Originally Answered: What should I tell my doctor (anxiety and bouts with depression)?
Have you been on any medication before? Just curious.
Yeah, anxiety can really knock you down. I'm so sorry you deal with this too. I wouldn't wish anxiety &/or depression on anyone. Runs in both sides of my family as well. :(
I have had anxiety and depression since I can remember - literally, some of my earliest memories are ones of being so "sad" and worried. I wasn't diagnosed until I was 24 because I was so high functioning that people couldn't believe that I had any sort of mood disorder. Through a series of stops and starts over many years I think I MAY have a handle on it now. Hopefully. Sigh.
I tried imiprimine (old-school med), zoloft, prozac, and paxil. They all took the edge off of my depression but did very little for my anxiety (which I actually didn't know I had until about a year ago. I thought it was all depression). A practitioner who noticed the anxiety tried me on Lexapro, which helped a lot but my insurance discontinued covering it so I switched to Pristiq, which has been a God-send for the depression AND the anxiety. By keeping a mood chart my practitioner and I were able to see when I was having dips in mood, having anxiety, etc. She decided to try me on Lamictal (a mood stabilizer) as well. I was really nervous about this because I am leery of meds and I knew that mood stabilizers were prescribed primarily for people wit Bipolar Disorder and for whatever reason I didn't want to be diagnosed at "bipolar". She told me that a lot of people who continue to suffer from depression/anxiety while on an anti-depressant do well by adding Lamictal. She was right. I have never felt so stable, even-keeled. I still have bouts of dep/anx once or twice a week, but it is short-lived and manageable.
I do know that people who have a long term history of depression/anxiety (sounds like you do) tend to have to experiment with different meds in order to get just the right mix. Don't give up. Also, people like us will usually have to be on meds for the long haul, unlike someone who fell into depression for the first time at 25 (for example), got on meds and got back to normal within a few months.
I used to be so anti-meds, anti-mental health diagnoses, etc. I'm still not a fan, but they have saved my life in so many different way.
I tried to pray, meditate, read the Bible, read self-help books, exercise, change my diet, cut out coffee, tried natural supplements/herbs, make new friends, took classes, on and on. All of those things did help me on some level, but never relieved the depression and anxiety.
Tell your doctor everything that you are feeling, thinking, doing. There are also on-line mental health screenings that you can do. Maybe complete one of the questionnaires, print it out and take it with you to your doctor appt so that you will have all the information in front of you. For me, working with a regular MD was not helpful. Two different physicians tried me on zoloft and prozac, but never followed through with me. Just wrote the prescription and left it at that. Never saw me again for the issue. My gyn referred me to a mental health nurse practitioner in the clinic and this made all the difference in the world. The MHNP did a thorough assessment, started me on some meds and at first saw me every two weeks to see how I was doing, tweaking meds as needs, etc. It has been 1.5 yrs. and I still see her every 4-6 weeks to talk about the meds, my moods, etc.I would recommend finding someone who is going to see you through every step of the way.
As far as natural supplements, I know that 5HTTP supplements, chamomile & valerian root herbs and some B vitamins can help. As well, having a thyroid check and vitamin D levels checked can be helpful. I did all of these, but none of them helped.
Best of luck to you - although it might not feel like it and it might take some trial and error, there is light at the end of the tunnel.