Golden Era Cures for Depression

Discussion in 'The Observation Bar' started by Paisley, Oct 22, 2008.

  1. Paisley

    Paisley I'll Lock Up

    My best friend, Kim, used to be a vibrant, funny, energetic, creative woman. Now Kim is living in another state, engaged to a man who, at age 45, has no steady work or home of his own (he's living with Kim, who is living with her brother). According to what she said on the phone last night, she can't find a job, never leaves the house and hasn't exercised in months. There's a tone of resignation in her voice.

    I told her to start exercising and find some volunteer work; she found one excuse after another not to. We've been friends for eight years and I can't let her keep sliding downhill without a fight.

    People had a lot to be depressed about during WWII and the Great Depression. What did their friends do for them to get them out of their funk?
  2. Kassia

    Kassia One of the Regulars

    West Coast of Canada
    Not something to take lightly that is for sure.. Depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain and needs to be diagnosed properly by a doctor... Encourage her to seek help... Can you afford to go visit her?
    Aside from that getting out is good.. Especcially if she can spend some time in the sun every day...
    And sadly enough perhaps she needs to get rid of that guy for good??
    But until she is ready to help herself, nothing you do is going to going to help.
    Trust me, i speak from experience...
    She is lucky to have a friend like you tho...
  3. just_me

    just_me Practically Family

    They often suffered. My grandmother was given electroshock treatments. Her life (and my mother's who grew up with her) would have been much better had there been medications for clinical depression.

    There have been many advances in the treatment of depression since the Golden Era but she has to want to do something about it and seek help.
  4. Maj.Nick Danger

    Maj.Nick Danger I'll Lock Up

    Behind the 8 ball,..
    Remember them in your prayers first and foremost, and remember to stay in touch with them and encourage them. It can be difficult and takes time, and we often think our words of encouragement are of no effect, but in time they honestly do have a positive effect.
  5. The Shirt

    The Shirt Practically Family

    I have a sister I worry about constantly regarding this. For our holidays, I taught her to knit and then bought classes for her when she showed some interest. A low $ hobby that gets her out of the house and in contact with other people. I don't see her often as I'd like but I do call and email lots. Not only when I can sit down for a long conversation either. Sometimes I'll just tell her a funny story that happened, I think keeping her connected in happy and lighter ways helps her not to bog down in the things that sometimes depress her. Consistent reminding her that I am there for her in whatever capacity I can.

    My family was predisposed to drinking back in the depression or at least that's what the stories are these days. Hoping it doesn't come to that now.
  6. LadyDeWinter

    LadyDeWinter A-List Customer

    Berlin, Germany
    Paisley, I think the best thing you can do is to stay in constant contact with her. Don't leave her alone. I speak from experience...It's even worse when you feel bad and nobody cares about you. I think that is a bad thing of our times that so many people are alone.
  7. KittyT

    KittyT I'll Lock Up

    Boston, MA
    I can't agree with Kassia more. Depression, even if situational, if a legitimate medical problem and needs to be diagnosed and treated by a doctor, with or without the addition of counseling.

    Other suggestions that people made here are great, but only for mild depression - encourage her to start a new hobby, get out, do something that she enjoys, and this time of year it's especially important to try to get access to sunlight. But as others have already pointed out, someone has to really want to help themselves first. The most you can do is encourage her and let her know that you're there for her.

    There are some natural remedies as well that many people have luck with, such as St. John's Wort, but again they won't be effective in the least for anything other than mild depression.
  8. Paisley

    Paisley I'll Lock Up

    Thanks for all your helpful suggestions. I'll be calling Kim more often than I have been.

    Kim has struggled with this before, but I'm not sure if she has ever tried a prescription. I do think her case is situational, for various reasons. I'll ask her if she has considered seeing a doctor, though.

    As for dumping her fiance: my thoughts exactly. It's interesting that she seldom mentions him to me; in fact, I discovered their engagement through a mutual friend.

    I do think that once she starts to get better, she'll pick herself up and move back to sunny Denver, where her friends are and where she'll have to get out every day and make a living. That can only help her.

    And now, for Golden Era takes on depression:

    Alfred Adler (I have read) strongly suggested to his patients to think about what they could do for other people. He said his patients usually thought, "How can I worry someone?"
  9. Miss 1929

    Miss 1929 My Mail is Forwarded Here

    Oakland, California
    The best way to get over feeling sad is to make someone else happy. She could try volunteering - if people seem like too much trouble, the animal shelters can always use a hand. Crack babies in hospitals need rockers, too.

    If it isn't actually clinical depression, she may just be enjoying being miserable on some level (I've been there and done that) in which case no amount of good advice will help. She will eventually pull herself out of the hole, or not.

    All you can do is keep reminding her you care.
  10. Lady Day

    Lady Day I'll Lock Up Bartender

    Crummy town, USA
    Well I just read The Omnivore's Dilemma and they mention the cheapness of Corn based alcohol.

    Im sure that was a big unhealthy crutch to deal with life. :eek:

  11. Big Man

    Big Man My Mail is Forwarded Here

    Nebo, NC
    The State Hospital ...

    One solution for depression during the golden era was being committed in the "State Hospital".

    This is a view of the hospital where I work (my office is on the third floor, front). This is a scan of an old post card from the 1930's. Incidentally, the building looks the same today as it did back then (with the exception of the old cars).


    The largest growth period we saw at our facility was from the late 1920's through the late 1950's, and was (to a very great degree) attributed to the post World War I period (1920's-1930's) and the post World War II period (late 1940's and into the 1950's).

    One of the early treatments employed here in the 1900 to 1940 period was the "colony method" of housing patients. While this method was developed in Europe, our first Superintendent, Dr. Patrick L. Murphy, read extensively on the subject and employed it here (I believe we were the first of NC's State hospitals to employ the colony method). Basically, the colony method used buildings designed to be similar to local farm houses, where small groups of patients (along with their care givers) were housed. These patients then grew their own food, raised their own cows, chickens, pigs, etc., and generally took care (under supervision and direction) of their own needs. The idea was to provide the patients with something useful and beneficial to do with their lives, occupy their time, and to help prepare them (hopefully) for eventual discharge and return to the community.

    During the golden era, for the severely depressed (or persons suffering from other forms of mental illness), there was little available treatment beyond institutionalization. While this may be difficult to think about, you must remember that few (if any) psychotropic medications were available until after the 1940's.

    By the way, someone in an earlier post mentioned "electric shock treatment". When I began working at the hospital 30 years ago (dang, that sounds like a loooong time ago), I was on the "shock treatment team". While "shock treatment" has a bad public connotation (probabally due to the movies), Electroconvulsive Therapy ("ECT") was, and still is, a very good treatment for major depression. While ECT is no longer given here (due to a great deal with the public perception), when it was offered I saw very sick patients come to the hospital, receive a series of treatments, and go home in much, much better condition.
  12. Undertow

    Undertow My Mail is Forwarded Here

    Des Moines, IA, US
    My grandmother and grandfather, both having lived through the Depression, said family support was what got them through tough times. My grandmother advised me that getting out and staying active, whether that was seeing a movie or playing cards, or just walking with someone, also helped.
  13. Dieter

    Dieter New in Town

    Santa Cruz, CA
    As someone who was once diagnosed with clinical depression, I found my own long-lasting cure, which has worked daily for the past 8 years (without the use of psychtropic drugs, hypnosis or anything like that); an appreciation for what I actually have (no matter how big or small), and a healthy sense of humor. In so doing, I discovered that having a laugh (or even a chuckle) before 9 a.m. every day works wonders! :)
    As for the old days, they'd read, play sports, have hobbies, listen to radio shows or go watch movies (pre-film noir, of course) to get out of the doldrums.
  14. HarpPlayerGene

    HarpPlayerGene I'll Lock Up

    North Central Florida

    And prayer.

    By work, I don't necessarily mean, "Get a job you bum!". I mean like dig up a part of the yard for a garden. Wash and vacuum the car. That sort of get the blood flowing and build a little gumption sort of activity. Satisfying and very effective. The body feeds the mind. Watching television stunts it.

    By prayer, I'm not advocating any specific belief system or religious denomination. I'm not a joiner in that respect myself. But I genuinely believe that praying for guidance and gratitude in the mornings and saying thanks at night for every little thing has kept me from going 'round the bend.

    It's a more confusing world now than ever, but these very old-fashioned methods of coping can really help.
  15. +1 on the value of work--not necessarily in employment or physical labor, but something to focus on and take her mind off the situation; it's one of the things that helped me in my bout, my shrink thought that my throwing myself into various studies and focusing on them was as much a part of my recovery as the aggressive treatment-regimen he designed. And Dieter's right on, as well, along with so many others above...

    Of course, there's a risk here too, especially if the patient already has an OCD-type disorder as well.

    Now playing: John Williams - The German Sub/To The Nazi Hideout
    via FoxyTunes...
  16. Dr Doran

    Dr Doran My Mail is Forwarded Here

    Los Angeles
    I am sorry about your friend. That is always tough to see your best friend in that situation.

    As for ECT: One of my brothers did ECT and liked it a lot. He felt relaxed afterward. That is only for severe depression, though.

    I am not a doctor but it sounds like your friend does not have severe depression but has fallen into a nasty rut.

    Not to sound like a broken record, but I am a firm believer in hard exercise, eating very healthily, having a steady income, having one's own place to live in which one can be oneself without having to deal with the often very distracting idiosyncrasies of other people, having a future of some sort to look forward to (even a modest one), staying away from destructive or very dark-minded people, and reading good philosophy. Lucretius de rerum natura ("On the Nature of Things") is wonderful (except for the boring parts about optics) and very liberating. Some people find Marcus Aurelius' Meditations very good as well. No one can go wrong with Plato's Apology, and it's very short, too.

    In my experience the prayers of other people have done nothing at all. My aunt is a nun, though, and she thinks that prayers help the person who is praying to focus on what they want to accomplish. I am quite willing to believe this.
  17. Miss Neecerie

    Miss Neecerie I'll Lock Up

    The land of Sinatra, Hoboken
  18. Rachael

    Rachael A-List Customer

    Stumptown West
    I will have to agree about activity being the best way to beat 'the blues'. Of course no one should belittle actual clinical depression, but when I find myself getting stuck in a nasty rut, the best fix is stepping out of myself for a bit. This could mean taking long walks, or it could mean volunteering at a local charity. Just having a reason to brush the hair and leave the house helps to lift the spirits. If in the process one can benefit another, this is even better.

    As to prayer, I would add one more benefit. Offering to pray for another is saying that you are so sincerely concerned with their well-being that you are taking that concern into your daily spiritual routine. Knowing that someone cares that deeply about you can indeed lift your spirits.
  19. Paisley

    Paisley I'll Lock Up

    Pearl Harbor, Exercise and Advice from the Tribal Elders

    Thanks for all your responses. It's interesting that so many people mentioned exercise--a few years ago, I think there were some studies that came out that indicated that exercise was sometimes as effective as drugs in treating depression. I'm sure it helped many people in the Golden Era.

    I also talked a wise old friend and my Aunt Helen. They said that having voiced my suggestions and opinions to Kim, to let it go and just keep being a friend.

    Dale Carnegie wrote a book in 1944 called How to Stop Worrying and Start Living. There is a chapter called "How to Cure Depression in Fourteen Days" based on a quote from Alfred Adler: "You can be cured of depression in fourteen days if you follow this prescription. Try to think every day how you can please someone." Here is one story from the chapter:

    [Margaret Tayler] Yates is a writer of novels, but none of her mystery stories is half so interesting as the true story of what happened to her that fateful morning when the Japanese struck our fleet at Pearl Harbor. Mrs. Yates had been an invalid for more than a year: bad heart. She spent 22 out of every 24 hours in bed. The longest journey that she undertook was a walk into the garden to take a sunbath. Even then, she had to lean on the maid's arm as she walked. She herself told me that in those days she expected to be an invalid for the balance of her life. "I would never have really lived again," she told me, "if the Japanese had not struck Pearl Harbor and jarred me out of my complacency.

    "When this happened," Mrs. Yates said, as she told her story, "everything was chaos and confusion. One bomb struck so near my home, the concussion threw me out of bed. Army trucks rushed out to Hickam Field, Scofield Barracks, and Kanehoe Bay Air Station, to bring Army and Navy wives and children to the public schools. There the Red Cross telephoned those who had extra rooms to take them in. The Red Cross workers knew that I had a telephone beside my bed, so they asked me to be a clearinghouse of information. So I kept track of where Army and Navy men were instructed by the Red Cross to telephone me and find our where their families were.

    "I soon discovered that my husband, Commander Robert Raleigh Yates, was safe. I tried to cheer up the wives who did not know whether their husbands had been killed; and I tried to give consolation to the widows whose husbands had been killed--and they were many. Two thousand, one hundred and seventeen officers and enlisted men in the Navy and Marine Corps were killed and 960 were reported missing.

    "At first I answered these phone calls while lying in bed. Then I answered them sitting up in bed. Finally, I got so busy, so excited, that I forgot all about my weakness and got out of bed and sat by a table. By helping others who were much worse off than I was, I forgot all about myself; and I have never gone back to bed again except for my regular eight hours of sleep each night. I realize now that if the Japanese had not struck at Pearl Harbor, I would probably have remained a semi-invalid all my life. I was comfortable in bed. I was constantly waited on, and I now realize that I was unconsciously losing my will to rehabilitate myself.

    "The attack on Pearl Harbor was one fo the greatest tragedies in American history, but as far as I was concerned, it was one of the best things that ever happened to me. That terrible crisis gave me strength that I never dreamed I possessed. It took my attention off myself and focused it on others. It gave me something big and vital and important to live for. I no longer had time to think about myself or care about myself."​
  20. Paisley

    Paisley I'll Lock Up

    I talked to someone last night and found out she herself (not Kim) was taking a prescription for depression/anxiety, and said it really helped. She told me when I said I'd seen a change for the better in her mood. Given her health and situation, she really cannot exercise heavily or throw herself into much of anything except getting well.

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