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Dealing with depression medically

nexuscrawlernexuscrawler Registered User regular
edited August 2007 in Help / Advice Forum
Like an additions I think there's a point where depression simply has to be admitted. I've hit that point. I'm starting to concede that I simply do not have full control over my mood and that my external surrounding really don't effect it much either.

In retrospect it's easy to see I've had a pattern of severe depression going all the way back to my early teens. I often have bout of extreme laziness, low energy and near non-existent appetite. Like most people I've fought admitting it was a problem. It's hard to swallow one's pride and admit you aren't able to deal with a problem ourself. God knows I've tried nearly everything I could from extreme exercise to meditation to over the counter supplements. Some of it works but it never seems to last or I don't have the motivation to keep it up.

In short I've admitted to myself this may very well be a medical problem and I'm willing to tackle it as such. I currently don't have a doctor but plan on looking a GP up near me in the next week. I was wondering if anyone here has any advice, experience or insight into how to approach this. Any reading or research I could do on my own first would be great.

Also I should note I've been on anti-depressants (Prozac) in the past. it was for migraines I used to get as a teenager. t was a horrid experience for me and the meds nearly drove me over the edge. This is one of the reasons I've been so wary of going to doctors since.

Thanks in advance.

nexuscrawler on


  • EggyToastEggyToast Jersey CityRegistered User regular
    edited August 2007
    I've had friends who went on meds and it really fixed them. As in, made them happy, functioning people. And when it occasionally came up, in an existential "are you really you" sort of way, they had no doubt -- they realized that something was wrong, and this fixed them, and they feel incredibly normal now.

    However, depression meds typically hit the news when people who are suicidal use them, and that seems to have a tendency to make those suicidal thoughts stand out in stark contrast. As in, depressed people who have suicidal thoughts will "have the clouds cleared," and, no longer depressed, will suddenly be faced with those thoughts. Before, they were too depressed to really think about it.

    From what I've read, that's where the trouble occurs. Which is also why it's best to see a psychiatrist or a therapist before going on such medicines, and why it's best to continue to see those therapists. Depression medication should be a temporary thing, a way for someone to conquer their problems so that they don't need medicine anymore. Without therapy and help, they only go part of the way.

    EggyToast on
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  • Steel FireSteel Fire Gunboat Diplomat PAI MarketingRegistered User regular
    edited August 2007
    Eggy pretty much nailed it.

    Like you, I went for years dealing with serious and escalating bouts of depressions before I admitted I had a problem. I spent a while on Zoloft, which helped to stabilize my mood and balance, but the purpose of that is so that you can clearly and logically deal with the underlying issues; which can only be done through counseling and thereapy.

    I don't know how long ago you were on the Prozac, but you did say you were a teen. The effect you stated is why Prozac and Zoloft, among other depression meds, are not recommended for use on teenagers. That change was made a handful of years ago after that unfortunate effect was realized due to the suicides of a number of teens. As Eggy said, it is because they have to now face those thoughts, and those teen years are hard enough and emotionally stressful enough as is. The new found clarity of those suicidal thoughts, when they think the meds should be getting rid of them, pushes some to believe that suicide must be what they really want/need.

    Go to the doctor, but I would say don't do too much research ahead of time since it might bias your thoughts. Don't get discouraged if a doctor recommends trying alternatives before meds, such as diet and lifestyle changes.

    Steel Fire on
  • WintersleepWintersleep Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    From your description of your symptoms you pretty much have the same type of problem I have. I've run into considerable resistance from medical professionals because I'm so "successful" that I shouldn't have a reason to be depressed. One even told me that I was too young to be certain (I'm turning 19 this October, for the record).

    To be honest, I gave up on meds and tried using pot recreationally. I've seen an instant improvement. Some people may disagree, but I feel its actually worked for me. I believe that you should try something like this before throwing away time/money on drugs and therapy. Am I entirely better? No. But can I get out of my bed most days, go to work, socialize, and go to school? Yes.

    You will have relapses. My ex just contacted me today to tell me how much better life is without me, and how I was a waste of a year of her precious life. So currently I'm drunk on a 1/4 bottle of whiskey, and feeling like crap.

    But unlike when I was not self-medicating; I can function. I'm currently planning a campus green party recruiting drive, and talking with a program counsellor about future plans for professional school. I have an awesome job as a TA lined up for the Fall, and I'm exercising more than ever (10-11 km runs every day).

    What I'm basically trying to say in my drunken stupor: don't think that therapy is the be-all and end-all solution to your problem. It may help, it may not. But never give up. I hope you find a solution to your problem.

    And hey, you always have the support of people on internet forums.

    Wintersleep on
  • IncenjucarIncenjucar VChatter Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited August 2007
    :| Sorry you're having a rough time, man.

    I'm hardly a shrink, but my personal experience is that the #1 thing to go for is really good friends who listen, and won't drop your ass for it or get fed up. After that, it's lifestyle changes. Lifestyle changes help a lot. Shrinks should be really good, too, if you can find a good, but affordable one; they're basically friends-who-listen-for-hire.

    But, yeah, pills are out there. But, before you use them, investigate them, and make a backup plan. I started taking zoloft for awhile, back before they announced the whole suicide thing. My parents loved it, because it DID reduce my mood swings. But it left me horribly, sickeningly numb, and I just really wasn't there. Worse, because my situation at the time was pretty crappy compared to what I was used to, I had no actual reason to be happy, so the zoloft just KEPT me depressed, 24/7, when I'd usually have periods of being manic to balance it out. That stuff FREEZES your mood.

    So, if you start taking it, or anything like it, you need to make sure there are people who know the signs to look out for, who know how to get you out of it, and so on, and that you yourself know when to drop it, and how to, if you need to (hint: stopping suddenly is generally a baaaad idea).

    Also, side-effects. There are soooo many side-effects. Do not be ignorant of them.


    But do keep in mind, if your problem is chemical, they SHOULD help.

    Just make sure that, if you ARE an outlier, you're covered.

    Incenjucar on
  • SilkyNumNutsSilkyNumNuts Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    Now people have already mentioned this, although slightly differently... Anti-sepressant meds do tend to make people think of suicide even if there was no chance of them thinking of it before. Though I could be wrong.

    What I think you need to do is look at the side-effects of whatever drug they give you. I know of people utterly destroyed by medication, because they didn't understand what the risks might be. i'm not saying they're entirely damaging - there are more people I know of who've been helped. But understand the possible effects of what you'll be taking first.

    SilkyNumNuts on
  • ShintoShinto __BANNED USERS regular
    edited August 2007
    Start going to a therapist. If you want drugs, go to one who can prescribe drugs - but don't just get a prescription and never talk to the therapist again. The visits and the talking side are important.

    Also, I find that getting regular excercise and plenty of sleep is important.

    Shinto on
  • TalondelTalondel Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    I've struggled on and off with depression for years now. I've tried a number of various different medications, but for me none of them worked well enough to justify the side effects. For me these included tremors, anxienty, excessive appetite, and significantly delayed (I'm talking like hours here) orgasm (though my wife did enjoy this the first time, it got old for both of us, really, really fast).

    Different meds worked better or worse, with lessor or greater side effects. For me Wellbutrin worked the best. In the end I've been treating it more or less succesfully for a couple of years now by just forcing myself to get regular sleep (although I'm completely blowing that today, can't sleep at all), excercise, daily vitamin, and the occasional SAM-E (which also seems to help with my occasional joint pain during nasty weather).

    At the risk of getting to the point, I'm glad to hear you've decided it's time to get help. There are ways of dealing with this that don't involve medication, and even if you (or your doctor) do decide medication is for you, there are many ways to go. If you had bad luck with Prozac in the past, then consider staying away from it and other SSRIs and go with something in a different class (like Wellbutrin). Your Doctor should know what other non-SSRI options are available. Even if you do go on medication, don't underestimate the difference that a regular sleep pattern and a better diet (or vitamins) can make. There's a reason that there's a strong correlation between depression and sleep disturbance.

    Best of luck. Feel free to email me if you have any other questions.

    Talondel on
  • Brett AshleyBrett Ashley Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    I've suffered depression since I was 11. My father was in the army and I had to move every 1-3 years depending on his assignment. Depression really started to affect me when I started sixth grade and our teacher made us keep a journal. She came to me after reading some of my sixth grade ramblings of lonliness and other angst. Eighth grade was the worst for me, I started cutting and bulimia. By 9th grade my hair was falling out and I weighted 108 pounds. Then after trying to stop my bulimia myself, I couldn't take gaining the weight back. So I started abusing diet pills and cold syrups and alcohol. Finally in 10th grade, I cracked and started crying hysterically when my mom and dad searched my room and found everything. Knives, pills, empty bottles of OTCs and anything else I left up there. So, they immediately called the insurance company and started me with a therapist the next week. After the first two sessions he recommended Zoloft. I've been on zoloft since 10th grade, I'm a freshman in college now. It worked the best for me. Stabilized my mood but I still had alot of anxiety so I had to stay in therapy for 3 years.

    Talk therapy.
    It's the way to go.

    Brett Ashley on
  • SliverSliver Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    finding the right pills for you wont happen overnight. It took me one and a half years and three psychiatrists before I finally got a combination of meds that worked for me. My situation is a bit more severe so it'll probably go faster with you. Just remember to communicate openly with your doctors and to assert yourself when you need to.

    Also, none of the doctors that I've had were forthcoming about the side effects of the meds they were giving me. So once they give you something, go to someplace like wikipedia, look it up, and find out what the side effects really are before you take it.

    Sliver on
  • GoodOmensGoodOmens Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    My ex just contacted me today to tell me how much better life is without me, and how I was a waste of a year of her precious life.

    Wow, what a bitch!

    That said, to the OP, be prepared for some potentially unpleasant side effects. When I went on Lexapro, it left me incredibly fatigued and nauseous. I basically spent the first week or two as a queasy zombie. I actually fell asleep briefly riding to work one day. Fortunately, I was able to use the fatigue to my advantage in treating my insomnia by taking the Lexapro at night.

    Also, remember that you might have to try several meds before you find one that works. It's a very individual thing, you might get lucky with the first one, but probably not. Have patience. And let the medications do what they do best; stabilize you, allow you to deal with your life in a more effective manner. But you still have to deal with your life.

    GoodOmens on
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  • EtelmikEtelmik Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    Looks like I can't add much, but just want to support the notion that different meds work differently for different people at different times. You say prozac messed you up, but I took a milder dose of it and it didn't screw up anything for me (except maybe my sex drive, but I'm not sure about that because I wasn't getting or wanting any at the time anyway). They have many out there, and it's almost certain that there is one that doesn't entirely disagree with you. It's hell figuring out one that can work, but when you do find one, it's easier to really stare your issues, problems, and perceptions in the face and then really question them, deal with them, cope with them, adjust to them, or even change them.

    Good books on depression are here and here. The first is especially good if sex roles, men, or masculinity issues have factored in. The second is just all around recommended by myself and other people I personally know that have been depressed. Try the library.

    Best wishes to you on your journey through hell.

    Etelmik on
  • MandaManda Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    First, Nexus, good for you for wanting to get help. Things won't get better right away, but you've taken a really positive first step.

    My fiance is currently on Zoloft and it's helped him a whole lot. One important thing, though, is that it's really decreased his sex drive. I would much rather that he be happy than have sex all the time, but if you're in a relationship this kind of stuff can be really important. Make sure you talk to a psychiatrist/therapist before you start any medication.

    Good luck dude.

    Manda on
  • PirateJonPirateJon Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    Manda wrote: »
    First, Nexus, good for you for wanting to get help. Things won't get better right away, but you've taken a really positive first step.

    Good luck dude.

    Hell yeah. Anyway, here is the suck about brain meds. Brain chemistry is so radically different for everyone, there's no telling what meds and what doses you should be on. It's literally trial and error. I've know people that have gone through months and months and a dozen different meds until they found what they needed. it's hard, it's sucks, but you can do it and it will get better, I swear to $diety.

    PROTIP: avoid "should". As in "I should be better now" or "i shouldn't need to keep taking this". You are how you are, and rather than worry about "should", lets focus on what's really going on and taking everthing day by day.

    PirateJon on
    all perfectionists are mediocre in their own eyes
  • NatanekoNataneko Registered User regular
    edited August 2007
    Everyone is saying a lot of interesting thing. My advice would be make sure you really want to take pills. At first I didn"t have any problem with takin anti-depressant, but I started thinking they were useless, etc and completely stopped them, wich of course made me worse.

    So, make sure you want them, try to get as much support in that sense from friend/family (if they don't like anti-depressent for X reason, make them understand they don't have to tell you that, you took your decision and now just need support) and try to see a psy regularly.

    Nataneko on
  • FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD interior crocodile alligator ⇔ ǝɹʇɐǝɥʇ ǝᴉʌoɯ ʇǝloɹʌǝɥɔ ɐ ǝʌᴉɹp ᴉRegistered User regular
    edited August 2007
    Etelmik wrote: »
    Looks like I can't add much, but just want to support the notion that different meds work differently for different people at different times.

    We could quote this a dozen times and it would be worth repeating. Individual responses to antidepressants are extremely variable. If one drug doesn't work, try a different one. If that doesn't work, try a different one. There are a lot of good antidepressants out there and one of them is going to work for you. It takes a lot of people three or four tries to find a good drug... but they do eventually find one if they don't give up.

    Exercise. 30 minutes of moderate intensity cardio or 20 minutes of high intensity cardio three times a week. It's very, very important, especially for people with depression. I know how hard it is to motivate yourself to exercise when you have depression, a condition which sabotages your motivation. It's a vicious cycle.

    There is no combination of strategies more potent for breaking out of depression than cardio exercise + cognitive-behavioral therapy + a good antidepressant.

    Luckily, if you do find yourself in one of those low-motivation cycles where you can't find the energy to do much of anything, let alone go for a swim or a jog, remember that's what the pills are for. They may not make you better all on their own, but they do give you the energy and willpower to break those cycles.

    Feral on
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    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
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