Jim A.

"First Aid" for Depression

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In recent years I have had a few depressive episodes, which I would call severe. Fortunately, they haven't lasted interminably. However, at the beginning of each one I felt as if I had just fallen into an abyss and had no energy to climb out.

I am extremely leery of psychotherapists, because of their usual determinism (which, to me, is fatalism), subjectivism and a belief that each one of us needs someone else in their life. I am a social being, but I know my happiness does not depend on the constant presence of one certain other human being. However, in those times when I have fallen into the "abyss" of depression, I have felt extremely alone, even as if I was missing my own company. It seemed that nothing--and no one--existed.

And frankly, the only "first aid" I could give myself was to remind myself of my mortality; when I kept telling myself "I am mortal", I would eventually find myself coming out of the depression (even though it has always been a struggle to do so). I would imagine it is because I start realizing that if my existence is not guaranteed, then today is important, because today--or the next few minutes--are all I have for sure, so I'd better get on the stick and start struggling to achieve my values.

Has anyone else out there done anything similar? What is your "first aid" for depression, if you have experienced it?

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I am extremely leery of psychotherapists, because of their usual determinism (which, to me, is fatalism), subjectivism and a belief that each one of us needs someone else in their life.

There are some fine Objectivist psychologists (Ellen Kenner, Michael Hurd) and psychiatrists (Jonathan Rosman, Arthur Mode) who understand human psychology properly and can be very helpful. Most are available for "first aid" by phone or e-mail.

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In recent years I have had a few depressive episodes, which I would call severe. Fortunately, they haven't lasted interminably. However, at the beginning of each one I felt as if I had just fallen into an abyss and had no energy to climb out.

I am extremely leery of psychotherapists, because of their usual determinism (which, to me, is fatalism), subjectivism and a belief that each one of us needs someone else in their life. I am a social being, but I know my happiness does not depend on the constant presence of one certain other human being. However, in those times when I have fallen into the "abyss" of depression, I have felt extremely alone, even as if I was missing my own company. It seemed that nothing--and no one--existed.

And frankly, the only "first aid" I could give myself was to remind myself of my mortality; when I kept telling myself "I am mortal", I would eventually find myself coming out of the depression (even though it has always been a struggle to do so). I would imagine it is because I start realizing that if my existence is not guaranteed, then today is important, because today--or the next few minutes--are all I have for sure, so I'd better get on the stick and start struggling to achieve my values.

Has anyone else out there done anything similar? What is your "first aid" for depression, if you have experienced it?

You should get yourself a medical check up. There are physical conditions that cause depression.

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And be sure to WORK, at something you love!

I don't have the source handy, but Ayn Rand herself said words to the effect: "I am unbearable -- to myself, and others -- if I've gone a couple of days without writing." Her husband Frank O'Connor would tell her: "It's nothing that a little writing won't fix."

Productive work is CENTRAL to a happy life. And, for maximum benefit, your work must be something you LOVE.

This presupposes that one is a passionate valuer.

The more you've been a valuer, the more (other things being equal) you will be able to cope with life's difficulties.

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And frankly, the only "first aid" I could give myself was to remind myself of my mortality; when I kept telling myself "I am mortal", I would eventually find myself coming out of the depression (even though it has always been a struggle to do so). I would imagine it is because I start realizing that if my existence is not guaranteed, then today is important, because today--or the next few minutes--are all I have for sure, so I'd better get on the stick and start struggling to achieve my values.

Has anyone else out there done anything similar? What is your "first aid" for depression, if you have experienced it?

Jim, here are some things I do (and don't do) when I'm very down or even somewhat depressed. First, I don't demean or fight myself. By that I mean that one's thoughts can become very negative when depressed, particularly about oneself. Not only do you feel very low to begin with, but then you start feeling bad about how bad you feel. You start feeling bad about yourself. It's one thing to be depressed about things going on around you or even in your own life, but another to fundamentally question and feel negatively about oneself. So, in short, I don't condemn myself, or tell myself I shouldn't feel what I do, or assume I'm crazy.

This being said, something I do is to very much allow thoughts and feelings to rise to the surface, for the purpose of understanding their causes. When one fights himself, such as by trying to tell himself he shouldn't be depressed when he is, he does not allow himself the opportunity to understand what he actually thinks and feels, and, more importantly, why.

I deeply believe that the subconscious is there to help us, particularly in psychological issues. So, I find it very necessary to allow it to "flow" in terms of the content and related emotions it brings forward, as I see those as essential to understanding the nature of my probelm. However, doing this successfully requires, first, a conscious commitment to solving the problem and, second, one of Dr. Binswanger's "standing orders" to monitor the material arising from the subconscious for psychological significance. In other words, a lot pops into one's mind, but some of it will be more valuable than others in terms of helping one understand what's going on and then overcome it.

Also, one can direct one's subconscious to give you the right material. For example, if I'm having trouble understanding what's going on, I'll put on some music that suits my mood. I don't mean I put on depressing music, but music that is slower, softer, more in tune with my mental state. I find that my mind starts flowing better, and the music calls images, memories, and emotions to the fore. Virtually without fail, the answer I'm looking for (or at least a strong clue to it) is contained in an integration of those things as identified by some core principle I already hold. So, I'm essentially coaxing my subconscious to give me what I'm looking for, but in an indirect way.

One last thing is keeping context and perspective. As much as it can be helpful to focus one day at a time, I have also found it helpful to remind myself that this is just a brief period, that I have accomplished things, have been happy, have more things I want to accomplish, will, and will be happy again. I'm immersed in the day at hand, but I don't drown in it.

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And frankly, the only "first aid" I could give myself was to remind myself of my mortality; when I kept telling myself "I am mortal", I would eventually find myself coming out of the depression (even though it has always been a struggle to do so). I would imagine it is because I start realizing that if my existence is not guaranteed, then today is important, because today--or the next few minutes--are all I have for sure, so I'd better get on the stick and start struggling to achieve my values.

Has anyone else out there done anything similar? What is your "first aid" for depression, if you have experienced it?

Jim, here are some things I do (and don't do) when I'm very down or even somewhat depressed. First, I don't demean or fight myself. By that I mean that one's thoughts can become very negative when depressed, particularly about oneself. Not only do you feel very low to begin with, but then you start feeling bad about how bad you feel. You start feeling bad about yourself. It's one thing to be depressed about things going on around you or even in your own life, but another to fundamentally question and feel negatively about oneself. So, in short, I don't condemn myself, or tell myself I shouldn't feel what I do, or assume I'm crazy.

This being said, something I do is to very much allow thoughts and feelings to rise to the surface, for the purpose of understanding their causes. When one fights himself, such as by trying to tell himself he shouldn't be depressed when he is, he does not allow himself the opportunity to understand what he actually thinks and feels, and, more importantly, why.

I deeply believe that the subconscious is there to help us, particularly in psychological issues. So, I find it very necessary to allow it to "flow" in terms of the content and related emotions it brings forward, as I see those as essential to understanding the nature of my probelm. However, doing this successfully requires, first, a conscious commitment to solving the problem and, second, one of Dr. Binswanger's "standing orders" to monitor the material arising from the subconscious for psychological significance. In other words, a lot pops into one's mind, but some of it will be more valuable than others in terms of helping one understand what's going on and then overcome it.

Also, one can direct one's subconscious to give you the right material. For example, if I'm having trouble understanding what's going on, I'll put on some music that suits my mood. I don't mean I put on depressing music, but music that is slower, softer, more in tune with my mental state. I find that my mind starts flowing better, and the music calls images, memories, and emotions to the fore. Virtually without fail, the answer I'm looking for (or at least a strong clue to it) is contained in an integration of those things as identified by some core principle I already hold. So, I'm essentially coaxing my subconscious to give me what I'm looking for, but in an indirect way.

One last thing is keeping context and perspective. As much as it can be helpful to focus one day at a time, I have also found it helpful to remind myself that this is just a brief period, that I have accomplished things, have been happy, have more things I want to accomplish, will, and will be happy again. I'm immersed in the day at hand, but I don't drown in it.

Thank you--and everyone else thus far in this thread.

There is a website I used to "go" to: www.have-a-heart.com. It's a depression and suicide website, and does have a few interesting essays by its webmaster, Stephen L. Bernhardt. But most of the posts are rather depressing in themselves (though clinically interesting); the people posting usually just rant; they never seem to struggle to clearly and thoughtfully identify the root causes of what they're dealing with. It is a sign of the state of our culture.

The site you are on now is 180 degrees opposite; and that applies to all subjects dealt with.

Thank you again, Stephen Speicher.

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And frankly, the only "first aid" I could give myself was to remind myself of my mortality; when I kept telling myself "I am mortal", I would eventually find myself coming out of the depression (even though it has always been a struggle to do so). I would imagine it is because I start realizing that if my existence is not guaranteed, then today is important, because today--or the next few minutes--are all I have for sure, so I'd better get on the stick and start struggling to achieve my values.

Has anyone else out there done anything similar? What is your "first aid" for depression, if you have experienced it?

Jim, here are some things I do (and don't do) when I'm very down or even somewhat depressed. First, I don't demean or fight myself. By that I mean that one's thoughts can become very negative when depressed, particularly about oneself. Not only do you feel very low to begin with, but then you start feeling bad about how bad you feel. You start feeling bad about yourself. It's one thing to be depressed about things going on around you or even in your own life, but another to fundamentally question and feel negatively about oneself. So, in short, I don't condemn myself, or tell myself I shouldn't feel what I do, or assume I'm crazy.

This being said, something I do is to very much allow thoughts and feelings to rise to the surface, for the purpose of understanding their causes. When one fights himself, such as by trying to tell himself he shouldn't be depressed when he is, he does not allow himself the opportunity to understand what he actually thinks and feels, and, more importantly, why.

I deeply believe that the subconscious is there to help us, particularly in psychological issues. So, I find it very necessary to allow it to "flow" in terms of the content and related emotions it brings forward, as I see those as essential to understanding the nature of my probelm. However, doing this successfully requires, first, a conscious commitment to solving the problem and, second, one of Dr. Binswanger's "standing orders" to monitor the material arising from the subconscious for psychological significance. In other words, a lot pops into one's mind, but some of it will be more valuable than others in terms of helping one understand what's going on and then overcome it.

Also, one can direct one's subconscious to give you the right material. For example, if I'm having trouble understanding what's going on, I'll put on some music that suits my mood. I don't mean I put on depressing music, but music that is slower, softer, more in tune with my mental state. I find that my mind starts flowing better, and the music calls images, memories, and emotions to the fore. Virtually without fail, the answer I'm looking for (or at least a strong clue to it) is contained in an integration of those things as identified by some core principle I already hold. So, I'm essentially coaxing my subconscious to give me what I'm looking for, but in an indirect way.

One last thing is keeping context and perspective. As much as it can be helpful to focus one day at a time, I have also found it helpful to remind myself that this is just a brief period, that I have accomplished things, have been happy, have more things I want to accomplish, will, and will be happy again. I'm immersed in the day at hand, but I don't drown in it.

Thank you, Scott:

I like the fact that you bring up music as a means to help bring certain things to the forefront of one's consciousness.

Whenever I have felt horror or grief--as I did immediately after 9/11--I find Mozart's Requiem very helpful as a cathartic. Whenever I have felt extremely split or divided over something--say, a career decision or something else--I find Shostakovich's Eighth Symphony very expressive of what I feel (a battle between mind and body?). If I feel a deep sense of loss or grief, I might also listen to Tomaso Albinoni's Adagio as a way of getting to the root of my feelings. And if I want to feel uplifted and motivated, I listen to Rachmaninoff's Second Piano Concerto, Beethoven's "Emperor" Concerto or Grieg's famous Piano Concerto.

(Of course, the question is then: why wouldn't someone want to feel uplifted and motivated all the time?)

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And be sure to WORK, at something you love!

I don't have the source handy, but Ayn Rand herself said words to the effect: "I am unbearable -- to myself, and others -- if I've gone a couple of days without writing." Her husband Frank O'Connor would tell her: "It's nothing that a little writing won't fix."

Productive work is CENTRAL to a happy life. And, for maximum benefit, your work must be something you LOVE.

This presupposes that one is a passionate valuer.

The more you've been a valuer, the more (other things being equal) you will be able to cope with life's difficulties.

What you say, Bill, is so true.

Why is it that so many people take so long to learn it, or seemingly have to learn it the hard way?

P.S. Incidentally, I enjoyed your translation of and introduction to The Mysterious Valley.

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In recent years I have had a few depressive episodes, which I would call severe. Fortunately, they haven't lasted interminably. However, at the beginning of each one I felt as if I had just fallen into an abyss and had no energy to climb out.

I am extremely leery of psychotherapists, because of their usual determinism (which, to me, is fatalism), subjectivism and a belief that each one of us needs someone else in their life. I am a social being, but I know my happiness does not depend on the constant presence of one certain other human being. However, in those times when I have fallen into the "abyss" of depression, I have felt extremely alone, even as if I was missing my own company. It seemed that nothing--and no one--existed.

And frankly, the only "first aid" I could give myself was to remind myself of my mortality; when I kept telling myself "I am mortal", I would eventually find myself coming out of the depression (even though it has always been a struggle to do so). I would imagine it is because I start realizing that if my existence is not guaranteed, then today is important, because today--or the next few minutes--are all I have for sure, so I'd better get on the stick and start struggling to achieve my values.

Has anyone else out there done anything similar? What is your "first aid" for depression, if you have experienced it?

You should get yourself a medical check up. There are physical conditions that cause depression.

And conditions that result from it.

I believe there are more conditions that result from it than "cause" it.

If you believe--as I do--that every emotion, including the "emotion" of depression (which, to me, is the lack of any emotions; it is the "feeling" of being dead, quite literally in the true sense) is the result of an idea, than the idea behind the "emotion" of depression would be something like: "I cannot achieve my values (my most important values)". If so, than any outside factors, such as environment, sudden tragedies or one's own body chemistry, are just that: factors. The primary cause of depression or any other emotional malady is an idea, or a structure of ideas. So if one identifies those ideas and corrects them, the major part of the war is won.

It's not an easy task, I've learned. Introspection is something we were never taught in school, and I'm sure there are some very suspect reasons for this. But introspection is, nevertheless, the skill that must be learned and practiced in order to understand and deal with the internal problems one is facing.

Is there any other real alternative?

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I am extremely leery of psychotherapists, because of their usual determinism (which, to me, is fatalism), subjectivism and a belief that each one of us needs someone else in their life.

There are some fine Objectivist psychologists (Ellen Kenner, Michael Hurd) and psychiatrists (Jonathan Rosman, Arthur Mode) who understand human psychology properly and can be very helpful. Most are available for "first aid" by phone or e-mail.

Thank you, Betsy.

I like your "Laws", by the way--especially "Law #1".

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I am extremely leery of psychotherapists, because of their usual determinism (which, to me, is fatalism), subjectivism and a belief that each one of us needs someone else in their life.

There are some fine Objectivist psychologists (Ellen Kenner, Michael Hurd) and psychiatrists (Jonathan Rosman, Arthur Mode) who understand human psychology properly and can be very helpful. Most are available for "first aid" by phone or e-mail.

I should have also included our own Scott A. among the professional clinical psychologists. See his web site here.

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If you believe--as I do--that every emotion, including the "emotion" of depression (which, to me, is the lack of any emotions; it is the "feeling" of being dead, quite literally in the true sense) is the result of an idea, [...]

I've had arguments about this before, but the fact remains that depression is one mental state that can, at times, be linked to "organic" causes - i.e., effects stemming from a cause in the physical brain, not an effect stemming from a cause in consciousness. The evidence is overwhelming (to the point that somebody would have to be evading the evidence on the scale of a Tom Cruise) that some depression can be improved, sometimes dramatically, via drugs that affect the brain.

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I've had arguments about this before, but the fact remains that depression is one mental state that can, at times, be linked to "organic" causes - i.e., effects stemming from a cause in the physical brain, not an effect stemming from a cause in consciousness. The evidence is overwhelming (to the point that somebody would have to be evading the evidence on the scale of a Tom Cruise) that some depression can be improved, sometimes dramatically, via drugs that affect the brain.

I agree because I used to get depressed every month when my estrogen level dropped right before my menstrual period. It hasn't happened once since I have been taking replacement hormones which maintain my estrogen at the same level every day. [Not recommended for you guys.]

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If you believe--as I do--that every emotion, including the "emotion" of depression (which, to me, is the lack of any emotions; it is the "feeling" of being dead, quite literally in the true sense) is the result of an idea, [...]

I've had arguments about this before, but the fact remains that depression is one mental state that can, at times, be linked to "organic" causes - i.e., effects stemming from a cause in the physical brain, not an effect stemming from a cause in consciousness. The evidence is overwhelming (to the point that somebody would have to be evading the evidence on the scale of a Tom Cruise) that some depression can be improved, sometimes dramatically, via drugs that affect the brain.

I disagree. There are many, many studies but that does not mean the researchers have come to a proper conclusion on whether it is the cause or just a correlation. As a matter of fact there is some research that shows chemical reactions in the brain are a learned reaction from one's experiences (experience modifying brain anatomy).

Let us use the example of "posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). No one is born with a stress disorder, there is nothing to be stressed over when one is born nor a rememberance of anything. But, if someone has watched someone close to them get killed and released certain chemicals in the brain then every time they remember this situation they could release the same chemicals that might possibly cause stress and depression.

To sum up my own thoughts on this idea. I am not saying that each one of us would not produce a different effect or chemicals of differing amounts. What I am saying is that chemical releases and modifying anatomy of the brain can be and probably is learned. If it can be learned it can also be changed. It cannot be changed without introspection on the why's and the hows of the original cause along with an attachement to reality which I think the drugs will do very little long-term to help this aspect.

For further insight I would recommend two books; Blaming The Brain and Toxic Psychiatry, there are many more that I have read but these are a few of the better ones.

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I disagree.

And you are wrong. The fact of the matter is that changes in brain chemistry result, sometimes almost immediately, in changes in consciousness - and it is also true that consciousness can affect brain chemistry to some degree, over time, since consciousness is also a causative agent. If the former were not true, then nobody would take (either therapeutically or recreationally or abusively) drugs that alter brain chemistry which in turn alter some aspects of consciousness. Go have a few drinks and tell me that the alcohol doesn't affect your consciousness or that "mind over matter" can somehow negate causation.

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I disagree.

And you are wrong.

No, you are wrong. I did not state that chemicals do not change a person's conscious thought or actions, but, you are changing the situation. There is a difference between taking a drug to cause something and having an action that causes the chemical release. So, again I refer you to the two books I mentioned earlier.

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In recent years I have had a few depressive episodes, which I would call severe. Fortunately, they haven't lasted interminably. However, at the beginning of each one I felt as if I had just fallen into an abyss and had no energy to climb out.

I am extremely leery of psychotherapists, because of their usual determinism (which, to me, is fatalism), subjectivism and a belief that each one of us needs someone else in their life. I am a social being, but I know my happiness does not depend on the constant presence of one certain other human being. However, in those times when I have fallen into the "abyss" of depression, I have felt extremely alone, even as if I was missing my own company. It seemed that nothing--and no one--existed.

And frankly, the only "first aid" I could give myself was to remind myself of my mortality; when I kept telling myself "I am mortal", I would eventually find myself coming out of the depression (even though it has always been a struggle to do so). I would imagine it is because I start realizing that if my existence is not guaranteed, then today is important, because today--or the next few minutes--are all I have for sure, so I'd better get on the stick and start struggling to achieve my values.

Has anyone else out there done anything similar? What is your "first aid" for depression, if you have experienced it?

You should get yourself a medical check up. There are physical conditions that cause depression.

And conditions that result from it.

I believe there are more conditions that result from it than "cause" it.

If you believe--as I do--that every emotion, including the "emotion" of depression (which, to me, is the lack of any emotions; it is the "feeling" of being dead, quite literally in the true sense) is the result of an idea, than the idea behind the "emotion" of depression would be something like: "I cannot achieve my values (my most important values)". If so, than any outside factors, such as environment, sudden tragedies or one's own body chemistry, are just that: factors. The primary cause of depression or any other emotional malady is an idea, or a structure of ideas. So if one identifies those ideas and corrects them, the major part of the war is won.

It's not an easy task, I've learned. Introspection is something we were never taught in school, and I'm sure there are some very suspect reasons for this. But introspection is, nevertheless, the skill that must be learned and practiced in order to understand and deal with the internal problems one is facing.

Is there any other real alternative?

Whether your condition is caused by or is the cause of depression cannot be determined until a physical exam is performed. Which is why I recommended seeing a doctor. Not all emotions are the result of ideas. An emotion is a psychosomatic reaction which may have more than one cause. It is well documented that depression has many physical causes besides a feeling of being dead because one's values cannot be achieved. I have seen from first hand experience (not me) that hypothyroidism causes depression and suicidal tendencies. And after years of being misdiagnosed, all it took was a little pill to solve the problem. Rationality and the ability to act and judge rationally depend upon and presuppose a normal brain chemistry.

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If you believe--as I do--that every emotion, including the "emotion" of depression (which, to me, is the lack of any emotions; it is the "feeling" of being dead, quite literally in the true sense) is the result of an idea, [...]

I've had arguments about this before, but the fact remains that depression is one mental state that can, at times, be linked to "organic" causes - i.e., effects stemming from a cause in the physical brain, not an effect stemming from a cause in consciousness. The evidence is overwhelming (to the point that somebody would have to be evading the evidence on the scale of a Tom Cruise) that some depression can be improved, sometimes dramatically, via drugs that affect the brain.

I disagree. There are many, many studies but that does not mean the researchers have come to a proper conclusion on whether it is the cause or just a correlation. As a matter of fact there is some research that shows chemical reactions in the brain are a learned reaction from one's experiences (experience modifying brain anatomy).

Let us use the example of "posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). No one is born with a stress disorder, there is nothing to be stressed over when one is born nor a rememberance of anything. But, if someone has watched someone close to them get killed and released certain chemicals in the brain then every time they remember this situation they could release the same chemicals that might possibly cause stress and depression.

I don't get your conclusion. If a traumatic experience is remembered and the person relieves the trauma due to the release of chemicals in the brain, how is that a correlation and not a cause? How does the fact that something is learned affect the conclusion that the brain chemistry produces certain somatic reactions in the individual?

To sum up my own thoughts on this idea. I am not saying that each one of us would not produce a different effect or chemicals of differing amounts. What I am saying is that chemical releases and modifying anatomy of the brain can be and probably is learned. If it can be learned it can also be changed. It cannot be changed without introspection on the why's and the hows of the original cause along with an attachement to reality which I think the drugs will do very little long-term to help this aspect.

For further insight I would recommend two books; Blaming The Brain and Toxic Psychiatry, there are many more that I have read but these are a few of the better ones.

By the way, Phil was specifically talking about depression. Is PTSD a form of depression? It doesn't seem to be to me. Can you give an example of how depression is learned?

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To sum up my own thoughts on this idea. I am not saying that each one of us would not produce a different effect or chemicals of differing amounts. What I am saying is that chemical releases and modifying anatomy of the brain can be and probably is learned. If it can be learned it can also be changed. It cannot be changed without introspection on the why's and the hows of the original cause along with an attachment to reality which I think the drugs will do very little long-term to help this aspect.

Would you say then that the mental impairment of schizophrenia or Alzheimer's disease is probably learned and can be changed by introspection and learning a better attachment to reality? Why or why not?

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Genes that make up every human body are what create the fundamental organization of the brain. But, a large amount of the neuronal growth that leads to the establishment of connections has been shown to be influenced by experience (plasticity). The estimated 10 trillion synaptic connections in the human brain could not have been pre-configured, it comes through experience.

So how is depression learned? First, I will define depression as I understand it; the feeling of overwhelming sadness from a loss. If a person loses someone that is very close to them they will most likely feel some level of depression. When that person feels this state of depression they will have a chemical release in their brain that correlates with this feeling (they would not have the initial chemical release without the loss). While this person is in this mental state and does nothing to get out of it or remains fixated on this obsessive thought without any tie to reality they will keep releasing the chemical and might produce a physical change in the brain. If this is possible, which I think it is from my own research, we should not assume that every so called "biological marker" should be the cause of every disorder. In other words the persons themselves along with their actions and thoughts are the cause for the mental and behavioral state and changes to the brain.

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Would you say then that the mental impairment of schizophrenia or Alzheimer's disease is probably learned and can be changed by introspection and learning a better attachment to reality? Why or why not?

I find no reason to assume that all differences in the brains of people with schizophrenia is the cause of the disorder. Drugs that are being prescribed for mental disorders have been shown to induce long-lasting biochemical and structural changes in the brain which I think is most likely the cause not the other way around. Drugs or chemicals that block receptors or increase the amount of a neurotransmitter in the synapse initiate changes in the number of receptors and firing of neurons.

So, I would say yes a person can change their mental state with proper guidance and introspection. How do you expect to change a person's long-term state or thoughts on a subject without facing the thoughts and emotions that caused the state?

Alzheimer's disease has been shown to be a genetic problem (ill-mutation of a certain chromosome), for most of the people that get it. For those others it has been shown through some studies that it is the loss of new dendrite production and dendrite production has been show to be related to constant learning, the more you think about reality the better your chances of not getting the diesease.

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So how is depression learned? First, I will define depression as I understand it; the feeling of overwhelming sadness from a loss. If a person loses someone that is very close to them they will most likely feel some level of depression. When that person feels this state of depression they will have a chemical release in their brain that correlates with this feeling (they would not have the initial chemical release without the loss).

That is not what I would call depression. Depression is the feeling that one cannot act to achieve one's values and that action is useless and hopeless. It is different than sadness, even overwhelming sadness. It is, as Jim A. described it "the 'feeling' of being dead, quite literally in the true sense."

As you know, I recently suffered a huge loss, and there have been times recently when I have been overwhelmed with sadness and feeling great pain -- but I have never been depressed. I have always felt there was something I could do even if that was only having a good cry. The "monthly blues" I used to have were a different story. They came on a particular day of the month and were totally unrelated to what I was thinking and what was going on in my life. No thinking or introspection would help other than realizing "Oh, THAT again!" and waiting a day or so for it to pass.

While this person is in this mental state and does nothing to get out of it or remains fixated on this obsessive thought without any tie to reality they will keep releasing the chemical and might produce a physical change in the brain. If this is possible, which I think it is from my own research, we should not assume that every so called "biological marker" should be the cause of every disorder. In other words the persons themselves along with their actions and thoughts are the cause for the mental and behavioral state and changes to the brain.

This is true of depression that is psychogenic in origin and I think both Phil and I would agree that MOST depression is caused by thinking errors. Our point of disagreement is whether SOME cases of depression are somatic in origin.

The reseach tends to confirm that it is and with much more than "correlation." Scientists have measured the production and effects of neurotransmitters and correlated the data with introspective reports, but they have also learned a great deal about what these chemicals are and how they act, not only in humans but in non-conceptual, non-volitional animals as well.

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Would you say then that the mental impairment of schizophrenia or Alzheimer's disease is probably learned and can be changed by introspection and learning a better attachment to reality? Why or why not?

I find no reason to assume that all differences in the brains of people with schizophrenia is the cause of the disorder. Drugs that are being prescribed for mental disorders have been shown to induce long-lasting biochemical and structural changes in the brain which I think is most likely the cause not the other way around. Drugs or chemicals that block receptors or increase the amount of a neurotransmitter in the synapse initiate changes in the number of receptors and firing of neurons.

So, I would say yes a person can change their mental state with proper guidance and introspection. How do you expect to change a person's long-term state or thoughts on a subject without facing the thoughts and emotions that caused the state?

Ah, but that's begging the question by assuming that the long-term state was caused by prior thoughts and emotions. If it were caused by a physical abnormality like hypothyroidism, then taking thyroxine will cure it -- and it does.

Alzheimer's disease has been shown to be a genetic problem (ill-mutation of a certain chromosome), for most of the people that get it. For those others it has been shown through some studies that it is the loss of new dendrite production and dendrite production has been show to be related to constant learning, the more you think about reality the better your chances of not getting the disease.

The fact is that dementia caused by Alzheimer's and psychogenic dementia are often indistinguishable without an autopsy. If some dementia is somatic in origin, why not some depression?

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The fact is that dementia caused by Alzheimer's and psychogenic dementia are often indistinguishable without an autopsy. If some dementia is somatic in origin, why not some depression?

I agree that some of it could be, but a lot less than most people are getting prescribtions for today. If I remember correctly from a study that I read sometime ago, the totality of people with real thyroid problems is an estimated 1-2% of the total population of the world.

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The "monthly blues" I used to have were a different story. They came on a particular day of the month and were totally unrelated to what I was thinking and what was going on in my life. No thinking or introspection would help other than realizing "Oh, THAT again!" and waiting a day or so for it to pass.

I experience the same thing and deal with it the same way.

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