Treating Depression Occurring with Schizophrenia

by Christina Bruni Patient Expert

There are three major types of depression - clinical, situational, and seasonal.

I had the last two. After I got out of the hospital the second time I was depressed because I had landed in the hospital again. Dr. Santiago gave mean anti-depressant, and assured: "I give all my patients this when they come out of the hospital."

Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, had overtaken me for most of my early life. It stopped suddenly and completely in the fall of 2003 after I started taking two Omega-3 fish oil gel caps with breakfast every day.

For at least five years starting in the late fall and ending miraculously on the first day of spring I'd be in tears for at least an hour every night. My first therapist had told me I might have SAD yet I didn't connect the dots.

It's astounding that I didn't try to treat this with pills. Feeling like you should be able to control this, thinking it's a personal failing, can ironically stop a person from seeking help.

In all the time I experienced SAD, I lived through it on my own. I don't recommend you do what I did. Tactics thought to help with depression:

Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) is thought to aid in mood.

A lot of people with schizophrenia have low vitamin D levels. Dr. G was the one to tell me to have my primary care doctor test this for me. Unsurprisingly, my D level was low. A side effect of Geodon the drug I'm on is it can cause low vitamin D levels. Now I take one 2,000 mg D3 gel cap with breakfast every morning.

Omega-3 Fish Oil supplements are also thought to benefit a person's mood.

Again, unsurprisingly, when I had stopped taking these gel caps in the early summer, the sadness returned. The pharmacy tech vetted that I should start taking the fish oil again.

Using a light box might help in the fall and winter.

I have a friend who uses a light box from the early fall through the winter. He's had his light box over 10 years. It's a device you use in your apartment.** Traditional anti-depressants could also help some people**.

I have another friend who takes an anti-depressant only in the fall and winter as needed, whenever he needs it. Other people might benefit from year-round medication help.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy is thought to aid in depression too.

This kind of solution-focused therapy helps individuals reframe the negative thoughts and self-assessments that drain how they feel about themselves.

Important takeaways about depression and schizophrenia:

I don't recommend doing nothing when you have Seasonal Affective Disorder or
another type of depression that is unremitting for however long you have it.

I don't endorse and will not ever endorse the tactic of an anti-psychiatry woman who wrote in a blog that she preferred to be depressed and lie in bed all day rather than to seek help.

Feeling guilty and ashamed that you can't control your symptoms is a natural response. Yet in return the guilt and shame can compound your depression so that it's doubly hard to get better on your own.

Sometimes you can't make it on your own. Getting help is not a sign of weakness. It's a sign of strength.

You can get vitamin D from sunlight, which explains why people in the Northeast in winter (where I live) could have low moods due to low vitamin D levels.

Christina Bruni
Meet Our Writer
Christina Bruni

Christina Bruni wrote about schizophrenia for HealthCentral as a Patient Expert. She is a mental health activist and freelance journalist.