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why can some people be productive when depressed


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Why can some people bang out great works of art when depressed, or clean the house from top to bottom, or hold down a job, while others like me struggle to take a shower, leave the house, and let the house get as disgusting as hell?  It is a matter of depression severity?  Different subtypes of depression with different neurotransmitters involved (like the functional depressed people have more norephinephrine or dopamine or whatever)?  Number and length of episodes?  Maybe people with bipolar depression are usually more productive than people with unipolar depression?  What do you think? I really don't know.

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for me, personally, i have both productive and unproductive days. some days i function well, and can concentrate on work & many other tasks ( i chalk this up to wanting to not think about the depression). and other days, i can barely cope

( when the depression sucks me in).

same here

I usually get productive when

1)  I get used to my meds (lexapro made me a couch slug.)

2)  I need to get my mind off of dark destructive thoughts.

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Why can some people bang out great works of art when depressed, or clean the house from top to bottom, or hold down a job, while others like me struggle to take a shower, leave the house, and let the house get as disgusting as hell?
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Hey, yeah, good question.  I've wondered that, myself.  Depression totally annihilates my creativity and motivation (though, I have to admit, every once in a great, great while I'm able to retain some creativity/motivation--it's a mystery to me why it can't be like that with every depressive episode).  I tend to lose every positive and worthwhile trait: curiosity, humor, patience, self-discipline, etc., etc.  Everyone's experience is different, and yada yada, but it kind of pisses me off that JKR wrote the first Harry Potter book while depressed.  I can barely write a grocery list when depressed ;)

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If someone provides structure and makes me, I can do useful stuff while depressed. That's good, since I tended to be somewhat down most of my life. However, when I'm unemployed and need to search for work there's a real problem. And I hate structure.

Hey, yeah, good question.  I've wondered that, myself.  Depression totally annihilates my creativity and motivation (though, I have to admit, every once in a great, great while I'm able to retain some creativity/motivation--it's a mystery to me why it can't be like that with every depressive episode).  I tend to lose every positive and worthwhile trait: curiosity, humor, patience, self-discipline, etc., etc.  Everyone's experience is different, and yada yada, but it kind of pisses me off that JKR wrote the first Harry Potter book while depressed.  I can barely write a grocery list when depressed :P

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

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Structure is useful in my case, too, though accomplishing tasks when I absolutely must (even routine tasks such as grocery shopping or cleaning) leaves me feeling even more drained and makes productivity an even greater (if that's conceivable) challenge in the following days.  Maybe it's just me.  There's a possibility that my physical exhaustion is caused by something other than depression/another MI, but because I am MI my doctors are now ascribing that persistent sleepiness and lack of stamina to anything and everything psychological in origin.  Maybe it's a type of depression.  I wish I knew.  Someone post and tell me you're dealing with the same thing so I'll know I'm not all alone here.  It's worse when I'm depressed, but it's always with me, regardless of sleep/eating/exercise habits.  And I've been tested for thyroid dysfunction, anemia, the usual suspects.  Bleah.

Edit: Not that the preceding had any relevance to the subject of motivation.  (Sorry about that.)  "I will curb my tangential blathering...I will curb my tangential blathering...I will curb..." 

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For me, it's being a mother and having a mortgage. I really have no choice other than get out of bed and put one foot in front of the other. If I didn't have these responsibilities, I'd very likely stay in bed and not shower for days on end.

Some days are better than others, but overall my productivity is good, so I can get away with slacking off every once in a while. But the busier I am at work, the better - it's when things are slow that I have too much time to think about how miserable I am.

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Depression  has made me really unproductive, uncreative and fairly useless. I don't like saying totally dysfunctional too many times a day...I'm sure there is a limit somewhere  ;)

Sometimes though, I get bursts of "I can't take this mess anymore" itis and run around all bat shite psycho and rearrange/clean.

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Nice thread. Lots of good answers.

Like Sunshine, I gots no choice. Single parent, full time job. I have to keep going because there is no one to pick me up if I fall. For some of the other things, like bathing, cleaning, and paying bills, the biggest problem is motivation. I find that if I can get myself to start something, I can usually carry it out to the end. It's the getting started that's hard.

Greeny

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For some of the other things, like bathing, cleaning, and paying bills, the biggest problem is motivation. I find that if I can get myself to start something, I can usually carry it out to the end. It's the getting started that's hard.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Amen!

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For those of you who are productive citizens (whether willfully or circumstantially), are you currently on a meds cocktail that has helped alleviate your depression/lack of motivation and have you been through/are you in therapy?  If you've done, or are doing, the therapy thing, how many years of experience do you have?  If you're on a meds cocktail that is at least moderately helpful, how long did it take for you to find a combo that works for you?  Is your dx MDD or BP?  (if you care to share.)  How does your present mood/motivation/energy level compare to where you were when you first began therapy/experimenting with psych meds?

I'm curious as to how meds/therapy (and length of time in it) factor into productivity output.  (And looking for some inspiration...)  Hollywoodfreaks pretty much asked the same questions at the start of this thread, but we've gotten away from specifics...(which is a shame because they're excellent questions!).  I think there's something to the subtypes of depression/severity/various neurotransmitters involved theories, and I think perhaps comorbid conditions complicate matters Big Time.  It's too simplistic to think one depressed person is just like another.

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I suspected a lot of people would say it's their jobs that keep them going.  Structure definitely helps me a ton too.  If I have a job or am in school I can do the bare minimum I need to get by (even getting all As in school) even if I'm severely depressed.  If I don't have a job, well, I'm just fucked.

I guess what I'm more curious about are things that go above and beyond the call of duty, so to speak, like getting the inspiration and motivation to paint, write a story, maintain a hobby, decorate the house.  Some people that are depressed seem to be able to do those things and I'm curious about why.

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I think there's something to the subtypes of depression/severity/various neurotransmitters involved theories, and I think perhaps comorbid conditions complicate matters Big Time.  It's too simplistic to think one depressed person is just like another.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Yes.  Cormorbid disorders was one of the things I forgot to put as a possible factor in the unproductive vs. productive depressions.  Especially anxiety disorders I think.  Isn't it like 85% of people with MDD have a comorbid anxiety disorder?  Or is that way too high?

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For those of you who are productive citizens (whether willfully or circumstantially), are you currently on a meds cocktail that has helped alleviate your depression/lack of motivation and have you been through/are you in therapy?  If you've done, or are doing, the therapy thing, how many years of experience do you have?  If you're on a meds cocktail that is at least moderately helpful, how long did it take for you to find a combo that works for you?  Is your dx MDD or BP?  (if you care to share.)  How does your present mood/motivation/energy level compare to where you were when you first began therapy/experimenting with psych meds?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

MDD, recurrent, in (medicated) remission.

This episode began in March '03. I started the med-go-round in June of the same year. Weekly therapy for 6-8 months starting in September. On and off the med-go-round for almost two years until hitting on Cymbalta last December. Adding Wellbutrin in March improved things even more, and adding Xanax in June has gotten my mood/motivation/energy level back to almost "normal" (whatever that was).

Previous episodes were extremely mild in comparison and probably more "mood disorder" than MDD. All responded immediately to small doses of SSRIs. I had a solid two years (2001-2003) of unmedicated remission (except Adderall and occasional Ambien).

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For me, it depends on several factors. One of them is the day -- some days I'm more functional than others.

One of them is the task -- some days I can do a creative task and other days it's all I can do to handle the basics of life.

And, the most important is how I'm doing. I have spaces on the way down and on the way back up when I can get things done, both practical and creative. As I go down, the I lose the more creative stuff first, then some of the practical but not necessary, and eventually I'm down to bare existence.

Fortunately, the process reverses itself as my mood improves -- though it's not linear so one day may be very different from the one before and the one after. I get very frustrated sometimes because I know I was working on something yesterday or last week and now, today, it's a task beyond what I can do.

Fiona

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I admit that having to get out of bed, showered and dressed is a necessary part before going to work and HAVING to pay the mortgage.  Mind you I am very very lucky that my job is flexi hours and I can come and go as I please as long as I do my job.

Actually getting out of bed is a job for my cat - who annoys me till I get out and feed him!  You see I can sleep through my alarm, which is a clock-radio and goes off for 2 hours!!

Also, yes we all get bad days.  I would spend my life on the couch (in bed) in my flannel pjs if I could.  I just have to wait till I get hyped up on sugar or meds so I can do something.  I regularly leave it 2 months between house cleans!

Just do what you have to.  All we can ask is that for you to try and push yourself a little bit.  But then again who am I to talk I am the laziest bugger you are ever going to meet.

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