What are some commonly used products that are bad for my depression?

You should generally avoid stimulants and any product that is addicting. Here are some of the products you should think about cutting back on, or quitting altogether.

• Caffeine: Caffeine is powerfully addicting, and it can cause insomnia, stomach irritation, increased heart rate, increased urination, increased perspiration, and unnecessary nervousness. Even so-called healthy products like power drinks, energy drinks, sports drinks, and vitamin fortified water frequently contain caffeine or conceal it in substances like guarana extract [Paullinia cupana). You may not even realize that you are addicted to such a common substance, but if you are consuming lots of beverages that contain caffeine, it’s likely that you are. Switch to noncaffeinated versions, or taper yourself off altogether.

• Chocolate: Chocolate contains caffeine as well as other stimulants like phenylethylamine, theobromine, and theophylline, which cause problems in large doses. If you binge on chocolate when you are depressed (you know who you are!) try to wean yourself of this habit. If you need help, ask your doctor or therapist.

• Tobacco: Using tobacco on top of an antidepressant can decrease the amount of the drug that gets to your blood and brain, sabotaging your attempts to fight depression. Using tobacco in any form causes cancer, and breathing it into the lungs contributes to lung problems and heart failure. Half of the people smoking now will die of tobacco-related causes. Talk to your doctor and therapist about how to quit.

If you want to try to quit on your own, try controlled regression. Start by counting the number of cigarettes you smoke a day, and put that number into a pack or cigarette case every morning. Every day, smoke every cigarette in the pack, but no more. Every week, put one less cigarette in the pack. Soon you will be reducing your risk of health problems, and you will be on the way to a permanent cessation that you can maintain.

• Alcohol: It’s honestly best if no one who is currently depressed or has ever been depressed drinks more than one cocktail, glass of wine, or bottle of beer per week. There are some individuals who are so sensitive that one drink a week may be too much.

Alcohol in any form is poisonous to brain cells, and brain cell damage is one of the things we are fighting to stop your depression. It does not make any sense for you to work hard on your depression treatment and then kill a bunch of your brain cells for the sake of a pleasant afternoon or evening. If you have trouble stopping or you are concerned that you may have a drinking problem, talk to your doctor and therapist, and remember that one of the most effective sources of help is Alcoholics Anonymous.

• Illegal Drugs: Recreational drugs are generally bad for your depression. Methamphetamine, cocaine, and other, similar illegal drugs make depression worse, as well as putting you at risk for being arrested.