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Depression
Old 09-12-2006, 09:59 AM   #1
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Depression

Anybody have experience dealing with a SO that is suffering from depression ?* Both retired, no debt or financial worries, moving to be closer to only child and new grandchild (this was always in our retirement game plan).* Should be the happiest period in her/our lives.* She finally agreed to see a Dr. yesterday who is running blood/thyroid tests and prescribed zoloft for depression.* This is really throwing me for a loop.* Any suggestions, thoughts, experiences on how you dealt with it or are dealing with this kind of issue would be greatly appreciated.
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Re: Depression
Old 09-12-2006, 10:11 AM   #2
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Re: Depression

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Re: Depression
Old 09-12-2006, 10:47 AM   #3
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Re: Depression

Boy Howdy.

My SO, who suffered from low-level depression off and on for years, when into a DEEP depression 5 years ago. It was beyond horrible, and made worse by a therapist who kept telling him he could and must "shrug it off" without drugs.

He finally became SOOOO miserable and non-functional that he decided to try meds anyway. A few years back he came out the other end, thanks to a doctor willing to tweak the medicines until he got the right mix. He's as happy and energetic as he's ever been in his life now. A real joy to be around.

There IS a light at the end of this tunnel -- the good news is that your SO has taken the first step by seeking help. It may take more than one shot to get the meds right -- different things work for different people. In the meantime, my humble suggestion would be that you run, not walk, to the nearest bookstore (or Amazon.com) and get a copy of "How You Can Survive When They're Depressed" by Anne Sheffield.

I credit this book with saving our relationship -- and I was THAT close to walking, because I couldn't tease out the person from the disease itself. This book will help you to do that -- to understand depression, to understand how this person you love could be so painful to live with right now, and to understand what works and what doesn't work to move forward.

You have my profound sympathy in this time of great stress and pain, but you also have my promise that this can and will get better.

Best of Luck to you both,
Caroline
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Re: Depression
Old 09-12-2006, 11:08 AM   #4
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Re: Depression

Frayne,

I went through what you are going through several years ago with my SO. Similar pattern to what Caroline described. First doctor, no help. My SO was finally hospitalized for it. After several months and a new doctor, the right meds were found. It was a chemical imbalance that caused the problem. It was hell on earth for quite some time. Wouldn't get out of bed; just lying there and shaking. Nothing I could do worked. Everything today is fine and our retirement is going great. It is a matter of finding the right doctor and the right meds. It will work out for you both. I know, I've been there.

My thoughts and prayers are with you both.
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Re: Depression
Old 09-12-2006, 11:58 AM   #5
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Re: Depression

From my reading and personal experience with depression, there are three broad suggested root causes:

1. Physical root causes. The primary of these is thyroid. If it is thyroid, the good news is that thyroid medication is usually pretty effective I think. Other possibilities could be low iron, menopause, etc. I'm not a doctor, so don't take my advice, but IMHO these kinds of causes should be considered and ruled out. When the underlying physical cause goes away, the depression should go away too.
2. Endogenous. This is sort of a subcategory of (1), but I separate it out because some people, including many doctors, believe that people's brain chemistry can just get whacked out for no apparent reason. Most of these same people think that treating this with meds (like zoloft and other SSRI's) is the right thing to do. I have not heard anyone claim that endogenous depression can be self-correcting, so most people who believe this will expect the person to be on meds the rest of their life. Personally I am not convinced of this theory but I know that many people believe quite strongly in it.
3. Psychological. Maybe your SO is disappointed that the life you're leading now is not what she expected, or maybe she has regrets that she never took up skydiving, or maybe she resents you not picking up your socks and putting them in the laundry but doesn't know how to tell you. I'm just making stuff up, but the point is that maybe there's something she sees as "wrong" that you don't (that could be why she's depressed and you're not!). Introspection and/or counseling and/or talking/listening might help, but this takes a lot of time, effort, and patience.

One other comment. If your wife is on an SSRI such as Zoloft and then goes off of it, and experiences symptoms that are similar to depression, it could be antidepressant withdrawal instead of a return of the original depression. For a complete discussion, I suggest both you and she read "The Antidepressant Solution" by Glenmullen, a Harvard-trained M.D. who agrees that antidepressants are good in certain circumstances.

2Cor521
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Re: Depression
Old 09-12-2006, 12:57 PM   #6
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Re: Depression

Some people have had very good results with cognitive-behavioral therapy for depression. There are quite a few books and papers that give details.

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Re: Depression
Old 09-12-2006, 01:18 PM   #7
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Re: Depression

When I was required to screen medical records I found out that about 10% of my shipmates were on submariner vitamins anti-depressants.

For depression insight from one who's there but coping on SSRIs, I recommend "The Noonday Demon". It's amazing how many attempts the medical community needs (and how long it takes) before the right combination of medications is achieved.

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Re: Depression
Old 09-12-2006, 01:33 PM   #8
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Re: Depression

Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness, William Stryon

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"IN PARIS ON A CHILLY EVENING LATE IN OCTOBER OF 1985 I first became fully aware that the struggle with the disorder in my mind-a struggle which had engaged me for several months-might have a fatal outcome."
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Re: Depression
Old 09-12-2006, 09:09 PM   #9
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Re: Depression

While I'm not an expert on the causes or treatment for depression, I can speak from personal experience. My wife and I are both 52 and had a blessed life until two years ago. Within a 6 month period our youngest son was killed in a auto accident by a drunk driver, my wife was dianosed with stage III metastatic breast cancer and or retirement home in Florida was destroyed by Charlie.

I have struggled with depression since then. It took 18 months under physician care to manage this beast. I found counseling and physician care (for management of anti-depressant meds) to be the most helpful.

My meds were adjusted multiple times and now seem to be adjusted for the best benefit. At first, I fought counseling and the shrink visits were a waste of time -- because of my y chromosome. However, they really helped.

I had the classic signs; exhaustion, stayed in bed for days, wanted to be alone... About six weeks ago, I was found to have severe sleep apena. Since starting treatment for the apena -- I feel 100% better.

I find even a little exercise helps with the depressed mood.

I found eating fresh fruit and veggies elevated my mood compared to fast food and pizza.

It's important to take your medicine as prescribed, don't play doctor and adjust the meds by yourself. If your mood is changing -- tell your physician.

Some people turn to their faith for strenght. Both my wife and I tried this for a while. I didn't find this to work -- although I admit to needing some help in the faith department.

From your position, I would be supportive -- encourage and sometimes force you SO to do fun things. Ask for help from family and friends. I found visiting my other son and his wife and our 4 grandchildren helped tremendously.

Also, take care of yourself -- its very easy to become frustrated and feel completely helpless. You need to take mental health breaks as well.

I'm sure with the proper care and treatment your wife will be able to manage her depression. Do not lose hope. If you're like my wife and me --your wife is your best friend -- things will get better, but it may be a rocky road for a while.

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Re: Depression
Old 09-12-2006, 09:37 PM   #10
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Re: Depression

My introduction with depression was caused by taking Lipitor. I did an internet search about Lipitor and depression based upon a hunch. When I saw others encountered this problem I stopped taking it. It screwed me up with a relationship and financially.
It is a very delibitating disease.
I wish you all the best.
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Re: Depression
Old 09-13-2006, 11:57 AM   #11
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Re: Depression

There's a big difference between depression and grief, obviously. But, luckily, anti-depressants can be helpful in each case. The only thing I would caution your SO about is that Zoloft and other SRIs can cause significant weight gain. Some doctors don't know or won't tell you about this side effect. No clinical studies probably, but much much anecdotal evidence. And, needless to say, weight gain for anyone can be very depressing, adding insult to injury! There are some newer antidepressants that claim not to cause weight gain or sexual dysfunction, another fun side effect.
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Re: Depression
Old 09-13-2006, 12:42 PM   #12
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Re: Depression

The smoking-cessation one (I think it is marketed as Zyban for smoking-cessation, can't remember the anti-depressant name for it) is a good one if sexual dysfunction becomes a problem for OP's wife. All of the SSRI's were somewhat different for me. Several seemed to lose effectiveness over a period of a few months to a year, which can be counteracted by increasing the dosage or switching to a different SSRI.

I should add that there are a number of non-medication things that can help somewhat. The problem I found is that they don't help a lot compared to medication and/or root cause analysis, and when you're depressed it's hard to get the motivation to do them. But the following were helpful for me: stress reduction, avoiding TVs/computers, drinking lots of water, taking a multivitamin/good nutrition, exercise, and helping others.

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Re: Depression
Old 09-13-2006, 12:43 PM   #13
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Re: Depression

from personal experience nutrition can play a big part in managing depression, nutritional deficiences such as low vitamin B, essential fatty acids and poor diet can contribute/cause low mood

i find that taking 5HTP (vitamin B and tryptophan formula) (not sure if you can buy it in the US) works wonders together with taking omega fish oils and vitamin B supplements and a good quality high dose multivitan

Exercise is also valuable - a long walk in the fresh country air surrounded by trees and green does wonders

It may be worth looking into the nutrition side of things
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Re: Depression
Old 09-18-2006, 05:17 PM   #14
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Re: Depression

Quote:
Originally Posted by SecondCor521
The smoking-cessation one (I think it is marketed as Zyban for smoking-cessation, can't remember the anti-depressant name for it) is a good one if sexual dysfunction becomes a problem for OP's wife.*
It's called Wellbutrin.

As far as how to help your wife through this, the best way to support her is to listen and give lots of hugs and understanding.

The hardest part about depression is the feeling of isolation.* You could be surrounded by a hundred people but you still feel...alone and misunderstood.* I know it must be difficult to see the person that you love falling to pieces before your eyes - there is a tendency to feel frustration because nothing you can do will "fix" it.*

Once she gets medical treatment it may still take a bit before she is able to pull through.* Statistics actually say that people being treated for depression actually get WORSE initially after treatment has started.* Just prepare yourself for that and know that it doesn't necessarily mean that she won't ever get better.* I think for the person who is suffering from the disease, the actual diagnosis combined with the stigma tied with mental illness and taking meds can sometimes drive the person further down... that is, until the meds and/or treatment finally break through and then things will get much much better.

I think it's great that you are seeking out information from others.* She's a lucky woman to have a mate who's so understanding and willing to stand by her through this period in her life.

Hope some of this helps,
Jade
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Re: Depression
Old 09-18-2006, 08:20 PM   #15
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Re: Depression

Yes, it's essential to have a medical provider who knows what he or she is doing. My husband was treated by our GP at first, and it was a disaster. Then DH was reluctant to try meds again. In part, he was drawing on a childhood with parents who were also depressed ("Depression is normal") and from a "I should be able to soldier through this without medication" mindset. Finally, he hooked up with a mental health professional who tinkered and found the right meds.

Husband says that the difference between now and the bad old days is night and day. I can tell that he is more emotionally stable and more engaged with the family, although he spends a lot of time on his own. But the bad times of spending days without talking to anyone, unable to get out of bed, are gone.
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Re: Depression
Old 09-18-2006, 08:37 PM   #16
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Re: Depression

Do your homework before going on the antidepressant route. AD therapy can actually trigger panic attacks in people who never had them to begin with early in therapy. Also, as Oldbabe pointed out, SSRI's are nortorious for weight gain. Most people will lose a butt load of weight in the beginning, only to GAIN a buttload back around the 9-12 month mark. I kid you not.

Oops, forgot to mention sexual dysfunction as another side effect of SSRI's
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Re: Depression
Old 09-18-2006, 09:03 PM   #17
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Re: Depression

frayne,

Sorry to hear of your situation. I have no expertise in this area, so i just extend my sympathy and hope you find some of this advise useful.

Just reading a few of the responses you did get though, all I can say is wow; what a tremendous resource this forum is. Bravo!

Azanon
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Re: Depression
Old 09-18-2006, 09:12 PM   #18
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Re: Depression

I've had bouts of depression for years. Sometimes I look back on my daughter's childhood and realize that I missed most of it. Thank goodness my DH is one of those wonderful husbands and Dads, and was there to fill in the holes.

One word of caution about Zoloft (it was the first med I took). While it cured the depression, it robbed me of all motivation. I would sit on the couch and want to do things, but just couldn't get myself up and going. The fog had lifted, but I was still not able to do what I wanted. This also was a side effect for a couple of my girlfriends.

There are many types of meds for depression now, so if Zoloft doesn't work, be sure to get back to her doc -- sooner not later!! Good luck, and hang in there.
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Re: Depression
Old 09-18-2006, 09:14 PM   #19
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Re: Depression

And maybe drugs are not the answer.

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Re: Depression
Old 09-19-2006, 11:21 AM   #20
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Re: Depression

Just want to say thanks to all who have responded with suggestions, experiences, insight and kind words of support. Right now just taking things one day at a time and hoping medication, love, and caring can beat this sickness. Again, thanks to all of you.
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