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Diagnosed with 'moderately severe' depression - all experiences/advice welcome

(20 Posts)
EightToSixer Sat 23-Jul-11 14:28:20

hi, I'm a regular poster with recent name change.
I've been feeling bad for about a year now, but managed to divert myself with academic perfectionism and deadlines. In the last month DH was made redundant, my dad had another in a long string of brain haemorrhages and I hit some big hurdles with my studies that were outside my control.
I've always been a positive happy person, but that had changed recently and I also have physical symptoms (no appetite for firs time in my life!, restless legs, trouble sleeping, exhaustion, periods changing from every 4 weeks to every 2-3 etc ).
Went o dr yesterday and was diagnosed with moderately severe depression. She has prescribed 20mg citrolopram and is very helpful. She is also doing blood tests for thyroid, blood count etc. I feel in good hands. DH is being supportive and DC's don't know what is wrong but are being very cuddly and lovely ( I struck lucky with those two).
Basically I know nothing about depression so I'd love to hear your advice, experiences etc. ESP if any of you have taken citrolopram, anything to watch for? Any advice on good ways to treat myself and help myself out of this would be most appreciated. Thank you.

midnightservant Sat 23-Jul-11 15:09:31

Does your new name indicate something about your working hours?

Any idea why you've been feeling bad for a year? Are you studying, or working, in academe?

With all that stuff just landed on top of you, it is not surprsing you have become depressed. That is a normal reaction - to go on brilliantly coping would be less so IMHO.

Have been severely depressed several times, always a reaction to things happening I couldn't control (e.g hating job but having to do it, m-i-l dying and friend committing suicide in same week). Each time it seemed like there would never be anything in my life again except this awful nothingy misery, but each time it came to an end and life is good now.

Be kind and gentle to yourself, don't rush your fences when you start to feel better, give it time....

PonceyMcPonce Sat 23-Jul-11 15:15:47

Have not taken citalopram myself, but my mum was prescribed it after 7 weeks in icu ( almost standard practice because of the trauma). With 10 days she was recognisable as herself again. Not happy/high/lala but as normal.

Hope it helps you soon.

EightToSixer Sat 23-Jul-11 17:21:53

Thank you both. Yes midnight servant - long working hours doing a full-time PhD, so a stressful job! Weirdly though, I think I've actually been depressed for longer but it was distracted by major academic deadlines and brief 'highs' due to good results, but with recent events has hit hard. I'll remember to be gentle with myself, that's good advice, because I'm always trying to be best at everything at work and as a mother, so maybe just being ok for a while will help, thank you.
Poncey - that's really good to know that I'll be recognisable soon, friends say it's like ice lost my mojo, so it'd be good to see that again smile. Hope your mum is doing well now.

pointydog Sat 23-Jul-11 17:33:57

All the best

midnightservant Sat 23-Jul-11 17:35:50

Just to say, it is possible to suspend your PhD for a while, say a month or two (or it was the last time I tried to do one, 2001-3).

NanaNina Sat 23-Jul-11 20:55:22

I think you've had some very good responses 8 - 6. One thing though ADs which can be a life line (and have been for me) work differently on individual people, so you may need to try a couple or so before you find the right one. Also they take 3/4 weeks to kick in and cause different side effects in different people. I think this is what makes it all so difficult really and there is still a great amount of uncertainty amongst the medics about the workings of the brain. It is not know exactly how ADs work or why there is such a difference between different people.

Sorry I'm not trying to be pessimistic - hopefully the 20mg of citalopram will help you, but you may at some point need the dose increased. It is all trial and error really. There are differing points of view between the medics, with some convinced that depression is caused by an imbalance in brain chemistry (that being the majority view) though there are also a nimority of psychiatrists who don't think there is evidence that there is a change in brain chemistry and there is not a great deal of difference between ADs and placebos.

I am a believer in ADs as they have helped me enormously. I am on one of the old fashioned tryclics. These days the AD of choice seems to be citalopram (an SSRI) and they are thought to have fewer side effects that the old fashioned ones. Many people on these posts swear by citalopram, so really hoping it works for you.

However it seems to me that you do need to "cut yourself some slack" not sure exactly how with your PHd - bur midnightservant suggests you can take a break so to speak. This is as important as taking ADs in my opinion.

Sending you good wishes

EightToSixer Sun 24-Jul-11 09:05:09

Thank you. I actually find studying a help, I don't really see it as work, particularly at this point in the year when there is no teaching and I've made enough progress to cut myself some slack on the hours, so I haven't asked for any time off so far. I'm taking pretty much all of August off to do things with the kids too, so I'll make sure that is a good break for me and them. But I'll bear it in mind for next semester.
I'm having a few see-effects in terms of trouble getting to sleep (previously not a problem) but that could be the depression as much as the ADs I guess

midnightservant Sun 24-Jul-11 11:19:31

Could well be the ADs making it take a long time getting to sleep.

What are you studying and how far into your PhD are you? Are you one of those organised people who write 1,000 words every day? if so I am not speaking to you grin

Part of my trouble when I lasted attempted PhD was I couldn't stop reading - felt I couldn't do subject justice unless had read everything on cognitive linguistics [mad]

EightToSixer Sun 24-Jul-11 12:55:46

I'm 10 months into three years funding for the PhD, but because I've done two MSc's in the last two years on the same subject I have a lot of the lit review done. I've also done more than half my data collection, so I'm well on target to take a few weeks of taking it easy over the summer, which is probably a good idea while the drugs kick in. I've got little bits and bobs to write and plan but no deadlines so taking it easy before the new semester's teaching and conference circuit kicks in is probably a very good idea.
I can reassure you that I'm not a disciplined writer though. Currently I have a lot of garbled field notes and zero actual PhD written smile plenty of time for that though.

foxinsocks Sun 24-Jul-11 15:10:35

Well done for asking for help! One step forward already.

natsyloo Sun 24-Jul-11 22:13:00

Hi, just wanted to wish you well. As a mum who has been treated for fairly severe PND I am familiar with your thread. I'm not an academic as such but was always a 'high achiever' at school and am very ambitious and motivated in my career.

I don't think it's accidental that there is a link between this and depression - control and perfectionism are often features underpinning the condition, highlighted by an event or trauma.

I had CBT as well as taking ADs - to be honest I don't think ADs alone would have done the trick for me (everyone's different) as I needed a more fundamental shift in the way I lead my life to be able to get to grips with it. Essentially, through therapy I realised I set myself unrelenting high standards to achieve, and as motherhood was so new, so unfamiliar, haphazard and bl**dy hard it came as a horrific shock in comparison to my rose-tinted expectations!

Good luck with the treatment and perhaps consider therapy too if it's an option as the two go hand in hand pretty well.

EightToSixer Mon 25-Jul-11 07:15:27

Thank you both.
Natsyloo, thanks or your advice about CBT, I actually had ten weeks of this last year about my 'perfectionism' which was really helpful and focussed. I liked that it was productive and was more than just talking it through, it was behaviour changing.
This year feels different though, mainly a real sadness, along with the physical symptoms, I guess the ADs will take care of those, but I've also been referred for counselling, though the waiting list is 6 months! I hear you on the rose-tinted expectations though, looking back I was probably mildly depressed after my DD was born for that very reason and was one of the reasons perhaps that I started a new academic career where it's easier than motherhood to see how you are doing.

lukewarmmama Mon 25-Jul-11 07:27:57

As a long term on/off sufferer, can I just add that looking at your diet/exercise and exposure to sunlight can help too . Obviously not on their own, but as an adjunct to meds and therapy.

Eg I find an omega 3 supplement helps me personally, and upping walks and exercise.

EightToSixer Mon 25-Jul-11 10:21:14

Ooh that's a good plan lukewarmmama. I'll get some supplements, I don't eat much fish so I may try that. I've been buying all the healthy food that I like to cheer myself up, lots of brightly coloured fruit and veg etc too.
I've had a dramatic loss of appetite (and I'm someone who never ever loses appetite, even when I had swine flu I ate!) but I need to lose weight so it is welcome. I've made sure to eat three meals a day even if they're small ones, so I don't starve myself. I know there is some research into depression and those on reduced carb diets, so I'm including some healthy carbs, potatoes, pasta, rice etc.

lucyboots Wed 27-Jul-11 08:10:30

Hi EighttoSixer. All the reading I've done following a recent bout of depression points to the importance of including complex carbs in your diet, so brown rice, potatoes, wholegrains etc. Also read that people with depression may lacking in certain B vitamins. I've taken this last bout of depression as an opportunity to really clean up my act as far as my diet is concerned. Hard to tell whether it's that or the ADs lifting my mood, but I figure that eating more healthily and ditching all my low carb diet books can't hurt. For me, CBT was instrumental and if seeing a therapist is difficult, there are some good books available. Oh and lots of exercise, it's helped with sleep problems.

EightToSixer Thu 28-Jul-11 13:19:11

Ok, so the plot thickens. My blood tests came back with severe anaemia. I've had more blood taken today to check iron stores and have been taken off the citrolopram as my symptoms for anaemia are very similar to anaemia. Got to wait a bit lone to see what the cause may be as it's unlikely diet could cause such a low haemoglobin level. I'm on iron tablets now to see if they help.
Thanks for the advice everyone, it's all very useful.

lukewarmmama Thu 28-Jul-11 13:26:20

Yup, that would make you feel exhausted I guess! Strange, because I had a fleeting thought that you didn't sound like a classic case of depression (if there is such a thing), and was wondering if was physical. Hope they get to the cause of it soon.

midnightservant Thu 28-Jul-11 15:54:22

So glad they have found a cause for your exhaustion. You manage so much even in that state, what are you going to be like when you are firing on all cylinders again? wink

It's a PhD in one of the sciences? <nosy>

EightToSixer Fri 29-Jul-11 06:38:10

Thank you both, yes I'm hopeful about regaining all that energy I've been missing lately, I could even put it to evil ways grin

Midnightservant, it's a socio-legal PhD on violence, I'm very much lacking in the scientific-brain side of things smile

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