Most of my posts assume that if you are working through painful stuff and/or a painful breakup, you are feeling down and upset. There might even be a hint of depression there and some days when you don’t feel like getting out of bed.
That’s not usually true depression, but a normal and ordinary “feeling terrible because terrible things have happened” reaction. But if it’s chronic, meaning it lasts longer than 2 weeks or has very severe symptoms (not eating/not sleeping/thoughts of suicide), please please please see a doctor for depression.
It is NOT a sign of weakness to get help, it is a sign of STRENGTH.
Depression can be treated with medication. If you see a doctor and are prescribed anti-depressants and they’re not working or you are having severe side effects, talk to your doctor and try another.
Antidepressants are not an exact science and you may need to try more than one before you find THE medicine for you.
You also don’t have to stay on them “forever” as some people fear. It can be a help to get through through an exceedingly difficult period. And then you wean off of them (do not just stop taking them).
Also do not fear that you won’t “feel your feelings” because you will. What antidepressants do is allow you to tolerate the extremely painful ones and actually can HELP you do your work because you’re not afraid of falling into the deep dark pit of depression. Anti depressants DO NOT take all the feelings away. They just make the REALLY REALLY REALLY big ones manageable.
You DO NOT have to go to a psychiatrist, you can go to your own GP. If that isn’t helpful, go to the nearest emergency room and ask for an evaluation for depression. If you’re wondering if you might be depressed and need clinical intervention look at this link:
And get the help you need today. There is no reason to suffer through deep clinical depression.
Talk to your regular doctor or go to a clinic. If you are severely depressed, go to your local ER ASAP. They are trained to diagnose and treat depression. There is no reason to suffer needlessly.
If you have any questions, please feel free to write me privately.
Everyone take care and be good to you.
This too shall pass
"What antidepressants do is allow you to tolerate the extremely painful ones and actually can HELP you do your work"
Thank you thank you thank you. My therapist has been discussing the possibility of medication with me over the past weeks because months and months after the breakup it is still very raw, and I have always had a tendency to obsess so this has just fueled that.
I had expressed concerns because I'd always viewed medication as sort of putting a bandaid on the problem, ie not facing it head on. But she made the same point you make - that it can actually help do the work, because otherwise I can't get beyond the emotion of it.
I'd never thought of medication that way before.
Anyway, I made an appointment. I'm still a bit wary and have a lot of questions. I may not end up choosing to go the medication route but she, and now you, have really opened my eyes to this other perspective.
Hi generalpathogen - I was like you viewing anti-depressants as an easy way out to dealing with my breakup. But after 9 months of not improving at all, my therapist finally recommended anti-depressant. I resisted but gave in after doing a lot of research. There was a post on anti-depressant back in October I think. My therapist and some friends who were on anti-depressants said the same thing as Susan - they won't make your feelings go away, but it will help you focus on the work you need to do on yourself. It's been only three weeks for me. My psychiatrist said it will take 4 - 6 weeks for the effects to kick in. Good luck.
Hello, just wanted to share my experience with antidepressants (ADs). I agree with Susan that they do not "take all the feelings away", but rather, if properly selected and dosed, give you the ability to meet those feelings head-on.
My experience with ADs includes a 3-month course of therapy on a Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) in mid 2006, a 6-month course on the same SSRI from Sept 07 to March 08, a trial 1-month period on a different SSRI in October 09 and since October 09 a different class of antidepressant altogether, which has worked OK for me.
My therapist gave me this explanation: she told me that the ADs would not quash my feelings or hide them away, but they would simply raise the threshold of what was acceptable to me. Instead of reacting with fear and anxiety to every little event, important or not, I would just see it as an event and be able to use my better judgement (which does still exist if the ADs are properly selected and dosed) to move forward. The period from Sept 07 to March 08 was very productive for me, and I only wish I had paired it with my current psychotherapy.
Two points: Fit and dosage are critical.
ADs are like running shoes - you need one that works for you and fits you very well. You may have to try a few different ones before you find something that works. That can be scary, because you have to give each at least a few weeks (in theory) before you can know if it's helping or not. In my opinion, if you feel something is not right with your med, contact your doctor, tell them what's up, and work from there. But if you feel the drug is not helping or is making you feel worse, seek help immediately.
Second biggie is dosage. In September 07, my doc (same as in 06, go figure) decided to put me on a dosage of 150 mg/day, when the year before I had been on 75 mg/day, the lowest possible dose, which had been fine for me. After taking the first 150 mg dose, I threw up, after the second one, I could no longer sleep and after the third one, I started hallucinating. I told him "this isn't working for me." He said "Give it a few days." I told him, " Why don't we go back to 75 mg/day and if it doesn't work for me, then I'll tell you?" He agreed and it worked very, very well.
Both times, in 06 and 07-08, I got off the meds too early. Don't go too fast and make sure to taper or 'wean', with the help of your doctor. Do not go cold turkey with these things or you will not like it at all and the consequences could be disastrous.
In 09, my new doctor told me that I am not compatible with SSRIs, as the two I tried under his supervision made me quite wacky and sad, so he gave me a new type of AD, very mild with no side effects. It seems OK, but I don't think the change has been as beneficial as it was with my first SSRI.
One very important thing I forgot. There is an endpoint to AD therapy, and in principle they are not meant to be taken forever. My most recent doctor has told me that I'll be coming off in March 2011, i.e. after a 1.5 year course of therapy. And I think I'm ready for it. Paired with my work with a psychotherapist, they have helped me get to the point where I need to be at to get my life back on track.
I had depression after the break-up, but it was mild enough to be dealt without ADs. However, I did a LOT of cognitive work under my therapist supervision: writing daily thoughts' analysis lists, challenging my negative thoughts, planning my days in advance, then analyzing how well I coped with the tasks, marking my progress, etc, etc. I think it was a good fit for my overly analytical mind and it worked, but for some three or four months it was my second job, no less. I tried to stay as physically active as I could (back then I had health problems which did not help the process); I also forced myself to reach out and meet people even if I did not feel like it.
It worked for me but then again, my case was mild. Trust me, if I could not get out of the pit without ADs, I would take them without hesitation.