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Re: depression, etc. Elizabeth

Posted by sid on February 2, 2002, at 12:04:09

In reply to Re: depression, etc. sid, posted by Elizabeth on February 1, 2002, at 18:41:55

> > Well, I'm not up to date in my depression vocabulary.
> You can still say how you feel, though, right? :-) I was curious about the quality of the residual depression/anxiety.

For the past 3 months I've started to talk about my (major) depression in the past tense. So I am not very afraid for it to come back. I feel it's far enough from me not to be scared all the time and not to constantly ask myself how I'm doing (like someone with a heart disease would check his BP or pulse all the time). I think it's dysthymia I'm left with, although even that seems to be lifting. From time to time, I find myself feeling as happy as when I was about 12 years old, and that was before the dysthymia. There is more joy and potential for craziness (in a good sense) in me now. I can have fun again, which I have not had in a very long time.

> My residual symptoms have to do with a sort of general emotional "dulling" (no, it's not medication-induced). I have trouble enjoying things, and I seldom feel very motivated or energetic. I also can't concentrate very well. Buprenorphine helps a lot with these problems.

I felt like that for a long time too, I know what you mean. I could function again, but nothing mattered much to me. I had trouble making plans for the future because nothing seemed worth the effort I had to put in. I preferred being a couch potato to being active and social. Weirdly enough, it's going away now, so there's hope! The Effexor (even such a low dose?) might be helping. I did make changes in my life that may have helped though. I moved back to where I grew up (the previous 8 years had been spent in foreign countries) and last summer I spent time with old friends, swimming on hot days, playing ball, etc... things I would do before I ever know what depression was. That seems to have helped. I would be surprised at how much fun I was having and how carefree it made me feel. I never thought about it doing me good, I just went swimming one day and remembered how I was before. Somehow I found part of my old self back in that swimming pool, with pleasant memories of summer vacations.

> BTW, 75 mg of Effexor is at the low end of the therapeutic range. The threapeutic range is quite wide -- I'm taking 225 mg/day, with a target of 300 or more.

Yes, I know. I find it weird that I am doing so well, although before starting the meds I was on an upward trend. So I am not sure if it's just the upward trend continuing or if the meds are doing me some good already. I started meds when I was feeling the best I have in a long time, so it's hard to evaluate anything. I knew I could feel better and felt brave enough to try meds (I was and still am sh** scared of them). I felt strong enough to deal with the side effects, stick to a plan, discuss it with my doc and defend my point of view if I needed to. As it turns out, I found someone I agree with a lot without arguing, so at least that's going well. I am not feeling 100% yet, but things are improving. I know that 150mg+ of Effexor XR is needed to treat anxiety, so I guess we'll get there at some point.

I do exercise a lot more than before too. I went from nothing at all to badminton once a week, yoga class once a week plus home routine everyday, twice a week of threadmill and once a week of swimming. And I FEEL like moving, like exercising, I am not forcing myself to. That's a major thing. My body is toning up, I lost some weight (still lots to lose, but I don't focus on that for now), and that's making me feel less tired and less prone to sleep too much and eat too much.

As much as during the major depression I seemed to be on a downward spiral and after I seemed stuck at a less than happy place for a long time, now I seem to be on an upward spiral. I hope it lasts! Lately I've been thinking that I was happy (wow!) even though my current situation is less than enviable (esp. money problems, no stable job yet), but it's still fragile. I'm still anxious (of course) about it getting away from me again.

> > My doc also diagnosed my me some anxiety problem, hence her choice of Effexor.
> Generalized anxiety disorder, maybe? Paxil is labelled for that too, and I think pretty much any of the new ADs could get approved for it if the drug companies wanted to get them approved. Generalized anxiety overlaps a *lot* with depression, and most depressed people (including dysthymics) have some anxiety.

We did not get into the details, but yes, it's probably GAD, from what I read. I'll talk to her some more about it next week. I see her every 3 weeks (unless there is a problem), so sometimes it takes time to get answers. I read about Paxil too, but for now the Effexor XR is satisfying, so I'm keeping Paxil in mind in case Effexor XR poops out later on. I may ask you med advice as my treatment continues; you certainly are knowledgeable about that. Do you work/study in mental health?

In any case, I do hope you feel better soon. My experience has been that it takes time, and I often lost patience. I felt it was unfair for me to go through all this just to feel OK, which was the norm for most people, without any effort.

Let's all keep trying and hoping for the best.

- sid




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