My Year By Design

The journey to living by design.

Depression is Different

So as I’ve discussed before, I have generalized anxiety disorder. With the help of my doctors and my support system, I am now medication free and doing well. However, my treatment isn’t over. People with anxiety often suffer from depression at some point, (and vice versa.)

I am experiencing my first battle with a major depressive disorder. I’ve felt depressed before (who hasn’t?) but this is something I’ve been dealing with for over a month. According to my doctor, the diagnosis of depression is usually at least two sustained weeks of depression or more. Health Canada lists the possible symptoms of depression as:

  • Feelings of despair and hopelessness (check.)
  • Detachment from life and the people around you (check.)
  • Always feeling tired or having no energy (check.)
  • Crying for no apparent reason (check, one day I cried brushing my teeth; that doesn’t even make sense. I love good oral hygiene!)
  • Not being able to concentrate or make decisions (check.)
  • A loss of appetite or a change in sleep patterns (check.)
  • Headaches or stomach upsets that occur frequently (occasionally.)
  • Thoughts of suicide (no to this one, thanks to visits to my doctors and talking with my support system. If you or someone you love is experiencing thoughts of self-harm, get help. Tell a doctor, a family member or a trusted friend, failing that call a crisis center. Know that you are not alone and there are people who want to help you.)

So what caused my depression? Like most mood disorders, the answer to that is complicated. My family has a history of depression so I am at higher risk. I’ve also had a lot of stress at work and a substantial amount at home. These stresses build up and make everything else difficult to manage. For example, my RMT, (registered massage therapist,) is no longer practicing. That may seem like a small change but he was my RMT for almost five years and his care helped me through some of my worst bouts of anxiety. Finding a new RMT is daunting and no one I’ve tried so far has really been able to provide the care I need. I suppose I’d have to label the cause as ‘stress’, despite how complicated the situation really is.

Regardless of all this, it is important to remember that depression doesn’t care how good or bad your life is. Depression can happen to anyone, anywhere and sometimes there is no reason we can attach to it. That’s because depression is an imbalance in the chemicals in the brain. Although it can be triggered by tragedy, (e.g. the death of a loved one,) or stress, it can also occur for no other reason than the brain is imbalanced.

I have been working so hard to overcome my anxiety but depression feels so different and a lot of my coping mechanisms aren’t really transferable. If anxiety is fight or flight, depression is lay in a hole and try not to exist. I am scared by the fact that sometimes I feel like I can’t access any of my positive feelings. I feel like I’m forgetting what it’s like to be happy. I’m going to keep working on it. I’m reluctant to go back on antidepressants because I worked so hard to be healthy enough to not need them. However, if at any point I feel like I can’t control my mental health or that it’s having a negative effect on my personal and work life, I’ll make an appointment with my doctor to discuss medication. It’s important for me to be able to admit when I need help. I’ll keep you updated on how I’m doing as I go.

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2 thoughts on “Depression is Different

  1. I feel like I have had anxiety since i was 13. I’ve suffered panic attacks, I am very agitated in public places which always looks very obvious to my friends and boyfriend, and whilst it can be so bad, some very rare days are anxiety-free. I do want to address this with a doctor, because a lot of the time, it’s out of my control and I really struggle. But at the same time, I don’t know how I could have the confidence and go to somebody. Do you have any advice?

    • Thank you so much for reaching out. The fact that you are willing to talk about how you feel is a really good start. I am going to put out a post next week that discusses how I began talking about my anxiety. I’ll be sure to include some information on how to research help in your area.
      For now, keep talking. I started by talking to my most trusted person (at that point, my mom,) and I still talk to my mom and my husband about how I’m doing on a regular basis. Go to your most trusted person or people and ask them to listen.
      I do think that you should talk to your doctor too. Remember that having that conversation does not mean you have anxiety or depression or that you have to participate in specific forms of treatment, (e.g. medication, therapy, etc.) Your doctor won’t (and shouldn’t) make you submit to any type of treatment that you aren’t 100% comfortable with. It is scary to be diagnosed. I cried because I thought I was going to be sick forever. Keep in mind that even if your doctor does diagnose you, what you do after that is up to you. I find that medication and counseling work for me. You might find that something quite different works for you. It’s OK to be scared. Just don’t let it stop you from asking for help.

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