TED Conversations

Tina Moore

Creator / Founder / Author, the40by40

This conversation is closed.

How have depression and anxiety affected your life?

I am curious to know how many people will talk openly about depression and anxiety as it seems far more common than we'd like to admit. If you don't suffer directly, perhaps you are affected by your spouse, family member, child or co worker. I believe it affects ALL OF US in some way or another which is why we need to raise awareness and find avenues to heal the pain.Your thoughts, experiences and insight are greatly appreciated and deeply respected.

  • Nov 8 2011: I wonder how life affects depression and anxiety.

    Some of the contributors so far have spoken of death. Anxiety and depression are a normal and healthy response to the surreal horror of losing a loved one. Sometimes feelings we don't like need to be respected and experienced before we can move on with our lives.

    I wonder how much of the depression and anxiety people experience is a natural reaction to the world we live in. There is a TedTalk called "how economic inequity harms societies" and in this talk statistics are provided to show a correlation between mental well-being and economic equality within countries.

    Maybe a lot of the depression and anxiety we experience is a normal reaction to things that are not right in our countries. I feel anxious about the future, and I think with good reason. Australia now has working poor, dishonesty and greed are becoming more prevalent in our country, and todays teenagers will not have the opportunities I had.

    I see news of the "Occupy" movement and I think these people are heroes. Our world is changing to favour the dishonest and concentrate even more power and wealth into the hands of a minority at the expense of the well-being of the majority. Consequently, more people have legitimate concerns for themselves and for others, but are often powerless to do anything about it. I believe there is a significant degree of depression and anxiety in our society that could be relieved simply by restoring fairness and equity.

    Maybe anxiety and depression are the symptoms of a sick society rather than a sick individual.

    Maybe one way to deal with anxiety and depression is to acknowledge the legitimate concerns in your life or the events that led to your anxiety and depression and see your response as being a normal and healthy response to an adverse situation. Respect it, give it the time it needs and when ready, make a decision about how you personally will deal with it so you can move on with your life.
    • thumb
      Nov 8 2011: Hi Julie, thank you for your insight and comments.

      I remember as a child being totally overwhelmed with the way of the world. If you look at my essays and reports in grade school I wrote about war, death, cancer, bombs, and other topics that were painful. My little soul just couldn't handle the weight of the world...and yet, my own little world was very heavy...so your points are very interesting...

      As an adult I can see it would be the same as well although we seemingly have more access to tools to help us with these feeling/emotions/reactions etc...

      I think we certainly can become a product of our environment whether that is externally or internally - positive energy or negative energy...so the question is what do we do about it?

      I firmly believe the only way to heal pain is to go through it...meaning you must process it because from my experience, pain is very patient...it will wait for you....so if you are carrying something from your past it generally will sit there sometimes silently and sometimes through events/decisions in your life until you decide to change the patterns, seek to understand the pain, process the pain and then ultimately heal it. Obviously not a fun process...a deeply painful one however in my experience a necessary one. This is based on emotional events and not chemical imbalances.

      I think by healing SELF, you are more open to the world and therefore are more available to help in the greater cause...this is based on my experience...I have far more to give now than before...

      Thank you for your comments...I am finding this conversation incredibly interesting, insightful and enlightening. I am thrilled that people are openly talking...such a gift for all of us to learn from each other.

      With a smile,
  • thumb
    Nov 7 2011: It honestly changed me for the worse before it changed me for the better.

    I have recently just gotten over clinical depression and it really did impact my life. I used to undermine emotions and think that being rational was the best way to lives one life and that being rational was much more powerful than being emotional. That was the biggest mistake of my life. Until I got depressed I did not know how powerful emotion could be and I did not realize how out of control I was. It made me a rotten person and it caused me to really be alone and not really have anyone (because others could not relate to how I felt and got tired of picking up my pieces). The moment I started thinking about suicide I really realized that I needed to get help. I realized that I had to take my life seriously and with every amount of volition that I could use, I was going to get better. I'm only 22 and i realized that I could not go through life alone and that I could not get through this depression by myself. I realized that i had to be patient that if I continued to work hard eventually things will pass.

    I can say with all honesty that I am not depressed anymore (I did not have to use meds) and that my life is transformed. All I did was talk to a therapist and work hard at everything they taught me. Most importantly I realized that I allowed myself to get to that point because I felt like I had something to prove to people. I realized that the life I was leading was not a good life. I used to think that good guys finish last. Now I realize that being a good person and trying to help others and be nice is what is important, even if others do not accept you. I feel much better and I realize that my experience was ok, because it only meant that I'm human and if I can get through what I went through and be as wise as I am now at 22, just imagine the person I'll be at 32? Once again it did change my life but I got worse before I got better.

    hope this helps
    • thumb
      Nov 8 2011: Orlando this is so interesting to me that you used to undermine emotions...I am an emotional person so I find that so intriguing! I am sorry you suffered but enormously proud of you for taking your mental and emotional wellness seriously and made changes. It sounds like through your process you have found a connection to yourSELF. What a gift!

      At 22 you are just getting started...and you are so much further than I was at that age...

      Thank you for your thoughts/perspective...I really appreciate hearing from you.

      With a smile,
      • thumb
        Nov 9 2011: Thank you Tina!

        I read your bio and it is very inspirational in itself. I honestly want to get to where you are. I know it was hard a difficult but how did you do it?

        As far as the emotions, I used to be emotional and empathetic but I was told that "boys were not suppose to be that way" and that "women would not like me for it because it would make me look weak". So I decided to try to be a bad boy and it worked for sometime until I realized how it really drove people out of my life. Still I undermined my emotions. It was not until my recent break up with my son's mother that I hit depression and realized that being "callous" and "rational" was not going to do me any justice and that i had to deal with how I felt. This was the hard part, it took about 8 months for me to get out of the fog.

        But yes, I am more mindful about what I think, my intentions and why I do things. Of course I'm not a saint but the fact that I am mindful allows me to learn from the many mistakes I make or will make in the future.

        Best wishes for you to. The work you do is indeed inspirational

        • thumb
          Nov 10 2011: Hi Orlando, thank you for your comments, very kind of you.

          "How did you do it?"

          I DECIDED to change my life. I was so weary of how I was living: attracting toxic relationships, accepting negativity, keeping silent, not honoring my instinct, continuing dysfunctional patterns etc. I refused to enter another decade dealing with the same problems. Ultimately, the one constant was ME! So clearly I needed to change. I passionately decided to do whatever I deemed necessary to change my life and live according to my internal, authentic SELF. From that day forward, my life improved...not without bumps and bruises but certainly with authenticity.

          I'm sorry you were not supported in feeling and expessing your emotions...as a child we are on the journey of the adults around us, but as adults we have choices. You can decide now what is best for you...what is true to your SELF...and by living in truth you will find your joy...that's my experience...

          Relationships certainly challenge our sense of self...but ultimately we have the choice to learn from them or repeat patterns. It is my belief that certain people are brought into your life to heal parts of your self that may be wounded...they are gifts...not always easy to see when you are in pain over a relationship. Ultimately if you can seek to understand yourSELF, you will understand the relationship and then you can make changes...you have a son so you are connected to his mother for life...so the sooner you understand the dynamics and patterns the better it will be for your son. What a gift you will give him.

          I'm not a saint either!! :)) I think as long as we listen to our instinct (and not our ego or fear) and do our best, seek to understand and learn from 'mistakes' then your life and those relationships around you will be authentic and real...

          II'll leave you with a quote I love:
          "What comes from the heart, touches the heart" - you can't go wrong with that!

          With a smile
          PS. My website has more info :)
  • thumb
    Nov 7 2011: This is an interesting question Tina and thank you for asking.

    I am nearing 60 and have had innumerable bouts of severe depression since my teens.I will talk openly about depression partly for the simple reason that it has the effect of filtering out those who stigmatise it and those who do not.

    Because depression is literally life threatening, I have had to take antidepressants for most of my life (I think I have been through them all) in order to keep it at a manageable level, so I guess I have become 'medicalised' to the point where it has become impossible to come off them.However, the best 'therapy' I have found, is to research and study this debilitating condition in depth. The result is that I have just qualified with a degree in counselling and psychotherapy, and now practice as a counsellor.

    I regard the counselling reationship as not entirely altruistic - it helps me greatly too, and I treat my clients as absolute equals.

    It may sound odd, but the best qualification I have (over and above the academic one), is my own direct experience of depression.

    Also I have never been entirely convinced that depression is actually an illness. I think it is a normal reaction to something externally dysfunctional, rather than a dysfunctional reaction to somethin we have come to regard as 'normal'.

    The conversation I started here on TED several months ago...


    ...has echoes in an interesting article in New Scientist published this week:

    "Beyond Sanity and Madness" http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21228373.100-beyond-sanity-and-madness.html
    • Comment deleted

      • thumb
        Nov 7 2011: Hi Adriaan. Yes, Iain McGilchrist is one of those people I find so plausible and inspiring. I too have heard him talk at Hay on Wye Festival (UK) last spring.

        I have not yet read about Swedenborg. His switch from science to spiritualism looks very interesting and I will definitely follow your recommendation and read up about it.
    • thumb
      Nov 7 2011: Hello Allan, thank you for your openness about your journey with depression. I admire your courage.

      Thank you for the links...interesting conversation! I am intrigued by your statement that you are unsure whether depression is an illness. From my experience and from what I've witnessed/observed it seems it is both genetic and reactional/enviromental....if it is carried on from generation to generation then chances are so are the patterns of dysfunction...which means that if you are not prone by the gene itself you may be sensitive to the behaviour around you...it's an interesting thought....

      As I mentioned to Adriaan, I think everyone will deal with their depression/anxiety differently and it's up to the individual to make a decision to take control of their mental and emotional health . This requires a commitment to self. In my experience, it was only by truly examining, understanding, processing and ultimately healing the past pain that I was able to change my dysfunctional patterns. I also believe I changed the chemistry in my brain through exercise. To back that statement up, I was also on medication and when I started to jog (I decided to run 40k on my 40th birthday and gave myself a year to complete that goal) I changed my brain chemistry. My body strongly reacted to the medication in the way of severe panic attacks, which I'd never experienced until I started to exercise. I went off the medication but kept training and the panic attacks went away. Obviously I don't recommend anyone trying this without a doctor's consent.

      This is the method that works for me...and for someone who felt so weak, I find strength emotionally and physically through jogging. It's not always easy, but it's worth it!

      Thank you for your honesty. I agree that professionals who have experienced it themselves have a greater understanding, empathy and compassion for those that struggle. Thank you for being one of those professionals.

      With a smile,
  • thumb
    Nov 8 2011: I was on anti depressants for awhile but I had to stop taking them because the side affects were pretty intense. Sometimes I feel ok and other times I just go through the motions. My personal opinion on the matter is that in some(not all cases) there is a sort of division in the spirit wich is effecting the minds interpretation of reality. Wich is why it is good for me to have close, trustworthy friends and family to bounce things off of.. Community has been what has kept me sane I think. Having people around who care and are willing to just be vulnerable with you instead of trying to "fix things" is really important. Another healthy alternative for me has been service to others. Join a charity or volunteer your time somewhere. The realization that we all have very powerful and meaningful things to contribute to the world is a great/healthy motivator. Lastly and most importantly for me the biggest motivator has been hope. There are those who speak very negatively about belief in things like God or life after death etc but sometimes even fantasy is more suitable for reality than reality is. :) However, it is that someone makes it through the day the point is that they make it. I think living is a very courageous/sacred act and I personally admire everyone for doing it.
    • thumb
      Nov 8 2011: Thank you for your thoughtful response Jacob. I love your comments for many reasons but I will focus on two things:
      Hope - so incredibly important to those who feel hopeless or dark in thoughts/emotions

      and I love your final line:
      "I think living is a very courageous/sacred act..." such a beautiful truth...thank you!
  • Comment deleted

    • thumb
      Nov 7 2011: Thank you for responding Adriaan. First, I am so very sorry to hear about the loss of your daughter. I will not pretend to know what that feels like and have such respect for you to speak out about your experience.

      I will look up The Natural Depth In Man, thank you for suggesting it to me. (Local library here I come!)

      In my experience with depression and anxiety both in myself and family/friends it seems everyone has their own way of finding what works best for them. Some still suffer but others find the path to themselves and the darkness is lifted. There doesn't seem to be only one answer...just as each person is different so are the methods to treating the depression. Although we all share the same emotions (perhaps at different levels) our perspectives are different so therefore I think the method to which we heal will vary...

      Compassion and empathy are needed as the shame kills any hope of healing, keeping those depressed, anxious, overwhelmed and in pain....silent....

      Thank you for your thoughts and insight and contributing to this conversation.
      With a smile,
      • Comment deleted

        • thumb
          Nov 8 2011: Thank you for sharing so openly Adriann. Your perspective is interesting as it also includes grief, loss and the pain that comes from that...

          I certainly agree with your statement: We know so little about it...each experience I suppose brings us closer to a greater understanding, but even then it feels small compared to all there is to know

          On that note, I have much to read with The Spiritual World!

          Thank you!
          With a smile,
      • Comment deleted

        • thumb
          Nov 8 2011: At the risk of sounding corny or predictable...I think the answer will be love...

          Love of self, love of others, love of life in all forms...

          With a smile,
  • thumb
    Nov 6 2011: Im not quite sure what you mean but their has been 2 major events that has happened in my life this year, the first is the birth of my son and the second is the death of my mother. In many ways the time I have spent looking after my soons needs has meant that i have been able to better cope with my mums departure but also due to other deaths in my family I have mentally prepared myself to my mothers death
    • thumb
      Nov 6 2011: Congratulation on the birth of your son! Blessings...

      I am so sorry to hear about the death of your Mother. I have had many people around me dealing with loss and it is something that everyone seems to do differently. It takes time...and hopefully you have those around you who will honour your processing period and will be available to you to just be still...and listen. That is my wish for you...to be heard in your grieving...

      With compassion and a warm hug,
  • Comment deleted

    • thumb
      Nov 6 2011: Hi Ed, great comment...and yes, I am currently reading Eckhart Tolle's book (again) as we speak!

      Suffering has definitely brought me to a greater understand of SELF and I am grateful for ALL that I have experienced...but when I've been in the dark state of depression, it was hard to see anything other than the pain....so how does one reach those people? When the pain is so thick you can't see anything past it?

      Do you know, does he speak of abuse at all? Not the ego of the abuser, but the ego of the abused? Curious if that is mentioned and how he approaches that topic. (I read the book years ago and picked it up recently again but have not come to a section yet that adresses this particular question)....

      Thanks for your comment!
      With a smile,
      • Comment deleted

        • thumb
          Nov 6 2011: Thank you for this Ed...it will give me much to journal about :)
  • Nov 6 2011: As near as I can tell, depression and anxiety restrict and limit your ability to interact in society. They create a set of personal laws that prevent you from doing things others do freely. Depression seem to take the things people use as a defense against mean spirited, critical, or embarrassing circumstances and turn the guns inward, blaming themselves through some perceived flaw for the situation or outcome. They create a feeling of worthlessness, hopelessness, and often self-loathing that is generally not supported by actual external evidence.

    I don't know how to fix these problems directly, except to say they are usually cyclic. So, if you do what you need to do to get through the low points, then things get better. One strategy is to work on something positive with a passion that draws your focus to your work rather than your inner fears. Another strategy is to help someone through random acts of kindness or prolonged volunteer service. This creates a positive energy in you, and usually the person that is the recipient of you charitable act. Another strategy is to take a class or do something that you might consider self-improvement, such as yoga or martial arts, dancing, or perhaps some form of art. Another strategy is to spend time with family and friends. Despite the inclination to not do so brought on by the conditions, this usually helps people feel better. For some, getting closer to some form of religious faith is an answer. For non-believers, perhaps some independent study on comparative religion to understand the major psychological forces in the world will bring peace.

    You might also look at videos on-line that are inspiring, capture a true positive emotional moment for a person (surprise engagement, big gift or winning a talent competition).

    Others draw strength form offering positive ideas and opinions on blogs. :)
    • thumb
      Nov 6 2011: Hi Robert, thank you for your response...interesting points.

      One thing you brushed against but perhaps didn't expand upon was taking a class: yoga, martial arts, dancing etc...I personally believe physical activity is crucial for helping with depression and anxiety, and yet it's one of the hardest things to do because it's the LAST thing you feel like doing when you are in that state.

      Your other suggestions are great however, having been in the darkest of depressions I know first hand that those things required an energy (physically and emotionally) that I just didn't have at that time. I think when you are in a chronic depression or that deeper level of depression the energy just isn't there to engage in anything. Sometimes getting out of bed is all you can do. So how do you reach those people?

      Random acts of kindness, finding things that you are passionate about, being with friends and family all are wonderful, heart-filling actions however, they didn't SUSTAIN the feeling of happiness...(at least in my experience) ...it was fleeting because INSIDE was still dark...

      I think everyone will be different but if the person SEEKS TO UNDERSTAND their behavior, patterns and emotions and then DECIDES to commit to doing something about it, healing is possible...and joy will be the result. Making that commitment to SELF is key.

      What do you think?
      • Nov 7 2011: As I mentioned, my experiences were cyclic. The methods I described were techniques I used to feel better, along with time, as the feelings slowly dissipated or I came to terms with the source of the anxiety. The things I described could be used to create a pattern of occasional periods of good feeling. Life has both good and bad times, so I never considered a solution to provided prolonged happiness. If the condition is something that is chronic and deep, then I would defer all my recommendations, and suggest the counsel of a professional. For example, if the issues are caused by a physical condition (say chemical imbalance), then perhpas the solution needs to start with correcting the physical situation. A professional would also be able to guide you to understanding the behaviors. In the vein of "you do not know what you do not know", trying to solve the problem yourself might be a mistake.
        • thumb
          Nov 7 2011: Thank you Robert. I really appreciate your comment "I came to terms with the SOURCE of the anxiety"....for myself, I've been able to use my anxiety as a tool. It's proven to be a larger barometer for my instinct. If I don't listen to the quiet inner voice, my body reacts with anxiety to make sure I listen the next time around.

          As you know, it's uncomfortable, painful and sometimes really overwhelming however once I understood the source, the why, I was better able to manage it and ultimately make whatever wasn't sitting well with me, right.

          I think people have to find 'their way' whether it's through medication, exercise, nutrition, meditation or counselling (or all of the above)...but first and foremost they have to DECIDE to make their mental and emotional health a priority...a difficult task when you feel so dark and overhwhelmed.

          Thank you for your comments. They are greatly appreciated!
          With a smile,