Do I need medication?
December 18, 2015 8:05 AM   Subscribe

I was diagnosed with depression in 2012, after a really bad few months of daily crying and suicideal ideation. After several months of therapy, plus positive situational changes over the past couple of years, I am now pretty far away from those dark days. But I still get occasional episodes of inexplicable low mood when I, for example, cancel all commitments for the day and stay home in bed all day. What gives? Should I go back to therapy and/or go ask my doctor for medication and/or accept this as a dimension of who I am and manage around it? The moods feel physiological in origin, I can't put my finger on any thought or event that triggers them, and they happen about once every 2-3 months.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (15 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Should I go back to therapy and/or go ask my doctor for medication

Being on medication for my depression has been a life changer for me and my loved ones. It's absolutely worth a try.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:13 AM on December 18, 2015 [10 favorites]

It's not a great idea for someone to say yes or no about needing medication over the internet. It does sound like these changes in mood are negatively impacting your life. This would a great starting point for a conversation with your doctor.
posted by BusyBusyBusy at 8:13 AM on December 18, 2015 [3 favorites]

Is the way you feel right now is acceptable to you? That's really the question. It wouldn't be acceptable to me, to lose a full day every couple of months feeling so badly that I needed to stay in bed all day.
posted by something something at 8:23 AM on December 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

I think it sounds like a really good idea to go and talk to your doctor, ideally your primary care doctor, about these moods. There are bunch of things that can cause symptoms like fatigue and depression and lethargy, both physiological (low Vit. D, low iron, pernicious anemia, thyroid issues, rheumatoid conditions, sleep disorders) and psychological (which are really just a set of physiological things in your brain, when you boil it down).

Your doctor is the best person to help you figure out what's causing this. It definitely sounds like it's worth figuring out.
posted by pie ninja at 8:30 AM on December 18, 2015 [5 favorites]

Are you a woman and is it premenstrual in origin? Your doctor could help with that also.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 8:35 AM on December 18, 2015 [3 favorites]

Do you have ovaries? Whether you do or not, it might be helpful for you to keep a log for a few months with just maybe a quickie notation of each day's food/sleep/alcohol/activity/stress and see if there's some science going on here.

I have similar days, and they are tied to a certain amount of shitty sleep - and it's not so much that feel identifiably tired as I simply have no ability to deal. It takes a couple of weeks of okay-but-not-great sleep, or only 10 days or so of really not good sleep.

Definitely if you haven't had a physical with bloodwork, do that, and also see if a little bit of diligent tracking reveals a pattern.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:35 AM on December 18, 2015 [2 favorites]

We live in a crazy world. Sometimes the correct response to it is sheltering for a time. Every three months sounds like a group of activities has caught up with you. Learn more about your personal limits, whether it is eating too much, or too little; tolerance for alcohol, water consumption; exercise too much or too little; accumulated stress from gaming or other avoidable social stressors. Something or set of factors builds, draining you to a state of collapse.

It is better if you can mindfully untangle what that is.
posted by Oyéah at 8:38 AM on December 18, 2015 [5 favorites]

But I still get occasional episodes of inexplicable low mood when I, for example, cancel all commitments for the day and stay home in bed all day

I don't know if you need anti depressant medication, a change in diet, or some other kind of medical intervention. Speak to your doctor and a psychiatrist.

However, I can definitely say that my life has immeasurably changed for the better ever since I started taking anti depressant medication and stopped having similar sorts of "episodes" that you have. As in, I didn't even realize that it was an option not to have episodes like that until I started taking meds.

Do it, see a doctor. It is completely worth freeing yourself of something that otherwise seems inescapable.
posted by bright colored sock puppet at 8:42 AM on December 18, 2015 [2 favorites]

occasional episodes of inexplicable low mood when I, for example, cancel all commitments for the day and stay home in bed all day. What gives?

Depression often comes with its partner-in-crime anxiety, which comes on suddenly and inexplicably for a lot of people.

So in short order you have depression, anxiety, all kinds of physiological possibilities, and the trusty fallback for blame - PMS - as internet-stranger responses.

Internet strangers are not your doctor. Talk to your doctor about this.
posted by headnsouth at 8:43 AM on December 18, 2015 [2 favorites]

Yes. If you've had a history of depression and still have bad patches then it's quite possible that whatever you're thinking of as normal/good day for you now is actually still very sub-optimal. Try medication and find out.

In my experience, citalopram (Celexa) is a good combo antidepressant/anti-anxiety medication.
posted by Jacqueline at 8:55 AM on December 18, 2015

Was your therapy experience a positive one? If so, could you connect again with your therapist to talk about this and ask about options for a prescribing doctor? That would be the route I'd take.
posted by xingcat at 9:03 AM on December 18, 2015

It is better if you can mindfully untangle what that is.

Or, given that all evidence says therapy and meds work together, both. Or, deciding not to "mindfully untangle" whatever you want is a morally and ethically neutral choice.
posted by listen, lady at 9:17 AM on December 18, 2015 [2 favorites]

If you are having days where you cancel everything and stay in bed due to mood, and particularly if you've found therapy helpful in the past for mood stuff, hell yes would I suggest you go back to therapy. It sounds like there is still room for making things even better, and it sounds like you have a way that it might be possible to do that.

I would not necessarily jump on taking meds, especially if you haven't used them before. They can be great, don't get me wrong, but there are often some side effects, and it sounds like what you are experiencing now is manageable. I'm not saying don't take meds, just that I'd try working with your therapist more and doing more lifestyle changes first, particularly since those things have helped you before.
posted by needs more cowbell at 10:49 AM on December 18, 2015 [2 favorites]

IANYD. But if this is only happening once every 2-3 months, I'd say that you're completely normal.

Think about that machine that they hook up to people in hospital to monitor their heartbeat. It goes up and down with a long flat period in between. That's life! Most days you feel normal. You have the occasional day when you feel amazing and on top of the world. And you have the occasional day where you stay in your pajamas, don't shower, don't answer your phone or respond to emails, binge-watch something mindless on Netflix and order pizza because you can't be bothered cooking, and feel bad about yourself.

If it was once a week, that might be a problem. But once every 2-3 months? That's normal, in my experience. Wallow. Give yourself a break. Don't feel guilty. Enjoy it.
posted by finding.perdita at 5:45 AM on December 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

Instead of "depression," substitute in "heartbeat drops to 20," or "blood oxygen drops to 50%." Would you go see a doctor then, even though it's only happening every 2-3 months? Major depression is just as serious, even if it's one episode every 2-3 months. Go see your doctor.
posted by The Almighty Mommy Goddess at 11:50 AM on December 20, 2015

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