I have lifelong depression and anxiety that is definitely inherited. I took Tofranil for one year when I was a teenager, and it worked perfectly and dramatically.
For most of my life I have been able to manage the depression , but there was a time seven or eight years ago that it was so bad that I felt I was losing my mind. It was a difficult time in my life- I had just graduated college and was going through a divorce and had no insurance, so I paid out of pocket to see a psychiatrist. The best way I can describe how I felt was like the world was dark. It was like experiencing life through the blinders they put on horses. I also felt very tense and unable to relax or sleep, and I'd wake up feeling like the nerves in my brain were like frayed wires. It's tough to describe, but it was kind of like every thought in my head was rattling around like pinballs and it was difficult to even get up and take a shower to go to work. I was convinced I was absolutely losing my mind, so I went to a psychiatrist, even though I was terrified she'd tell me it was all over and I was severely mentally ill with something bad.
She thought I was severely depressed with a very high level of anxiety, and could not yet rule out Bipolar, so she prescribed Neurontin and a small dose of Paxil, and then finally moved me just to Paxil. I think she decided it was depression and anxiety. I moved so I stopped seeing her, and eventually quit taking Paxil because it had a side effect that made me jerk in my sleep. It was horrible getting off of Paxil. I felt this pervasive brain dizziness when I was withdrawing from it.
I have never been anywhere near as absolutely sick with depression and anxiety as I was then, but about one year later I asked my general physician for an anti-depressant because I felt mild depression coming on. In addition to the depression, though, I have lifelong anxieties that I have only recently recognized are probably as much a problem as the depression.
For example, I am often obsessed with some fear. The fears are rational, but I really can't let them go. I think the same negative, fearful thoughts until I am physically sick. For example, for years I have been extremely fearful of car accidents, but not if I'm driving, only if someone else is driving and I'm not in the car. I have to always know where my child is at all times. I am very vigilant about her safety and worry about her being kidnapped if someone is not watching her get on and off the bus, or if she is playing outside without someone knowing exactly where she is. I am always anticipating something terrible happening, to the point that I worry about what might go wrong on a daily basis and panic if something does go wrong. I also go through periods of obsessive worry about my health. I am terrified of getting cancer and leaving my child without a mother, and if I have a symptom that is frightening and I need to go to the doctor to have tests run I can barely stand the anxiety. I have seriously considering asking the doctor for some kind of pill to manage the fear of just waiting for test results. I am not a classic hypochondriac, because I'm always relieved when the test comes back negative, and I don't see the doctor for minor concerns, they are always serious things, like bleeding. But, the point is I cannot stand the terror and anxiety of what might be wrong. Other people can be hopeful or relaxed and have a positive attitude, but I have no ability to do that at times.
I took several antidepressants over a period of about four years, but none of them has ever worked very well or completely. For the past three years I have taken high doses of Omega-3 fatty acids and sometimes other supplements like SAM-e that work about as well as the SSRIs I've taken, but maybe a little powerfully and consistently.
I've taken- Wellbutrin- Horrible effects. Made me feel like I was on speed. I was so tense on this I got bruises in my palms from my fingernails without realizing it.
Celexa- So-So, about 30% effective
Paxil - maybe 50% effective
Prozac- insurance company made me switch to this- 30% effective
Lexapro- Seemed to be somewhat worse on this, but not dramatically
Zoloft- No effect, if not slightly worse
I really need to go to a psychiatrist, because my general physician doesn't have the expertise to figure out why I don't respond completely to SSRIs, but I am really hesitant about going to see one on insurance. I am just afraid it isn't a good idea to let my personal health information include a diagnosis of mental illness because it might come back to haunt me. I am afraid if I were ever in a custody battle (though there's no prospect of that at this time) my child could be taken from me, and I am afraid that it could impact my profession for various reasons. It's a little different to go to your general doctor and say, well I'm depressed, and let him diagnosis PMS and give you an antidepressant than it is to see a psychiatrist and really get in-depth treatment for something like major depression with co-morbid OCD or GAD, even though I wish I could have the treatment. I'm afraid I'm going to label myself, and fear that my health records are really not as secure as promised.
So, I just don't know if I should suggest another medication to my general physician, or just give up and take the risk of using my health insurance to see a psychiatrist, and just pray that nothing terrible comes out of the whole experience.
I am wondering if anyone recognizes these symptoms, and can suggest a medication that might work.