The Athlete's Way

Sweat and the biology of bliss

Revolutionary Ideas About the Science of Depression

I had the opportunity to catch up with fellow Psychology Today blogger Jonathan Rottenberg on the phone earlier this week. We talked about his new book, 'The Depths: The Evolutionary Origins of the Depression Epidemic,' as well as, a recent study he published linking childhood depression to early heart disease. Read More


I read this post with great interest. I haven't been able to articulate why some people seem to be able to crawl out of deep, dark holes and others flail and suffer over long periods.

I often listen to Dr. Drew and Adam Carolla on their podcasts and they have stated many times that most depression can be cured by going for a walk and listening to classical music.

In my case, when life throws shit my way, I amp up my weight lifting and make sure to get outside for mile-long walks. I can feel the depression trying to take hold but just by doing a few simple things, it never seems to reach the point where I start to spiral.

A few years ago, devastating memories sprang forth in my spouse and our whole family was bludgeoned by erratic behavior, intense anger, lashing out, and a lot more. Later, an affair was revealed and we are headed towards divorce.

Not having been hit like this in my entire life, I knew I had to act quickly. I made sure we all had a safe place to talk (I have kids). So there were lots of opportunities to talk. I had learned to cook really well so I cooked wholesome foods. Family dinners were always a part of my family but now we took even more time to discuss the highlights of our days and whatever else came to our minds.

Add in drinking smoothies, more working out, and more walks and trying to find something good in each and every day, and I think I'm on the upswing. My mind grew darker, but never black.

I think you're onto something I never pondered. Acting quickly might be a fairly important variable. Had I let depression take hold, I think I would have had a much rougher ride. I was scared at the intensity of the blow to our family and tried to make sure I acted quickly.

So I'm a believer in Dr. Drew's analysis and your push to act quickly.

The author is so cute

The end.

But seriously yes those are the key things people need to do, I also think eating well and correcting key nutritional deficiencies can make major strides like for some people cutting out gluten, and lowering simple carbs and fats just eating overall healthier also things like correcting mthfr, pyrollia disorder and adding things like omega 3's, magnesium and probiotics.


Yes, I truly agree with the author's view that one needs to strive to take actions to treat depression instead of waiting for some medical magic. Interestingly, I have come across a post that reveals the cause of depression.

This can truly help in dealing with the cause more effectively with some quickly relieving spiritual solutions!

I am currently being treated

I am currently being treated for depression.

Personally, I believe I am just very unhappy due to some unfortunate life situations, but I finally relented to everyone who was pressuring me to go on anti-depressants. I feel like they all had their own motives - my therapist to make things easier, my sister so that I'd shut up, my friend so I'd be like him, my parents so they didn't feel disappointed by my unhappiness, my husband so maybe I wouldn't leave him...etc.

I work out everyday hard - boot camp, running, strength training, etc. That usually gets me through the morning, but then things start sliding downhill during the day, until I'm driving home from work crying and dreading going home.

Fortunately I have a VERY strong network of people I workout with, and I also have many good friends (who are, no doubt, sick of hearing my troubles).

One thing I am hopeful about is that the anti-depressants may help me make some huge and very difficult decisions about my life. It's too soon to tell though, so we'll see. So far I'm just as paralyzed as always, but not crying about it quite as much.

Thank you for joining the discussion.

Thank you to everyone for taking the time to share your experiences and insights with myself and other readers in the comments here.

I was moved by your story 2infinity. Thank you for sharing such specific and personal details about your treatment for depression with myself and readers.

I'm happy to hear that you aren't crying 'quite as much' and have a 'VERY strong' network of people you work out with and many good friends.:-)

It sounds like you are taking a really proactive and multi-pronged approach for treating your depression. The afternoons and evenings used to be rough for me when I was in a major depressive episode, too.

For some reason, the simple line that got me through my darkest days was believing that there would be 'sunbeams in my soul again.' It was kind of a mantra for me... and lo and behold that feeling of blackness within blackness seems light years away now.

I'm optimistic that you will look back on the depression you are experiencing now in a similar light at some point, as well. Hang in there! I'm sure the depression will pass. Wishing you all the best 2infinity. Sincerely, Christopher Bergland

personalized CBT

I came to the conclusion about a year ago that I was depressed, after falling into it slowly, the months before. Being a curious, science minded person, I read, skeptically, as much as I could. I had also around addiction, been treated (probably unnecessarily) for marijuana 3 years earlier, and was familiar with "recovery" in a general sense.
What I found worked for me was a few basic ideas. 1st, I decided to treat my depression, until this would fail, as a cognitive issue. I believed it was likely that the explanation of chemicals causing depression was no better than umbrellas causing rain. Buddhism, Stoicism, and CBT theory all understand emotions/moods as coming from thoughts, and thoughts you can control, sometimes only with practice.
2ndly, given that depression's nature makes it so very difficult to focus, get motivated, etc. on anything, I took every "mood trick" very seriously. Getting enough sleep, exercising, eating healthily, quitting smoking (well i tried), and positive thoughts are great. Most of these take will power, which takes a certain mood; a catch-22 if you will.
Quickly realizing this, i came to my third idea. Depression is all about momentum. If you can workout today, you'll feel slightly better, maybe be able to do other helpful things. Its like getting a snow ball moving; however, each step, although made easier by the priors is still difficult. Yet, giving up, often resulted in a spiral, and having to start over again, although often being wiser the next time.
Finally, the ultimate goal of getting in a good enough mood, to face whatever demons are causing the pain. For many people it is self-hate. Often its being lonely, and worse, feeling a deserving being lonely. Another terrible cycle is that people who hate themselves often feel they deserve to feel depressed, and so subconsciously have no desire to get better.
My answer to this was simply to throughout any sense of "just dessert" or dessert of any kind, with oneself. You have to live with yourself, make the best of it and the best of yourself. The most motivating thing for me, honestly, was the research showing people are more productive when happy. If i helped people with my productivity, that'd be much more just.

Well said Andrew 2014.

I am on a similar mission...You said it, and I am simpatico--

"My answer to this was simply to throughout any sense of "just dessert" or dessert of any kind, with oneself. You have to live with yourself, make the best of it and the best of yourself. The most motivating thing for me, honestly, was the research showing people are more productive when happy. If i helped people with my productivity, that'd be much more just."

Thank you for sharing this Andrew.

Wishing you the very best,
Christopher Bergland

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Christopher Bergland is a world-class endurance athlete, coach, author, and political activist.


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