Author Archives: jlbuys

Taking depression for a walk (II)



In a previous post I started talking about walking and depression. I’ve mentioned that my therapist’s first treatment recommendation was a 30 minute walk per day. In a world with sophisticated drugs and psychological treatments for depression, can something as simple as walking make a difference? Is it relevant? Let’s find out:


A Harvard Medical School publication on the topic sites a number of interesting findings:

  • A literature review dating as far back as the eighties concludes that exercising regularly can lead to improvements in mood for people with mild to moderate depression, and be a treatment support for severe depression sufferers
  • A 1999 study found that participants who took part in an aerobic exercise program fared as well as participants taking  an antidepressant, and a third group who received both treatments. Interestingly,  the group taking antidepressants only reported the quickest improvement in mood, but participants who continued exercising after…

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I don’t like blue on you



Depression, by its very nature, isolates. It undermines your courage, joy and self-esteem. When you’ve summoned up the courage to say “I need help,” you hope for a soft landing. For people who are supportive and understanding. Sadly (depressingly!) this is not always the case.

A friend of mine shared the painful story of colleagues writing cards, sending flowers and visiting with a co-worker who was being treated for cancer, but ostracizing her (my friend) when she was forced to take time off from work to get treatment for major depressive disorder. Just like cancer, depression is serious, debilitating, sometimes treatable, but often life-threatening. This reaction doesn’t seem to make sense in a society that has officially and scientifically broken down the chasm between mental and physical illness, health, and treatment.

We have come a long way from associating mental illness with madness and sorcery, and locking up ‘insane’ people…

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The story of the boy with a cold



Last week we looked at some things that helped me recover. This week I’ll list and briefly talk about a few more. But first, a story:

The story of the boy with a cold*

It was the school holidays. It had been raining for days, and Jake had been trapped indoors for all of them. Eventually, running out of ideas to keep him busy, Jake’s mom agreed that he could spend some time outside. “Just be careful not to catch a cold, Jake!” she shouted after him. But it was too late. Jake had his  rain boots on, but no coat or jacket. Who had time for dressing up when you (finally!) had a free pass to get outside? 

Jake ran through the garden, jumping into every puddle he could find. What fun this was! An hour later, smiling and dripping wet, Jake came back in (lured there by the smell…

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Stressed or depressed?



“Tomorrow I will get up early, work late, catch up and things will be OK.” Sound familiar? My wife and I, both young professionals working overseas, thought that some degree of burnout came with the territory. We were paying our dues, becoming used to working evenings and weekends, and not having energy for much else.

This most recent period of burnout was the third in my short career. As eye drops to hide the redness and escalating coffee consumption became my new normal, I became vaguely aware of a sense of panick. Not making it. And eventually, little by little, loosing hope that I was ever going to make it again.

In the last weeks before I was diagnosed, I noticed that hours of work yielded few results. I was falling behind and couldn’t find the energy to catch up anymore. We talked about getting a prescription for a mild…

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