Friday, January 27, 2006

Slippery Slope

Am I getting depressed? I have some of the telltale signs, for me, of incipient depression. Plus my doctor warned me about it, which gets my fertile brain obsessing about the possibilities. Let's weigh the evidence, shall we?

Evidence for:

Subject claims to experience a general lack of enthusiasm for life. Sense of defeat and helplessness. Loneliness not alleviated by time with friends.

Subject complains of bad dreams. Most of which involve the kinds of cataclysmic domestic crises (plumbing, car repairs, products of feline digestive systems) that should be laughable in the light of day. Subject explains that these dreams, however, produce all-day negative effects such as irritability and sorrow, and almost all end with subject crying uncontrollably and feeling alone and helpless in the universe, as she sits surrounded by the ruins of domestic life. [Dorcasina: Hey--I didn't say the dreams were mysterious or symbolic; that might actually be preferable to such psychological transparency.]

Subject has observed a weird and completely unusual ability to cry in real life.

Subject exhibits obsessive self-loathing and claims to be experiencing a lack of self-control; [Dorcasina: i.e., I say really, really stupid things. I don't seem to be able to carry on a conversation in which I listen to other people and respond appropriately. Almost everything that comes out of my mouth is stupid. I can't believe no one else has commented on this. I'm sure they will any day now.]

Reported inability to concentrate, including the inability to read. Given subject's professional field, this is a distinct problem.

Subject claims to be prey to bizarre feeling of detachment. Bad things happen, and she just...doesn'

Subject reports excessive enthusiasm for alcohol. So far, however, she admits to no excessive consumption of same, and no drinking alone. Just a disproportionate eagerness for those social events that involve a cocktail. Or two.

Evidence against:

Subject remains highly functional. House is clean (ish), daughter is fed, loved, and read to, students are taught, business is conducted. In fact, subject has been singularly productive with the bureaucracy of widowhood this week. And with minor departmental tasks and the various paraphenalia of academic life (conference proposals, etc.)

Current maintenance dose of Zoloft.

Ability to enjoy outings as they happen appears to be largely intact. Subject shows a consistent ability to arrange and follow-through on social events.

Diet: Unchanged. Could include more vegetables and less alcohol (see above).

Exercise: Somewhat improved from previous levels of inactivity; subject reports attending yoga classes regularly.

Situation: Subject has experienced in the past three years some 4 or 5 or 6 of the kinds of life-altering events that would be expected to cause major psychological upheavals: marriage, new job, completion of doctorate, adoption of daughter, illness and death of spouse.



At 1:44 PM , Blogger OTRgirl said...

Nothing wrong with a little PTSD induced depression! The only true poison in grief is self-pity, but the rest: depression, anger, lethargy, lack of reading / excessive trashy novel reading, etc are all quite acceptable. (that's quite a life list at the bottom, plenty of reason for the dreams and the depression!)

At 7:09 AM , Blogger Badger said...

Oh boy, is this a familiar list of symptoms. I'm definitely depressed -- but how else could I possibly feel now?!?!?!?!?!?!?

At 2:26 PM , Blogger bitchphd said...

I think the subject is grieving.

Whether or not grieving can be classed as depression (or vice-versa), I am not, of course, qualified to know....

At 9:25 AM , Anonymous New Kid on the Hallway said...

What bitchphd said. Although I do want to point out that just because it's "justified" (i.e. major traumatic life events) doesn't mean it's not actually depression.

Sending best wishes your way.

At 6:17 PM , Blogger ABDmom said...

This is what always drives me nuts about the way depression is conceptualized by the medical establishment. Umm, HELLO?! Your husband just died! Of course you are depressed! There would be something wrong if you weren't!

You know I fought this battle--well actually my therapist, a LISW, did on my behalf--when I was dealing with my own grief and depression. The psych consult who went through all the files (my therapist had no choice but to share them with him) was always pressuring her to put me on drugs. And her response was always, "She's lost three loved ones in 8 months. How else is she supposed to feel?"

Not that I might not have benefited from the drugs, though as you know that was not a path I was willing to pursue. What makes me so mad is that his attitude was, put her on the drugs and she won't need therapy--but clearly my depression was situational, not chemical, and talk therapy is the best course for that type of depression. Drugs without therapy--which is what he advocated--would have been akin to slapping one of those tiny round band-aids on a bullet wound.

This also reminds me of the dr who wanted to put my sis' husband, who had cancer at the time, on Prozac: "Something seems to be bothering you," he said to BIL, clearly puzzled. Again, HELLO?! The man has cancer! Of course he's scared shitless and depressed!!! Why can you not get that?!

Sorry for taking over with my rant, but the mindset of the medical establishment, as seen in these "criteria" for depression, makes me want to hurl.


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