Depressive Compulsive?!?!?!?!Then please help
March 24, 2007 1:41 AM   Subscribe

Is there such a thing as DEPPRESIVE COMPULSIVE? Is it something real? Chemical? What and why can't I stop feeling sad, depressed, inadequate?

To just put it out there I am a depressive compulsive and I have been dealing with this thing MY WHOLE LIFE!!!!!Literally. I'm a 28 yr. old female, who had a very traumatic life, who has dealt with many therapists, written many journals, talked to friends, family, GOD, and hell, about a year and a half ago, I started taking Zoloft. I met a therapist, whom I liked very much, got on the pills, started to feel a little better, (at least for the moment) even though therapy was excrutiating EverY Single TimE!! I stayed with her for over 15 months. I could really trust her.

Later, like 7 weeks ago, I moved and although my rational mind knows that a transition such as moving cross-country is stressful and can take some time for adjustment, I am still feeling low. I know no pill is available to heal this illness 100 percent, but I am starting to believe that some people, me mostly, must be lacking some sort of chemical. A transmitter or receptor or something that gives me the power of happiness, motivation, dedication. Is it possible that these are genes that some of us have in our DNA and some do not? Or, am I just crazy. Look, I guess I just want to know what This is...Is it something that depression does to you? Is it a gene one holds in their DNA? Is it all chemical? Is it how close one is with God? WHAT is it?

I feel tired, I have sleepless nights, racing thoughts, hurtful images, tired, low, sad, I feel as if I wont make it because I have no idea what I want and where I'm going even though I have dreams and ideas. I have a job, not totally in love with it, but I do like it, yet at the same time, I am still keeping my options open. I also see faces as I am trying to sleep. Sometimes they are good, sometimes bad, sometimes indifferent. This has happened my whole life. I am not sure if anyone thinks I'm crazy, but I really don't care about that. All I care about is if someone out there is willing to give a helping hand and provide me with some insight.

I am looking for a legitimate answer here. Please do not forget I have had this my whole life. I can not get into all the details of my haunting past, but even if I could, a man once told me, "no one cares about your past and no one cares where your at.."So thats it any and all thoughts accepted, even if it hurts....
posted by eve28 to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You're not crazy. Well, not any more crazy than a lot of other people, myself included.

There is help, as you have seen, but sometimes it takes time to get everything worked out with medication and therapy. There are a lot of options out there, and ususally only a specific combination can help any single person.

In terms of the basis for Depression/OCD/etc, there's both a lot of information out there, and not enough information. Many psychological disorders are due to some sort of dopamine imbalance caused by the specific chemistry and structure of an individuals brain. What causes this difference in structure is not entirely known, but its a good bet that it is a combination of environmental (upbringing, nutrition, etc) and biological (pre-natal chemical exposure, genetics) factors.

[more coming after further resource gathering]
posted by dantekgeek at 2:25 AM on March 24, 2007

NIH says depression likely 40-70% genetic.

I should say that neuroepinephrine and seratonin are also highly active in depression, but that might be a bit more techncial than you'd like.
posted by dantekgeek at 2:33 AM on March 24, 2007

Talk to your doctor about upping your Zoloft, or trying a different SSRI.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 3:18 AM on March 24, 2007

Here are some things often mentioned in threads about depression on ask.metafilter. Give some a try. IANAD, etc.
get out and exercise
eat a good diet, lots of veggies
cut out drugs/alcohol
cut down on sugar and caffeine
get enough sleep
get enough sunlight or bright light at work
fish oil, B vitamins, eggs
cognitive-behavioral therapy (David Burns's Feel Good Handbook is a good place to start)
spend more time in meaningful and fun activities
Look into some of the recent Positive Psychology stuff about happiness and life satisfaction, like here. I'm currently reading a book "How we choose to be happy" which is along these lines.
posted by DarkForest at 5:14 AM on March 24, 2007 [5 favorites]

If your zoloft pooped out early get screened for bipolar type II. It's more depression than anything else, and isn't always easy to diagnose.
posted by konolia at 5:19 AM on March 24, 2007

Recent research shows that most people have to try several antidepressants (3 on average) before finding the one that works. Also, sometimes people aren't prescribed an adequate dosage of the antidepressant - usual dosage range for zoloft is 100-200 mg per day. If you're taking less than that, definitely talk to the doc.

Seconding what konolia says about bipolar. There are varieties of bipolar disorder and type II is depression + "hypomania" - that means agitation that is below the threshold of what you'd typically think of with "mania." Common, hard to diagnose, and more prevalent among young people and females.

You can do this. You don't have to feel this way. This is absolutely chemical, and absolutely treatable. You can feel better!! Call a doctor and make an appointment. Lots of us on mefi have struggled with similar things. Please follow up with us and let us know how you do!
posted by selfmedicating at 6:33 AM on March 24, 2007

Talk to your doctor about upping your Zoloft, or trying a different SSRI

Recent research shows that most people have to try several antidepressants (3 on average) before finding the one that works. Also, sometimes people aren't prescribed an adequate dosage of the antidepressant - usual dosage range for zoloft is 100-200 mg per day. If you're taking less than that, definitely talk to the doc.

Emphatically seconding obiwan and the ironically named selfmedicating. I've suffered from major depression my whole life and have tried one by one the whole spectrum of even vaguely appropriate meds, from tricyclics back in the day to lithium, Wellbutrin, Paxil, Prozac, Xanax, Serzone, Zoloft, and Lamictal. Finally found something that works (cocktail of low-dose Zoloft and average-dose Lamictal, tiny doses of Xanax as needed) and I'm amazed at how much better I feel.

Keep trying--and keep trying out different therapists until you find one with whom you really click. I know it can be difficult to muster up the energy and plain old hope to pursue this, but trust me, it beats the alternative of perpetual misery--even low-grade misery. Life's too short, you know?
posted by scratch at 6:53 AM on March 24, 2007

I heartily second DarkForest.

I was in a very similar situation to you. I was on every SSRI and tricyclic the doctors could throw at me as a child and young adult and nothing really worked. I talked to therapists, psychiatrists and voodoo doctors. I was told I had repressed trauma, a chemical imbalance and harmful spirits.

What really worked for me was cutting out what I call the unholy trinity of depression: Poor diet, lack of exercise, mind altering substances. Don't expect results overnight, but push yourself to exerices every day, don't drink or get high at all, and eat well. I also strongly recommend getting tested for hypoglycemia as well -- turns out I had a absurdly severe case.

But lastly, don't let the depression fool you into thinking there's no way cure this. Don't give up. Keep trying new solutions.
posted by milarepa at 7:06 AM on March 24, 2007

For many people, depression and anxiety go hand-in-hand. You might want to look into that (as well as bipolar II and OCD, which other posters have mentioned).

Another thing to keep in mind is that some antidepressants have a reputation for being "activating" and others have a reputation for being "sedating" — that is, some give you more energy and speedier thoughts, while others slow you down. Some depressed people find the activating effects helpful (I'm one of 'em: when I'm depressed, my brain's so slow I can't put two thoughts together) but maybe they're not what you need. There are definitely less-activating drugs out there, and you might discuss them with your doctor when you get a chance.

I'll second the suggestions of excercise, bright light and good food. Learn to think of them as treatment, not as some sort of "good behavior" that you should be doing. The point isn't to beat yourself up for not exercising regularly; it's to remember, when you're feeling down, that going for a five minute walk just this once will probably help.
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:14 AM on March 24, 2007

Best answer: Nobody knows, nobody understands, nobody has the final word on what exactly the relationship, the interplay, the reality or illusion of is between these things we call the brain, the mind, the spirit. Anybody who says they do is pushing some personal prejudice, period. Likewise, there is no definitive answer to how much of our psychological make-up is genetic and how much is influenced by personal history and experience. Questions like these are not only at the heart of neuroscience and psychology but of philosophy itself.

That being said, there is absolutely a genetic and biochemical component of depression and related psychological disorders. The fact you have been dealing with it your whole life indicates this is more likely to be a factor. Of course a genetic predisposition to pathology can influence an issue of personal history as well: fucked up parents don't just gift their fucked up genes to their kids, they inflict their fucked up behavior on them as well.

All this really means for you personally is to affirm the fact that yes, pills really do help some people, if they can find the right medication(s) and relative doses. Some people can go off them eventually and some people need them long term. Follow the rules: if you take pills, do it with the supervision and guidance of a professional and do not change it without discussing it with them. Be as regular and consistent in your use as you can possibly manage - take the same amount every day, at the same time, and never skip days if you can possibly help it (phone calls with doctors and pharmacists, for example, can often get you a few make-up pills if circumstances force a temporary gap in your supply. Try to avoid the situation of oh, I messed up, I'll just go a few days/weeks without). Do not discontinue without advice and guidance.

Pretty much everyone worth listening to agrees that everything works better when combined with therapy. The fact that therapy was "excruciating" probably means it was working. Mental problems are about things that are really hard to deal with, that cause us discomfort, sometimes pain, that we avoid and numb out and run away from. Confronting these things is hard, it is painful, it is unpleasant. It helps. Honestly, 15 months is nothing. I did five years and I would classify my depression/anxiety as moderate and relatively straightforward. If you have not yet done so seek a new therapist, you are not done with it yet. It will take time to find the right person again and form a good relationship. It's tough to have to start that over, but necessary. Don't be afraid to call your former therapist for advice on seeking continued treatment or just a word of encouragement (while of course being respectful of their professional and personal commitments and time).

although my rational mind knows that a transition such as moving cross-country is stressful... In the end this is almost a definition of mental pathology - knowing something to be rationally true but feeling and behaving contrary to that knowledge. At best, try to find some comfort in the fact that a dip in your mental state is normal, and that acclimating to your new situation will make it better - but don't just wait for it to go away, be proactive, because as you know depression can feed into itself, creating both external circumstances and internal feelings that lead to more depression.

I think most of the lifestyle advice that has been given is wise. Healthy living - exercising, eating right, meditative practice, avoiding/strictly moderating drugs (emphatically including nicotine, caffeine, alcohol and marijuana) all help. For a person with serious issues I think they are seldom enough. I suspect you need both therapy and medication. And while I think it is important and helpful to research mental health on your own and pursue reexamination of your diagnosis with your therapist, I think it is a mistake to get too attached to the sorts of amateur diagnosis that this sort of thread encourages. Everybody sees their own experience in things. Doesn't mean it's not worth thinking about, but the treatment you work out and pursue with a professional has to be your bottom line and standard. That said, never be afraid to ask for reconsideration if something seems to be stalled or starting to fail.

And since, at least when I started writing this, nobody seems to have wanted to touch this aspect... If biochemistry, psychology and nature versus nurture are ambiguous, disputed topics, religion is... well, you know how religion is. All anyone can offer is their personal experience and opinions, and I'll offer something of mine. I have found my practice of faith to be intrinsic to dealing with my depression. But I reject the idea that I should correlate my mental state with how "close" I am to God or how "well" I am doing practicing my beliefs. You might as well say people get cancer because they are not close enough to God or aren't committed enough to practicing their beliefs.
posted by nanojath at 10:04 AM on March 24, 2007 [1 favorite]

I'm struck by that man who said nobody cares about your past. That's not strictly true. A person who cares about you will care about your past. But starting every conversation with a new person with, "By the way, I'm super effed up, you'll have to bear with me, I'm not normal, in fact you probably won't like me once you get to know me, I had a terrible childhood" etc., etc., is the wrong tack to take. And I only know that because I'm inclined to do it too. I constantly have to remind myself to reign that crap in.

Others will believe what you say about yourself, and your unconscious mind believes it too. So change the tapes. Talk to yourself differently. Try being positive. Even though it'll feel fake at first, try some affirmations. Since you have unpleasant images coming at you at night, try the affirmations at night before you fall asleep. They'll really sink in that way.

When I was in a terrible emotional place a few years ago I started listening to some affirmation tapes by Louise Hay right before bed. Sounds hokey but they really helped. You might want to try something like that (or get one of her books).
posted by frosty_hut at 2:08 PM on March 24, 2007

Scientists are only beginning to understand brain chemistry. It's complex and delicate. Obsessive/compulsive behavior and depression can be helped with medication. See a physician who specializes in psychiatric meds; probably a psychiatrist. Keep trying until you get the right balance. And take good care of yourself.
posted by theora55 at 6:35 PM on March 24, 2007

Seconding what DarkForest said.

I've been on anti-depressants for years, but what really put me over the edge in terms of feeling okay was exercising, eating right and getting enough sleep.

It took a lot more effort to get myself to the gym at first than anything else I've ever done. Once I was in the habit of working out, I started sleeping better, which led to eating better. (A lot of my poor food choices were made because I was too tired to get up and actually make decent meals.)
posted by Jaie at 3:09 PM on March 27, 2007

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