What to do about Depression

sadgirl28 asks: I have been suffering from depression for months now. I have seen a psychiatrist and he prescribed some anti-depressant meds. Remeron, to be specific. But I stopped taking it because I don’t think it is helping me. I think the only thing thing it did was to make me gain a lot of weight, which added to my depression. Right now, I cannot find any refuge with anybody. I am so depressed that I am thinking of taking my own life, only I am afraid to take that thought in action. I really need some help. By the way, I am a nurse and I suffered from substance abuse; I was working in ICU before as a head nurse, and was caught but the hospital administration did not terminate me but transferred me to another department where I don’t deal with patients. I am thankful but not happy about it. I guess there’s really some problem with me. I hope you can help me.

Hi sadgirl28 –



It sounds like you’ve got a case of real, serious, clinical Depression (which is very different from the ‘feeling down’ we all go through at times, or the depressions people fall into when they lose something or someone they love).  There are lots of suggestions I can recommend for this, but two are way way WAY above the rest.


The first is that you should go back to your psychiatrist (or another one), and explain that the prescription you had before didn’t do the job.  You see, there are certain medicines that work for everyone.  For example, if I get a case of worms, there are pills the vet can give me that will get them out of me, just like any other dog.  But psychiatric medicines don’t work that way.  Everyone’s brain is slightly different, so medication that eases Depression for one person might not do the same for another.  Because of that, while that psychiatrist took an educated guess that a particular dosage would work for your Depression, the fact that it didn’t just means that they should try something else; its lack of working well doesn’t mean the doctor doesn’t know what they’re doing, and it definitely doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try some other medication to help.  There are lots of antidepressants out there.  With a few tries, there’s a really good chance you’ll get something that helps out a lot (and hopefully doesn’t cause the weight gain again).


The second major thing I most recommend to you is a therapist.  Medication alone will only help your chemical imbalance, but living with Depression, or even having lived with Depression, makes life very difficult.  If you can find someone who’s educated in Depression, who can really help you by talking with you about your life… oh there’s nothing to equal it.


But meanwhile, there are lots of other things I would like you to try.  The first one is what every dog knows perfectly, but you humans seem to forget all the time, which is to get outside and take a walk.  Scientists will tell you, this is the quickest, cheapest, and most universal treatment for Depression.  If you don’t have it in you to take a big long hike, then do what you can.  Even a walk up and down a city block will change the chemicals in your brain – not to mention give your eyes, nose, and ears something more interesting than what you get at home and in your hospital job.


Second is to do just what you did here with me – reach out.  Talk to friends, talk to patients at the hospital… even talk to strangers if you can.  Interaction really helps.


Third, and I really beg you for this one: take good care of your diet.  That means eating healthy food (lots of fruits and vegetables), not too much sugar or caffeine, and absolutely no mind-altering drugs (including alcohol), especially while you’re testing out those new meds.  You’ll feel better about yourself, maybe lose some of  that weight you gained, and give the medications a chance to work their magic without any interference.


And fourth?  Why of course I’m going to suggest this: there is nothing, and I mean NOTHING, more cheering and life-affirming than a dog!  All sorts of pets are great (and if you can’t have a pet of your own, any contact with other animals, whether friends’ pets, horseback riding, or even just visiting a pet store or a zoo, are all terrific), but no other animal will tell you how glorious you are as often, as vibrantly, or as sincerely as a pup!  We are walking, talking, antidepressants (though some will point out that we’re also barking, shedding, peeing, pooping, and chewing ones!).


You see, sadgirl28, as any pooch can tell you, life is absolutely magical.  Every moment is new, and exciting, and this world is loaded with wonderful wonders around every corner.  Depression blocks that reality from your mind.  Every treatment for Depression, whether medicinal, relational, behavioral, or four-legged, is just a way to open that awareness back up.  The more you’re able to experience it, the easier it will be to get back to it next time.


So I’m super glad you wrote me with this.  Please stay in touch.  I’m honored by your trust, and will be even more honored if you let me know how things go.


I know things are very dark right now, but the sun is just about to rise, if you let it.


Good Morning, my friend,




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