Depression & despair

I’ve had lifelong issues with depression & despair — though I’ve never really thought about how they might be related to PCOS or insulin resistance. I have, over time, learned the things I need to do to take care of myself when the pit starts encroaching on me. I’ve never done antidepressants. Someone mentioned to me taking birth control pills (for PCOS) as masking a serious issue — I agree! — I also haven’t wanted to take antidepressants to mask the issues there, or to take on additional health problems because of so-called “side”-effects.

(Also known as: effects, without the trivializing qualification side-. Rant mode on: Side- effects are just the effects the pharmaceutical company wants to think aren’t significant so you’ll buy their drug. Sorta like how Eli Lilly’s antipsychotic drug Zyprexa, intended for people with schizophrenia & bipolar, is said to have a side-effect of weight gain & increased diabetes risk. Eli Lilly is in court right now in Anchorage, sued by the State of Alaska for how it minimized these health risks so that all kinds of Alaskans who might otherwise not have been are now Type 2 diabetics as a result of having been prescribed Zyprexa. There’s a bunch of other states that have filed suit as well. End rant mode.)

How I deal when I feel depression coming on: some of it is attention to an old Twelve-Step program acronym, HALT: Hungry Angry Lonely Tired. So I focus on getting enough healthy stuff to eat; taking care of my emotional & personal issues, especially interpersonal issues that involve resentments & anger; not getting isolated & having a good social network of family & friends; & getting enough sleep. Beside that, I know to make sure I’m not taking on too much, which I have frequently done in the past; that I’m getting good exercise, which elevates my mood; & that I’m not confusing my depressing thoughts with reality: thoughts are just like clouds, & I don’t have to attach myself to them. Hence, I have never attempted suicide, though I’ve had suicidal thoughts oh just lots & lots of times. Although I follow the news, I avoid going too deeply into it especially on items that really make me feel angry or helpless, because that hits all my despair-buttons. (I do what I can to improve the world in my own little neck of it, but I don’t put myself in the way anymore of helpless feelings about not being able to save the whole world all by myself.)

Most recently I learned about 5-HTP. Can’t believe I didn’t know about it before. It’s a complex that is one of the products your body synthesizes out of the amino acid tryptophan (of Thanksgiving post-dinner turkey sleepiness fame), & which in turn your body synthesizes into the neurotransmitter serotonin. Which is the neurotransmitter whose activity most of the later antidepressants, such as the SSRIs (selective serotonin uptake inhibitors) like Prozac & Zoloft are designed to manipulate. Well, why use an SSRI because you don’t have enough serotonin in your brain, when you can just manufacture more serotonin itself, by having adequate supplies of 5-HTP to manufacture it with? Besides that, 5-HTP also has been shown to help reduce food cravings & hence is an aid in fighting obesity (for reasons having to do with the relationship between carbohydrate consumption & how tryptophan gets past the blood/brain barrier into the brain) & also in helping reduce insomnia.

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