Depresion - Not Something one can beat with will power alone


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Trad climber
Aug 12, 2014 - 11:21am PT
Those that don't know, don't know.

Big Wall climber
Aug 12, 2014 - 11:23am PT
juan defuca will always be missed!


Trad climber
Central Valley, CA
Aug 12, 2014 - 11:30am PT
If anyone ever feels that they need someone to talk to, referrals, advice, please don't hesitate to shoot me an e-mail. In the essence of full disclosure, I am an MFT intern, will be graduating this Fall, and currently see clients. The common denominator in depression is feeling alone. There is a difference between being along and feeling alone. There is tons of help available, you just need to find the courage to ask.

As for the outsiders, the best thing you can do is to sit quietly and be an active listener. Ask questions to understand the person's world through their own eyes. Depression and personality disorders are a result of trauma. Most people have no idea how much the people around them are suffering. Suffering from years of physical, mental, sexual, and emotional abuse, and neglect. Don't make the conversation about yourself by telling the person how you got through a situation. You will lose that person. People don't like being told what they should and shouldn't do. Listen and have some compassion. You may just save someone's life just by simply listening and getting them to see a professional.

Gym climber
Great White North
Aug 12, 2014 - 11:31am PT
And furthermore, f*#k all these tough-love shitlords throwing around words like "cowardly" and "selfish".

If you don't have depression, you need to shut the f*#k up about suicide. Have some empathy and thank your dear lord in heaven that you don't have it because it f*#king sucks.


Aug 12, 2014 - 11:33am PT
Depression is largely genetic. The idea that it is the result of trauma - the 'you're damaged goods' theory - is dated and, in many cases, counterproductive towards achieving a better outcome.

The hard fact is - neither you nor anyone else can discern the root cause of your depression - but that doesn't matter. Searching for a cause you will not find is an utter waste of time and money. All you need to know is that you experience it, and all you need to focus on is what positive steps you can take in the present to mitigate it.

Listening is good, but dragging someone through whatever life trauma they've experienced can backfire and produce a worse outcome. Anyone want to re-experience those negative emotions based on a bunch of highly altered memories? "Understanding your past" doesn't necessarily equate to making better choices now, and that, after all, is the end game.

Such a strategy, while well-meaning, can also reinforce a victim mentality - not a great baseline for good decision making going forward. It can increase defensiveness and other socially counterproductive behaviors which can eventually make things worse, not better.

A much better strategy for many is to live in and appreciate the present, look towards the future, and realize the power we have to make choices to make things better - now.

The past is gone. F*#k the past. THAT realization is true power. That may seem like harder cheese at first, but hey, hard cheese keeps longer. Healthy and intimate peer relationships with people who 'get it' - are key to this process. Having a strategy to find and build these relationships, not always easy at times, should be a focus.

Do what works for you, of course. My somewhat limited experience with therapists was neutral results at best, and sharply negative results at times. The efficacy of therapists is very much in doubt in general. What I've found has helped far more was some group time with other folks in similar circumstances.

Anyone who feels 'crazy' might be reminded that 8 out of 10 Americans believes in angels.

Winged supernatural humanoids with magical powers who live forever. Jesus.


Trad climber
Northern California
Aug 12, 2014 - 02:27pm PT
^^^you had some very bad therapists

And, it is not true that depression is not correlated with early childhood trauma. In fact we know a lot more about that correlation than we ever did.


Aug 12, 2014 - 03:02pm PT
One was neutral or slightly helpful, the other was unethical. Nothing too sordid, but I won't go into it here, obviously.

I never stated that depression is not correlated with trauma. The post I responded to claimed it was caused by trauma, and this is not at all accurate. What we know as of today is that about half of it is genetics.

The causes of depression are, as yet, still not well understood. And each individual's case is different. An assumption of trauma - or the existence of trauma and an assumption that it is the root cause of any particular case of depression, is dangerous, in that it can easily lead to the wrong treatment path - skipping over more effective strategies.

My point still stands. Trying to tease out the cause of depression is largely a waste of time and money. It's much more effective to assess the situation today and establish, and I mean on day one, concrete actions that can be taken to mitigate it's effects. There's little compelling evidence, in the aggregate, that talking about Mommy Dearest ad nauseum has proven to be a particularly effective long term strategy at moving forward and actually mitigating depression's effects.

It does tend to burn more therapist hours, however.

This is not a critique of therapy in general. There are excellent therapists out there who do not drag their subjects down this rat hole.


Trad climber
dancin on the tip of god's middle finger
Aug 12, 2014 - 03:19pm PT
i like my depression.
it is a tool that i invented
and employ to further my festival.

i realize that for some,
it is a detriment,
but i would move
that many people
do not completely villianize the emotion.

Social climber
joshua tree
Aug 12, 2014 - 03:22pm PT

Depression is largely genetic.

This is a futile argument! i also read,"depression is caused by genetics".
This comes from the bleachers that says, "Matter invented consciousness"
Government and Big Business dangled this carrot back in the 90's, "depression is a disease" along with addictions like alcoholism. This gave BB and the Pharmaceutical companies the green light to treat humans by the millions like ginny-pigs and dive into their minds with the advertisement of a miracle pill. With Gov confirming it a disease, insurance companies are liable for payment. It's a win-win for business and government, but NOT for the you!!

Genetically, cells are adaptive. They can LEARN. LIke the Brain, the MOST sophisticated learning device in the universe! The body, and it's cells remember this learning. This in a nutshell IS Evolution.

Once you teach your body how to feel depressed, Yea, depression becomes part of your genetic makeup. Over time, the more your brain adds to the feeling of depression, the easier it is for the body to fall in that state.

On the flip-side, Are you Joyful because your genetically inclined to be?
Are the "joyful cells" in your body predetermined? Are you only ever going to be as happy as your DNA sez can be? That's Preposterous!

Boulder climber
Mountain View, CA
Aug 12, 2014 - 03:25pm PT
Wow, Lost Arrow, wish I had magic words for you. My mom was bipolar and ended her life. I have an Iraq War vet son who is bipolar and chronically suicidal. In my youth in the 1970s I was "situationally" depressed all the time because I wanted to save the world even though the world didn't want to be saved. So I understand and don't understand depression. If it's merely situational then you can think your way out of it or mature your way out of it like I eventually did, but if it's organic I don't know whether or not meds will work for you. I do know this, you can't fool yourself like Robin Williams finally realized. You can't hike your way out of it or climb your way out of it, and I think Yabo proved that. It's a pathetic myth that "mountaineering builds character". I still recall being all alone at high altitude in the most gorgeous remote recesses of the Sierra in my twenties and crying in my tent because I was so depressed, unable to see the beauty all around me. I even tried to off myself with my propane burner by letting it run inside my tent without a flame. I respect your honesty to post an appeal. Maybe it's corny, but at least that's your first move in a positive direction. Hmm, are there depression support groups like AA/NA? I know, sounds depressing to sit around talking about being depressed with depressed people (Robin Williams would have had a blast with that idea) but it's just a thought. Good luck, I hope you find a lasting living way past this.

Trad climber
Aug 12, 2014 - 03:35pm PT
i like my depression.
it is a tool that i invented
and employ to further my festival.

This does not ring true.

Social climber
joshua tree
Aug 12, 2014 - 04:04pm PT
do not completely vililanize the emotion.

Naw. Depression is no villain. It's her brother, Anger
Anger is the one that causes life altering events.
i believe depression allows the quietness for the soul to be heard..
It is a direct line to pure raw honesty.
There is no better pill for dispensing depression than Truth!
Truth causes the Sun to shine and the Heart to glow!
consuming mind altering chemicals, is the samething as applying earplugs.
in essence ur stomping your feet saying "No No NO, i don't want to know the truth, I just want to be happy right NOW! For F#cks sake i won't even make it to be 40." Then one day you wake up and ur 50. And more f#cked. like me wuz

Trad climber
Central Valley, CA
Aug 12, 2014 - 06:51pm PT
Depression is largely genetic. The idea that it is the result of trauma - the 'you're damaged goods' theory - is dated and, in many cases, counterproductive towards achieving a better outcome.

Are you f*#king kidding me??!?!?!

I wish you and people that ascribe to this BS could sit and watch the people that I see in therapy. So the YEARS of physical and sexual abuse as a child and on into adulthood have NO bearing on a person's emotional well-being?

FACT of the matter is is that most personality disorders and some psychotic disorders are born out of trauma. Do YOU know what it's like to have a gun in your mouth as a child or teenager ready to check out because you cannot escape the war zone that is your house?

Your ignorance is dangerous and is what perpetuates these bullshit myths.

Trad climber
Northern California
Aug 12, 2014 - 07:12pm PT
^^^ go Paul!

Ignorance is definitely dangerous.

I sit with depressives of many clinical types in my practice. What they all have in common is negative self-talk. Wonky brain chemistry doesn't allow them to hold onto positive thoughts. It is why medication can be such a miracle-- when the chemistry changes, the possibility of positivity becomes more available.

But it isn't a certainty.

Someone in this thread said they go for any action that could possibly help, and that is really the best way to treat depression. Medication, psychotherapy (good psychotherapy and good psychiatry can be quite hard to find and very expensive, btw), nutrition, exercise, social engagement, community, being of service, spiritual development (whether that's formal religion or connecting with nature, it doesn't matter) acupuncture, dancing, really, all the things that are nourishing are needed to be integrated. And if you are depressed this is going to take time, sometimes a long time. Way more time than those people around you have patience for.

I also want to point out that it seems that Robin WIlliams was being treated for bi-polar disorder, a different animal from simply situational depression, dysthymic depression or even severe clinical depressive disorder. The brain chemistry in this case is balanced on a knife edge.


Sport climber
Boulder, Colorado!
Aug 12, 2014 - 09:23pm PT
^ Agreed.

I feel sad for those who don't get it, or seemingly don't want to get it. I feel sad for the sadness/pain they cause others with their words. Tragic.


Aug 12, 2014 - 09:23pm PT
I got my information from Stanford's School of Medicine page on depression, but what do they know?

One thing I look for in a therapist is their propensity for losing their sh#t when their erroneous information is challenged by data.

Ken M

Mountain climber
Los Angeles, Ca
Aug 13, 2014 - 12:16am PT
As a practicing medical physician, I also want to point out that there are a variety of medical problems that can show up as depression (the classic is low thyroid), or that can make depression worse. These things are actually common, and most people who have new onset of depression may benefit from a general medical workup.

In the medical school in which I teach (USC), I frequently point out that the burden of major depression may manifest a whole variety of medical symptoms. One approach that is often taken is to attempt to treat everything simultaneously, which can often result in a pile of pills to be taken.

Personally, I prefer to try to take the edge off only....this often results in a dramatic improvement. I also refer most patient for "talk therapy", which many patients find helpful in a number of ways.

For example, most depressed patients have a coexisting sleep disorder, and the chronic tiredness associated with that would wear anyone down. making that better helps most people, sometimes dramatically.

Stanford's ok. I guess.
colin rowe

Trad climber
scotland uk
Aug 13, 2014 - 02:57am PT
The evidence base for depression suggests Cognitive Behavioural Therapy combined with an anti-depressant. With mild to moderate depression behavioural activation will be used. This is a structured, behavioural approach which encourages goal driven activity despite an individual's current mood: goal driven rather than mood driven behaviour. The idea is to activate pleasurable activity. If climbing is something that once gave you pleasure, begin climbing again, despite your mood suggesting otherwise. Cognitions or thoughts can be considered behaviour too and unhelpful thoughts can be challenged too. There are many self-help books such as Christine Padesky's Mind over Mood that can be of help.

Social climber
Aug 13, 2014 - 03:11am PT
I think about Juan occasionally, and the other people known to have lost their struggle with the black dog. I wrote Juan several emails when he was expressing his struggles on this thread. I don't know if he ever read them or got them. He never responded. I think of him and his desperation often.

I keep fighting, it keeps fighting and only time will tell who will finally overcome. It may end up being a draw.

There are a lot of opinions expressed here, some by professionals who treat depression by teaching coping skills and/or prescribing medicine to offset the disease or both. There are other opinions of speculation about the disease and some of those seem totally senseless.

As I stated up thread, I have been wrestling with this disease since I was born. Some of my earliest memories are dark. I can remember feeling all alone in a family of 9, in a kindergarten class of 25, in my bed late at night with two of my brothers sleeping beside me.

I have been categorized as having Borderline Personality Disorder (I interpret that as bordering on having a personality because of my extreme low self-esteem, total lack of self confidence and social grace). I also have three types of anxiety disorders, the Generalized Anxiety, Panic and Social types.

There seems to be two causative factors that allow the black dog to control my mind. Sometimes I wake up with him controlling my mind and then there are circumstances that seem to trigger his attack. I have been learning methods of resisting the latter of these two causes and have had some success.

The former, there is no control. It just happens. I have no more control over these attacks than I do the weather. I try to fight back, to get out of bed and exercise, work or engage other people; but it never works. I finally give up and just ride it out. It may last a day, other times a week or so.

In the past I was treated for Bipolar; but that was a long time ago, some 36 years, (when it was labeled manic depression). I never thought much of that because I rarely hit the manic stage that is common to people who suffer this disorder.

The TMS treatment I underwent helped tremendously in some ways; but not so much in other ways. Again there is no magic cure.

I have had one booster round since the initial program; but I can't afford another round and am not sure if I would benefit.

In the last 3 months I have had serious lows, the extreme ones where I contemplate death as the only solution. The pain is just overbearing, there is no hope and my Christian faith seems to wain. The only thing that stops me from following through are my two dogs and deciding how to do it. I also pray that the pain will end and it usually does; although during these episodes, I don't have any memory of not suffering the crippling effects, happiness is neither remembered and unimaginable.

Physical pain bears no resemblance to mental pain. I can and do endure physical pain, and in some veins I thrive on it; as in endurance sports. Mental pain has no bounds, no threshold and seemingly has the ability to cripple all other strengths. This is especially pertinent when considering that there seems no underlying cause of the anguish; such as the loss of a loved one, financial distress, a broken romance or any kind of assorted disappointments that are experienced in life.

My therapist discontinued my treatments because she had left the hospital where I started cognitive therapy with her. She left due to the corporate setting of a mental hospital to set up shop in a smaller group where she was less restricted. I was seeing her there; but she said that she was recommending me to another group because my suicidal tendencies worried her and caused her anxiety. The anxiety was her fear that I might follow through with my obsession with death and that she would feel responsible (not liable) and because she no longer worked in a hospital setting where she could get immediate feedback from the M.D.'s and other staff, she was not comfortable treating me.

That was a serious blow to my recovery, I had grown very comfortable expressing my thoughts, problems and fears to her. I felt like I was being abandoned, given up on. I felt just like I did when my wife left in the middle of the night, because, I believe she could not deal with the dog.

The fact of the matter is that her concerns were real. I have since met with her and she explained her concerns and the foundations of her decision. At the time of that visit, I was not depressed and it made sense to me. I felt guilty for causing her that much anguish.

I haven't started therapy with the recommended group she provided as I have a history with them. I spent about 5 years in the'90s with a therapist there, 2-3 times a week. They now charge $165/hour. They won't settle for the 80% medicare pays. So it is a useless proposition.

I don't think I will start over again, as it is very difficult to establish a level of trust with a therapist.

I have been "up" for four weeks now. I have riding my bike, socializing a little and taking care of the business of life, such as addressing financial problems, maintaining my property and dealing with issues that usually get brushed aside. It is hard to imagine what the black dog days or like when I feel this way.

The trouble with being up is I know I will sooner or late wake up with the dog on my back. It is inevitable; as involuntary as my heartbeat.

I take medicine for anxiety and a low voltage sleeping aid. I get 5 hours of sleep instead of two now. That in itself if is makes life worth living. Sleep is necessary to feel human.

Here is a link to a short video that someone emailed me today, because I have been using the term "black dog" every since I read that Winston Churchill used it to describe his struggle with depression.

It doesn't express the exact magnitude of my struggle, nor some other factors; but I believe it will show people who don't understand depression or feel like they are alone in their struggle the realities.

I don't think I will ever be cured, and I pray (today) that he never wins. When he is on me, I pray for death. I don't run away from it, I just grow weary of the struggle. Obviously part of my own therapy is write or talk about it, not just for my benefit; but for others who don't know the dog is on their heels.

One last thing, for the non-believers or people who are not Christian or a follower of some other faith, you are jeopardizing someone's hope that they can cope with this disease. Keep the negative vibes to yourself, what do you gain by discouraging someone from believing when they are struggling with surviving? In essence you are contributing to their demise. I was an atheist until I had given up all hope and had my 9mm at my temple, trying to find a reason not to off myself, the pain was too much to bear. If it wasn't for divine intervention I would be dead. You don't have to accept that as real; but I do because I experienced it. It is faith that props me up. So please don't present arguments about someone's personal believe when the topic of depression is at hand. Save it for another thread.

Well enough, I didn't set out to write as much as I did, I just wanted to post the video.

Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
Maestro, Ecosystem Ministry, Fatcrackistan
Aug 13, 2014 - 03:44am PT
I think of Jeff Batten often as well. I never called him friend, though I should have.

I didn't see it coming. I didn't understand.

There was nothing I could have done, likely. Not that kind of relationship. He was a troll after all and like all trolls when he tried to be serious, when he tried to drop the veil and be himself?

He was rejected. Because of his own past.

I miss him.

I won't lash out toward the less than sensitive to who mock or denigrate such folk.

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