posts about me

How To Not Be Depressed

Why did I write this and why should you not be depressed

I’ve seen a lot of people being depressed or having symptoms of depressions these days. Some even take pride in it as it’s a status symbol. Most take it seriously.

But I don’t really think it’s a fruitful state to be in, no matter your intentions. It’s basically living, but at 20%. Gladly, for most people, this is fixable.

If you’re depressed because something horrible happened to you or that your living situation is truly horrible by most people’s standards, that might not necessarily be depression, but rather truly something you have to get out of.

Also, what am I about to say here might not make much sense if you’re still adolescent as the whole brain circuitry functions quite differently at that time, from personal experience.

Depression is most often a signal that something is wrong either with your body or with your environment. Here’s what do do with that signal.

1. Eat well, mostly vegetables, not too much

Common sense diets usually work pretty well here and everything extreme is most likely harmful in some ways. There are two main keys to be aware of here.

1.1 Caloric restriction

The first key is that you don’t want to eat too many calories as it tends to result in fat gain in your body. This makes vital parts of your body work less effectively. If you are at a small caloric restriction (i.e. eating less than you need to maintain your current weight), it results in a statistically higher lifespan, which is a bonus.

1.2 Nutritionally dense foods

The second key is to get as many micronutrients as possible given you have a limited amount of calories you can intake. Such nutrients are fuel for the body, and better fuel makes your body function more properly. This is commonly referred to as nutritional density. The most nutritionally dense foods tend to be garden vegetables that grow above the ground. Below the ground plants tend to be more starchy, resulting in higher calories, making it less nutritionally dense.

There isn’t a lot of research done on how different micronutrients affect your body, but there is hundreds of years of anecdotal evidence that the overall effect is positive. So eating lots of nutritionally dense foods is a shotgun method that works.

2. Exercise

Exercise has two main effects.

Firstly, it uses your body to a larger extent, making sure nutrients get around the body everywhere and no part of the body gets too stale, resulting in odd ilnesses. Human bodies are meant to be used.

Secondly, through using more energy and building muscle (that in turn uses more energy) you get to eat more food, resulting in more vital nutrients to be used across your body for various functions.

2.1 Cardio

With cardio your heart rate gets higher, resulting in more blood pumping through your organs and parts of the body. This is both good for nutrient delivery to parts of the body and also delivery of toxic or garbage away from e.g. inflammatory parts of the body. Also parts of your body get less “stale” and are used more, making heuristically for a better functioning machine of a body. There are dangers of overdoing cardio, but a couple of hours a week is definitely still healthy.

2.2 Strength training

With strength training you build muscle, strengthen ligaments, and in generally make parts of your body much stronger, making them more efficient to use. Muscle also protects organs from excess fat as muscle growth usually replaces existing fat.

Strength training also increases metabolic rate, increasing the number of calories burned per day, making the body more efficient and enabling you to eat more nutrients.

3. Get enough sleep

Sleep is an important part of being human. It helps you both digest information gathered over the day, optimize the brain and clean away garbage chemicals. If you don’t sleep, there’s a buildup of these toxins and you get horribly ineffective. But your body lets you know of this usually pretty strongly, unless you’re on caffeine or other stimulants.

It is important to sleep at the same time every day as the human body is very rythmic and pattern-driven. If your body expects you to fall sleep at 12 midnight, it also does that much more effectively and faster, resulting in a deeper sleep and more actually slept hours.

I have a personal heuristic how I build good sleep habits which I have not seen elsewhere, so I’ll write it down here as well in case it is of use to anyone. I call it the 12-9 rule: If I get to sleep before 12 PM, I get to sleep however long I want, but if I don’t, I must absolutely wake up latest 9 AM. This rule leaves room for parties that last past midnight, but keeps you in the pattern in the long run.

4. Have a social life

I don’t have a lot of knowledge on this aspect, but I know it’s important. Humans are social creatures. Without other people, life wouldn’t be the same. There is nothing to do alone in this world. We are evolutionally bound to socialize with other people.

If this is difficult, it is sometimes enough just to pick out one person you like (at least somewhat) and put care into talking to them.

Some people need much more than that, like to be frequently invited to parties and events and to be involved in everyone’s life in the social circle. Fortunately it also tends to come more naturally to these people.

Just make sure you’re not completely alone. PS: There are also therapy dogs!

5. Have a goal that you regularly advance towards

If you are depressed, it often means that you aren’t moving out of your situation. In order to move out of where you are right now to a place you want to be, you have to have set a goal for yourself, even a small goal, but an important one. Something you truly care about. And you have to regularly make advances towards it. As soon as you see yourself, with evidence you yourself provide, moving out of your current situation, this aspect of depression should dissapear.

If you don’t care about anything to set a goal about, try any of the points mentioned above here. Not caring about anything usually also indicates depression rather than you actually not caring. These things you care about can also be veiled under depression.

6. “Dopamine detox”

Sometimes the brain’s reward circuitry is too dependent on easily accessible bursts of dopamine. These bursts come from highly palatable foods (e.g. junk food), sex, caffeine, junk media, social media. The science behind it might not be super accurate (hence the quotes), but the effect is very real.

Having done the dopamine detox helps your brain reset to a state where the expectations of reward are back to normal, meaning that if you do actually useful things with your life, it might actually give you a strong jolt of joy by itself rather than having to resort to rewarding yourself with cake that blasts your dopamine receptors from orbit.

Okay, so how to actually do the detox? It is as simple as using your willpower (albeit limited) to avoid such activities for a certain period of time. You will feel the effects of it very fast if you’ve been “dopamine toxicated” for too long.

7. See a clinical psychologist and/or psychiatrist

You have tried the previous points. You either did them all and nothing changed. Or you have tried and it is still an impossible mountain to climb.

A psychologist might help with that. Recently there’s less stigma around consulting psychologists, and your job prospects are unlikely to suffer from that nowadays.

The psychologist usually knows what to do or can send you to a psychiatrist that has his/her own methods of dealing with your specific case. More often than not it involves prescribing antidepressants.

Sometimes it is just insanely difficult to pull yourself up by your bootstraps and need some extra help. It is a completely valid option to just try antidepressants like SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) to reset a big chunk of your brain chemistry to a state where you can actually perform the changes necessary to get back on track.

But it comes at a cost. I’ve heard some people being unable to take SSRIs at all, as it makes them too zombiefied. It also often makes you gain weight. It can also make you feel as if your soul is jailed away and you cannot feel anything with the same intensity as before. There are lots of potential issues you might get from SSRIs in particular, but they’re an absolutely amazing tool to actually solve the most important issue at hand - your depression. And whatever side-effects it has I’ve heard, seem to be all temporary, so there is little to nothing to lose here.

But there are lots of different ways of dealing with this issue clinically and usually if you want to get better, you will. It does not have to even involve any drugs, let alone SSRIs. It can involve safe therapies or different sort of antidepressants.

I think in the end it is the intent and belief in yourself that matters with the clinical path.

Some personal experience with anxiety

Even though I don’t think I’ve actually been depressed per se, I’ve had chronic anxiety that did not let me relax when I needed to rest. I always thought in the back of my mind what the reason could be, but I didn’t want to accept it.

I was just working from 9 to 5 and did not see a future where this lifestyle would provide me with anything that I truly want. I needed more than that, either something that replaces this lifestyle or adds to it somehow.

As soon as I managed to even half-ass a goal for myself that I could start working on, my anxiety dissapeared immediately. My anxiety just told me that I cannot sit in place and I have to be productive, not only at my day job.

Anxiety is often linked to depression, they’re like brothers. But some anxiety is good. Some depression… probably not. So beware, if you have anxiety instead.

Jordan Peterson - Advice For People With Depression

exurb1a - Misery was

Joe Rogan and Johann Hari - Depression Isn’t a Chemical Imbalance?