How I Overcame Depression And Traveled To My Bucket List Destinations

depressed man traveling head in hand

I always wanted to travel. In college I attended information sessions in stuffy rooms and echoing lecture halls, for at least five different study abroad programs. I dutifully filled out the paperwork, scheduled doctor’s appointments, even met with the other folks I’d be spending time abroad with. It was exciting. But something always held me back.

My depression.

When it came time to actually book the flight, things started to break down. To picture myself trying to make a tight connection, rebook a flight, overcome jet lag, suffer homesickness, not able to speak the language? It was paralyzing. I felt myself spinning into that familiar, desperate cycle of blaming myself for not being able to do the things I dreamed of and not being able to do the things I dreamed of because of my depression. Each application deadline — Prague, London, Paris, Cádiz, Perth — that passed would send me back to bed, missing classes, ignoring friends, and feeling miserable. Continue reading How I Overcame Depression And Traveled To My Bucket List Destinations

Depression: How to Deal When It’s Not Just Seasonal

woman sunset depression

On cold, rainy days, you’re allowed to be miserable and lazy. It’s totally acceptable to stay in, nap, and watch Netflix all day. From the months of May through September, however, you’re supposed to get outside, enjoy the weather and be happy. You’re supposed to have the time of your life in summer! But what if your depression is so bad that you can’t get out from underneath your covers? What good will the sun do you then?

Though summer marks a victorious finish line for sufferers of seasonal depression (or, seasonal affective disorder), the new season brings little to no relief for people with major or clinical depression, since triggers and causes usually run deeper than lack of sun or daylight hours. In fact, I’ve probably been at my very worst during certain summers, when the only time I felt like my mood was matched was when I’d lock eyes with a fellow distressed commuter at 8:30 AM on a Monday in a packed subway car reeking of body odor. Depression is extra lonely in the summer.

Confession: I envy people with seasonal affective disorder. It even has a cute acronym, SAD — unlike MDD (major depressive disorder) which doesn’t discriminate when it comes to seasons. Not to minimize a very real and difficult condition, but personally, I’d trade my MDD for SAD any day. To know that my depression symptoms were limited to a specific time frame would make them more manageable. Plus, SAD often occurs during a season when it’s more socially acceptable to feel such things. People can understand depression in the winter (and love to say, “Wow, this weather is so depressing”), but it’s difficult for them to grasp how someone can be down in the dumps when it’s nice out. Continue reading Depression: How to Deal When It’s Not Just Seasonal

Talkspace Online Therapy is the #1 Tool for Travelers With Depression

depressed man airport red suitcase

I always wanted to travel. In college I attended information sessions in stuffy rooms and echoing lecture halls, for at least five different study abroad programs. I dutifully filled out the paperwork, scheduled doctor’s appointments, even met with the other folks I’d be spending time abroad with. It was exciting. But something always held me back.

My depression.

Traveling opens our minds and keeps us young. Women who vacation every two years have a significantly lower risk of heart attack than women who vacation only ever six years. Men who don’t take an annual vacation have a 20% higher risk of death (30% higher risk of heart disease). However, for those of us with depression, travel can pose many challenges or even make it impossible.

Immersing yourself in an unfamiliar culture –– and actually getting there –– can be challenging. Between long flights and layovers, short connections, cancellations, not understanding the language, being unfamiliar with the cuisine, uncomfortable sleeping arrangements, altitude changes…there are many variables that can pose issues even for the most seasoned traveler among us. Layering in mental illness can exacerbate these situations.

Just because traveling guarantees a disruption of your normal schedule and poses a variety of potential challenges, does not mean you have to abandon your travel plans, give up exploring new areas, or forego trips to visit those you love. There are ways for all of us with mental illness to maintain our mental wellness, while hitting the road. Continue reading Talkspace Online Therapy is the #1 Tool for Travelers With Depression

Dealing With Depression: What You Need to Know

woman sitting lake mountains landscape

If you are dealing with depression, remember that you are not alone. More than 300 million people around the world live with depression. It is the leading cause of disability.

Dealing with depression is a lifelong journey of overcoming pain, accepting change, challenging your mind, training your body, and engaging in something outside of yourself. To thrive during this sometimes harrowing journey, you might need knowledge of the strategies, treatments, and lifestyle changes that will help you. We outlined them below.

Continue reading Dealing With Depression: What You Need to Know

Online Therapy is the #1 Tool for Travelers With Depression

depressed man airport red suitcase

I always wanted to travel. In college I attended information sessions in stuffy rooms and echoing lecture halls, for at least five different study abroad programs. I dutifully filled out the paperwork, scheduled doctor’s appointments, even met with the other folks I’d be spending time abroad with. It was exciting. But something always held me back.

My depression.

Traveling opens our minds and keeps us young. Women who vacation every two years have a significantly lower risk of heart attack than women who vacation only ever six years. Men who don’t take an annual vacation have a 20% higher risk of death (30% higher risk of heart disease). However, for those of us with depression, travel can pose many challenges or even make it impossible.

Immersing yourself in an unfamiliar culture –– and actually getting there –– can be challenging. Between long flights and layovers, short connections, cancellations, not understanding the language, being unfamiliar with the cuisine, uncomfortable sleeping arrangements, altitude changes…there are many variables that can pose issues even for the most seasoned traveler among us. Layering in mental illness can exacerbate these situations.

Just because traveling guarantees a disruption of your normal schedule and poses a variety of potential challenges, does not mean you have to abandon your travel plans, give up exploring new areas, or forego trips to visit those you love. There are ways for all of us with mental illness to maintain our mental wellness, while hitting the road. Continue reading Online Therapy is the #1 Tool for Travelers With Depression

14 Movies About Depression That Perfectly Capture the Experience

Anomalisa movie poster

More than 300 million people have depression, and each person has a unique story. It’s a mental health condition that manifests in a myriad of ways. It can make people feel lonely, detached, down or unmotivated, like there’s no point to anything. It can also spur them to act irrationally or destructively. We need movies about depression — among other works of art — to help us understand, humanize and sympathize with the many ways people experience depression.

If you’re interested in watching a movie featuring depression, it can be difficult to know where to start. There are hundreds of movies about depression, and thousands with strong themes of depression.

Rather than starting a subjective conversation about which movies are “best” in terms of the filmmaking (good writing, interesting characters, solid plot, etc.), we wanted to learn which ones would best enlighten you on the experience of depression. If you live with depression, you might identify with one or more of the characters in these films or they might provide your family and friends some insight into what you’re struggling with. Continue reading 14 Movies About Depression That Perfectly Capture the Experience

Ask Anna: Can I Support My Depressed BF Without Sabotaging Myself?

Anna Akbari advice column

Talkspace is pleased to introduce Ask Anna, a new Question & Answer column featuring Anna Akbari, sociologist and author of “Startup Your Life: Hustle and Hack Your Way To Happiness.” Send your mental health questions for Anna to [email protected].

Hi Anna,

When I first started dating my boyfriend, he was really ambitious, was a leader at his work, and was really excited about what he was doing. I feel like the combination of success and stress has made him flatline a bit. I’ve found that he’s gotten increasingly more agitated, less motivated, has lost his sense of ambition and is starting down a self-destructive path. On the weekends he is binge drinking and taking partying to a new level––the night always end in a fight or worse. Whenever I ask him how his day was, he says “it sucked” and completely shuts down. Every time I bring any of this up, he gets really defensive and refuses to talk about it.

I love him and want to help him, but I am at a crossroads. This is affecting me in a negative way and causing me to question our future together. How can I support him without sabotaging my own happiness?

– The supportive but not stupid girlfriend Continue reading Ask Anna: Can I Support My Depressed BF Without Sabotaging Myself?

Traveling with Depression: How I Should Have Prepared

woman backpack mountain

Mental health can be a journey. Journeying while struggling with mental health challenges, however, can be almost impossible.

In 2015 I traveled to Puno, Peru, to work on a research project as a part of my graduate degree in international public health. Before enrolling in the degree program, I had spent the better part of the previous two years traveling and living abroad in some capacity and was excited to have the opportunity to travel as a part of my career.

As my departure date to Peru creeped closer, I started seeing a therapist at the university health center to talk about concerns I had about traveling. I had experienced acute depression that year for the first time and was nervous it would creep back in while I was in a low-resource setting abroad. My in-person therapist told me many students feel this way before completing fieldwork abroad and I would be fine to push through.

I didn’t want my fears around my mental health to stop me from traveling. I wanted to be “strong.” So off I flew to Puno. Continue reading Traveling with Depression: How I Should Have Prepared

The Basics of SAD and How You Can Treat It: A Therapist’s Perspective

woman coffee light therapy

Many people with mood disorders, and those without, struggle in the cooler months with shorter days and much less sunlight. When the sun goes down, so does our energy and mood.

For those with Seasonal Affective Disorder [SAD], this change can be debilitating. The change in seasons and less daylight hours can lead to missed days from school or work, relationship problems and drastic changes in mood and weight. The effects of SAD can be devastating.

As a therapist, I come across many clients who experience symptoms such as these and come to understand these cluster of behaviors and experiences as SAD. As the summer months wind down, I can hear the worry and concern in their voices: “But what is winter going to be like for me?” Continue reading The Basics of SAD and How You Can Treat It: A Therapist’s Perspective

Why Is Suicide Increasing in Black Children?

young black girl sad

In July 2015, published research by JAMA Pediatrics indicated the suicide rate among elementary school children (under 12 years of age) had stabilized over two decades. What they were surprised to find was that Black children were at an increased incidence of suicide whereas their White counterparts demonstrated a significant decrease in suicide incidence. While White children’s rates of suicide has stabilized, those of Black children had increased.

What’s happening to our young Black children? Continue reading Why Is Suicide Increasing in Black Children?