be more than willing to participate.

    Best WishesRecommend

  • Sab33N

    very helpful article. I suffer from sever bouts of depression and I have been advised my my GP to see someone whenever i am ready. I was skeptical that it will help considering that my depression is caused by factors not in my control but after going through your blog i think it would make sense to see someone .. I do agree with you that people who commit suicides are not cowards because it takes real courage to take one’s own life .. but i guess it is a decision of one split second.Recommend

  • http://truthman30.wordpress.com/author/truthman30/ truthman

    I find this article misleading. Having suffered depression and being prescribed the psychiatric drug – Seroxat- at one time, I do understand the issues very well- but I disagree on the safety of medications such as Seroxat to treat depression. Firstly, Seroxat is a drug which has been under a firestorm of controversy for 15 years. Seroxat is notorious for a withdrawal syndrome which can be an utter nightmare fore some people. To say they are ‘not addictive’ is misleading because people can become dependent on them and there is a psychical withdrawal syndrome therefore in they have got some addictive qualities. The side effects are also awful on Seroxat- loss of libido, profuse sweating, mania, suicidal thoughts, aggression – to name but a few. They are also linked to birth defects. These are far from safe options for depressed people- and it saddens me that the truth about them continues to be glossed over. Recommend

  • Batool Fatima

    Excellent article ! you have a great Job for raising awareness. Keep writing and keep sharingRecommend

  • http://hotmail Amna Arshad

    The most important thing is how someone could ever understand that he or she is in depression? WE always find some reasons and answers for failures and UN-fulfilled-desires we have in our lives..MAHIM MAHER actually did a great work by writing a blog on this very important but unluckily unnoticed problem of our society..Living in a country were economical,social,law and order situation is as worst as ever could imagine! HOW CAN WE GIVE A LITTLE THOUGHT TO TREATMENT OF DEPRESSED FEELINGS WE HAVE IN OUR SCARED HEARTS? Ultimately we let it go as it is … and definitely this is the sole reason why our nation lags behind in constructive works and accept corrupt politicians with all there cruelty and hypocrisy again and again.. sadly we people become ADDICTS of our DEPRESSIONS.. Recommend

  • Insaan

    @Clinpsych: Eventually however, with prolonged usage, the body adapts to even this dosage and the cycle continues until finally the person becomes solely dependent on the drug and cant get off

    Prolonged use occurs because so called professionals fail to change the behavior of the patients, making patients more and more dependent on drugs by increasing dosages or changing drugs. Some time placebo can be as effective as a drug for treatment of depression. I have a feeling this is true for many psychological illnesses excluding ones that have psychotic symptoms.

    I just read this statement from director of NIMH, USA.
    Mild depression tends to improve on placebo so that the difference between antidepressant use and placebo effect is very small, or at times, absent. In more severe forms of depression, antidepressants show greater efficacy. Recommend

  • Insaan

    @Depressed Soul: “I never consulted a shrink or took tablets because nothing can save you after damage is done. Nor do I like others giving me advice which I already know but the only way to solve is build a time machine I am not fighting depression… I just accepted it as part of my life… Like a cripple accepting that he has to live with his malformed legs…Yes it hurts especially just before you go to sleep but I’m fighting it daily”

    Easiest things to do in this world is to give advice to others. Most difficult thing in this world is to take advice from others.

    Every one basically thinks he/she knows more then most people he/she knows.

    “I know every thing” is a hindrance to changing oneself.

    I have a feeling most people who suffer from depression are likely to have higher IQ.

    If one can accept some thing, it should not bother them as much. You still fighting it daily.

    Listen to good music before yo go to sleep. Use headphone if you have one.

    What damage is done? when you playing music, check your feet mentally, relax them? Check all parts of your body, one by one to see if anything is damaged. Your brain is not damaged.Recommend

  • Insaan

    @Mr. Lonely: I wanted to check if I could live normally without them and I am glad I got the positive results.

    That is key…….you focused on some thing different, rather then looking for symptoms of stopping your medication. Recommend

  • http://no Irfan Ali

    Thank u Doctor Mahim. We too had been your patient at the DT. I think everyone needs to refer to psychiatrists. No harm in it. Thank u for sharing it. Recommend

  • Hindu Meditation

    Try learning the sudarshan kriya taught by the art of living foundation. They have centers in pakistan.Recommend

  • Mahvish

    I liked your overall article and the message it sends but please don’t say “people who are too chicken to commit suicide.” That can send a very dangerous message.Recommend

  • Insaan

    @I-can-so-relate: This led to having persistent anxiety at times that I couldnt shake off, no matter how many times I went out for coffee with friends.

    You went out but your mind stayed with the same thoughts, same fears. Every one has fear(s). Public Speaking is number one fear, Fear of death is number 3.

    Your anxiety will leave you once you over come things you fear.

    Did you have a bad childhood?

    If some one feels they want to share something anonymously, they can email me [email protected].Recommend

  • gp65

    @Author :
    Refreshing candour and honesty.

    Other readers:

    The standard well meaning advice of ‘snap out of it’ is really not very helpful. There is nothing to be ashamed of. It is indeed strange that we would not hesitate to take medication if we had high blood pressure or cholesterol or were diabetic but are scared to treat depression. The truth is depression is an illness just like all the others. Except that unlike the other illnesses where the patient is the only sufferer, when you are depressed your loved ones too suffer. SO do yourself and your loved ones a favour and get help if you need it.Recommend

  • Mahim Maher

    A few clarifications – when I said too chicken to commit suicide, I meant too scared to do it even if you really ‘feel’ like it. I was not belittling it by using the idiom, just trying to lighten the mood. I write like that. There are people who get stuck in that hellish place – that was for them. Trying to kill yourself is a complicated issue and I’m not qualified to say much more on it. I’ve been around people who have attempted it several times. There is nothing more fun than having to mop blood off the floor or hold a flap of flesh up to stem the bleeding because they’ve slit their throat.
    As for Seroxat and all medication you have to work with your psychiatrist to figure out what works for you. What applied to me can’t apply to you. I used Seroxat which gave me terrible hunger pangs if you skipped it a day. And in general. I ate like a horse. Then came along Seroxat CR which is delayed release into your bloodstream and I have had a very successful experience with it. You have to ask your doctor for information and do your own research.Recommend

  • ptr

    @Depressed Soul:
    Same here’ but instead of blaming seek some help’ as in the end you are the one who’s suffering not anyone else’ Recommend

  • zk

    I salute your courage. You have helped a lot of women.
    And on being single: Don’t let that get to you. Keeep fighting!! Love youuuuRecommend

  • http://twitter.com/bohotsaara Sarah B. Haider

    Brilliant and very courageous!Recommend

  • Insaan

    @zk: And on being single: Don’t let that get to you. Keeep fighting!! Love youuuu

    Well married people have problems too. Many women get abused by their husbands and their families. Many people divorce, it can be specially hard if a woman has kids to take care off. People who have little money have problems, people who have millions of dollars have problems. Michael Jackson had all the money in the world but needed drug injections to go to sleep. Elvis Presley died of drug overdose. Marilyn Monroe committed suicide, every man thought she was the most beautiful woman.

    There are different ways of looking at a situation, but when we are depressed we look at only one way again and again and feel more and more miserableRecommend

  • Insaan

    Author says “I get anxiety, high levels of anxiety, about my parents dying, me staying single for the rest of my life, not being able to financially support myself.”

    Every ones parents die. If you think about it every day, do you think you can prolong their lives. If you think it all the time, you just going to be very anxious, but it will not change anything.

    Or you can think, life and death is in God’s hand, let me do the best I can for my parents.

    You choose to think “staying single for life” instead on working to find a friend/husband. There are many men looking and thinking the same as you.

    You may or may not be able to support yourself financially, but you choose to focus “what if not being able to support yourself, why not work your financial conditions. If you have house, you can have paying guests.

    Star a group where depressed people come and share their latest happenings. People just talk about what good happened and bad things. NO ONE WILL GIVE ADVICE OR SAY THAT HAPPENED TO ME. Say something positive about that person which is TRUE.Recommend

  • Insaan

    @Ilmana Fasih: medical professional who has seen women being able to overcome chronic depression after decades, and saying it changed their lives

    How did they do it? medication, psychotherapy, playing with their grand kids, watch soap operasRecommend

  • http://www.usamarehman.blogspot.com Mohammad Usama

    Full marks to the Writer!!
    this is one of the most informative and motivating blogposts i have had come across, its worth a read!
    much better than the people like to write to earn themselves fake, useless recommendations!! Recommend

  • GIndian

    @I am a Khan,
    Based on what I read, a depressed person is unable to find pleasure in the activities he used to enjoy before. Their pleasure circuit in the brain is totally messed up. and you cannot will yourself out of clinical depression. Clinical depression is a kind of brain disease. The term ‘depression’ is misleading as it tend to trivialize this disease. Yoga can help to lessen the symtoms (or cure in some instances) of mild depression, but moderate to major depression requires professional help. You can google Yoga and GABA. Yoga elevates the level of anti-anxiety neurotransmitter called GABA. The activities you mentioned like shopping or driving might help in some cases, but the key is to take some action in the first place. Jogging or running works for some people.
    Also google ‘tibetan monk brain happiness’. There have been serious scientific studies done on the brains of Tibetan monks. In the US FDA approved a new technique called Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, which can instantly treat treatment resistant severe depression. Always keep an open mind. The medical technology is getting better day by day.Recommend

  • Insaan

    @GIndian: Based on what I read, a depressed person is unable to find pleasure in the activities he used to enjoy before. Their pleasure circuit in the brain is totally messed up. and you cannot will yourself out of clinical depression. Clinical depression is a kind of brain disease. The term ‘depression’ is misleading as it tend to trivialize this disease. Yoga can help to lessen the symtoms (or cure in some instances) of mild depression, but moderate to major depression requires professional help. You can google Yoga and GABA. Yoga elevates the level of anti-anxiety neurotransmitter called GABA. The activities you mentioned like shopping or driving might help in some cases, but the key is to take some action in the first place. Jogging or running works for some people.
    Also google ‘tibetan monk brain happiness’. There have been serious scientific studies done on the brains of Tibetan monks. In the US FDA approved a new technique called Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, which can instantly treat treatment resistant severe depression. Always keep an open mind. The medical technology is getting better day by day.Recommend

  • I am a Khan

    @GIndian:

    Well to each person is their own way of thinking. I actually lived with an Indian Guy who was my flat mate. He used to practice Yoga. One day he had a very severe head ache and I had to call the ambulance. The Doctors did his scan and results identified that his brain had suffered damage due to some yoga exercises of standing upside down on the head for several minutes which he did regularly for several years!Recommend

  • Insaan

    @GIndian: Their pleasure circuit in the brain is totally messed up. and you cannot will yourself out of clinical depression. Clinical depression is a kind of brain disease. The term ‘depression’ is misleading as it tend to trivialize this disease.

    I just searched net for clinical depression, I found an article by a psychiatrist who works at Mayo clinic. According to him clinical depression can be helped with psychotherapy alone or psychotherapy and drugs in some cases.

    Psychotherapy can not fix “pleasure circuit”. I don’t know where you get the idea of pleasure circuit being messed up. Our thoughts change our body chemistry temporarily.

    Body and mind work together. For example depression/anxiety can make one tense, cause body ache and various other physical symptoms. Doing physical things like yoga, jogging, exercises can help by helping you feel better physically there by mentally too.

    a new technique called Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation….I checked….it helps 50% of depressed people and 1/3rd go back to their old ways, according to one clinical study.

    Any therapy to be effective for long has to help change the patient’s way of life.

    Studies have shown sugar pills (placebo) are as effective as many drugs used to treat mild depression. When new drugs are tested one group or people get real medicine and the other group gets pills that look like real medicine but have no real medically active chemical in it.
    This also shows there is no circuit problem.

    MIND plays most important role is psychological problems (with exception of psychosis). One’s imagination can be one’s best friend or one’s worst enemy.

    There is no blood test or neurological test to determine “clinical depression”.

    I am not a professional or expert in this. This is just how I look at this subjectRecommend

  • Insaan

    @Sab33N: .. I do agree with you that people who commit suicides are not cowards because it takes real courage to take one’s own life ..

    Real courage is to fight imaginary fears that want you to end life.
    Life is not a piece of cake for any human being, every one has problems.Recommend

  • GIndian

    Insaan,

    I agree with some of your points. There is no magic quick fix for depression as each person is different. It is said that a depressed person is less inclined to engage in any physical activity. Yoga can reduce the chances of relapse once a person get cured of the disease and mind body practices like yoga, pilates, Tai chi etc. can also reduce (not eliminate) the chances of getting it in the first place. Our society tend to ostracize the person who get mentally ill. The social support system is not there. Depression to some extend originate from irrational and out of proportional pessimistic thinking. There is a wonderful book written by Martin Seligman about the topic Learned optimism. It is a good read.Recommend

  • annie

    I am depressed. Went to a psychologist. Didn’t help much. Maybe because i just went 3 times. She was too expensive and i didn’t really have faith in her ability to help me and i couldn’t take time out from being a stay at home mother. Don’t want to take anti depressants because they might make me fat. So I guess i am just living through each day becoming more and more hopeless.Recommend

  • Insaan

    @GIndian: There is a wonderful book written by Martin Seligman about the topic Learned optimism. It is a good read.

    Your explanation definitely makes more sense now. I saw a video lecture of Martin Seligman on youtube, I am impressed by his views about life. Thanks for sharing.Recommend

  • Insaan

    @annie: Can you repeat it 10 times every night before you go to sleep “I am not depressed, I am just not happy”.

    Try to watch some videos by professionals on the subject on the Internet. Listen to good music. Did your problem start when you were in your teens? Recommend

  • http://steve-finnell.blogspot.com Steve Finnell

    WORRY?

    A wise man once said “WORRY IS A PRAYER TO THE WRONG god.”

    Worry results when we think we can handle our problems without God’s help.

    It is a mistake to think we can handle the small problems and let God deal with the major worries. Small worries can mushroom into major proportions without relying on God’s assistance!

    WORRY IS A PRAYER TO THE WRONG god!

    Recommend

  • Ginger Ray

    “SOME LIES PEOPLE TELL YOU”, i was nodding to every single word in that section!

    However, there remains one grave issue, ignorance of those around you. family, friends et all refuse to recognize this as a “real” problem!

    It is good to have a doctor, a professional to help you out, but its even more comforting when family and friends comprehend your problem.Recommend

  • http://www.handle-depression.com Mark Myhre

    Depression is contagious and hanging around with people who are depressed can be hard if you allow yourself get sucked into it. I try to maintain my own happy attitude
    and if it doesn’t wear off on the other person, or they continuously lament about their life and try to make me see it their way, I’m outta there for awhile. I have a
    few people in my family suffering from various levels of depression and I spend more time with them when they are receptive to losing their depression than if they
    just want to wallow in it. Yes, depression is contagious….besense of well-being’.Recommend

  • ptr

    The overwhelming number of comments show that lots of people are depressed in Pakistan!Recommend

  • http://www.sadhappymad.me/ Kat Leigh

    “I can be grateful and depressed” ~ This, exactly. I tell people this and they look at me like I have three heads.

    Just because I have depression doesn’t mean I’m not grateful, it doesn’t mean that I don’t love my family, it doesn’t even mean that I’m necessarily unhappy. Depression is complicated. I am more than my symptoms. Recommend

  • danielle

    I have suffered from depression now since I was 4 years old and at 33 I still haven’t found away of stopping the depression and anxiety from rearing it ugly head on a weekly basis i’m the typical father left mother struggled, I had a baby at 17 thinking it would help as someone would finally love me but even though I love both my children more than life I cant find the strength sometime to even get out of bed, 3 years ago I had a full nervous break down and they where the only thing that stopped me doing something stupid to myself, after finally asking for help I got counselling and put on medication which I am now off but everyday I cant get motivated as life is slow with nothing to do, even though I have got throw these slumps before I am really feeling it now and the 12 steps are not helping Recommend