How to Survive Depression Pt. 02byEmerald_Dragon©
I have received so much positive feedback from people that I decided to share some more tips that I forgot about the first time around and some great advice from some of my readers. Thanks to everyone that left comments and emails. It is really great to get such a positive response from so many people. It does great things for my ego!
1) Depression kills the sex drive. At least it did for me. My husband was lucky to get laid 3 or 4 times a month and I was to tired, stressed and feeling completely undesirable. I went through two pregnancies and one miscarriage without permanently gaining any weight. Then my depression hit. It was harder to exercise with two small children and a husband working at a failing small business 14 hours a day. I gained 60 lbs and have yet to loose it. Combine the feeling of being completely undesirable with depression and you have a frustrated spouse.
So how do you rescue your sex life now that your medication/therapy/alternative medicine is starting to work?
a) Make sure that your medication isn't affecting your sex drive. The chances of sexual side effects with anti-depressants are pretty high. I personally haven't had a problem but when my husband went on Zoloft he had problems. For the first time I got to experience it from the other side. It sucked! My sex drive was bouncing back to normal and his nose dived. I got to experience constant 'I am not in the mood hun' and it was really frustrating. Fortunately a change in medication took care of the problem but it was defiantly and eye opening experience for me.
b) Revive your interest in non-sexual intimacy. Sex isn't just about the physical act but also about connecting on an emotional level. My husband and I started trying to be more physically affectionate with each other. I love it when he comes up behind me when I am doing dishes and hugs me from behind and kisses the back of my neck. Touch is the first sense that develops in a fetus and it continues to be important through out your life. NON-SEXUAL TOUCHING IS GOOD FOR YOU and for me it makes me more receptive later for sex. I need hugs and signs of affection more than the hubby does but I sometimes have to ASK for it. He is not a mind reader and sometimes just needs a gentle reminder.
2) Communicate with your spouse. My husband and I started talking a lot more about sex after he switched medications. I don't know about you but I am the one to start conversations like that the majority of the time rather than the hubby. Supposedly it is a male/female thing, women talk more. Any way after having my eyes opened we talked about it and I called his doctor and he got switched and things improved.
Another thing that got talked about was the fact that my weight gain bothered me. I decided that even though I didn't like my weight, I liked sex and I wanted more. I relaxed a bit about my appearance and ya know what? My husband still wanted me. He would like me to loose weight but more from a 'I want you to feel better about it and be healthier' standpoint. He is overjoyed to be getting some nookie 3 to 4 times a week on average and so am I. Better communication has also led to better sex. We actually began talking again about what turned us on and fantasies and such. Talking led to trying some new things. Sex is actually fun again and we rediscovered that the best sex organ in the body is the brain.
Don't be afraid to seek help outside the bedroom if reconnecting is hard for you. Sex therapists are trained to help you rediscover this part of your life. If your relationship has taken a beating you may need a little help to jumpstart this physical and emotional intimacy. Don't be afraid to ask for help. It may be weird to talk to an outsider about sex but the rewards will be worth it.
3) MAKE SURE YOU GET A GOOD NIGHTS SLEEP. It seems that there is a direct correlation between depression and sleep that doctors are trying to unravel. These two things are so intertwined that it has been determined that: depression messes with your sleep patterns, making the depression worse AND sleep problems like apnea can be a source of depression, and/or make an existing problems worse. Sleep can be overlooked as a lesser problem with the mess that depression is making in your life. Don't overlook it. I have always needed more sleep than most. Nine to ten hours is my optimal amount. But the quality I was getting sucked. I would have no problem getting to sleep but I would wake up every two hours or so. You definitely need the deep sleep and the REM cycles. I either didn't get there or it was interrupted. Fortunately my medication alleviated this problem a great deal. I still struggle with it but I am finding that increased exercise and keeping on a consistent sleep schedule is helping quite a bit. Gone are the days where I could sleep till noon on a Saturday (not that two kids doesn't kill that too).
It is a proven fact that sleep deprivation is very harmful. Most American's don't get enough as it is and if the quality sucks it can create problems or make existing problems worse. Do some research on the subject and find something that works for you. And don't be afraid to talk to your doctor/therapist about it and get advice and/or change in meds if that seems to be a problem.
4) AVOID ALCOHOL and over the counter drugs that are mood altering. I don't drink alcohol and never have. Except for communion wine which sucked. The reason for this is that my dad is an alcoholic and I got to see first hand how it could screw up your life. Luckily he went to treatment when I was sixteen and has been sober for 20 years now. He discovered through AA that many of the over the counter drugs that you take for cough, colds, or the flu are mood altering and could set off cravings. The man couldn't even use Listerine which has alcohol in it. Alcohol is a depressant and most definitely screws with your mood. If you have depression, AVOID IT COMPLETELY as it will make it worse. Both of the medications that I am on can cause drowsiness and alcohol would intensify that. For that reason too I would give it up when you are on meds, drug interactions are nothing to be messed with, you are trying to get the brain on the right track not derail it completely.
5) Exercise. Now I am not talking join a gym and work out for hours everyday although if you have the time go ahead. I try to sneak in a walk on my lunch break at least three times a week. I have been having mild back problems since pregnancy #2 and I am lucky that my insurance covers my chiropractor visits. (I have a degenerative disk that if I am careful won't get worse). It also helps that my kids are older and need less supervision so I can do things like mow the lawn when it is just me and them at home. (It is kinda fun actually and quite a workout as we have small hills and a small push mower.) Find something that you like to do. And hey, walking is free!! And you could do something like aerobics or yoga at home where you can look ridiculous and don't have to worry about an audience. (I don't know about you but I am still pretty self-conscious about stuff like that, always have been.)
6) Don't be afraid to try alternative medicine. Some of my commentators on my first story have had luck with alternative medicine such as acupuncture. Considering that the Chinese have been doing it for over four thousand years they must be on to something. There are also herbal remedies (let your doctor know what you are taking. Just remember that modern drugs have originated from herbs.) that you can try, teas and such. Especially teas that are designed to help with sleep. Regular chiropractic visits help for me. I didn't realize how much my lower back was hurting me until I went in for a neck issue and got a full adjustment. Low and behold my back was out too and my back felt so much better getting out of bed the next day. It helped me sleep better which helped everything else.
My doctor recommended that I take a B vitamin supplement as well as a Vitamin E supplement. Apparently they help regulate mood and everyone should be taking them, not just those suffering from depression.
FOR SEASONAL DEPRESSION I would recommend LIGHT THERAPY. My mother has an Ott-lite and swears by it. It simulates natural sunshine and helps the body cope with less light in winter. This is especially important in the northern part of the country. I live in Minnesota and when the days are less than 8 hours long in the winter, you go to work in the dark and drive home in the dark and it sucks! It also gets so damn cold that the last thing you want to do is go outside. My sister lives in Florida and we will never get her back to the Midwest for this reason. Her mood swings are greatly helped by the fact that she gets lots of sun. I use my Ott-lite for sewing and reading under in the evenings.
7) Make sure that your spouse or significant other gets help and support. When I was at the height of my depression I wasn't able to give the hubby any kind of emotional support. As things got better I tried to be understanding about 'guys night out', fishing and deer hunting. These were things that he enjoyed that relaxed him. Going out with the guys let him blow off steam without me around. Trusting my husband has never been hard for me. He does not drink very often and never to excess so I don't have to worry about him getting drunk and doing something stupid.
Do support your spouse to see a therapist/Dr. , support group or just getting out of the house sometimes. It is very easy to get stuck in a rut and sometimes we just need a little kick to get us out of the door.
Be willing to see a couples therapist if you need to. If your spouse will not go, GO BY YOURSELF. It seems a bit silly but you may learn some coping skills and better ways to act rather than react to things that are beyond your control.
8) Spend time together as a couple. My husband and I have started going on dates again. We get a sitter and generally do dinner and a movie. It is fun just to have some adult time together without the kids. We also get a chance to talk with each other about how we are doing without interruptions or distractions.
Try also to reconnect with friends either as a couple or a single. Outside friendships are necessary and healthy. Chances are that you need to reconnect and start having fun again.
Thank you again to everyone that has written e-mails and comments. It is nice to know that the little piece I wrote on a whim has helped people out! Keep up the comments and ideas, they pretty much jump started part 2 and I couldn't have done it without you!