Ask Deepak: How to Survive Depression Without Using Antidepressants
By Deepak Chopra
February 03, 2010
Each week, spiritual teacher Deepak Chopra responds to Oprah.com users'questions with enlightening advice to help them live their best lives.
Q: I just read your article on how antidepressants don't help depression. It saddened me deeply. Since my early teens, I have battled depression. During my childhood, I was sexually molested by my grandfather and physically, verbally and emotionally abused by my parents.(especially my father). My ex-husband is an alcoholic, who also abused me in the same way as my parents. We raised four wonderful children together. When I divorced my husband, it was a very difficult decision for me, but I was very proud of myself in being so strong and optimistic. That was five years ago. I've since watched my life fall apart. Now only three of my four children want to have a relationship with me. The fact that I shielded them from the other side of their father has backfired on me. I have been going to a psychologist for counseling and a psychiatrist for medication for the past 15 years. My depression is now overwhelming, and to hear that the medication does not help concerns me deeply. I've been through classes on mindfulness and meditation, which have always helped in the past. Right now, at the place where I am in my life now, well...it is all I can do to put one foot in front of the other. Usually, reading your books and articles leave me with a sense of peace and hopefulness. This one though has left me feeling that I am at fault for not beating my depression. Yes, I know only you can help yourself out of this state of mind, but what do you do when every time you get up, life knocks you on your back over and over again? At this time in my life, I have even lost my faith in a higher being.
— Debbie F., Acworth, Georgia
Before I answer your question, let me say something. I thought long and hard about mentioning the new findings on antidepressants. It was only because they are public knowledge that I wrote my article. My intention wasn't to take away hope, but quite the opposite. I was addressing the 50 percent of patients who don't get relief from their condition and, in particular, the ones with mild to moderate depression.
You are in a different category of severe depression, and here the results of drug therapy have been more positive. I deeply sympathize with your situation, and I encourage you to keep getting professional help. Chronic severe depression requires the best that medicine can offer, both conventional and alternative.
Now, your question is about how to deal with setbacks, being knocked down every time you try to get back up. You are in the same condition as someone in shock from an auto accident. You feel confused, depressed, afraid and deeply hurt. These are real conditions that must heal of their own accord. They take time and patience. Given what you have gone through, your depression might even be called normal. That isn't a call anyone can make without seeing you personally.