I have self-diagnosed low-level depression and anxiety-- so low-level and constant that I think of it more like my personality than any disorder. Still, the days where it ebbs are pretty awesome. I've never been on psychoactive pharmaceuticals before. Experimenting with antidepressants (with a MD's supervision, of course): good idea/bad idea? Alternatives?
To start out: I totally agree with the idea that the pharma industry incentivizes prescribing brain meds at the drop of a hat to anyone who feels a little blue. (Not saying it doesn't help them, of course, just that it's an easy first step.) I also recognize that some people have serious neurotransmitter imbalances that create emotional states that severely impact quality of life, and that medication IS the right answer there. I'm not minimizing that at all.
But I feel like I'm not really in either of those camps. I'm in my late 20s. I've never gotten a diagnosis of "clinical depression" (I think); the worst was when I was in my early teens and it combined with standard self-esteem/outsidery issues. Never to the point of suicidal ideation. I went to a couple therapy appointments, but never got on medication. Not sure why not; guess it wasn't so bad that my parents were concerned to that point. Still never been on medication, even in the subsequent low points.
Instead, I've just lived my life thinking, "Yeah, I'm a little depressed and a little anxious, but not to the point where I need medication." Because of my personality and habits, though, I bet friends and acquaintances would be surprised I've never been on an antidepressant. I have trouble getting motivated to do work and school tasks, and things other than watch TV and play iPhone games at home. I rarely "go out". I always find it difficult to wake up and get out of bed. I always worry about the next deadline bearing down on me from work or class (which oddly enough doesn't help the motivation problem). At the same time, though, I get by just fine: I might occasionally miss a deadline, but it hasn't impacted me professionally. I did well enough in college to feel well-placed for my future. I do enough chores at home to keep my ever-patient wife from tearing me a new one (though we are in couple's counseling).
Some days, though, I feel great. I get out of bed without snoozing the alarm. I genuinely enjoy walking the dog. I get to work on time and am super-productive, barely getting annoyed at all by my boss's inane questions or menial tasks. Get home, hug the dog, nutritious dinner, do homework, sexytimes with the wife, and asleep at a reasonable hour. Alright, that's an exaggeration, but that's what it feels like sometimes. I just want that contented/can-do/"sun is shining" feeling more often. As it is, the frequency is variable, from one day a week to one day a month at most.
It doesn't help that I'm feeling like I'm at a low point right now. I'm familiar with the standard scales of clinical depression, and I'm sure I barely rate on them, mostly because I intellectualize my life: I know things will get better. I just want to feel better now.
So that's a long run-up to this: I'm curious about antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs. I know medication isn't a panacea, but I want to see if they'll get me a little closer to that ideal headspace a little more often. Is that a terrible idea? I almost feel ridiculous asking, knowing that a lot of people have it worse off than me. I have a primary care doctor I can talk to about this, but no individual therapist or CP. (I used to see our couple's therapist individually, but we try to limit that now that we see her together.)
In short, I'm not that depressed, but I still wish I were less depressed. I just want to feel a little better on a day-to-day basis. Is experimenting with antidepressants a reasonable thing to try?
Alternatives? Meditation? On preview... pot
? (Half-serious at most.)
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