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How to Beat Depression

“You are either moving forward, or you are deteriorating.”

-Ayn Rand

“[On depression] Life is like a chess game. Sometimes you have to fail 30 times before you succeed ONCE.”

-A friend of mine

Depression is often a huge part of quitting Adderall. Most people know that creation and productivity is good, and that idleness and sloth is bad, so when you temporarily strip yourself of your ability to produce, you understandably feel worthless for a while.

The two key points to remember about post-Adderall depression are: 1. It can help you keep moving and 2. It is not permanent.

You must constantly fight your depression. Do not let it take you. A great philosopher once said “you are either moving forward, or you are deteriorating”. Remember that and live by it.

Step 1: Identify Depression Triggers

For most people, depression does not occur randomly, even though it feels random sometimes. You’ll feel like “oh, now I’m depressed again…out of nowhere”, but if you look closely, you can trace most bouts of depression back to a cause or a combination of causes.

Here are some examples of depression triggers

1. Direct triggers: Your ex calls and tears your heart out, unknowingly kicking you while you were already down. You were having an alright day but now you feel like total shit…and every negative thing starts piling up…you start spiraling downwards.

The Antidote: When you get a direct deperession trigger, remember that this bout of depression is just about the trigger event. Don’t let your brain invite all of these other horrible thoughts into the mix. Keep yourself focused on the one thing that triggered the depression.

Direct triggers can be avoided if they have a consistent source. For example, if half of your conversations with your ex girlfriend/boyfriend end in your severe depression, don’t talk to them for a while, or have one difficult conversation to put yourself on better terms with them.

2. The un-epiphany: You suddenly realize something that totally blows. Maybe a memory hits you and you suddenly understand the full, terrible implications of it. Or maybe you realize that a current effort is going to be much more difficult that you originally thought.

The Antidote:  The most depressing thing about un-epiphanies is that you feel helpless to do anything about them at first. The instant you figure out something you can do to address or accept the facts revealed by the un-epiphany, you depression about it will start to go away. That’s the key with un-epiphanies:  Find out what you can do about it and start doing it.

3. Culmination events: Sometimes all the little fears and doubts that nip at your heels every day will build up to fever pitch and body-slam you. Then you must fight them off before you can stand up again. Sometimes that takes days or weeks.

The Antidote: Culmination depression is like an evil potion, made up of a slew of painful ingredients. The key is to make the depression potion less toxic by cancelling out the ingredients one by one. Put literally: The only cure for a culmination event is either to shove it back down (it will come back later) or make significant movement on your goals…towards being a better, happier, more accomplished person….towards shutting one of those negative voices up once and for all.

Step 2: Develop Your Own Anti-Depression Tactics

The name of the game with fighting depression is Change your Mind. You have to figure out ways to trigger a mood shift, like your own natural antidepressant. Most tactics involve distracting yourself, or throwing your brain into a different, happier, more productive perspective.

Here are some examples of anti-depression tactics…

Go to work: Even if your job sucks, it still forces you to act rationally and keep your chin up for appearances sake. This is why it’s important for depressed people to fill their life with some obligations. Obligations, though stressful, can keep you sane and moving by default.

Go run an errand (go outside): Depression tries to keep you indoors, isolated in your cave with your worries. Sometimes breaking the cycle is as easy as stepping outside or taking a drive, even to do something mundane like going to get groceries.

For the love of God, get the fuck out of bed: You’ll be tossing and turning under the covers, telling yourself that nothing is possible, and from that position, nothing is.

The depression nap: Let the depression carry you to bed, kill a couple hours of the day, then wake up and reset. Make sure you have something to do when you wake up or your funk will continue. Note that this doesn’t work if your depression has lasted longer than a day.

Force yourself to hit bottom: Sometimes you’re expending so much effort trying to fight the depression and you know you’re losing the battle. Then you hit bottom, and you start climbing up again. If all else fails, dive, dive, dive. Until you crash. Then rebuild. Note that this is painful and should only be a worse-case tactic.

Small moves on your goals: You’ve heard me say else where on this site that “A success per day keeps the depression at bay”. I’m a huge believer in this. When the depression voice calls you a failure, succeed, and silence it. You have no idea how small a success it can take some time. Hell, sometimes just cleaning your room will do the trick. Other times it will take something bigger like submitting a job application.

Face festering problems: Sometimes you can use your depression to move yourself radically forward crazy acts of desperation. When you’re in medium-spirits, it can be scary to send a job application in that you really care about. When you’re wallowing in misery, you can say “fuck it something pull me out of this” and click the button with your last breath. You can also redirect your depression into physically productive tasks like “move crap out of old house” when you don’t feel like doing anything mental.

Google your fears: So much of what the depression voices say is a lie; truth can often be the antidote. If the source of your depression is worry, do some research. Google your fears and more often than not you’ll feel better afterwards.

Step 3: Avoid Depression Accelerators

For all the activities that help you beat and conquer depression, certain activities will make your depression worse. Here are some examples.

Drinking Alcohol: Using alcohol to escape an emotion is a dangerous slippery slope. It’s terribly easy for this response to depression to become habitualized. Even if it helps you feel better for an hour or two , you’re pre-screwing the next 24 hours of your life. Being depressed and drinking alcohol pretty much garuntees that you will be depressed when you wake up the next day hung over.

“Fuck it” mentality: Do not let go of all the noble things you have commited yourself to just because you’re angry at your depressed state.  Many professional organizations like NA and AA warn against the “fuck it” mentality, and rightly so. Doing this for more than one day will engender failure at things you were previously succeeding on…thus prolonging your depression.

Mental cutting: “Cutting” is the practice of physically cutting yourself. Teenage girls seem pretty into this these days, but it’s been around for a while as a psychological compulsion…long enough to be diagnosed, investigated, and treated. Having dated a cutter who was also a psych major (and thus could explain it to me in technical terms), I’ve learned that most people cut to feel alive. Some people do this in their brain. Especially depressed people. They bring up painful thoughts and memories because they are painful, like a cutter slicing into their arm. If this applies to you at all, you must stop. It’s totally abnormal and unhealthy for you to drag yourself down unnecessarily like that. Normal, healthy people do not think like that.

Evading big problems: You must make a habit of making small moves on your goals…you must make little successes frequently. If you let your problems linger and fester, they will grow so sore that they consume you. This is where Culmination Events come from (discussed above, under depression triggers).

Step 4: Condition your reaction to depression

The ultimate goal in fighting depression is to change your perspective as quickly as possible so that it naturally puts you in a happier, healthier, more productive mental state. The quickest way to do this is movement. Once you are aware of your depression triggers, and of the activities that help you fight them, then you must condition yourself to react to depression with your depression-fighting tactics, instead of wallowing in the crappy feelings.

You have to train yourself to recognize that depression is starting, and immediately take steps to beat it back and come out on top.

Step 5: Understand the natural purpose of depression

Depression has a natural place in the human mind. It is like pain. It lets you know when you are injured, and when you have a wound that needs to be treated.

Depression is a hunger…for movement, for fulfillment. Feed it.

Also: Do I need medication to fix my depression?

Why are you depressed? If you can list the reasons for your depression, be careful about jumping to medication too quickly, because your depression might be functional and, in a twisted way, healthy. In psychological terms, there is a difference between “reactive depression” and persistent depression. But the rule of thumb is: If the depression lasts more than 6 months, go see somebody.

16 Responses to “How to Beat Depression”

  1. Tyler says:

    This is a very inspirational site. I hope I can stop for real this time. I want to experience life again. So much easier said than done.

  2. Jason says:

    Thank you so much for all of this information I found you site after flushing my pills this morning. I have been really depressed and I will conquer that also! 🙂 Much love and god bless.

  3. Hi, i know how it is to suffer from a problem like this. I have been struggling from this since a few years with the normal ups and downs so i really know its not fun when you have a problem like this. At some website i found out some people were pretty happy about a pill they got from the internet and i also ordered it when i found those pills at – herbalhealingstore dot com -. So believe me, those herbals do work, you only have to get the good ones!

  4. Victoria72 says:

    I have once quit for 16 days. I have been on and off Adderall for almost two years. However, I HAVE to have Xanax to crash every night. Recenty, when I begin to crash, I drink to lessen the effects. But…with adderall, I don’t actually get “drunk.” It bit me in the ass hard last night. Last night I thought I was having a heart attack, I developed a rash on both sides of my neck. Itchy and subtle if I don’t scratch it. I took 50mg of the 20 generic oranges. Today,outside I took 40 mg and the rash has spread down own arm. doesn’t itch. ALSO….has ANYONE experienced major temperature changes in thier hands, especially inlfamed cuticles and knucles? I do! And I HATE it! Also, my skin is a constant batle with flakey shin and oily skin. My self esteem is non-existent and I have friend coming out of the wood worj trying to get me to give them a pill or two. Xanax can build mega fast tolerances so I have to monitor how often I take them saving them for a big dose at night so I don’t have to crash. Last month, I had a real desire to quit. My entire family knows. My husband picked a “below the belt” fight with me and we fought for 16 days straight. I cried and ate everyday. I also noticed my self-esteem coming back :0) I am 5’7″ and weigh 100. Obviously, it is an issue. What is with the temperature changes in my hands and red inflamed knuckles, now the rash, I also get a red nose and ears. Info??? I want that desire to quit again, however, I lasted 16 days and fought with my husband the entire time. One day, I gave up and refilled my script. HELP!!

  5. Mike says:

    Hi Victoria,

    Thanks for your comment. Actually, I’m not sure if this is related, but I had some trouble with circulation to my hands some years ago. My fingers/hands would get red and usually a little sweaty. I’m pretty sure (based on the research I did at the time) that it was a variation of Renault’s syndrome brought on by working in a stationary position, popping Adderall, and smoking upwords of 2 packs a day. Now that I exercise all the time and quit smoking/pills, I haven’t had the problem since.

    Besides that, a lot of your symptoms sound like overdose symptoms. Especially the rash…that’s listed under Adderall’s offical list of side effects as a “rare” side-effect. Note that you can usually make “rare” side effects less rare by upping your dose, which is what I think is happening in your case.

    As far as you quitting for 16 days and fighting with your husband every day of it, I don’t think that should drive you back to the pills. You and your husband sound like you have a lot of stuff you need to fight about (basing this on your other comment).

    Based on what you said about your husband’s own addictions, your 16 day quitting Adderall experience translates to me as: “all I did was eat and fight with my [addict] husband and start feeling my self esteem come back”…those are all rational, healthy things in your case.

    I wonder what would have happen — what could have changed — if you had kept going.

    Look, you said you’ve lost the desire to quit. Let me try to give it back to you. Your life sounds like it is in desperate need of dramatic change. From what I can tell, it sucks on a lot of different fronts. That is the absolute best possible time to make a big self-change like quitting Adderall. You know why? Because who gives a shit if your fucked-up life comes crumbling down…that’s not a problem; it’s a blessing. Your life — and your attitude towards it — are in sore need of what we in the software business call a “ground-up rewrite”, and you’ve got to tear it all apart before you can start piecing it back together.

    If you do not make a drastic change, where will your current course take you? If you keep up with your Adderall dosing, given your symptoms, I can guarantee you a trip to the hospital or two. I can guarantee you that all the things that suck and are painful about your life will only get more sucky and more painful if you keep feeding them with your begrudged tolerance.

    Quit again. Stick it out. For yourself. For your sanity. For your health. For the battles you need to fight to restore your husband and your marriage. For your kids and whatever happiness you are able to give them. For all that is salvageable and worth saving in a life so filled with trials.

    Find a way.

  6. Janelle says:

    Victoria,
    I am 25 days off the pills and drinking and smoking. I only feel at peace when I go to an AA or NA meeting. They’re free and they’re all around. The meetings only last an hour. Wether perscribed to us or not aderall is a narcotic and the fact that we want to quit and can not bring ourselves to do means that we are addicted and dependent on them. It kind of sucks to be sober, but not any more than it does to be depressed and tweeking. It also made my bones week. I took it for about 6 years. I dislocated my knee and sprained both of my ankles over a dozen times. Someone told me it eats your bone marrow from the inside out. I’m only 25. Imagine if I continued this abuse to my body…I would become quite a fragile old woman. Not to mention birth control, ciggarettes, drinking, and bad eating habbits increase my chances of stroke or heart disease enough as it is…now throw amphetamine abuse into the mix. I didn’t want to quit. I waited til I was at my bottom and prayed. I forced myself to go to NA. I only found support and hope there. Free counciling if you will. I still am struggling with depression and that’s what brought me to this site, but I am guilt free and healthy. I am listening to myself and not giving up. Living the way I was…it wasn’t living, you know. It was just another form of dieing. Destroying myself because I didn’t think I could do it. But you never know what you can handle or how strong you are until you push yourself. You do need support though.

  7. Man, I found this site and Im gonna try n be like Mike!!! I know Iall the devils he mentions well!! Too well. But I will remember tat Im really not a likeable person right now, I wll run u down like a bulldozer and I was never like that!! now thats something I can hold on to tight, I ave become so isolated. Price of becoming a speeed freak!. Wellits 6 am. i will crawl back tomorrow just so you know…maybe Im shaking, but Im stll in the game.{IHOPE!!}

  8. Jillian says:

    I want to quickly address Janelle (better late than never, right?) As someone struggling to quit Adderall once and for all, with a history of AA as well as xanax/klonopin…the xanax will keep you depressed. It’s just like alcohol in that regard (a ‘downer’). I’ve been taking klonopin (same thing) and before that xanax – for years. they leave you in a state of lethargy (tired, sluggish) and depression the day after you take them (and longer, sometimes). I’d recommend switching to serious work outs to fight the depression (that’s what I’m doing). Good luck!

  9. Victoria72 says:

    I am dumbfounded. I recently quit (again) Adderall and was successful for 58 days. I also quit taking Xanax, which was the single hardest thing I have ever done, and have been off of that for 54 days. I relapsed last Thursday and started taking Adderall again because I was getting scared of the weight I was gaining. I disregarded the fact that my family was thrilled with the “new” me and I was gaining my self esteem back and even FINALLY sleeping normally. I refilled my script and in the past 6 days have taken 17 30mg IR’s. Amazing how this stiff bites your can after about a year. Even after my sober days, it didnt take long for all of the negative side effects to come back. Again, remembering why I quit, I started looking through quitting and negative effect web sites looking for the fuel to quit again. I have saved this one so, before logging off, I looked through it again. I DO NOT remember posting the comment above. I even read it and couldnt believe the similarities to my own story until I realized I wrote it. I read the responses and am renewed. How sad I look to my own self. I was so far gone a year and a half ago and after fighting my way to last week, I almost let it slip away. Additionally, I had a doctor’s appointment for tomorrow to get Ambien. I know that if I do, I will simply be aiding my Adderall addiction. Thank you so much for responding and for reminding me how long I have suffered. Tomorrow, I am back on the wagon and I will continue to use this site as a compass to full recovery. Thank you!!!!

  10. Nate says:

    I’ve been on Adderalll since I was 13 or 14 years old or so. I’m 17, almost 18. I was diagnosed at age 10. It’s gotten nothing but worse. And I’ve been battling a bit of depression as well as mood swings… I also think the Adderall has produced a rash (no itch, not as much) on my right arm and right leg… I feel like I might have been misdiagnosed or something. I have really bad self esteem, and I have a fear of being left alone (I was bullied ALOT as a kid) and letting people down… Help?

  11. Anthony says:

    F@#% Adderall

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  13. Cat says:

    This is very, very awesome. I have been suffering from bouts of severe depression for years, which is how I ended up on Adderall, which makes it worse in the long run. Your thoughts here are excellent. I am printing this out and using it often and not just for Adderall-quitting depression. Small moves on goals is how I am getting anything done lately as I taper off this drug.

  14. Bianca says:

    Thank you for the kind words! All the content is my own, which means I can be ttuhrful and constructive. My only goal is to drive more attention to better healthcare and preventative care to improve the well being of my readers.

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