Managing Depression

ID-100205944For every person who says anti-depressants have worked for them, there are ten people sharing horror stories for when they didn’t. I have come to realize that taking anti-depressants is the best way for me to manage my mood, but I also understand that it’s not for everyone.

It took me a long time to accept the fact that I could still experience depression while I was being treated for it. For example, when I started this blog just over two years ago, I was at rock bottom and had a hard time understanding (and accepting) my reality. Getting out of bed in the morning, attending to my personal needs and taking care of my daughter became insurmountable tasks. I felt like I was walking up a down escalator; moving, but getting nowhere.

An increase in my medication pulled me out of the quicksand enough to start addressing my many challenges. I didn’t necessarily feel better, but I was no longer paralyzed with fear. Instead, it maintained my mood enough to reluctantly navigate the murky waters of poverty, rebuild my self-esteem around career and school and learn how to budget. I began to see farther than one step at a time. I began to have hope again.

I am now in the fortunate position of tapering back on my meds, with my doctor’s approval of course. Forgetting that I might experience withdrawal symptoms with a lower dose, I became irritable, short-tempered and noises drove me crazy. Ahh, this is why I’m on anti-depressants in the first place. Sometimes it’s good to have a reminder.

Do I still have depression? Yes. Will I need to up the dose again? Probably, but not right now. In the meantime, my mood has improved due to the fact that I’m taking care of myself. Seeing friends on a regular basis, spending quality time with my kid, getting to better know my neighbours, playing with our new kitten, keeping track of my accomplishments no matter how small and doing things I enjoy. Life is so much easier outside of my head.

Image courtesy of amenic181 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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Side effects of depression

Salvatore VuonoYesterday afternoon, when I went to take my meds, I realized my pill box was empty. While refilling it, I discovered that the pills I thought were my anti-depressants were actually my Vitamin D3 pills. Which got me to wondering if I’m stressed because I’m depressed or depressed because I’m stressed?

Considering I’ve been dealing with an excessive amount of stress lately, which exacerbates my depression, I’d say it’s probably both. As symptoms of stress and depression are often similar, it’s been difficult for me to differentiate between the two. Side effects of (untreated) depression can include:

  • Sleeping too much or insomnia
  • Forgetfulness
  • Lack of interest in things you used to find enjoyable
  • Low self-esteem
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Loss of energy

Although I’ve been experiencing all of the above, one of the most frustrating ones for me is forgetfulness. It can be anything, from putting the conditioner in my hair before the shampoo to going to the store and then not remembering what I was there to pick up to forgetting to refill my medication.

Over the years, I’ve tried many different medication combinations and finally did find one that worked. However, when my life started spiraling downwards last Spring, my doctor increased my dose twice before I noticed a balancing out of my mood. Unfortunately, I’m now back to the original dosage because the side effect of shaking was so bad that I couldn’t type very well, use an ATM machine, measure things, etc. Back to square one I go…

Which side effects do you have a hard time dealing with? Think you might be experiencing depression? Click here for more information.

Stress vs depression

Have you ever gotten into the shower and then realized you were still wearing your slippers? What about putting return address labels where the stamps are supposed to go? Do you keep going to the store to get milk only to find cartons of milk in the cupboard?

Master isolated images

Stress rears its ugly head in many different forms. I’m usually an organized person. Not in my home, which I fondly refer to as organized chaos, but with getting things done. And I do that by writing everything down. I have notebooks small and large scattered throughout my house full of to-do lists.

In contrast, when I’m in a depressive state of not wanting to get out of bed, writing anything down seems like too much work. When I’m stressed, I want to write things down, but it take ages to find any of those random notebooks to write in. By the time I’ve found it, I’ve forgotten what I wanted to write down.

How can you tell if you’re stressed or depressed? What if you’re both? The truth is, you can’t until you’ve either relieved the stress in your life or diagnosed the depression. Of course, people experiencing stress can experience episodes of depression and those dealing with depression can certainly feel stressed. Where does one end and the other one start?

The biggest difference between the two is that, typically, stress results in heightened activity while depression can clearly be diagnosed with lack of activity in things you used to enjoy. Life can be especially difficult when you’re dealing with both, as one part of your body is experiencing the ‘fight or flight’ syndrome while the other part of your body couldn’t care less.

Stress is supposed to be temporary and can be good or bad. Usually changing your lifestyle will alleviate it. Depression, on the other hand, is best dealt with through a combination of counselling and natural or prescribed medications. While some people do experience episodes of depression, those diagnosed with chronic depression (such as myself), can also experience major depressive episodes which can go on for weeks, months or even years. This then causes stress.

In my life currently, I’m dealing with big doses of both and it’s sometimes difficult to separate the two. It can sometimes take me months to get around to doing something, such as finding the right part to attach my kitchen sink to the portable dishwasher a friend gave me = Depression. On the flip side, one of the first things written down in my to-do list is to research what type of part I need, where I can get it and how much it will cost = Stress.

Have you ever experienced stress and depression at the same time? How did you cope? Do you identify more with depression or stress?