Most likely all of the advice offered so far in this thread is what others have found works for them. That's all anyone except a trained professional can give you, and in my experience even the trained professionals often can't do much better...and sometimes they do worse. Some are good, but finding them ain't easy. Meanwhile, you can spend a lot of time and money turning yourself into a lab rat for the medicine men & shrinks and have nothing to show for it.
I'm sure you already realize that there's no one-size-fits-all cure for depression. Fr. Tom nailed it...it's a complicated problem, made more so by the effect of circumstances of human interaction (marriage, kids, job...and especially relatives. I recommend you follow Kyle’s advice there; ignore them all, except for the ones with whom interacting leaves you feeling better, not worse).
Now, I'm going to tell you something here that is the most valuable advice I ever received on the subject of depression, so pay attention:
You can't fix it all with software.
…by which I mean you can’t fix it all by “changing the way you think”. It’s true. I don't care what anyone says; unless you're already an expert in transcendental meditation or are skilled in using certain neuro-feedback tools (in which case you prolly wouldn't be depressed in the first place), you can't fix it all with software.
The morons who are telling you that the solution is to "...suck it up, be a man and deal with it" are essentially saying you can fix it all with software. No you can't. They don't know WTF they're talking about. Be polite, say “Thanks for your suggestion”, and immediately dismiss everything they say on the subject.
The first thing you have to realize about depression is that it is neurochemical in nature. It's your brain and the neurotransmitters it produces that are causing your depression. Things like exercise and diet (and smoking) affect your neurochemistry, but they don't affect everyone in the same way. They don't even necessarily affect you
in the same way from day to day or week to week. You can figure it out, but it takes patience, persistence, and motivation...and that's a Catch-22. Motivation is not exactly the defining characteristic of depression.
Anyhow, if you're depressed, your neurotransmitters are out of balance. Period. You can fix a certain amount of the imbalance with "software" (optimistic thinking, cognitive therapy, positive self-talk, finding things you like about yourself, learning not to react impulsively, not to assume the worst...etc.), but it's all software, and there's only so much you can do with software. If the wetware is out of whack, you're still boned. You have to get your neurotransmitters in balance.
If you're asking, "WTF does that mean? What's 'in balance'?", you're on the right track. The answer is simple: For you
, "in balance" means whatever gets you
un-depressed. Not what gets me or anyone else here un-depressed...or what some medicine man thinks might
work, and you get to be the lab rat for his pharmaceutical experiments. Been there, done that. It's a path for people who have a lot of dollars and no sense.
Fr. Tom called it: Throwing drugs at the problem isn't going to work either. The medicine men are trying to treat your brain like it's a machine — a simple system — like it's a conglomeration of if-then, cause-and-effect, simple processes, wherein you put in this drug and it fixes everything. Except when it doesn't. Then they try something else. They don't know what they're doing.
A better approach is to provide your system with an abundance of neurotransmitter precursors and let your brain take what it needs to naturally create its own balance. Here's the stuff that works for me:
- omega-3 complex (fish oil gelcaps)
- vitamin D (softgels)
- pantothenic acid
- alpha-lipoic acid
Everything on the list is available without a prescription at any chain pharmacy, at most health food stores, or at places like The Vitamin Shoppe. Acetyl-L-carnitine is at the top of the list on purpose. It does more good (for me) than everything else on the list combined. But I’m not you. The point is that, if you're going to be a lab rat, you might as well take charge of the experiments. That's what I did, and it helped a great deal. Whether it will work for you is something only you can determine.
But you can't solve it all with wetware either. The software part is important. I also meditate, I play lots of guitar, I compose music in Logic Pro, I use a bio-feedback interface with some nifty software, and I allow myself some escape time every day...NOT television, which is full of bummers. I watch video content on Netflix or YouTube. Also, sex is good. Anything that pumps endorphins into your system is good.
So are stimulants. Adrenalin is a stimulant, which is why exercise often works; but your body can produce only so much adrenalin, and then you’re out. Adrenal exhaustion sucks, which is why exercise isn't a panacea. Caffeine works, if you can tolerate it. Prescription stimulants can
work, but they're horribly expensive, and you have to jump through all kinds of hoops to get them. Various teas can
work, especially ripe pu-erh. Experiment.
One more thing...and I don't know whether this will help, but here it is anyway. The emotions you feel with depression are real experiences
, but the thoughts that accompany them aren't real things. At all. They're stuff you make up. It's not easy to separate the emotions you feel from the thoughts that produce them, but if you dwell on those thoughts, you'll just get into the big downward spiral. That's why exercise, or just DOING something in general is so valuable. Break the spiral. Go sweep the floor. Get up and walk across the room. Do some jumping jacks. Stuff your face into a pillow and scream. Something. Anything. Just move
. It works.