Managing your Life so as to Not Get Depressed (Addendum)

This is a continuation from the post I did on the 15 Jul 12, and adds in more partial fixes that seem to work. They are:

  1. Trance Music (Techno, EDM). Yes, truly. I have no idea why this works or even why it might work. But it seems to. I haven’t tested it yet, but this could have the best antidepressant potential of anything I’ve tried. Check it out if you can stand it.
  2. I’ve found the following items to enhance good moods – (a) cocoa, (b) cinnamon, (c) vanilla, (d) nutmeg. This is not an endorsement for eating 2 bars of chocolate a day – I’d recommend using cocoa and sweetening to taste. Otherwise, it doesn’t hurt to sprinkle any of these things on your beverages, or in food. And they seems to be scent based rather than taste based, so use them in a way that it can be smelled – hot chocolate, vanilla soy milk, cinnamon flavoured hot apple cider, a dusting of vanilla or nutmeg or cocoa or cinnamon on your coffee or cereal. Even scented candles work. If you consider this, be aware that most of these things come in sweet food, so be aware of your sugar intake.
  3. Pepper kind of works to increase moods. But pepper is like alcohol (for mania), it comes with so many side effects that it’s hard to recommend it. And too much pepper, apart from burning your mouth, will trigger mania like symptoms while the burn is on, which is not terribly helpful either.

Food
Apart from the above, food doesn’t seem to make any difference to how I feel –  my eating habits tend to follow my moods rather than causing them. So there is no particularly good eating pattern – just eat as healthily as you can following standard nutrition guidelines. Really, there is no magic food or fruit.

Sleep Deprivation
I’ve found that not getting enough sleep (about 4 hours or so) in a night triggers a manic mood the following day. Most of the time. It’s not a fully good thing – I’m also sleep deprived so for the first hour I act like an irritable zombie. A manic irritable zombie. But once I catch my stride, the day tends to fall into place, though by about 6-7 pm, I start feeling tired.

This only works if I am now heading into depression. It doesn’t work so well if I’m already depressed since the depression sleep patterns and moods tend to override the manic trigger.

How to use it – be aware of your moods and if you realise you are heading into depression, decide to stay up until 2 or so and get up the following morning at 6. Set your alarm or have someone wake you up (tell them you’ll be very grumpy). Do NOT go on the computer after 11.00 pm. Read or watch television. You can go out, but no more than 3 beers – sleep deprivation plus hangover plus mania really are not a good combination. And of course you have to be careful the following day and make sure to not act on any manic tendencies. But it can be used to head off an impending depression episode, at least for a while.

Exercise

Exercise is a complicated one. As far as I can tell, exercise doesn’t seem to stop me from getting depressed. However, if I am doing a good exercise routine, I feel good about how I look and about myself generally. So although the exercise itself doesn’t seem to work to cause my moods, it seems to enhance all of the other fixes that do allow me to keep from getting depressed. Do it because it’s the healthy thing and because it makes you feel good.

Note this however, I like doing adventure racing (running, cycling, kayaking, swimming and random other stuff), and I can get good at it, but only for short durations 2-3 hours. If the training starts heading into the 4-6 hours (yeah, it can), there is a high chance that the exhaustion from the long duration events will trigger depression.

Pets
I have three dogs. Over the last six years, their ability to prevent me from getting depressed and to pull me out of depression is exactly nil. Worse than that from my view is that when I am depressed they get only minimal maintenance (which is ok, but not great) and very little affection or attention (which upsets them a lot). There are many reasons to get a pet, so getting one is up to you. But I wouldn’t recommend getting a pet to help you with the mood swings – it’s adding a daily commitment for 10-15 years with very little benefit to stabilising the moods.

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