Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

Mindful Monday: 11 Ways to Treat the Death Thoughts That Come with Depression and Anxiety

I want to express my sincere thank you for all the heartfelt comments on my post “A Tiny Glimpse Inside a Neurotic Head.” And again, thank you to my editor, Holly, who insists I be as real as I can be, which means I write about wanting to be dead when those are the primary thoughts running throughout my head.


I sat down with both my therapist and my psychiatrist this week, and they outlined a plan for me to follow the next four to six weeks. I thought I’d let you in on it, in case some of these steps help you, too.


1. Continue to exercise as much as I can. Now is not the time to worry about the eating disorder in my past and weight issues. If working out gives me some relief from the death thoughts, then I should get my heart rate up whenever I can. Hell, I may even train for an Ironman!

2. Continue to use my light lamp for 30 to 45 minutes a day.

3. Distract myself whenever possible. In the words of Dr. Smith: “Don’t try to think yourself out of the thoughts. Any attempts to do that will most probably make them worse. Instead try to simply distract yourself.” She told me to forget about the cognitive and mindfulness strategies for the time being. They can help later on, when the death thoughts don’t have such a hold over me.


4. Rest whenever possible. My therapist friend Elvira Aletta, helped me immensely the other day when she told me to treat the intense death thoughts like you would contractions when you’re in labor. You have to rest between the spikes of intense pain in order to sustain enough energy to get through the pangs. Because dealing with the thoughts take up so much energy, it is crucial to rest during the reprieves.

5. Allow time for crying and collapsing. In order to be able to fake it so much throughout my day, I have to allow myself time to come down, cry, punch my pillow, scream at God, and be real–scared to death of these morbid thoughts inside my head.


6. Bump up my therapy to once a week. Dr. Smith suggested that seeing my therapist biweekly might not be enough support during this difficult time. She suggested that I see my therapist weekly at least for a month or two.

7. Get additional support. Like babysitters. Continue to be proactive about getting good help so that I can allow myself more time to get my work done, and provide some much-needed cushions in case I’m not that productive. I’m going to use the aftercare service that the school provides once a week even thought the kids hate it. It won’t kill them, and it will give me the luxury of another hour or two.

8. Be honest with Eric and a few close friends. Lord knows most people aren’t going to understand that I can’t get death off my mind, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t open up to anyone. I have to be truthful with Eric to allow him to be there for me, and friends like Michelle and Mike kept me alive four years ago. They are there for me again.


9. Increase my meds. Dr. Smith increased my Zoloft by 12.5mg, a very slight amount, and if that doesn’t make a difference, she said to increase it by 25 mg.

10. Forget about meditation. The 15 minutes of silence in the morning that is supposed to center me is not going to be helpful at this point. The open space is an invitation for the ruminations to begin and make me feel badly. So instead, I have printed up all the comments from my “A Tiny Glimpse Inside a Neurotic Head” post and have been reading them. The self-battery doesn’t have as much as an opportunity if I am reading affirmations about myself as when I’m trying to quiet my thoughts.


11. Avoid unsupportive people. Until I feel stronger, I simply need to stay away from the folks in my life that believe that I’m only feeling badly because I want to feel badly. If that means skipping a family dinner, then I need to do that.

Click here to subscribe to Beyond Blue and click here to follow Therese on Twitter and click here to join Group Beyond Blue, a depression support group. Now stop clicking.

  • http://6xkzhq therese

    hi Therese, Hang on. Everything is temporary including the tunnel of dark thoughts. Your doing such a good job getting help and sharing it. I have been there too and it is no fun.Bless you for you work and for your self. Sending prayers and visions of roses. love, Another Therese

  • Meghan

    Thanks for sharing these tips, and for sharing your fears and thoughts. I’ve been in the midst of those thoughts and gotten better. You have been before, and you will too. Keep the faith :)

  • Kathy

    Thanks for putting this up in time for the holidays; I hate the holidays, and I also hate that I hate the holidays. It makes me feel guilty.Is there a particular light lamp you recommend?

  • cindy

    I am there right now. Good days and horrible days.Alone on the other side of the world.Away from my husband. It is a couple of weeks that this website has become the anchor that keeps me going. Today I cried a lot.Between reading this and the plane ticket that is bringing me home in the States again, I have something that fuels me every day. I know I will require a lot of help…

  • Karen

    Dear Therese,
    Thank you for your post. I am sharing it with my psychiatrist(awesome lady, by the way) Just remember, as is the words of the good book, :This, too, shall pass.”
    With love,

  • Michael W

    I want you to know that I have “been there”! There was a time when the world was BLACK – there was no point to continuing my existence.
    I was able to move beyond the need for counseling and anti-depressants and am now very happy and stable. Count this as a chapter in your book and know that you are Ministering to others by being Brave and Visible!
    This comment is not about Me. It is a message for You to let you know that there is Hope and Love available to you Every Day! You are making a Positive Difference in this World and I want to Thank You for that!
    I want you to know that there IS a Beautiful World out there and YOU belong IN it!
    God Bless!

  • Weeble75

    Therese, I’ve found it helpful to separate in my mind suicidal ideations (which for me have been comparatively rare and have never resulted in a serious attempt to do anything about it) and “death wish thoughts”, which I define as a passive desire (no intent of doing anything about it myself) to be gone and out of this pain–“Beam me up, Lord! I’ve had it!” THOSE have been frequent companions.
    With those thoughts separated, I can start hammering at them with my cognitive therapy tools (Yay, David Burns!) so that I keep it clearly in mind that what I’m thinking is a DISTORTED PERCEPTION of reality, not reality itself. I have varied results from doing this, but at least it has helped me keep stable until I come out of the funk.

  • LightBlue

    Hi Therese,
    I appreciate your courage!

  • Cathy

    Therese, it is so courageous of you to share your story with us. I’m awed by your honesty. I, too, struggle with thoughts of death all too frequently, after three major breakdowns over a four year period with subsequent recoveries. My Effexor is now at the max dose of 375mg and the jury is still out as to whether it is the right med for my chronic depression. All this to say I’ve been very angry with myself for still entertaining suicide as a viable option for taking away the pain that permeates my soul on bad days. Knowing you also get overwhelmed with these self-destructive ideas, I felt less alone.

  • Kiddokane

    My heart and soul reaches out to you. Thinking that I stand on the outside looking in may not make much of a difference in inspiring you and other’s here at Beliefnet, “hang on, just get through this moment”. However, when I am on the inside, looking out, and see all those looking in at me, encouraging me to “hang on, just get through this moment”, means I am NOT alone in this battle. Neither are you! Hang on Therese, there is another Monday right around the corner and that puts you ahead of the “death thoughts”!
    God Bless!

  • Curlygirl

    I’m a relatively new subscriber and your posts have already helped me so much through a really tough time. I’m in awe of your courage in posting so many of the thoughts and feelings that so many of us struggle with and I wish I’d had your blog to read during the period when I was overwhelmed with the Death Thoughts. Knowing that you’re not alone is priceless – it’s a gift that you’ve given me in recent weeks and for what it’s worth, someone on the other side of the globe will be thinking of you and rooting for you while you follow your plan.

  • Martha

    Thank you for sharing these…I think I will try and “play along” at home…I’m having a hard time escaping the death thoughts as well…my whole drive home last night was thinking about death…

  • ltlennox

    Dear Therese,
    Thanks you for sharing this! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your honesty and bravery and integrity, in sharing your experiences with those of us who feel so alone in our struggle. October is always the WORST month for me, and I’m struggling with the “this is as bad as it gets episodes”.
    This info this morning is like a precious gift to help me survive. Thank you!!! and may peace come to you soon.

  • Nancy

    I’m tired of the struggle…

  • Margaret

    Prayer request – Missing person, Michael Grimes, left a suicide note. He’s been missing for over a week.

  • BSue

    I wonder if anyone else feels as I do. I suffer from anxiety, and my death thoughts are always fear that I’m GOING to die … not suicidal thoughts or that I WANT to die!

  • Your Name

    Thank you for sharing your most intimate thoughts.
    Ive been there and will be there again.
    What helped me get “over it” just recently? Finding my medication and staying on it even when things seem like Im ok and dont need it- but first & foremost- PRAYER. I grabbed one of my fave Bibles and hugged it and put my face to the floor and cried out to God to please help me.
    He did…One by one the little things that PILE UP and wear me down were all taken care of one by one. Try it- I promise He will help you-
    I prayed “Lord You said ask and it will be given” and ” doors will open that are closed” and that is what happened.
    Just sharing…trying to help- because He has helped me. God Bless you all who suffer- I do understand.

  • Ivy

    Wow Therese.
    You have such a significant purpose in this life. You help so many people by sharing your struggles. You save lives, please know that.
    Thank you.



  • myra

    thank you…am glad to know that i am not alone.

  • Lisa

    I agree with your suggestions but I think meditation can be very helpful in getting out of your head and avoiding the ruminations. It helps me like nothing else. I do a mantra type Christian meditation but there are so many others too, you can incorporate your Higher Power if you like. Peace-

  • Kathleen

    If I were you I would get off of the Zoloft. I know they say it is helping you.But the truth is you can actually become suicidal on that drug. I did. I was getting worse on it. Then they gave me larger doses because the smaller ones didn’t work. I became much more of a raving lunatic then. The truth is anti depressants don’t work. The drug companies and your docs would be out of work if the public figures this out. What you need is a lot of extra rest and good food and exercise and church.Popping pills will just make you sicker. Don’t let them up your dose. It could send you over the edge.

  • Lucretia

    I was on paxil, Haldol, Trazadon and all it did was make me sleep. when i wake up i was depressed all over again. Istarted seeing a therapist and it help me alot. TALKING HELPS MORE THAN PILLS.

Previous Posts

Seven Ways to Get Over an Infatuation
“Bewitched, bothered, and bewildered am I” wrote US songwriter Lorenz Hart about the feeling of infatuation. It’s blissful and euphoric, as we all know. But it’s also addicting, messy and blinding. Without careful monitoring, its wild ...

posted 12:46:43pm Feb. 19, 2014 | read full post »

When Faith Turns Neurotic
When does reciting scripture become a symptom of neurosis? Or praying the rosary an unhealthy compulsion? Not until I had the Book of Psalms practically memorized as a young girl did I learn that words and acts of faith can morph into desperate ...

posted 10:37:13am Jan. 14, 2014 | read full post »

How to Handle Negative People
One of my mom’s best pieces of advice: “Hang with the winners.” This holds true in support groups (stick with the people who have the most sobriety), in college (find the peeps with good study habits), and in your workplace (stay away from ...

posted 10:32:10am Jan. 14, 2014 | read full post »

8 Coping Strategies for the Holidays
For people prone to depression and anxiety – i.e. human beings – the holidays invite countless possibility to get sucked into negative and catastrophic thinking. You take the basic stressed-out individual and you increase her to-do list by a ...

posted 9:30:12am Nov. 21, 2013 | read full post »

Can I Say I’m a Son or Daughter of Christ and Suffer From Depression?
In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, we read: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” What if we aren’t glad, we aren’t capable of rejoicing, and even prayer ...

posted 10:56:04am Oct. 29, 2013 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.