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Advice about Depression

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Depression and how it affects my kids

April 2012

I was diagnosed with depression following the birth of my 2.5 year old daughter. Unfortunately, it took almost a year to get help. I started taking meds and was going to therapy weekly. It helped hugely. Recently, I've gone off the meds because I don't like taking a pill everyday in addition to the side effects. I feel much more aware of the behavior differences between then and now though at the end of the day I am still mostly the same person as before. I've been reading a lot about how kids with depressed parents have different brainwaves than kids without and how acutely depressed parents seem to affect their children. So what do I do know? I feel like I've set up my daughter to have the same problems I have, just like my mother had. How do you undo the damage you've caused your child by being a depressed parent? Am I still considered a depressed parent when I'm not on medication even though I feel better and am more aware of these behaviors and thought patterns? (And I will jump on the medication if I ever feel myself going ''down'' again) How do I protect my daughter from all this? Thoughts, suggestions? Thanks -want to protect my child


Firstly, you should be proud of yourself for getting help! I too had terrible depression after my son's birth and really had other people care for him a lot since I was so down. It took me about a year to come out of it. Honestly, I don't give myself a hard time about it at all because now I'm doing really well and my son is absolutely thriving. Remember that your child has a personality all of their own. No matter who you are, they will do well as long as you love them the very best you can, care for them, nurture them and tell them how special they are. You don't have to be smiling all the time. That's a lot of pressure to put on yourself. If you need breaks, take them. If you need help, get help. A child is part of a community and you can lean on others to take a breather. Embrace who you are and love yourself. That in itself will translate over to your daughter. She will be fine as long as you are. Many blessings! Been there
I'm going to suggest you go to two blogs which give lots of practical ideas about happiness and kids (both of which have associated books if you'd prefer it that way): http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/raising_happiness/ and http://www.happiness-project.com/ Both focus on building a skill set for being happier, and helping your kids to do the same (most of which is research based). It can be a little overwhelming as a whole package, so just experiment. Pick a few ideas and activities, try them out, keep what works. I'm not saying that reading the books/blogs and trying the activities will cure your depression, or prevent your children from ever being depressed. But, doing these sorts of things with your kids is a great, often pretty fun, way to teach them some useful skills and give them the best start toward happiness that you can. Karen
I think it's great that you're thinking about the impact your depression may have had or may continue to have on your child. And it makes sense that you don't want to stay on antidepressants forever. Have you done therapy? A good therapist can help reduce negative thought patterns and make changes in your thinking and behavior to improve your mood, benefiting you as well as your child.

In terms of the impact depression has on children, it is thought to be connected mainly to attachment and responsiveness, so those are the two issues that you need to focus on. If your depression impacting your attachment to your daughter, she would be likely to be either clingy or detached, difficult to leave with others or able to go to anyone indiscriminately. Lots of quality time, physical touch and holding, as well as playing together -- and being truly present with her when you do -- are the best way to create a secure attachment. Mindfulness exercises may be helpful to improve your ability to be fully present with your daughter rather than getting caught up in your thoughts.

Responsiveness is very important as well, in that you provide a mirror for your daughter, tracking her behavior and emotions as well as talking to her a lot and making eye contact. That tends to get lost when a mother is depressed. That running dialog that mothers have with their children: ''Wow, you did that yourself! You're feeling very proud...'' ''You're really disappointed about having to leave the playground...'' ''You wish you could have that toy that your friend is playing with...'' It all seems kind of obvious, but that kind of mirroring behavior can be affected when a mother is depressed, and it is a major factor in your daughter developing a strong sense of self. Meri, MA MFTI


First, thanks for being concerned about your child, and reaching out for advice. I too suffered major, chronic depression while raising my children, as a single mom. One book I read which I believe helped me enormously was called ''The Optimistic Child'', by Martin Seligman. The front of the book actually says ''how to immunize your child against depression''. I can't use this space to say everything I learned from the book, but I DID use the techniques in the book to help my kids learn a different way of thinking and seeing the world than I had learned, as a child. My kids are grown now and are NOT depressed! (yay!) I also am not anymore. But, you are right that as a parent, you must treat your own depression if you feel it coming on, because it does influence what/how you treat your children and the world. Kids pick up on everything, especially if they are intuitive. I wish that I had gone on meds earlier. Therapy helped me, but I needed meds, for about ten years. You CAN teach your children ways of thinking that will prevent depression. I hope that you can appreciate the book as much as I did. Good luck to you!
Your posting has been on my mind and my heart goes out to you. I was diagnosed with ppd when my daughter was almost a year old and found it to be a really long journey back. Medication helped some. Therapy helped some, but even after those,it was a long slog to get through the leftover feelings of anxiety and guilt. One of the best supports I've found is postpartumprogress.com I highly recommend it...there are postings from moms who have been there/are there still and experts and it is an understanding and supportive community. My daughter is 5 and over the past 4 years I've done a lot of attachment work to make up for the lost time and my hope is that seeing me find/work on healing will be a benefit to her in the long run. Please feel free to contact me if you want to talk to someone who has been there. susan

Stay at home mom - depression or just need a break?

July 2011

I am looking to understand the experience of other SAHM with a toddler. I have a 2.5 yo and am currently struggling with the job at hand. It is difficult for me to sort out what is the normal feelings for a mom of a son in the terrible twos, or what is more the result of depression. I have a history of depression, and am not sure if my current feelings warrant medicinal interventions, therapy, or just plain old commiseration with moms in the same boat.

Lately, I feel constantly exhausted by watching him, like I am forever trying to wrangle him in one direction while he goes the other, bored out of my mind playing the same games, frustrated with his lack of attention span. I can't seem to be present with him, because I simply am not interested in playing the same thing over and over when there is so much to be done. Everyone in the family thinks he is the cutest of the cute, and all I can think is, I wish he would nap! I want to enjoy my child and our time together, but I am really worn down.

Anyone have any insight into how to sort out what is depression vs. someone just in need of a little break? THANKS! tired out


Hi there, You may get lots of ideas and opinions, but here's one... find a job part or full time and put your son in a daycare. I find two quality hours with my 2 yr old daughter per day just right. I can do puzzles the whole time or read the same book over & over again, then dinner, etc. You also mentioned the ''so much to be done''. I also find housekeeping help invaluable. laundry, a couple meals per week, take out the trash, etc. Working could likely pay for this... Good luck. love working, love my time with my daughter
It seems to me that it's neither of the two: what you experience is not necessarily part of the territory nor it has to be depression.

I chose not to be a SAHM because I knew that it wasn't for me. I went back to work within 4 months and was a single mother since my child was 3 years old sometime having crazy schedules. On the other hand, I have friends that LOVED to be SAHM and would do it all over again.

Perhaps being a SAHM is not for you either. Nothing wrong with it, and knowing what works for you gives you a better chance also in the relationship with your child. Mine is now a grown adult with her own life, but we are still very close. What I'm saying is that you can balance your needs and your child's need so that everybody gets something. Best wishes


I think it's the territory, but I'm someone who is not cut out to be a full-time SAHM. I envy those people/parents who think playing with a small child is fun, fun, fun. I am not a small child, and I don't find small child activities fun. I'd love to. I don't. When I feel bad about it, I remember a mom friend of mine saying ''I'm not 2, and I don't find 2-year-old games interesting.'' She gave me permission not to also.

When one of my children was small, I worked 16-20 hours/week. That was perfect. I had time with her but time to be an adult. The hours of one-on-one time didn't just stretch endlessly before me. Currently I have to work nearly full time, and my 3.5 year old is in preschool all day. He loves it and has more fun there.

What I learned as my older one (now in college) was growing up is that we all have ages of children we're best with. I'm not a baby or toddler person. I enjoy my kids more as they get older and we can share activities together. There are lots of things I'm good at as a parent. I love teaching my kids new things. I am loving and cuddly, and set good limits. I have a great relationship with my older child and was frequently praised for my parenting of her. I remind myself of these things when I feel guilty that I don't enjoy straight-on playing with my little guy.

Have you considered a co-op preschool for your child? You'd get low-cost child care, you'd meet other parents, and your child could socialize. I did that with my oldest and made friendships that lasted years. If not a co-op, work on other ways to hang out with moms and kids. It's amazing how much better the parenting job is when shared. Makes you realize why we used to live in tribes. I'd go out of my mind as a full-time SAHM


You sound like me from a while back. I thought it was just hard to raise a child. I finally sought out some therapy due to my marriage getting so rocky, but actually ended up on an anti-depressant after the therapist suggesting it for months. I tried it and I can't believe I didn't do it sooner!! It really changed some of the more subtle parts of my life - like just feeling worn out and like I was never getting enough sleep (even though I was sleeping 10+ hours a night) and the lack of energy. My child (2yrs old) is a joy to be around, even when we're handling conflict. And that conflict is sooo much easier to handle now. I would strongly encourage you to 1-seek therapy and 2-if they suggest it, try what they suggest and give it enough time to kick in so you can evaluate if it's helpful or not. You, your child, and your family deserve a better you. http://www.health.com/health/condition-article/0,,20188730,00.html -Good Luck
BOTH? The SAHM thing can be a huge drag especially if you are isolated from other adults and therefore you end up depressed. The easy fixes, get out of the house, join some play groups so your son plays with others and you meet more moms. Carve out some time to exercise. Don't feel like you are the entertainment. Your son needs to learn to play independently. See a DR. Good Luck! SAHM
It sounds like part of the territory. Consider that you have given up the last 2.5 years of your life to focus on your child (a very noble endeavor) and the lack of focus on your needs is catching up to you. Also, the 2's are such an intense time. I had the same feelings you did with the same game boredom and praying for nap time. It's really great that you are keeping an eye out for signs of depression but these feelings are normal when caring for a little one. - still praying for nap time
I don't think you need to worry unless your feelings are actually interfering with proper care of your child. To many, caring for a small child full time is BORING!!! Things that helped me:

Fully develop a group of mom friends to hang out with-I went bonkers at home all day-but then you have adults to talk to and the kids play.

Imagining in my mind that developmentally stimulating my child and playing with him was my job-so I went about it with more discipline as if I was at work-like I might want to just play for 5 minutes and then go do something else, but now in my mind it is my job to play this repetitive whatever for 1 hr. Just like I might not always like say writing a report at work, but it is my job, so I stay focused on doing it and committed. This mental mind game helped me with my child.

At the beginning of the day, laying out a game plan in my head or on paper or for the week. Ex, Mon we go to the zoo in the am, then take nap, then play for 1 hr, then meet Amy and her kid at the park from 3-5. This helped the day have more structure and broke it up.

Nights out alone with no kid-something to look forward to or going to the movies ALONE. This was my safe space-a place where no one will ask anything of me, whine, cry scream or demand. No one will touch me, speak to me, or bother me for a predetermined 138 minutes or whatever-I found this very soothing to my nervous system when my child was small.

Hope that helps-don't feel bad, everyone likes different ages the best and everyone has limits of tolerance. got bored too


Hi there, I literally could have written your post. I SO feel for you--the boredom, the isolation of being home with a toddler, the frustration of trying to get things done with toddler-in-tow, the longing for naptime! I'm right there with you! Sometimes I wonder if something is terribly wrong with me. And sometimes I wonder if what I'm really reacting to is the general expectation that I ''should feel lucky to be able to stay at home with my baby.'' As if I ''shouldn't'' feel anything but happiness and joy and ''I'm having fun all day staying home with my precious baby?'' It's NOT fun all day. It's a lot of the same boring crap OVER and OVER and OVER. Right? Anyway, I think that the best thing I do for myself is say and accept what I'm feeling. And often, I'm bored, frustrated, exhausted, and just friggin' depressed! All my sincere sympathy, Another bored mom
Hi there, I literally could have written your post. I SO feel for you--the boredom, the isolation of being home with a toddler, the frustration of trying to get things done with toddler-in-tow, the longing for naptime! I'm right there with you! I also wonder if something is wrong with me--if I'm just depressed. And sometimes I wonder if what I'm really reacting to is the general expectation that I ''should feel lucky to be able to stay at home with my baby.'' As if I ''shouldn't'' feel anything but happiness and joy and ''I'm having fun all day staying home with my precious baby?'' But we both know that it's NOT fun all day. It's a lot of the same boring crap OVER and OVER and OVER. Right? Anyway, I think that the best thing I do for myself is say and accept what I'm feeling. And often, I'm bored, frustrated, exhausted, and just want to be ANYWHERE else. My favorite thing is to get together with mom friends who can keep it real and just KVETCH about it. If you ever want to go to the park, let the kids play, and yap about how annoying they are, email me! rasoroka@gmail.com All my sincere sympathy, Another bored mom
You definitely need some (or more) time to yourself each week. You sound burnt out but still desire to connect with your son. Hire someone to give you a break, it's worth it! I can recommend someone reasonable in the Laurel area if you're around there. kimanderek
Yes, being a stay at home mom can be very frustrating and isolating. Since it sounds like your mood/feelings are starting to negatively impact the way you perceive and interact with your son I think it's time to reach out for the help of a mental health pro. Other suggestions: (ones you'll probably get from your mental health pro)

He's at a good age to start a preschool or coop play group a few hours a week. He'll love it once he gets used to it and you'll meet many like minded parents

Join a gym with childcare if you haven't already. This is a a major life changer. Going for a quick workout followed by a long hot shower will do wonders for your mood. Plus it helps break up/organize the day and you get some time to yourself.

Schedule at least one ''formal'' activity a day and commit to attending it. Could be as easy as story time at the park or a tumbling class.

Take stroller walks outside when you are feeling down or frustrated. Being outside in the fresh air, seeing folks and new things is pleasant for you both.

Make sure you have at least a couple times each day that you devout to totally being with him, connecting him, and enjoying him.

Make sure you partner takes a turn on the weekends or evenings. You should have at least 2-3 hours a week to do your own thing; whatever that may be. Good luck! Glad my kids are in chldcare!


I'm sure you're going to get a lot of responses saying this is common for SAHMs (or NON SAHMs), but I thought I'd chime in with the opposite. No doubt about it, toddlers are trying and tiring, and I'm sure there are a number of people who have the same feelings you do and aren't depressed, but my experience was that when I started feeling the way you're describing, I knew it was time to reevaluate my meds. I have a long history of depression and so wasn't off my meds, but had lowered my dosage. For me, one big clue is that I began to feel physically weighted down and exhausted beyond normal tiredness. A few other things you wrote spell out depression to me: not being present, easily frustrated. I say it's worth trying the meds, or at least talking to a therapist to evaluate. As soon as I upped my dosage, I was able to really be present for my daughter, not be so easily annoyed, and have my normal amount of energy. Trust me, I still got tired, frustrated, etc. but the change was significant. Been There
I'm not sure if I'm the best or the worst person to answer your question, since I could have written your post myself.... but I feel compelled to respond, if only to let you know that you are not the only one! I, too, have a history of depression and have also gone back and forth mentally about whether I need meds or am just going through the tough reality of parenting a toddler. I do want say that a friend recently told me she thought my self-perception of not being ''present'' enough for my child was inaccurate and was really more of a reflection of my own hyper-vigilance. I mention that because, even though I don't know you, just based on your post, it's a good bet you're being too hard on yourself. Toddlers really can and do suck. (That being said, if you truly do not appreciate just how adorable your 2.5 yr old is when he's momentarily not being a butt-head, then it may be time to think about medication. While parenting is really hard and getting over-whelmed IS ''part of the territory'', it is also entirely possible that you are depressed. So, my advice on that front is to make sure you are feeling some joy some of the time....) Anyway, I really did appreciate your post. As another mother of a 2 yr old, I struggle a lot with the questions you asked. So thanks for putting it into words and reminding me that I'm not alone in my experience. maia
I really felt your pain in this. I think it may be a little of both but you need to figure that out for yourself or with a therapist. From my own experience, I think there is a lot of class pressure for women to not only be SAHMs but to also be incredibly perfect at it: always engaged, saying the right thing, understanding your child completely. Now that my kids are older, I think this pressure is out of control. When my oldest was 2.5, I had a new baby. I also experienced PPD for the first year of my second child's life. It was maddening as my first child was spirited and I just felt like a terrible mom. I went back to work and felt incredible guilt about that. And, you know what? My kids are FINE and think in the long run, I am a big believer in the village concept of raising a child than the idea of the solitary mother alone with her child doing it all. In the old days, moms were home but they had community and usually grandparents, aunts and muti-generational siblings to all help out. In a nutshell, the constant attention a toddler needs cannot be possibly met in addition to having to clean, cook and all that. So, cut yourself some slack and if I were you, I'd look into some part time preschool where he can socialize and you can get a break. satisfied with being a substandard mother (now)
Hi, I have never suffered from clinical depression, and you have described exactly how I feel about spending time with my small children. I love them, I do enjoy them in small doses, but a lot of the job is drudgery. They are now three and six, and as they get older and play with one another more I enjoy the job of parenting more and more.

There are parts of parenting I like, and I feel that I'm a good parent. However I'm not the kind of parent who enjoys playing with little kids. Some people love doing this, some don't.

My fantasy of parenting is that I would play with them for hours and marvel at the way their little minds work while we did things like make jam or play with homemade wooden toys. The reality is that I got issued actual children, and they got issued the sort of mom who rushes them when we're taking a walk for fun.

I enjoy the parts I can, I grind through the parts I can't. Hope you can too. Regular Mama


It's usually a good idea to talk to a doctor or therapist about the possibility of depression, but also, have you considered that maybe being a stay-at-home mom is just not for you? Your message describes exactly how I would feel if I were at home with my 2 y.o. full time. I work part-time (3 days/week) and for me this is just the right balance of work and child. I adore my little one, but would feel totally unhappy and bored and irritable and exhausted if I were a full time stay-at-home mom. It wouldn't be good for my child or for me.

I have many friends who are very happy and fulfilled as SAHMs. But if you're not - maybe it's just not the right thing for you at this time. Consider looking for part-time work in your field or an area you're interested in. If you can afford some child care even without working, you could volunteer or do an activity you enjoy, a couple of times a week. If finances are too tight, a child care trade with another stay-at-home mom could be great for both of you (and your kids, who would get to play together). Even 5-10 hours a week might make a big difference in how you feel about your time with your son. I promise you, self-care for parents is good for children.

One other thing that's been helpful for me with my child is identifying the things that the two of us both like to do, and trying to do more of those things, even if sometimes it means the housework doesn't get done. For example, maybe your child loves to watch construction machinery and you find it extremely boring... but you both love to swim. So you could go to swim classes together. Parents have needs too


Hi. Sorry your feeling down in the dumps. I can't answer any diagnoses questions... but as a fellow SAHM of a 2+ year old, I thought I'd share two coping strategies that work for me. - When I am feeling super-disengaged from play with my babe, then I tell him its a good time to play by himself while I do a mommy-activity. Usually this means something not-too fun, like folding laundry or doing dishes... But, it helps to check an errand off the list. I should note that he loves having a playmate, so he often pops out of his room every 15 minutes to show me a toy, and I just say ''hey, that's nice'' and then keep at my task. It helps both of us to have some space.

- Find some new fun things you want to do together. If I am getting stir crazy, but he's happy logging 3 hours in his room, I'll just say ''mommy needs fresh air'' and we'll get outside... whether I'm pushing a stroller or taking him for a walk on foot. Sometimes I have him to move some toys to the place where I want to work on something else, and he often joins me in a new activity - like he'll make a mess in the kitchen while I cook dinner.

--- Sorry, no glamorous answers here. Just that you shouldn't feel trapped in redunda-play-land. If your babe is happy playing solo, take advantage of that time to do your own thing in the same part of the house (we had to work up to this dynamic). Also, try to find some new things you want to try with him. Maybe he'll be excited about a new book? or a trip to the library? a new playground? Ride the bus? Sure helps me just to get out of the house and see other people. I also started gardening out in the front yard, and that gives us time to say hi to strangers, dogs, and neighbors, check on seedlings, dig dirt, etc.. Mixes it up.

If you are feeling down in the dumps, maybe fish oil? But.... it sounds like you just need new activities that you are also interested in. Good luck! nother sahm


Dear Tired Out, At first I thought - you saved me a post, and the timing couldn't be better... I was planning to submit something very similar this week, only in trying to formulate the actual question (because my dilemma differs from yours in one important way), I missed the posting deadline.

I also have a 2.5 year old son. I love him more than anything in the world, but to be perfectly honest, I don't enjoy ''doing'' things with him in the way I know that I should. To be even more honest, I will say that entertaining him can be tedious and boring. In fact, there are often times when I would rather be doing any one of a number of household chores. I realize how horrible this sounds! Yet at the same time I know how much I love my boy. I wanted desperately to have him. He means everything to me.. When I am away from the house even for a few minutes, I think of nothing else and can't wait to return just to see him. I chose not to go back to work because I couldn't bear the thought of being away from my precious baby. It is difficult to reconcile the two. I love being around my son and watching him learn and explore, but entertaining him is a stressful and demanding job that I seldom actually enjoy. I am always relieved when my husband takes over and I can appreciate just ''being'' with the two of them. I never did enjoy walking around the neighborhood with a stroller, much less trips to the playground. Doing those things made me very depressed. I used to watch the clock tick away, as I desperately awaited the changing of shifts in the evenings.

I also wondered whether to attribute this to postpartum depression. However, I soon realized this was not the case. When I did have moments to myself I found that I was not depressed. Of course, this realization brought with it a tremendous amount of guilt - something I have struggled with for the past two years. Over time I have come to the realization that I am simply not a perfect fit for this age (0 - toddler). Hard as I try, it doesn't come naturally to me. I am convinced that as my son gets older I will truly be able to enjoy spending time doing things with him. Even now (at 2.5), it is a little easier than 6 or 12 months ago.. That is something I have to constantly remind myself of as I go through the day playing pretend games, telling the same old story, and otherwise catering to my rambunctious toddler. Being a SAHM is hard! Your feelings and what you are going through are probably not that uncommon.

I am sure many readers will suggest that what you are experiencing is likely a manifestation of underlying depression. Perhaps that is the case. But wanted to share my story because with me, it wasn't. Best of luck to you. -Anon-


Depression related to hormones/cycle

Oct 2010

I didn't have my period for about 3 years during the stretch where I was pregnant and breastfeeding my little ones. As soon as I stopped breastfeeding and my period returned, my depression came back. Specifically, the week before my period, I get deeply, severely depressed. I went to my doctor because I felt that I needed to go back on antidepressants (which I had stopped without issue when trying to get pregnant). I'd struggled with depression in the past and had been on Rx for about 5 years, but never connected it to hormonal changes per se. My doctor suspected it was related to hormonal fluctuations and also told me that PMS symptoms worsen the closer you get to menopause. (I may be perimenopausal considering some fertility issues we had.) I'm on 40mgs of Citalopram (Celexa) and my doctor recommended going up to 60mgs for that week. I was dubious until I just got through my bad week again. I just got so low, I felt overwhelmed, sad, I drop all the balls, I avoid social engagements and people. Sadly it corresponded with my 37th birthday and I didn't really see or talk to anyone. Next month, I'll see if upping my dosage helps, but I somehow feel that's not the only answer. Have there been any advances in women's health? Why is this happening? Is it going to get worse? Am I doomed to be Jeckel and Hyde? Is there some sort of specialist I should see? I feel this cyclical depressive drop is outside the spectrum of what could be considered normal PMS moodiness. I'm not really sure what to do, but this doesn't seem right. (Yes, thyroid has been tested.) Feeling better today because my period started, Kate


If your hormones fluctuate this dramatically, wouldn't it makes sense to address that -- the root cause -- rather than just the symptoms of depression? I urge you to consult Judy Burgio, a licensed pharmacist and certified nutritionist who helps clients manage a wide range of health challenges holistically (which can include Rxs). Check out her website, www.coachforwholehealth.com. She is terrific and can refer you if you need other kinds of support. Bio-identical hormones have transformed my life, but I'm older than you, so I can't advise if this is a viable route for you as well. Good luck! Terry
you sound exactly like me! i don't have a magic wand, but i'll tell you something my therapist suggested, which seemed trivial but has made a HUGE difference. mark your calendar for when you should be getting your period, and make note of the week before. and then let yourself off the hook for that week. don't make big decisions, don't work too hard, don't expect ''your best''. basically, be prepared for that to be your down week. for whatever reason, being prepared for it has helped me a lot and has also made it easier to remember that it will pass. anon
Dear Kate, You're definitely not alone on this one! If you can take birth control pills without depression issues (and you're a nonsmoker), that could help. Please see your OB/GYN about this, but I'm pretty sure every birth control pill can be taken without using the blank pills, i.e. just taking the 3 weeks of hormones without pause back to back. There is really no medical need to have a period unless you are trying to get pregnant. Your doctor can tell you if you can do this indefinitely, or whether you need to take a hormone break every so often.

If you can't take the pill, I'd go with upping the dose of your antidepressant. I've experienced a significant reduction in peri and menopause symptoms with a generic form of Wellbutrin. Best of luck to you! Karen


I too experience bad PMS. Antidepressants are definitely crucial for me. Other things that have helped are acupuncture, meditation, and bodywork. I know there are doctors that specialize in women's hormonal issues, but you have to pay out of pocket. I have not done this because it's just too much money. But i couldn't get by without the antidepressant for that time of month. anon
Kate: I feel for you. I hope this doesn't sound pithy, but please considering researching GLUTEN sensitivity. It's an issue that more folks are learning about (and that docs rarely mention in my experience). You'll learn that our imbalances, whether mental or immunological, may be corrected by taking a surprising allergen out of the diet. Going gluten-free is a hard thing to fathom (no more bread!?????) but easy once you talk to people who've done it and once you're on the road yourself. There are so many resources out there. For our family, going GF helped 3 members of our family (including a depressed spouse and an asthmatic kid). Good luck. Researched and enlightened
Kate, A good nutritionalist or holistic nutrition consultant who understands how food affects hormonal cycles, an acupuncturist, a ND, or an herbalist could all help you with what you are experiencing. A nutritional consultant can help you look at your diet and see what food changes will support an easier transition during your cycle. An acupuncturist can use any of a combination of needles, nutritional counseling, or herbs. A N.D. will also have a range of skills for helping you, or an herbalist can create formulas for you to take long term or for the time of month when you are having problems.

It sounds from your post that you are biased towards allopathic medical care. If that is the case, then a skilled nutritionist who has experience addressing hormonal imbalances, PMS, and hormone-based depression should be able to support you in conjuction with an MD. Though food, herbs, and energetic-based healthcare take longer to take effect, they are easier on your body and put a higher value on self care and long-term overall health. Expect to be asked about things like your stress levels, sleep patterns, eating habits, and other seemingly unrelated topics that will help give clues to how to support you overall. I can tell you from personal experience, as well as those of friends, that any of the above four types of practitioners has been infinitely more helpful in solving problems like you are describing than many trips to and drugs from an MD. anon


What you are describing is something I see in my clinic quite often and have great sucess treating. Acupuncture is phenomenal at treating menstrual problems, by regulating the hormone levels so you don't experience the big dips (and associated depression). You can try meds, and there are even some marketed specifically for PMS depression. But if you don't like the side-effects or want something to actually treat your condition and not just mask it, then I highly recommend you give acupuncture a go. And the bonus is, you'll probably sleep better and feel more relaxed the rest of the month too. geraldine
Have you tried acupuncture and herbs? I've had a horrible time with hormone- related depression, and the only things that have really helped are regular exercise (I do yoga and cardio, but I think whatever feels good and is challenging will work), acupuncture, and herbal medicines (prescribed by my acupuncturist). The herbs were aimed at my pituitary gland, and they produced dramatic results. My acupuncturist is wonderful: Lynn Segura (510) 843-8889, on Ashby near College. feeling better
I have similar issues where I struggle around my hormonal cycle and my PMS has gotten worse over the years. I have used paxil for the past couple of years but recently started acupuncture. It definitely is helping. I even have hope I will be able to go of the drugs altogether. Their are several community acupuncture clinics that have low fees but finding one that you click with and specializes in this is important. anon
Oh, I walked many miles in your shoes. The week before my period was horrible psychologically; and my period was painful, sometimes I felt bad after my period. I only felt ''normal'' about 10 days out of the month. It got worse as I moved into peri-menopause.

What helped me a lot (didn't ''cure me'' but made it much better): 400 mg. Folic acid, fish oil capsules, evening primrose oil, taking daily walks, and better anti-depressants in slightly larger doses. Plus the realization that my hormones were a factor in my general mood--i.e. physical factors played a huge role.

What cured it: menopause!!! Hallelujah!! I thought it was going to be a nightmare, based on how bad my periods were and after hearing horror stories from other women. Not so! Menopause has been a blessing for me; my moods are so much smoother.

So I'd say you need better supplements, better meds and a broader perspective. Look for a really savvy psychiatrist who you can relate to (who understands women's cycles and how it affects mood). Some women I know have also benefited enormously from working with a gynecologist, and/or alternative specialists using herbs, nutrition, supplements. --It DOES get better


I went through something similar when I first went on birth control pills. It was like having PMS 3 weeks out of the month, with the middle of my cycle and right before my period being the worst. I finally changed birth control pills, from one with a steady dose of hormones to one that varied levels over the cycle, and, lo and behold, the problem went away completely.

You didn't mention if you are on BCP now, but if you are, you might try changing brands. If you aren't, it seems possible that going on an appropriate pill would help.

I'm not a doctor and don't play one on TV, so talk to your doctor, gynecologist or even an endocrinologist, about the option. Carrie


Have you tried getting back on the pill, or some other hormone therapy? Perhaps working at this from the hormonal end will provide some relief. good luck

Depression & partner's lack of understanding

Dec 2009

I suffer from ongoing bouts of depression and myself struggle to understand it--thinking if i can just somehow be strong enough i can remedy it myself, but also at times can recognize that therapy and hopefully some medication can help. I've sought both out at times, with limited measures of success and much failure. In short, I grapple with depression as I know so many others do, and have yet to find a way to successfully keep it at bay. What's becoming a larger issue for me is the fact that my husband doesn't really ''believe in'' depression, therapy, or medication. He's not some regressive person but he had a parent that was probably schizophrenic, requiring hospitalization, and I think as a child had some very bad experiences with family therapy that led him to doubt the profession. So in his mind, which I can understand is twisted by the bad experience, mental illness is not real unless it's full blown mania, and therapy is just a crock. Though he is generally a supportive partner, I find myself despondent at times that he can't understand what I struggle with. I mean he understands that I struggle emotionally but I feel like I'm to blame since there's no understanding of a disease at work. At some level I worry that he doesn't have ''my back''--can't see when i am really despairing and call a dr., a trusted friend, someone to help. I find this more and more depressing in and of itself and worry for me and my small child, and of course like everyone else with recession worries, lately our situation is only more stressful. Anyone have recommendations--ignore the issue with my husband, create alternate support networks (difficult now that I'm an isolated, out of work SaHM), I don't know what? Thank you.


Sorry to hear your husband is not supportive. Unfortunately, his thoughts are very common. You need to ignore your husband and persue the options that are best for you. It is your right to do this without his blessing. Dont try to get him involved right now. If he sees positive results he may change his mind, but don't focus on making him happy or change, focus on yourself and if that is too difficult then focus on whats right for your child. AA
I'm no expert but I've been noticing lately that the least supportive people of such things are spouses, because all the extra work falls upon them, and they resent it. I've noticed my friends really resenting their husbands' health problems, for example. I find myself thinking not very nice thoughts about my husband having a cold or flu, thinking ''if you took better care of yourself it would be a lot better for me.'' I've noticed husbands in general not perfectly supportive of their wife's mental health problems. I think you made some excellent suggestions yourself when you said, ''--ignore the issue with my husband,create alternate support networks (difficult now that I'm an isolated, out of work SaHM). I find being a SaHM can be depressing in itself unless you make some mommy friends and do fun mommy things, like go to the museums on admission- free days, in which case it can be really fun. But it was like starting at a new school, I really had to work at making friends. Also, medication is changing so many lives for the better if you can find the right meds and the right dose and can afford it. So you know what to do, and you've started to do it. Carry on! Yay for you! Hope this helps - happy SaHM
I've been in a similar situation.My husb. did not want me take anti- depressants & thought that I was lazy,wasting days when in reality I was doing my best & moving slowly as I worked on life, getting my special needs baby healthier while depressed.I was very angry @ my husb. & thought about leaving him but stayed.I secretly took an anti-depressant.It wasn't a good match for me but it led to me talking to my husb. more about my depression & what we could do to make things better.Factors contributing to my depression were exhaustion, lack of sleep, no time to myself, not enough exercise, vitamin deficiencies, stress & isolation.I didn't end up feeling like he really understood but I did feel like he tried to work w/me on the exhaustion, etc & how, I/we, could help to make me feel healthier and stronger.He helped me more with baby was the end result & I had more time to myself.I also started seeing a therapist who was very helpful.Her name is Padma Ali. 3 yrs later,I still don't feel that my husb really gets depression,but have come to the conclusion that I needed to just deal with it on my own because it wasn't just that he may not have my back but also I couldn't rely on the fact that someone would have my back. It's nice to know that there are friends & fam. that are there for us when we need them but what if there weren't,how could I take care of my baby as a depressed person?What if something were to happen to your husb and he weren't around?Would it matter at that point that he didn't get your depression?You would still need to care for yourself and your child. so how can you find a way to manage your depression with or without your husb's support?I would suggest therapy, trying to work out some alone time, getting regular exercise, getting a healthy amt. of sleep, reading about depression & how vitamins can help depression,& talking to friends about your depression.You can also talk to your MD & see if she will prescr. an anti-depressant.I also recommend setting goals for yourself & thinking about things you would like to see happen.Do you have other friends who you can spend time with to just hang out, have fun? I feel better but I try to make sure I get a bit of exercise and sunshine 3x a week & starting to see early results as I work towards specific goals.I also take more vitamin supplements now.I am not depression free but feel like I have to stay strong for my son. Good luck to you. Making It Work Somehow

Deeply depressed stay at home mom, hesitant about meds

Nov 2009

Hi, I,m a stay at home mom, of two healthy nice kids 4 and 3, I have enjoy beeing a full time mom until the last year I started to have weired feelings, kind of I'm ashamed to say it, but like I don't love my kids, But I do, if you know what I mean. I'm living hell in my soul, even my life is perfect, we do have a pretty house, we are healthy, my husband is amazing and I have a nice but small family support but far away, and few nice friends, but who have their own stuff to worry about.

I went for help to a Psychiatrist who right away gave me a sample of a drug. But here is the problem, both me and my husband are very hesitant of starting a treatment with this type of drugs. I found lots of information of people who have benefit from Lexapro (the one that Dr. prescribed) but it seems that either you will need to keep increasing the dosage or you hit plateau and it does not longer work.

My anxiety is moderate, but it's keeping me of seeing the beauty in my every day life. Not even a vacation is exciting now. So here is my question.. Are there any peolple out there who have successfully batle anxiety and/or depression without medication? And if you decided to use medication for how long did you use it? I'm kind of seeking people that have use medication but in a short term period and were able to gain control of their lives after medication.

I have to mention that I do run 30 min a day, quit caffeine , and my few cups of wine a week. I'm taking care of my diet, and I'm taking herbs (st John's worth and fish oil) and vitamins. but despite my efforts, even I see some improvement , I'm still living this horrible days of pain in my heart. Either I'm mad or sad or just plain dragging my self to do things.

Thanks for your input. Never thought motherhood was so brutal on one's soul


My situation was exactly the same and I was able to get out of it without drugs. I went to see Dr. Sharon Bass. I recommend her highly or anyone who you think is good for you, not some one who gives you drugs before you even begin the work of transformation. Talk therapy gets to the heart of the matter. What is the matter? It is that you are in a cocoon stage. I assume 40 is on the way if you have 2 kids. This depression is right on schedule for you and most women. The way you get out is talking to someone who can help you see that this is the beginning of a rebirth for you as you enter the next phase of your life. You can learn so much from depression. You can't always see it when you are in it but retrospectively I can say, ''That was good for me, I am better for it.''

I am now in a position where I want to begin to help women through this cocoon stage of life and I am now teaching classes for women who are Re-Emerging. I would see someone ''professional'' first for at least 6 months. Cry and cry and cry and get it all out and then you will begin to in-vision your self as your new post motherhood glorious self. You will morn all the things you did not do, you will morn your aging you will morn all that you lost or did not have, and then you will embrace who you are about to become. You don't need or want drugs for that. Replace a sad thought with a beautiful thought. One thought at a time. Read: Road Less Travled, or the Power of Now Gather your friends around you. Sit in the sun. Peace All us mothers are with you. WE really are. erica


A few months ago I was facing severe anxiety and moderate depression. I was not interested in drugs (been there, done that) and I didn't want to talk it out. I knew that I was off balance and just needed help getting myself upright again. I tried acupuncture on the recommendation of a friend (who had had success with it for anxiety and OCD). Not something I would have chosen on my own, and I didn't go in ''believing'' it would work. It did, amazingly well, and the effects have been lasting. I'm sure there are lots of recommendations for locations in the archives. I can recommend Peea Kim-Hassel in Berkeley, peea@peeakimacupuncture.com. She is fabulous. seeing clearly again
Please know, first, that you are not alone. Depression is very common; it is one of THE MOST common experiences for women (much more than men). Also, just so you know, depression is considered a mental health issue--don't be scared if you hear someone talk about it in those terms. It is simply how it is categorized, nothing more.

About the medication: Talk to your regular doctor, not the psychiatrist, about your fears. Understand that often, when depression comes seemingly out of the blue, people use an anti-depressant for a few months and then ease off of it. It helps with situational depression. However, if you have chronic depression, then please do not be ashamed. This is, as I said, *extremely* common for women, and is simply a physical imbalance. Ask yourself: Do I treat my other physical maladies (headache, sore muscles, etc.) with medication? If so, then please understand that depression is simply part of your body, too.

I know it can feel scary. There are many groups to help you find support. I would recommend starting with NAMI in Alameda County; you can get lots of information on the namicalifornia.org Website as well.

You deserve to have the happiness back that you once had, and I promise that by being proactive-- which can be very difficult when you are feeling depressed--you will feel happy again. best of luck


In college, I was clinically depressed and started on Prozac, later switched to Wellbutrin. I went off it the next year, got depressed again, went back on and stayed on for 5 years or so until I stopped when trying to get pregnant. Haven't gone back on (it's been 5 years), and have been fine. So that's my story of going on antidepressants and coming back off and being fine.

I would encourage you to try the drugs. It can be scary to go on antidepressants, but they can be miraculous. You sound quite depressed and as though you're not enjoying your children's childhood which is so sad, especially because it really, really doesn't have to be that way. I used to worry about who am I if my personality can change with drugs. But once I went on prozac, I realized that was silly. The antidepressants took me back to who I knew I really was. And also, if you decide for whatever reason you don't like the drugs, you can always go off again. As for the plateau, I don't know about that drug in particular, but there are so many and a doctor can always help you find the right one.

If not for your sake, do it for your children. No longer depressed


I have had anxiety for years, but post-baby it got really bad. I tried all sorts of alternative treatments on my own but ended up going on Lexapro. it worked like a charm. I was on it for years at the same level and it continued working. Went off it to get pregnant and carry my second baby (didn't sleep for 9 months...literally...because of the anxiety) and re-started at about month 7 in the pregnancy. Had horrible horrible side-effects which hadn't happened before. So now I'm on Celexa and its great. I've been on the same dosage for 1 1/2 years and feeling fine.

I know its scary to do a long-term drug. But you have to think of your anxiety & depression as a medical problem, not your fault or a sign of weakness or something that is likely to just go away on its own. If you had cancer, would you treat it homeopathically only or would you go for the big guns?? (Yes, I know anxiety/depression aren't cancer, but I hope you get my point.) If Lexapro scares you, try something else. God knows theres enough choices out there. Its not an easy thing finding the right one for you-they all have different side effects, and one may work on you better than others. They may give you a mix, Lexapro & something like wellbutrin which is a depression drug. The only continuing side effect I have had from these is sexual, which SUCKS. But maybe you will be lucky.

Anxiety is a horrible thing. It sucks all the joy from your life and leave you feeling alone and crazy. You need to fix it. It won't hurt to at least try a few different prescriptions. You owe it to yourself. If you don't like it, just go off it. Its not a permenant thing. been there, done that


If your doctor gave you a sample, was it long enough for the drugs to kick in? SSRIs can take up to 5 weeks to get up to speed. There is no reason for you to suffer, so I'd say:

1. Work with your doctor to find the right drug and dosage to get you through. Worry less about the long term effects and concentrate on getting to a more balanced you. Yes, SSRIs can loose their effectiveness but not always. And there are lots to switch around to. Relieve that you may be unreasonably anxious about the drugs!

2. Get into talk therapy to figure out what your core issues are. Without addressing what's really going on, you will remain anxious. This is the path to getting off the drugs long term. There is a mind/body relationship and it's important to realize that it's not just chemical.

I have been in a situation where I was dealing with constant panic and anxiety. When the SSRIs kicked in, it was a huge relief, and I wondered why I had put it off for so long. I am a better parent and partner without those feelings, and better able to focus on issues rather than pain.

Give yourself points for having this realization and taking care of yourself in so many good ways. Take the next step and address the problem. Don't let your kids grow up with an anxious and distracted mommy! See the upside of the meds


My husband is an M.D. and I've heard him talk about this issue for years...many of our friends and family members are on various antidepressants, and I've seen these drugs save marriages, and save lives. One thing he tells people who are wary of taking drugs: Depression is a disease. It's not that you're just ''crazy''. Your brain has an actual chemical imbalance, and can be helped with modern medicine. It's both a physical AND a mental issue. If you had cancer would you turn down chemo? If you had a fever would you deny Tylenol? Drugs for depression are real, and can really help you. Find the right doctor for you, and find the right drug. It will change the way you see your life. a Berkeley mom of 3
I am a clinical psychologist and am on Lexapro, so I can answer your question from both of these perspectives. First, there are definitely ways to treat anxiety/depression non-medically. The best is to go to a well-trained psychologist (or other mental health professional) who uses cognitive-behavioral techniques. You could start by calling the the San Francisco Bay Area Center for Cognitive Therapy (www.sfbacct.com). However, medication also can work very well, and is much easier and cheaper than going to a therapist. Many people who take any kind of medication, including antidepressants, start on a low dose and increase. It is called titration and it is a process used to ensure that side effects are manageable and that ultimately the proper does is found. And yes, for some people the effects of Lexapro or other antidepressants fade over time, but that is usually after years of use. And that is not necessarily going to be the case for you. Please do not let hearsay prevent you from getting treatment and feeling better. It is so important for you AND for your children. I have been on 20mg of Lexapro for 3 years and it literally saved my life. And remember, Lexapro is just one of many possible antidepressants that might work for you. I tried 3 others before I found that Lexapro was right for me, both in terms of having a positive effects and having no side effects. I really encourage you to try medication (and tell your doctor about the herbs you are taking) and/or to find a good therapist. anon
Hi there, I'm very sorry to hear about your pain and struggle. I noticed that you mentioned using St. John's Wort as an herbal supplement for your depression. In my experience, this herb is best suited for the kind of depression associated with a diminishing amount of daylight, or Seasonal Affective Disorder. You seem to be suffering from a different kind of problem, and I would suggest that if you do want to treat your problem without drugs, you enlist the help of a trained herbalist. You can find an herbalist in your area by searching through the American Herbalist Guild (http://americanherbalistsguild.com/member_profiles/CA), or by following any of the recommendations on BPN for acupuncturists, who are trained as herbalists in CA.

I want to add that I have treated many people in my clinical training as an acupuncturist who were using anti-depressant drugs on a short-term basis, as you describe, and had success in moving on from them to a more stable place. This is best done with the awareness and supervision of your prescribing MD as well as other any health care provider who is giving you herbs or supplements, as these drugs have varying half-lives and side effects if weaned too abruptly, as well as potential drug- herb interactions. Acupuncturists also see a great number of patients who seek treatment for these conditions as an alternative to drugs entirely, and I can confidently say we see a lot of success in helping people feel better. Good luck to you; I feel certain you will find the light in life again. herbalist


Of course there are people out there who have battled anxiety/depression without medication. Anxiety and depression can fall on such a wide spectrum that some people are very successful with overcoming it without medication and others are not. I don't think it speaks so much to who you are as a person or your skills if you can or cannot overcome without medication, as much as it does to the severity of the anxiety/depression and whether it's situational anxiety/depression versus genetic.

I think one of the big issues is that people often see themselves as a failure if they can't fight the depression/anxiety on their own. This is not the case, and far from it. Anxiety/depression, is like a medical condition for many, that without medication cannot be cured. I don't think medication is the end all be all though, and should be complimented with some sort of therapy, probably in your case, CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy). You mentioned that you didn't realize that motherhood could be so brutal on one's soul, but I don't think this is about motherhood at all and god, can that attitude make a person feel oh so guilty, and actually feed into the anxiety/depression. That's where CBT can help you.

My husband has moderate anxiety, and has tried to fight it for many years on his own, without medication. He finally caved in and decided to try medication and is on 5mg lexapro, which is the lowest dose you could possibly take. He has been taking it for a year now, with no increase in dosage. It doesn't solve his problems but really takes the edge off his anxiety and makes him feel like he can tackle the bigger issues that are causing his anxiety whereas before he felt overwhelmed by it. Will he take the medication forever? Not sure. But at this point it's helping A LOT, and in conjunction with therapy, he is hoping that he can eventually stop taking it.

Don't see medication as a weakness or a crutch. It's there to support you after you've tried all these alternatives, with some success, but perhaps there is a genetic/biological component that you can't control, and medication can help with that. Best of luck to you. I know it's a hard decision and one that comes with a lot of stigma. Married to a Lexapro User


I have always been an easy-going, happy-go-lucky, carefree person. Life was wonderful. My husband and I decided to start a family, I got pregnant, and we had a beautiful baby boy. Shortly after, I feel into severe depression and didn't know it. I was opposed to medication and fought my depression. Little by little I got better but it was a slow painful process.

When I got pregnant with my second child, I knew that I didn't want to go through the severe depression I went through with my first. I was prescribed zoloft. The medication made ALL the difference. I was my happy, easy-going, carefree self again. I was able to enjoy my daughter and being a mother to both of my children. Furthermore, I realized that I never got over the depression from the birth of my first child.

Medication is not for everyone but it certainly was for me. I hope you find what's right for you. Nancy


I am also hesitant about taking medications (generally speaking), but did it during a period where I suffered feelings of anxiety, unease and emotional flatness a while after my daughter was born. I was so thrilled to finally be a mother - and I too was/am blessed with a good partner, career, etc. I loved my daughter dearly, but eventually started having horrible anxiety and felt like there was a dark forbidding cloud above my head and no amount of exercise and walks in nature (my usual cures for feeling down) were working to help me shake it. This was very disturbing as I usually go through my days feeling good and am regularly noticing beautiful things around me that make me happy & grateful for what I have, where I live, etc. It finally got bad enough that I reached out for help to my OB/GYN who I've known for years and who delivered my daughter. She referred me to an excellent doctor/psychiatrist who specialized in post-partem anxiety and depression. I met with her twice, found it a huge relief to be able to just spill my guts about what was going on and how I was feeling. She reassured me that the combination of my family history (too involved to explain), hormonal changes not just from the pregnancy and birth of my daughter, but from my transition to motherhood, were all factors contributing to the anxiety, etc. After trying a mild anti-depressant which made me feel weird/worse, she prescribed an anti-anxiety medication called Loraizapan/Atavan. I only took it for about 4 weeks, but it got me back on track. I felt like myself again for the first time in months. It was almost as if I just needed a re-balancing of my chemistry. That was 7 years ago and I've never felt that way again. Like most parents, I somtimes feel down/exhausted and blah about things, but when that happens, my old common-sense methods of getting extra sleep, exercising and vitamin supplements with B-Complex usually gets me back smelling the roses again (literally). I honestly don't think I could have made it past that dark period without the help of the medication. I'm sure it's not the same for everyone (nothing is), but wanted to share my story in case it helps. anonymous
I am so sorry you are going through this. Sounds like you are in the middle of a clinical depression, and that you've already tried many ''natural'' ways of dealing with it. You haven't mentioned if you were going to therapy, which is as natural as it gets. Whatever you decide, there is no way to just swallow (or stop eating) something, and get well. Sure, excercise helps. One also needs to find new tools to break the vicious cycle of anxiety and depression. It's hard to find a therapist you like, especially when you are depressed and have a hard time doing anything. You sound committed to getting better though, so I am sure you can do it!

In addition to therapy, I recommend anxiety and depression classes at Kaiser. I also recommend their mindfullness class (a mix of meditation, yoga, etc).You don't need to be a member to attend, just call them at (510) 752-1075 to enroll. Their class schedule and descriptions at http://www.permanente.net/homepage/kaiser/pages/d12901-top.html. I've experienced clinical depression 2 years ago, and it was the worst experience in my life. I thought it would never end, and I was afraid I would end my life in one of those moments when I was having (almost) uncontrollable suicidal thoughts. I was also sceptical of the prescription drugs. Luckily, St John Wort worked for me - but you should realize that it's still a drug that changes the natural chemistry of your body, and you would need to wean yoursel off it. I was able to go off St John's after about a year of using it, and it took me about 4 weeks of taking smaller and smaller dose of it to stop.

Doesn't sound like St John's is doing much for you though. Talk to your psychiatrist about your concerns with the drug he prescribed. Maybe he can assuage your concerns, or maybe he'll change you to another drug you are more comfortable with. If nothing else helps, and you know that in your heart that you are not living your life in a full and ''normal'' way, then the only way out of that would be to start taking a prescription med - IN ADDITION to continuing with your good diet, excercise, therapy sessions and classes. You will get better... maybe with a drug or maybe not... but you will!


First I want to say that I think your issue is very normal. Based only on your brief description, it sounds like your soul is wanting something (but I might be projecting!). I have taken anti-depressants in the past (Paxil-not recommended) for a short-term recovery period. Ten years later, I am again going through a very difficult stretch, and decided that this time I wanted to approach it without drugs. Mind you, I wasn't doing the right eating and exercising so I am incorporating a lot of new behaviors as part of my improvement.

One thing that has helped me a LOT over the years was an article I found on depression proofing yourself and your kids, based on Martin Seligman's work on optimism, http://www.bruceelkin.com/writing/depress_proof.pdf

No one can tell you whether drugs are right for you at this time but you and your practitioners. Before you make that decision, I strongly recommend that you reach out to alternative practitioners such as a holistic doctor, acupuncturist, and/or a body-based or somatic therapist. There are sophisticated ways to read the body and help you make a decision that might support more ease in your situation without necessarily using Western anti-depressants. It's working for me. Alternatively Happy


As someone who has anxiety/depression, my advice is to try the drugs out.

Ten years ago (while in graduate school), my life was going well. All of a sudden something changed in me. I intellectually knew that life was good, but I became very anxious. I would pace a lot and was not happy. It honestly felt like I wasn't really in control of my own feelings. I would tell myself everything was fine, but I didn't feel that way. I tried counseling, but it was totally ineffective. There was nothing currently in my life that was wrong to change. Finally my sister convinced my to talk to my doctor about SSRIs (Lexapro is an SSRI) as they have helped many of my relatives (I come from a long line of very successful, well educated anxious/depressed people).

My doctor tried Celexa (citalopram) and within a week I was back to my old self. It was truly a miracle. Now I control how I react to my life and situations. I have tried going off of it and the results are not great. I become anxious again and think that everyone I encounter is a total jerk (including my fantastic husband). I realize that my brain chemistry just works that way and it is an inherited condition. However, with the SSRIs, I am in control of myself and my emotions. I can still get sad, angry, etc. but I am in charge of how I react. They really are a wonder drug for those of us that need it.

If you actually need these drugs, herbs and what not are not going to do the trick (St. John's Wort can actually cause a lot more problems). Also as an FYI, I started out on 20mg of Celexa and am still at the same dose. It also still works fantastically. Those bad things you have heard about SSRIs are simply not true. Kate


I tried Lexapro, taking 1/2 a pill, which was even less than the min. dosage. After a few months, I realized it made me nauseous. When I literally threw up, then I knew it wasn't working for me. I tried Perika, St. John's Wort, and that also made me feel sick. I now take 1/2 pill of Sam-E (avail. at Costco), once a day, and that seems to take the edge off my anxiety and helps me concentrate. I am glad that I am not taking prescribed meds. I try to focus on the ''highest good'' and keep myself on the positive. You are doing all the right things with exercise. Find a therapist that understands you. Do you get enough time away with your hubbie? Perhaps a Friday or Sat. night out regularly would do you some good. Signed, Another Anxious mama
I don't understand why you would not try the medication your Dr is prescribing to you. You are admittedly depressed. Do you think that it is healthy for your children to be raised by a depressed mother? Do you think it is good for your husband to have a depressed wife? I don't!

I don't understand the stigma attached to anti-anxiety/ anti-depressant medication. Please re-think your choices. Your children need a healthy mother and YOU deserve to be happy. anon


I could have written your post a few years ago (down to the St. John's Wort, fish oil, exercise and not wanting to take meds). My guess is that 1) you have the wrong diagnosis and 2) you definitely have the wrong meds. Please call Dr. Donald Stanford. (510) 540-6235. Genius. I can't speak highly enough about him. He really knows his stuff, he keeps up with all the research, he listens, he isn't judgmental about alternative treatments or trying to limit dosage. Don't mess around with a GP, go to an expert. More than anything, please be open to the fact that medication may be the right answer for you, and don't beat yourself up. You have tried non-medication routes and it hasn't worked satisfactorily. You have the sense to know that you need to do something about it. So much of this has a biological basis, and maybe sleep deprivation or stress or age or hormones just made it surface now. Once I found Dr. Stanford (actually on BPN!) I felt like I got my life back - I was myself again. Now I wish I had found him years earlier, I wasted years of my life and precious time with my kids by being so out of it. I don't care what my diagnosis is or whether I need to be on meds the rest my life, or whether people judge me about medication - I HAVE a life again. My oldest can remember my time b/4 meds and I am sad that she had to go through that. There is a solution out there somewhere, don't give up. -Happy to be myself again
I have tried Lexapro and it did not work at all, just made me feel worse and gave me night sweats like you wouldn't believe. The only thing that worked for me was St. Johns Wort. I would give that a try before you start chemical meds. I followed the instructions on the St. Johns Wort and within a week I felt much better. Not so many ups and downs, more even keeled and not as anxious and depressed. You have to keep taking it though. If you miss a day or two it will come back. There is also SAM-E but that was too strong for me. I wish you the best of luck, I know dealing with depression and anxiety can be just awful. All the best to you. I've been there!
Perhaps you should consider: 1) you are dealing with challenging ages 2)trying psychotherapy before RX 3) Getting a break from being a SAHM. I have a 2.5 y.o. and recently have gone back to work part-time. (At first, I had a lot of anxiety about it. I was a SAHM for the first 2 year.) But I really think I NEED it now. I get overwhelmed at times with the challenges of raising a toddler. It's emotionally and physically exhausting. (I have a very active, strong-willed boy.) Going to work, is a break for me, where the demands are simpler and not emotional. It has been very good for me. And going to day- care, (after the initial period) has been really great for my son. He has learned a lot about appropriate behavior simply from watching other children. And now has a big group of friends/playmates to see each week. While he would most like to hang out with me, he definitely enjoys his day-care. I would suggest staying away from meds, at least, until all other options are tried first. mom who needs a little space too
Hi, Your message touched me and I can relate. I struggle with those feelings too and I applaud you for asking for help, reaching out to the community and being open to different suggestions. Yours is the kind of message that makes me wish I knew the person who wrote it as I feel we'd have a lot to share. I know many people who have gained great benefits from medication. I don't feel that there is anything wrong with it. As a mom who has experienced exactly the feelings you describe, I happened to choose a different path and so far it has worked for me. I went to my acupuncturist and described my emotional difficulties - yes anxiety - I even had a panic attack in the acupuncturist's office with him standing there - yes depression, insomnia etc... I worked with Dr. Zeiger on Telegraph Avenue. I can't say enough about him. He offered (together with the acupuncture and herbs) some simple wisdom without judgment to help me. And it did help, a lot. I went through a terrible phase and whenever I felt I needed extra help and support, I turned up at his office and he was able to help me correct whatever neurological/hormonal/emotional imbalances I was experiencing and get back to feeling calmer, more peaceful and yes - happier. It started to work immediately but I kept going back over a few months for ''top ups''. I combined this with twice weekly sessions from a wonderful psychotherapist to discuss in a safe place the terrible feelings I was having. I am sending emotional support out to you through the universe, I do it right now and wish you all the best. I hope this advice can help you and if not just know that you are not alone and there is nothing wrong with you. SJ
Hi, I've been a psychotherapist for 25 years, and I specialize in women and depression. I have seen many women recover from depression and anxiety, and I've seen that happen through a variety of scenarios. It sounds like you are working hard to feel better, and using some of the self-care techniques (like eating well and exercise, and there are many more) that are important in recovery from depression/anxiety. Lots of people recover without medication, using self-care and talking about what might be causing the depression with a good listener, often a psychotherapist. On the other hand, a few people find medication miraculously gives them back their lives, and ends their daily struggle. Some need both to recover.

The key to figuring out what you need for successful recovery is figuring out what is causing the depression. The more the cause is genetic/physiological, the more likely it is that medication will be required. Most of the time, even when it is physiologically-based, though, there is a precipitating event. Post partum hormones can be a precipitating event, but you probably would have noticed feeling like this three years ago, if that were what started this. Try to think back to when this started, and what changed in your thinking, or feelings, or even actions (like a change in medication or what you eat, for example) right before you started feeling so bad.

If that doesn't lead you to feeling better, I would recommend you see a therapist (who works with a great psychiatrist, for medication evaluations, when needed). Even one session with a good therapist often helps people feel better and begin to understand what needs to happen for further recovery. This would also give you a chance to ask questions and express your concerns about medication, including not only Lexipro, but also St Johns Wort, which is essentially a medication too. Finally, I think it's important to talk about having mixed feelings about your children. Most parents have times when we don't like our children, just as we all have times we don't like our spouse. In most cases, this is normal, but stirs guilt and shame for people, which can turn into depression. It could be helpful for you to get some perspective from another parent who understands and has compassion for these feelings. Cynthia


The medication that was recommended to you - Lexapro - is very effective in what you are looking to alieviate.

What is tough is that there are two things in your way of making this work. Fist, you have trouble with the idea of medication, and second, this particular medication takes a bit of tenacity to get through the initial stages.

Lexapro is highly effective with anxiety and depession. Here was my experience. First few days, weird feelings, fatigue, listlessness. Feeling hungover (without drinking). Enough misery to make most people say ''enough allready!''. Then, after about a week, the clouds lift and sights and sounds are enjoyable. A lightheartedness and sense of fun emerges. If you are afraid of medication, you may not make it through the first few days though.

It does work. Very well. I took it for about 8 months at full dosage and after feeling better I've tapered off. In that time, the life changes from freeing myself from anxiety and depression are remarkable.

I've not only landed a great new job - in less than a year I got a promotion. My social life is fantastic - I make friends easily and am fun to be with. I've lost my insecurities and paranoia - a few things that held me back prior.

If you want to make changes, stick it out. You can take this drug, feel better and then wean yourself off. But the first few days are hard. Talk to your Dr. for the best advice. .


You sound depressed. Maybe related to having kids, maybe just something you have. If you are willing to ingest St John's Wort, I can't understand why you wouldn't want to ingest SSRIs that are far more clinically tested and dose reliable. I have seen many people;s lives turned around after using those meds. It is understandable not to want to take a drug for the rest of your life, but if you had say, diabetes, i don't think you would balk for one second at taking the right medication. And why is your mental health less important than your blood sugar? Mind and body are integrally connected. Get a good psychiatrist, get a good therapist, (some people have had success with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy--the main thing is to find a good set of people to help you...use your judgement, and the first or even second medication you try may not be the right one, be patient)...at least for awhile, and find a medication that works. Come to peace with yourself and the idea of taking a medication. The anxiety and depression are probably not going to go away with 'mind over matter', your mind is the matter. Give yourself a break and some good attention. Good luck. anon
Here is my sister's story. She's an alcohlic, sober 15 years and she suffered from deep depression. When she got sober, she absolutely did not want to take drugs again. She tried all the groovy methods, excersize, eating right but she resisted taking meds. Finally she relented. She is now a nurse, her life is finally on track but she always says, she wasted 10 years by not get a diagnosis and taking medication. She bacame a nurse at 41 and she really feels like she stole 10 years away by being so hard with her conviction to stay drug free. She is a different person, happy, successful, a 180 degree change from her old life. got my sister back...
I feel exactlty the same way. Staying at home putting your life on the backburner is brutal. I had a super exciting lifestyle, traveled often. I have also joined a gym, run and quit caffeine too. I haven't taken any meds yet there were times I really need them to get me out of my depression. I recommend checking out a herbalist as you mentioned you were taking herbs. Really helped me getting a good tincture and drinking that in my green tea every morning. My herbalist uses a variety of herbs, I like the ''Inner Mother'' -herbs are tailored. Like you I take vitamins, the Omegas...don't remember to take them all & some days think of Suzanne Sommers (she takes a gazillion).

I tried acupuncture and it has helped me maintain my spirit. If I'm really down in the dumps, non-appreciative, not even enjoying vacation time, I schedule two visits a week. This really seems to turn things around, helps me be positive and excited about my life. In my case being depressed is the end result of not pursuing my dreams and ambitions (ambition not as strong now that I'm older). Staying at home takes a toll on all of us, I have many friends who get depressed esp. the ones currently unemployed. I have tried almost everything under the sun to maintain my spirits, pls give acupuncture a try if you've never tried it. I will try anything other than long/short term meds. Right now I drink acai juice in mornings (I think it's called Mona Vie), order this by the case. I buy SAM-e from Costco pretty regular. There are days I don't take Sam-e and drink the juice. The Sam-e does work for me, google it as you should be taking B's along with Sam-e. Also, my rule of thumb is I try to have one good conversation a day with a caring supportive friend. It really seems to help. take good care, Newbie Parent


My experience with Lexapro was that it was wonderful. I used it in college when I was just really stressed and anxious, and continued using it for a little over two years. When you go off of it, you *have* to do it very slowly and I'm talking over a period of months, or you can have increased anxiety, agitation, etc. That said, I would do it again in a heartbeat if I felt I needed it. It sounds like you've come to a point where you're very unhappy and Lexapro may be worth a try. From all the research I've done, it seems to be among the best as far as mild side effects, etc. I had some fatigue and upset stomach the first week, and then was fine. I have read that there is no clinical difference in how much better people feel when they take 10 versus 20 mg. I didn't need to increase my dose. My sister just took 5 mg and she had the same experience as me. She used it for maybe a year, and then tapered off over 3-4 months. I would definitely suggest trying it. It really gave me my life back. Been there
You asked for advice about curing depression without medication, but I'm going to encourage you to try the drugs. You describe feeling no love or joy in your life, and that is probably having a serious impact on your long term health and your parenting & your children's well-being - there is a lot of literature out there about the impact on children of their parents' depression. You are already doing so many things right, like diet and exercise. So you may need to try something else, without shame. You said motherhood is hell for the soul, but if you're like me, it's really that hormonal changes after childbirth are hell on your brain's chemical balance. The medications nowadays can do wonders for rebalancing you, and many have been well tested over long periods of time. A lot of people in Berkeley will tell you to avoid pills, but to me that's like saying you shouldn't take antibiotics when you have pneumonia, because it isn't natural. Also, don't just see a psychiatrist. See a good therapist to help you feel better about yourself and the choices you make to get well. just say yes to drugs
Many people are reluctant to start depression medication because of various fears. But depression can sometimes go so deep that what you've been doing can't quite reach it. And when you're in it, and it's been going on for a while, it's easy to lose perspective. You write that your ''life is perfect'', but when you also write that your depression is affecting your relationship with your kids, that you're ''living hell in my soul'' and living with ''horrible days of pain in my heart,'' that's a sign of deep, chronic depression.

It's great to try to treat what you're going through in more natural ways, and it sounds like you've made a terrific, serious effort. But medication may now be the best addition to those things to help pull you out of this dark hole. The medications aren't perfect fixes, but they can help and people do sometimes get the response they need and then move on after a short course with them. Please don't write off medication because it's not ''natural.'' This pain you're feeling isn't natural either, and you owe it to yourself and your family to do what you can to break free. All good thoughts and wishes to you


As someone who grew up with a depressed mother - please, please try the medication. Do whatever it takes. Work with a psychiatrist. You may not have to be on it for long, but it is SO BAD for your kids to be exposed to that much depression. You can't care for them in the way they need and they learn to have a depressed mindset. Do it for your kids. anon
I didn't see the original posting, but here are my thoughts. I have been on paxil for the last 8 years, it worked great. Now I want to wean off because of the difficulty of orgasm, and weaning off is a very slow process, I go down 5 mg every 3 months. And I feel my anxiety and depression coming on. There are alternatives! Read The Mood Cure by Julia Ross http://www.moodcure.com/ I found this to be very helpful, and have recently been working with a Naturopath who is familiar with this work. My mood has really stabilized and I feel hopeful that I won't need to continue with antidepressants. so many paths...
Are you suicidal? If so get yourself some immediate help. If not then there are methods that work. First, no sugar, no alcohol, and only tea for your caffeine. Then if you are not allergic, take fish oil (lots there of). Finally exercise, exercise. There's a good new book out called ''The Depression Cure''. Really if it's not severe and you can handle it right now, I would try natural means to cure your depression. It's hard at first, but it quickly becomes easier. I can't take fish oil, so am taking flax seed oil and E3 live. They seem to help a lot. I also gave up sugar and limit alcohol. But really the book is the best. Anti-depressants have a lot of side effects, and some long-term. But if you are suicidal, they are lot better than death. Best of luck, been there not so long ago.
I didn't see your original post, but I am in my 40s. In my 20s, I went on an antidepressant for a year plus. I resisted going on it but everyone said it was the thing to do and I didn't know of any alternatives at the time. In my 30s I developed anxiety and began doing some research. By then I knew there were other options. I learned that they had discovered the tricyclic medication I'd been on in my 20s often caused people anxiety in their 30s. I hated the idea of being a guinea pig for the pharmaceuticals so rather than treat the anxiety chemically, I discovered a book called ''Prescription for Nutritional Healing.'' It has become the closest thing to a bible that I'll ever have. Using supplements - vitamins, amino acids and diet changes, as well as being sure to get enough exercise (yoga helps tremendously), I was able to avoid chemicals and have been anxiety free ever since. It took a few months for the changes to kick in so I had to be patient, but if you want to avoid the slippery slope that starts with antidepressants, I highly recommend you pick up a copy of the above mentioned book. I wish you much peace and healing. Happy, healthy, and chemical-free

Am I Depressed?

Feb 2009

I think something must be wrong with me, but I don't know what. I'm rarely ''happy,'' but I'm also rarely ''sad.'' My life is sort of a straight line, with no real highs or real lows. I don't get a lot of joy out of things; I feel like I'm just kind of going through the motions. I have a three year old son, and I do enjoy my time with him. I do find, though, that I'm not as fully engaged in my time with him as I think I should be. My marriage is fairly blah. I love my husband, but I'm not in love with him and there is zero passion (at least on my end, he says he finds me very attractive, etc.). I'd be fine if I never had sex again. My job is okay - I don't love it, I don't hate it. I don't know if maybe I'm depressed? Has anyone else felt like this? I'd like to live my life more deeply and more passionately, but I don't know how. Thanks! Anon


Well, you kind of sound like I did when I was diagnosed with postpartum depression. It would definately benefit you to talk with a therapist and work out some of these issues. I found that when my life was; as you explain; blah.. I wasn't dealing with some big things in my life. I wasn't willing to become emotionally invested in anything. I am way better today and feel like my life is fulfilling, it has benefited my kids, husband but especially ME. Good luck and know that there are a ton of support groups- might be time to start checking them out. be well
Yes, you are depressed. Your post could have described me for much of my adult life (I'm 36 now). I never had the symptoms of major depression and was very functional and successful in many ways, but life was just very blah - like you describe, a straight line. For me, talk therapy just wasn't enough, and I finally went on an antidepressant last year. It has opened up a whole new world to me. I'm able to enjoy my children, my marriage, and my life in a way that I just didn't know was possible. I know I probably sound like a pharmaceutical ad, but you should probably talk to your doctor. Take care, and good luck. Been There
You sound very depressed to me. I have suffered from depression for 7 years. The description of your lack of enjoyment in your life is almost textbook. You may even be suffering from a postpartum depression that is still lingering. A good psychiatrist and therapist can definitely help. I was going to Dr Heisler in Walnut Creek. He is currently on a medical leave, but there are other doctors in his office. I have a very sensitive, compassionate and helpful therapist in Alameda, Rawna Romero, 415-533-9724. You don't have to feel so blah. You are not alone. You deserve to enjoy your life. Good luck. recovering from depression
I think it's good that you are contemplating these things. Most people just go through the motions and never think about these things. When I felt like this in the past, what I needed was a sense of personal growth and movement. Having a family and worrying about others all the time can leave me feeling like a robot. I think what can help is to determine something that you can do for yourself and give yourself a feeling of growth and accomplishment.

If you can find something that includes your husband and your child, then that's even better. However, most people have some time to spare, for example, I'm sure I can turn off the TV more and engage my mind and spirit. Peace


I could have written your post almost word for word. I've never considered myself to be depressed, just more like unenlightened or uninspired. There are a couple of things that I have done that have greatly improved my outlook and happiness level. First, I joined a couple of mom's groups on Meetup.com. I had moved and didn't have any friends and was having a hard time meeting new people. It's been a little slow, but I'm finally getting a core group of friends through these groups. Just going out with them, even if we don't click on a deep friendship level, has been enjoyable, and it helps to get me out of the house and out of my rut. I also find that it gets me to spend more time with my son. If there is a late afternoon or weekend playdate scheduled, I try to make the time to go, rather than doing whatever I was going to do instead (work, errands, etc.).

The other thing I have done over the years is to volunteer my time with a dog rescue group. Dogs (and all animals) are my passion, and since I can't make a career out of it right now, I do what I can in my spare time to help. A lot of what I do can be done from home on my computer, so it's not that inconvenient. If there is any cause that interests you, and you have a little time to spare, check it out. Even just an hour here or there can help a lot and boost your spirits, and you'll get to meet some new people who share your interests.

As for my relationship, it still needs work, and we are definitely in a rut. I love my husband, and even though the passion is gone, I don't believe that it's irretrievable. I just don't know how to get there, and having a young child around makes it much harder. So I don't have advice for this topic, but just wanted to let you know that you aren't alone. I hope some of this helps and that you get some more advice from BPN. I understand


You don't say how old you are. Could be wacky hormones. Could be depression. I would recommend you get saliva-testing of hormone levels done to rule that out. If it comes back wacky, there are a number of ways you can deal with it. Exercise is a great way to deal with EITHER issue. Good luck! Been there
You may be exhibiting some depression symptoms. Have you thought of trying mindfulness training? You could find a class, or you could try a book (Full catastrophe living, Calming your anxious mind, and Mindfulness by Ellen Langer are all good ones). Mindfulness is especially good for helping you stop just going through the motions. Karen
Hi there: You sound emotionally exhausted, spiritually bankrupt and not much more that vaguely aware that something's wrong. Why don't you make some time every day for regular exercise lasting at least one hour-- this is clinically shown to be as effective as anti-depressant medication (I know there are times when it's appropriate, but still, why has everyone allowed themself to be so easily mind-controlled into believing in a Magic Pill, from Big Pharma, that cures all your psych- ills? Paying for it, you're just lining ''their pockets-- Duhh!) When you ''get moving'' physically, it's amazing what else gets moving, and ''stuff'' will come up. And when it does, feel inside yourself to find your emotional responsibility and DEAL with it. Also, find something you really love-- REALLY love-- to do-- you need to find some kind of passion and not be afraid of it. GET GOING! --Moving It
Well, I know that pre-kids ''fun'' for me was a weekend away -- sometimes very far away; nights out in bars and restaurants and long, frank soul-baring talks with friends. Once I became a mom ''fun'' became redefined as gray Sunday mornings at the playground and playdates where there wasn't much chance to talk with other adults -- let alone soul bare.

I think being a good parent does mean putting aside the things that sparked our passion in pre-kid days. I also think that after seeing your spouse in their frayed underwear every morning for a few years, the concept of marital passion can seem somewhat ridiculous.

Stop fretting about self-diagnosing ''depression'' and -- sorry about the cliche -- do count your blessings. You say you are married to a man you love, a man who finds you attractive and I assume your son is healthy, yes? I ask because my child is just a little older than yours and she has a very serious life-threatening disorder that has required radiation, chemo and several surgeries. Would it make me ''happy'' if she were to be cured? Of course. Mom of 2


Well, you've certainly got the blahs! Are you getting any cardio exercise? Seriously, it makes the world of difference post baby in terms of energy level and getting your libido back. I remember having those same feelings when our child was in pre-school and ramping up my exercise routine really did wonders for my mood and libido.

Those early years are very psychically draining. You might want to really think about the things that you would like to do to be more present and live deeply. Join a meditation group, a book club, take a class (online, even). If you have the time, volunteer for something you feel passionate about. New social contacts help you feel less blah.

Definitely give yourself some time and attention, but also give some to your spouse. Try to do things that you think will please him and show your appreciation- being kind to others actually makes us think more kindly of them. It's a positive feedback loop. Talk honestly abt your low libido and ask him to let you ''off the hook'' for sex, but increase your physical affection. Cuddle, hug, and kiss. Taking the pressure off so sex doesn't feel obligatory and making an effort to remain physical can really help re-kindle things.

It might be helpful to have a therapist to be your support and cheerleader as you get your groove back. There are alot of good folks in the archive, but I highly recommend Taryn Thomas- 510- 496-6070. She's in the Berkeley, Albany area.

Lastly, do appreciate what you have. It sounds like you are blessed with a husband who loves you, a wonderful son, and a job that is just fine and pays the bills. See your boredom/blahness for what it represents- stability. You have a wonderful stable base to deepen your relationship with yourself, your partner, your child, and your community. How lucky! Don't let the blahs get you down! Been there, too.


Yes, I feel very similar and feel like I'm kind of going through the motions in life with my marriage, work, etc. I have a 3 year old son too, and he brings a lot of joy in my life but I worry sometimes that I am too dependent on him to make my life fulfilling. I recently started doing two things to change my situation: 1) I started going to therapy, and while it hasn't been a ''magic wand'' in changing my feelings or situation, it does really help to talk to through with someone and 2) I've tried to make a real effort to develop some friendships. I'm really just starting this, and after 10 years of not really trying to make a new friend, it's not easy, but I am starting to see the benefits in it. I'm not sure what your situation is but I found that when I started my relationship with my husband, I really just focused on that (and now my son), and I really didn't make time for much else. I've seen advice about this alot on the BPN, and I really do think it helps to develop a hobby, do some volunteer work or make friends outside of your immediate family. It gives you something that is your own. anon
It is hard to say if you are ''depressed'' but clearly you are not feeling as good as you would like to be. I would suggest starting with a complete physical to be sure nothing medical is contributing to the problem. I don't know if you get regular aerobic exercise but that can often help. I also think you might benefit from identifying some interests of your own and pursuing them. Laura, LCSW
It does sound like you are depressed. When people think of depression they often think it has to be severe and debilitating to be considered '' depression''. Many people just like you never seek help because they are ''functioning'' but there is a clinical term for what you seem to have dsythymia. It's a sort of like chronic blues. I have a M.A. In psych and am a practicing Life Coach and have had a few clients who have had similar issues to the ones you describe. I also have suffered from this personally before and it was very helpful for me to get counseling. I would suggest looking into some sort of counseling for yourself because often there are some underlying things that need to be addressed and having a supportive and safe place to explore this is the best way to begin moving forward. I would also suggest talking to your family physician and getting your thyroid checked and blood tested for any other potential physical causes. S.
Hi there, I was depressed a few times and my symptom were much more severe. I was teary and tired, wanted to sleep a lot. Nevertheless, I think you have a mild depression and you might want to seek help. I recovered immediately after a few treatments of acupuncture. I went to a Chinese acupuncturist in San Francisco and Oakland Acupuncture Project in Oakland. I loved OAP due to their affordable price. Good luck tae
I want to comment on one response to the original posting which sounded rather dismissive, coming from a mom of a seriously sick child.

I totally emphasize with the mom, having borne a seriously sick child and having spent way too much time in hospital myself. I have also been depressed for quite a while before I admitted it to myself and finally reached out for professional help.

I don't think it is fair to discount the poster mom's concerns about being depressed just because she may be blessed with a healthy child. Is she therefore not 'entitled' to feel depressed? Any mom deserves to get help when needed, and any child deserves a happy, functioning mom. I suggest to get professional help to check out what the underlying issues are.

I have heard a lot of comments like ''I can't really complain to you, because your situation is so much more serious.'' or ''what am I complaining about, at least I am blessed with a healthy child''' and similar. I always respond that every concern/anxiety is valid and should not be measured for validity by the status of the child's health.

Please be fair and don't let your emotions about your own situation make you dismiss other people's - yes, less serious - issues. Compassionate


Yes, having been through depression/anxiety for many of my years since my 30's, I'd say you are depressed. It is nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed of, though the feelings of failure can be overwhelming. I had a major episode of depression beginning when Lexapro stopped working in Nov.2008, and I had a Lexapro seizure. I hunted for a psychiatrist with experience dealing with fine tuning medications because the MD who had put me on Lexapro meant well, but was giving me about 10 times what I needed.

Dr. Donald Stanford at 2232 Carleton St. Berkeley. 510-848-5330, was the first of the 5 psychiatrists that I called for help who actually called me back. The other 4 DIDN'T RETURN MY CALLS.....EVER!!! I'd love to post their names here with a ''don't bother'' recommendation. By that point I was thinking very dark thoughts and it was an emergency.

I've realized through Dr. Stanford's gifts in listening, and his attunement to balancing medications and his taking a minimalist approach to meds. that I'm glad the other 4 didn't call back!!! He's Yale trained and quite brilliant as well as intuitive.

I'd most highly recommend him for talk therapy and for carefully balancing any medication that's needed. I've also realized through seeing him (MD Psychiatrist)that in the way one wouldn't go to a general practitioner if one was having a heart attack, that the same applies for psychiatry and psychotropic medical balancing. I'm sure there are some MD's and psychologists who are gifted at it, but you don't want to spend time hunting in the wading pool when you are floundering in the ocean. Aviano


How do you tell if you are depressed?

Feb 2008

Hello, I am extremely embarrassed about asking for advice on this, but here it goes. I am a SAHM to 2 wonderful children, a girl 8 years and a boy almost 4 years. Quite often, I experience crying jags--or, right now, I feel like I am in a fog and barely functioning. At least a few times a week I just feel downright blue. My husband tried to give me a pep talk the other day and told me that I needed to be strong. The worst is that I absolutely hate feeling sorry for myself, which makes me even feel more guilty. I feel like I should be enjoying staying home with my children and not wasting my time feeling so down. I also hate to admit this, but although I love my husband tremendously, sometimes his temper and bad moods rub me the wrong way. On the weekends I am scared that he will all of sudden snap at me. A few times he has thrown things (he didn't hurt anyone though) and one time he punched a hole in the wall. He has never hit a person though and is normally a very loving husband and father. So, I am curious. How does one determine if one is actually depressed. I read that you need to feel consistently depressed? I guess I am just so scared of taking any medications. Thank you anon


What you've described is pretty much the textbook definition of depression. Guilt, hopelessness, lack of energy, lack of interest. It doesn't have to be constantly happening 24/7, but it does have to be chronic, and in your case it sounds like it is. Find a therapist you feel comfortable with. Talk to you doctor about your options. You don't have to feel this way, but most importantly, it's not your fault Been there
Hi Potentially Depressed,
I am a woman who has experienced depression for extended lengths of time in my life. Through a combination of counseling, and lifestyle adjustments I am happy to report that I have not been depressed in years, and I am now able to feel sadness, grief, anger, without getting stuck in the emotion. Therapy is a good thing, provided you find the right person to facilitate the healing. Also, lifestyle changes can make a profound difference in one's life - I learned to eat better, exercise, begin activities that brought me pleasure, nurture my spirit. And I let go of unhealthy relationships, including toxic friends. I am concerned about your partner's anger, and that you may be defending his behavior. It is unacceptable to punch walls, throw things, etc., particularly in front of your children. Your partner could use some help in coping with his anger and finding positive outlets for it, so perhaps he would be willing to see a counselor, as well? As a new SAH mom, it seems easy to slip into isolation and depression, so I encourage you to get out of the house, connect with other moms, and take some time each day to nurture yourself, whether that be 15 minutes or one hour. Are you depressed? You may be. You may not. Either way it's good to reach out to your community for support and begin to put your needs in the forefront. Being a healthy individual is one of the greatest gifts you can give your children. Best wishes to you!
Dear, you sound depressed. You don't have to feel sad, confused, foggy, weighed down, etc. every waking moment to be having depression. Nor will a pep talk about ''being strong'' fix these feelings. Counseling and/or meds would be more to the point.

And things don't sound good with your husband--worrying that he's going to snap at you or punch holes in the wall sounds very stressful and could certainly be a factor in your depression. I have to wonder what's going on with him that he's sometimes loving and sometimes so angry. Counseling could help you figure out what's going on here, as it sounds complicated. Sympathetic


Guilt, crying jags, not enjoying life, feeling guilty because you don't enjoy life--yep, sounds like all the symptoms of My depression.

Also sounds as if your husband has a serious anger management issue. That may be making your depression even worse. I also read hints that you have unacknowledged fears that at some point he might hit something other than the wall. Talk therapy may give you a more insight into coping with his behavior.

My experience: 1) Untreated depression is terrible and interferes with everything in your life; 2) it can be very frightening to a child to have a mother who has untreated depression.

Studies show that a combination of talk therapy and medication are most effective in treating depression. Find someone to talk with, and/or a support group, A.A.--whatever you can arrange and afford.

I worked with a great psychiatrist (not local) who said to me: each medication works on 80% of the people who try it, but no one can predict how you personally will react. So what worked for me may not work for you. What that caveat, I'll share my own experience. I too was afraid of medication but I find I do much better with it. It took quite a while to find a drug that worked well for me. Some people only take the medication for a short period of time, in combination with talk therapy, and are able to stop taking it once their depression lifts and they have developed some better coping skills.

Other things I have found to be extremely helpful: regular exercise, especially in daylight (1/2 hour to 1 hour walks with the kids?); eating well; fish oil capsules, Centrum with ginseng and gingko biloba, and B vitamins. I also talk frequently with friends and try to find time to do things that are just for me, although that can be hard to do when you are a mother.

Find what support you can and start to take care of yourself, it is one of the best things you could do for your children. I wish you the best. Good luck


I am sorry you are feeling that way. I am not sure that you are depressed but maybe more stressed out or drained. My husband used to be like yours. Because of his upbringing certain things would trigger him and he would blow up. He was also pretty moody and that hasn't changed. So when he was around i would find myself obsessing about wether or not he was going to get uspet about something and it would drain me. So i would try to avoid ''creating'' issues but in fact this really made it ok for him to continue letting his issues control him, and by exstension us. It was before we were married and had a child. So i left him and told him to work on his issues. He went to see a therapist and it improved immensely. What also changed was my attitude towards this which is now that blowing up is not acceptable, especailly in front of a child. He has words, he has knowledge so he can use both instead of getting mad. f he does i simply leave until he calms down. This now happens maybe once a year. But right now you are stuck in a situation where you are basically afraid and expecting him to blow up and you are therefore tense, stressed out and this is taking the life out of you. My adivce to you is to try to focus on happy things. When he does blow up, don't get mad, just kind of walk to another room. If he has no one to argue with it will die down. Refuse to engage him when he is like that. When it dies down, tell him you would prefer to talk and that reaction like that scare your kids and are not teaching them proper communication skills. tell him you are dispointed. walk to yet another room.

so bottom line i am not sure you are depressed. I think his bad mood/attitude is boggin you down anon


You and your husband BOTH need to be in couples counseling. His weekend behavior while it hasn't hurt anyone physically is emotionally abusive and needs to stop. Both of you need to be in individual counseling as well, him with his therapist and you with yours. It doesn't sound like you need to see a psychiatrist so you don't need to worry about medications since therapists can't prescribe them. Yes, alot of psychiatrists over prescribe them when they are not necessary, but only you can decide if you want to be on medication and you can always say no. No one can force you to take them. Normally depression doesn't require medication anyway unless it is severely debilitating i.e. you spend the entire day in bed for days at a time. It doesn't sound like you are doing that so you probably only need therapy.

You are to be complimented for taking the first steps to getting help. It sounds like you love him and your children and want things to get better. Once you are all in therapy, things should improve. Anon


You've confirmed it in your own words:

''Quite often, I experience crying jags'' ''I feel like I am in a fog and barely functioning.'' ''I just feel downright blue.''

These are classic symptoms. You don't need to feel them every minute to be clinically depressed. Here's what's paralyzing:

''I absolutely hate feeling sorry for myself, which makes me even feel more guilty.'' ''...wasting my time feeling so down'' ''I am just so scared of taking any medications''

Your stiff-upper-lip attitude, reinforced by your husband, is admirable but harmful. Depression is NOT a character flaw to feel guilty about. If you need help, get it or it can worsen. Do it for your children if not for yourself. They're no doubt confused and frightened by your moods.

Medication, if you need it, does not change you into a different person. It helps return you to the whole, strong, happy person you can and deserve to be. Don't let ignorance and fear keep you from taking this path if that's what's needed.

You have another, very big problem that's also making you depressed: Your husband has an anger problem that could possibly escalate to physical abuse. Even though ''He has never hit a person though and is normally a very loving husband and father,'' that's obviously not enough to keep you from being alarmed. Again, your own words:

''his temper and bad moods..'' ''On the weekends I am scared that he will all of sudden snap'' ''he has thrown things'' ''he punched a hole in the wall''

Even if he is only hitting objects right now --- and even if it never progresses beyond that --- that climate of fear is emotional abuse. Do you really want your young children, who can't protect themselves, to have to live as you do, wondering when the moment will come when he really snaps and punches THEM?

Yes, you are depressed, and so is your husband, and you both need to be undergoing treatment. Even if he refuses, GO YOURSELF. Do it for your sweet children; they need their mom to be happy and strong, and not to be afraid of rages of their father, not matter how loving he can be at other times. Get help NOW


It sounds like you are depressed. You don't have to feel that way constantly to be depressed. There are also many ways to treat depression besides medication, and if medication is used, good psychiatrists try to use medication for only short term use (1 to 1.5 years) if possible. They don't want you on the drugs permanently (only severely depressed individuals need to do this). During a really rough time when I was in grad school, I became very depressed and had counseling and went on Prozac even though I was terrified of Prozac. Well, Prozac saved me (and my dissertation) and helped me to function again. I think I was scared of it because I thought I would become dependent (not so) and because I thought it would change me (not so either). I was completley myself on Prozac, just out of the fog and able to function and enjoy life again. I also only needed it temporarily. Once I finished my degree, I weaned off the prozac. That was four years ago and I've been fine ever since. Other depression treatments: therapy and regular exercise!! Exercise grows brain cells and that decreases depression. I would make an appointment with your physician or a psychologist for an evaluation (don't be scared, it will be OK!) and/or check out a book like this one: ''The Depression Workbook: A Guide for Living with Depression and Manic Depression, Second Edition by Mary Ellen Copeland and Matthew McKay''. By the way, once you are out of the fog, you can then be objective and better able to evaluate your feelings about your husband. And being a stay-at- home mom is no walk in the park and is not as fullfilling for most of us as the media and others make us think it should be. It's hard work! And boring and frustrating, even when splattered with joyful moments. Anon
Your husband sounds like he needs anger management counseling but you would know better if he would go. Couples counseling would be good too. I don't know what insurance you have but go see a psychiatrist and get on Paxil or something to help you. Don't tell him if you think he might not like you taking it. He sounds like he has control issues. There is no shame in taking these medications. I was depressed for a year after my father died and it really helped me. I went back on it when my husband got diagnosed with cancer because I couldn't stop crying. Do you have friends you can talk to? That really helped me too. kr
Hi, This is not a normal, healthy situation, and living with this type of abuse from your spouse can really wear you down. Please take steps to get some counseling for the both of you, but you should be aware of how to protect yourself in case things get out of control. Taking those first steps to finding counseling and protecting yourself will make you feel a lot better and give you confidence to get you both to counseling or to get yourself out of the relationship. dealt with it
Yes, you are depressed. The symptoms you listed will confirm to your doctor that you have clinical depression. In addition to treatment prescribed by your doctor, exercise has been shown to be helpful if you want to try a natural treatment right away. Concerned
I'm not a mental health professional, but have been depressed myself and your description sounds enough like depression that I would have it checked out. I don't know why you're scared of taking medication. For one thing, having it diagnosed doesn't mean you have to take medication. For another, medication will take away the depression and make you feel more like you. Which is good for you, and your children. Moreover, I'm not a couples counselor either, but your husband sounds abusive, and I would have that looked into. Also for your own good and for the good of your children. I would not let someone who is throwing things and punching holes in to the wall to be around my children. It sounds like he needs help. Good luck! anon
Although there may be more to the marital issues, affecting your mood, my sense is that you have a hormonal imbalance that a homeopath or naturopath could help you straighten out without anti-depressants. This happened to me. I went on anti- depressants to no avail when I was 20. Then I saw a homeopath for a medical issue, and he fixed my depression too! Many things I was experiencing were a result of things just being a little off inside me. I'm now (and for the last 14 years) pretty stable, with the apropriate spectrum of emotions.

As for your husband's impulse control problems (which may be triggered with pressure and stress), it would be in your best interest to secretly talk with a counselor to see if he's got a large pattern of abuse (hard to tell for sure from your post), and then get some skills or ideas to learn how you can deal with it or what to do next. You might think it's silly, but I suggest call a domestic abuse hotline anonymously and just explain what he does occasionally. See what they have to say about it. Maybe they'l say that's not too bad, or maybe they'll say he's out of line. They should, either way, have some great resources or ideas for how you can handle it. anon


I have been thinking about you. You have a difficult situation. I think you are depressed, but I think it is the right way to feel in your situation. We should feel negatively when we are in a negative situation. Your feelings are appropriate. Drugs are not going to fix your relationship with your husband. Your husband is not behaving normally, this isn't your fault or responsibility to take care of. Is he willing to go to counseling (on his own, or with you if it will make him feel less defensive)? If not, you need to find a way to support yourself emotionally and keep yourself and your children safe. Do what you need to do. Look to friends and family. You have some tough decisions ahead of you. It is hard to accept the worst parts of our relationships, our parts in contributing to them and that our spouses are not perfect. If you are not safe, you need to make your safety and the safety of your children your top priority. If things are not as bad as that you still need to take steps to take care of yourself that don't involve your spouse. Look into assertiveness training books to find ways to effectively express yourself with your husband. You are not alone. anon
Hi, I notice a couple of things off the bat. If you are scared of your husband and he has a temper and regular bad moods, throws things, and hit a hole in a wall even once, he has an anger problem. You mentioned being embarrassed and apologetic about your own feelings or downplayed them all through the post, which tells me your self-esteem or confidence is down - that also fits with the dynamics of an abusive relationship, not that I'm saying that's your relationship for sure. Crying jags are a sign too... I'm not a therapist but you seem depressed and the deeper issue is why?

Your feelings are important, it's OK to ''feel sorry for yourself'' (what other ways do you minimize yourself in your speech), don't be embarrassed about any of this, being self- critical will make it that much harder to move through feelings. It's hard being a mother especially with a possibly unsupportive or even emotionally abusive husband. I'd say browse the self-help section of the bookstore for titles on how to tell whether you're in an abusive relationship, AND get therapy. P.S. I've been there, that's how I know. Anon


Depression comes in many forms. I never considered myself a depressed person at all and then after my second, I found myself worried about dying, not sleeping. I was still upbeat and all but at night anxiety would hit me out of the blue. If I fell asleep feeling fine, i could wake up in the middle of the night and not go back to sleep and just worry and worry. The scary thing is I figured I'd snap out of it and I felt that all that worrying and anxiety was rational. After saying no a bunch of times, I finally took my doctor's advice and got on meds (celexa) and started therapy. The results have been amazing.

I think if you're feeling like you might be depressed, then you probably are. While I dont' wnat to jump to conclusions about your husband, I'd say he has his own anger issues and is afraid for you to get help.

You can't just ''snap out of it.'' Babies do things to some of us and we need to seek help now that we have it. I happen to have a friend whose ex wife recently murdered her children and tried to commit suicice. She survived. While I was never that extreme, I hate to say it, but I could understand how if it's severe enough you could rationalize anything. anon


Several years ago I had an episode of depression with a lot of the same symptoms you describe -- crying easily, feeling ''underwater'', and just feeling like I wasn't enjoying things the way I should. In my case, a lot of it turned out to be traceable to tensions in my marriage that I wasn't acknowledging. I wasn't acknowledging how hard it was for me to stay home with kids, either, because of this myth that moms are supposed to enjoy every minute of every day with their kids. Your post reminded me of that time. Please do not assume that this is your fault, or feel guilty. It sounds to me like there is something going on in your marriage -- supportive partners don't throw things, and if your husband's anger is making you scared then something needs to change. The issues are real. Medication might help you get to a frame of mind where you can deal with them productively and make the changes you need to make, but it does sound like changes are called for.

Seeing the right counselor can make a big difference. Anne Marshall was a very good fit for me. She helped me realize that although my (now ex-) husband was a decent person and a loving father, I wasn't getting treated like an equal partner in the relationship, and my needs weren't being treated as legitimate. She also helped me understand longstanding family patters that fed into that. My depression turned out to be situational-my brain chemistry was kicking me when I was down, but once I dealt with the causes, the depression lifted. Anne Marshall's number is 220-0808, and she has offices in Albany and North Oakland. Treat yourself gently, and I wish you the best of luck. anon


The last sentence of your post was the most important. Be extremely cautious about medications. Many psychiatrists will be quick to put you on Prozac or some other depression medication as a ''trial'' and your problems will get worse from then on. There are many online and written sources for doing a self diagnostic questionaire for depression. Questions like: Have you lost interest in things you used to enjoy doing? Are you always tired and lack motivation? Do you cry easily? While many will call those signs of depression, many things can cause those same symptoms. Sounds like you have some great things in your life and your post indicates a good mental attitude. I don't know the perfect answer but just wanted to caution you about taking anybody's advice about medication-you are right to be very hesitant to do that. For the few people that claim to be helped by psychiatric medications there are many that are hurt due to taking them or when trying to stop taking them. A great book on the dangers is ''Prozac: Panacea or Pandora'' by Ann Tracy PhD if you need more convincing. I hope somebody can offer you some advice that is not psychiatric drug related. Maybe more time away from home, a walk with friends, join a gym, get some help with the children a few days a week, do volunteer work, change your routine, take the kids to the Lafayette reservoir for a hike or fishing. It can be stressful to raise children without help and not getting out from the same routine can be trying. Maybe a visit to your family doctor for a general physical and a talk about how you are feeling. If need be, a psychologist for another talk. Hope you find answers. anon

Single mom suffering from major depression

Nov 2007

Hello.I am a single mom who is suffering with major depression. I can hardly get up in the mornings. I am everyday trying to hold it together, but I feel it slipping away. I am always moody and just disconnected. I love my daughter and I want to show her and I don't want her to see me this way. I'm unorganized in my thinking and my everyday activities.I want to take some time off work and try to deal with this, but I'm afraid of what people might say. Do you think I can work on this without taking time off? I have tried anti-depressants, but they make me so drowsy I can't work. Any adivce would be appreciated. a mom


have your doctor refer you to a psychopharmacologist. there are many different kinds of antidepressants and I'm sure you can find one that won't make you so drowsy. I had the same problem at the beginning and then got it fixed by changing meds.

Please, get treatment. I know it's hard to ask for help when you are in it, but you owe it to yourself and your kids. If your doc doesn't help go to your OB, find a therapist, etc. Keep asking for help until you get it. Trust me, I know how much energy this takes--but you will get there.

If you think there is any chance you may harm your self (or your kids) please call your doc or 911.

If you can't get out of bed in the morning trust me, they are being affected deeply. There's nothing better that you can do for your kids than to teach them that mommy knows how to help herself.

If you need to take time off work do it! You and your kids come first, not others opinions. But please, if you are going to be in the house all day get help along with taking time off-- otherwise you will just sink further into depression.

Please, please get help! Here are a couple places a place to start:

Bay Area: UCSF - Women's Mood and Hormone Clinic www.ucsf.edu/brizlab/ wmhcindex.html

State of California: Postpartum Health Alliance www.postpartumhealthalliance.org/ index.htm Don't Give Up!!!!!!!!!!!


Dear Dealing with Depression, I have been where you are. Anti-depressants are critical for me, and because of the drowsiness I take them at night. They help me sleep and the anti-depressant effects last into the day. This may not work for everyone, but it is worth a try. Good luck. much better now
Oh, if you can afford it, absolutely take some time off! I've had overwhelm and depression at different points, and getting some time to regroup really helped. But that doesn't mean you should reveal every last detail to people - especially details that would cause others to judge you. Just breezily say you're taking a little hiatus to spend more time with your daughter while exploring some of your other interests. These things will be true statements. You might actually pursue something creative that really appeals to you, because you'll have the time. Who knows? Other than the money part, it's always been positive for me to take a break. I've even successfully had job interviews after taking a year off, where the interviewers were a little jealous of my taking free time, rather than holding it against me.

Get out of your typical routine/rut. Stay away from the TV as much as possible. Cover it with a blanket so it isn't staring at you, begging to be turned on. I encourage you to make good use of your break and really explore (yourself, your world, your interests). This is the time where you can reinvent yourself and recreate your life to be more joyful and healthy (in whatever manner appeals). I know the weather is cold, but you can bundle up and go on some easy hikes. You can find lots of free events to go to. You can take long drives in the country, which will still give you the time to think through whatever is up for you right now. One thing that is easy to do when not working, is to become a hermit. Make a realistic plan for each day, that includes leaving the house for at least part of the time. Don't just sit around, because it makes depression worse.

I just started a mini-hiatus: I cut my hours in half. I'm so excited that I can do all the things I never have time or energy for. E.P.


Please try other anti-depressants. Having been raised by a depressed mother and dealt with depression myself, I know both how damaging it is to have your only parent be depressed and how much of a HUGE difference the right anti-depressant can make. there are plenty that don't make you sleepy. You owe it to yourself and your child to feel better!! formerly depressed
As simplistic as it sounds - at the end of the day it is a choice to take control of where you place your thoughts and energy. It is your life - own it - own your time, energy and thoughts. The more positive you are able to gather the more it you will be energized in the directions you need to go. Sounds simple but it is very hard work - I have had to do it through a difficult divorce etc for several years - sometimes I make it and sometimes it is rough but I remind myself as much as possible that I will not allow someone else to have that power and control over me and my life. Lots of work and a good therapist helps. thinking of you
Forgot to add - please do not waste what little energy you have on worrying about what other people think. Everyone has their problems whether you see it or not. Take that energy and take time off to take care of you so you can take care of your child. There is nothing more important than you and your child's well-being. I think most people would admire you for knowing what you need to do and if someone doesn't, not worth your time. The only thing worth your time and energy is getting better and taking care of the gift you have been blessed with, your child. thinking of you
Hello single mom dealing w/depression. I was there a few years ago and did take time off. It seemed as if there was no other choice, and in fact there really wasn't. I was not able to sleep, tried anti- depressants and then became suicidal. I could not function and it was so scary. I felt so embarassed and ashamed that I wasn't able to use my time as well as I should have. Now I know that there is nothing wrong with hitting rock bottom, making a plan to pull yourself up and doing it. I'd have healed a lot faster if I might have seen things that way. The time off was critical for me, though I should have returned to work after the first four weeks. There is a fine line between taking time for yourself and being clear that you are doing what you need to do for yur own healing, it's important to have a plan, and taking more time and not being clear or not having a good plan for your healing, which can be devastating and bring you down further. Work is part of our identity and our routine, and having a routine in place can keep you above water. Unless of course it is overwhelming. Pulling together a support system for yourself is crucial. As a single mom there are things we deal with that people can't even imagine. We have to be so strong, but we can't do it ourselves. Exercise is also crucial, maybe a gym where you can go with your child and keep your face in the public eye as well as do something good for yourself? Also, if you can afford it, get a massage. As a human being, touch is so essential. While you don't have a partner at least do yourself the favor of waking up your cells, you'll be amazed. I worried about my daughter during that horrible year and she is doing fine. Probably more sensitive than others to people's emotions and feelings. Not such a bad thing. Best of luck to you! single mom struggling less now
I am very sorry to hear about your depression and would encourage you to consider trying a different anti-depressant. Sometimes it takes trying a few different ones or different doses to find the right combination (amount and medicine.) I tried something at first that made me a complete zombie and I almost gave up but switched to Zoloft and it has made a world of difference. Truly life-saving. Best of luck. anon
I'm so sorry about your depression! I've been there, and it's so hard to be that depressed, especially when you have so many responsibilities. But the main thing is that you still have it in you to try to figure out what to do about it, which makes me sure that you'll be able to deal with it. You'll probably get a lot of great responses. I wanted to say that in the time of my life when I was deeply depressed, I tried Prozac and Zoloft and they totally knocked me out so I couldn't function. I could have slept 20 hours a day. Then I went on Wellbutrin, and that gave me the get-up-and-go I needed to get through the day and eventually to get through the depression, which I'm happy and lucky to say is now gone. I was on Wellbutrin for about 2 years, and if I ever get that depressed again, would definitely go that route. This isn't a commercial for that drug, though--it's just to say that it's possible that the antidepressants you tried weren't the ones for you. Good luck--sending lots of warm wishes your way. --been there
DWD- I'm sorry you're going thru this. Depression is painful and dibilitating. Fortunately, therapy and medication do help - and they work best together. If you're not already in therapy, find yourself a therapist right away and stick with it. Sometimes, when we're depressed, everything and everybody seems inadequate, but that's the voice of depression talking. Also, find a good psychiatrist. Finding the right medication for you is part science and part art. Also, you've got to give the meds a realistic try. Some antidepressants are taken in the AM to help with energy; others are taken at night to help with sleep. Despends on your symptoms and just trying different ones to see what's best for you. Don't give up. You can feel better.
I just wanted to pipe in. I spent many years with severe depression and anxiety disorders that stemmed from it. I have also been institutionalized against my will because of this. I see a lot of advice to change anti-depressents. Though anti- depressents can help you get through a hard time, unless you have something like manic-depressive disorder, they are simply bandaids. They are not treatment IMHO. They can get you through times, and help you while you try to work on your depression and get treatment, but simply taking anti-depressents will only cover-up your depression and then when you stop, your issues are still there. I had to find the right therapist. I also found that therapists that do not advocate medication unless absolutely needed are the best therapists, as they believe in self transformation and healing. Medication treats the symptoms, not the problem.

Also, many therapists only work to get you to be ''a functioning member of society,'' rather than truely being set free and transcending your issues. My problem in the end had to do with what society expected of me (or what i viewed those expectations to be), thus simply trying to get me productive part of it did not address the problem...maybe I am rambling about me... but just trying to pass my experience. After 11 years of on again off again therapy and meds and more years of depression, I have been 6 years with no depression and no meds.

If you can afford it, I would work part-time while seeking treatment. Interview different therapists. Look for therapists that are into natural treatments. Unfortunately I lived in Washington when I found the right therapist, so i have no advice on that... not depressed


I'm so sorry to read your message and I completely understand where you are at. Email me if you want to talk or just email back and forth- i want to reach out to you because I have been there and am dealing with some issues currently right now as well. Maybe we could be support for each other. ag

Does St John's Wort work for anyone?

Oct 2007

I'm thinking of taking St John's Wort and wanted to find out if it has worked for anyone. In specific I'd be interested in knowing how long you've taken it, what brand you use, have you experienced any side affects or interactions and anything else that would be useful.

My situation is that I feel overwhelmed and depressed right now. I took Paxil for 1 year about 8 years ago and really liked it but didn't like some of the side affects and also had withdrawal symptoms I didn't like so I thought maybe St John's Wort might be a alternative. anon


My husband had great success with St. John's Wort for depression. I forget what brand it is, but it comes with a yellow label with dark green lettering. HerbPharm maybe? I recall he took one or two dropperfuls straight and chased it with water. What also helped him significantly, which he still takes (not taking St. Johns anymore) is Fish Oils. The Omega-3s are very powerful brain food and hence emotional regulators. I believe there are some drug interaction with St. John's Wort, but I think if you do an internet search for St. John's wort drug interactions you will find out easily what these are. My sister has also had success with St. Johns' Wort and also with essential oils like lemon and grapefruit which can elevate mood. We get our ST. John's wort at the health fodd store, but there is also a great company that has fish oils and essential oils. Their website is www.essentialoilpharmacy.com. We use the ''Omega Blue'' product daily. good luck! moondeva
St. John's Wort is a drug, a serious drug, & shouldn't be taken without the guidance of a health professional. Self- diagnosis & self-dosing are never a good idea with any drug- just because it's available without an RX doesn't mean that it's innocuous!

If you really don't want to try another prescription anti-depressant, there are psychiatrists & general physicians around the Bay Area who will work with herbal remedies. You may be able to find one through the BPN archives or a reply to your post, but if not, try looking in the yellow pages or inquire at Lhasa Karnak Herb Co. (are two in Berkeley, don't know if they give referrals, but they might be able to start you off in the right direction to find someone).

But- I would suggest, based on my own experience, that you consider trying another prescription anti-depressant first. There are many, many more than Paxil, & many that aren't SSRI's (which is the group that's notorious for sexual side effects, don't know if you had that problem).

SSRI's are handed out like candy these days, especially by general physicians who just don't have enough experience with the variety of ADs available to know what would make sense for you to try next.

St. John's Work has a similar method of action as tri-cyclic ADs, & can have similar side effects. I take a TCAD, tried several SSRIs first, also briefly tried St. John's Wort, & like the TCAD much better both in terms of its effectiveness for me & I don't get the awful inorgasmia that I got with SSRIs. I did get more early side effects from it- dry mouth, felt a bit overall yucky- than from SSRIs but they went away after a couple of weeks, & I got the same kind of side effects from St Johns Wort!

You didn't say if you went off Paxil with the guidance of a physician, but you will get ''withdrawal'' symptoms if you go off any anti-depressant without slowly tapering down- including St. John's Wort. Working your dose up slowly when you begin one is also a very good idea- many people actually get good AD effects at a sub-clinical dose, & the lower the dose the fewer side effects you're likely to get. Anon


I did use St. John's wort about 10 years ago for moderate anxiety. It apparently worked nicely; I say apparently, for I never felt any direct effect (euphoria, other feeling) but just had less severe anxiety, which made it manageable to the point I could deal with the rest by reasoning with myself. I took it for maybe a month before being sure I was feeling better, took it regularly for 'a few more months' (sorry I can't remember how long), and stopped (with no ill effects) because I didn't think I needed it any more.

All this is not to say it's 100% safe; there are drug interactions possible, and one has to be cautious with any remedy. Good Luck!


I tried St. John's wort several times and didn't notice anything significant (also for overwhelm & Depression). I did feel a marked improvement in my functioning and overall mood with Sam-E, however. I took 400 mg morning and night and it made a huge difference for me. I think these kinds of things work differently on different body chemistries--my sister does really well with St. John's wort. It's all worth a try--i too, tried wellbutrin (a pharmaceutical) and felt terrible on it. If St. John's wort doesn't help you out--try Sam-E. Jarrow is a good brand and available at whole foods. good luck been there

Dealing with cyclical, short-term acute depression

Feb 2007

Does anyone have experience with or advice for dealing with cyclical, short-term acute depression? I have struggled with general depression for many years and have controlled it through ''talk'' therapy rather than medication (which I prefer to avoid if at all possible). However, over the past year, I have noticed a new phenomenon. I will suddenly and inexplicably suffer, for lack of a better expression, a ''depression attack'' which lasts for a week and then, just as suddenly and inexplicably, lessens or disappears completely. It is like coming down with the flu and then recovering, except that it is a mental, not physical, episode. These attacks are upsetting, not least because they are so debilitating, but also because they are so unpredictable and random. They are very intense--it is all I can do to manage the day-to-day details of parenting and living when they occur. I also never know how long they will last. Anyone with a similar experience out there? Any ideas on how to handle this kind of depression? Thank you so very much.
struggling mom


You have described my experience with depression almost exactly! Brief, but terrible bouts of depression/anxiety in which I experience profound panic, tearfulness, suicidality, obsessive thinking, weight loss, guilt, fear, etc. My episodes have lasted about 2 weeks, on average, but last year were lasting about a month. Sometimes I would go months without an episode; sometimes they were spaced only a few weeks apart.

For 10 years, I worked with antidepressants, talk therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, meditation, yoga, diet, and herbal remedies to try and control the cycles. I got tested for a variety of medical conditions (thyroid, adrenal dysfunction).

Finally, a psychiatrist said he thought I might have bipolar disorder rather than unipolar depression. I added lithium to my antidepressant and have not had an episode since (it has been nearly 12 months, which is a pretty long time for me to go without having an episode).

I still believe diet, exercise, and stress management are key to my health. But I also feel that the lithium and antidepressant together are (so far) critical, too.

I know you said you don't want meds, but I did want to share that what's going on might not be depression.

A great website for information about bipolar II and "soft" bipolar disorders is by Dr. Jim Phelps: www.psycheducation.org. Please take a look at it and see if you find your experience described there! ---Finally feeling hopeful that the cycle will end---


Have you researched a condition called ''Bipolar, Type II''? My psychiatrist prefers to call it ''depression with anxiety'' since Bipolar has such strong connotations for most people. Bipolar, II is cyclical like regular Bipolar -- within a range that includes depression and anxiety instead of depression and mania.

One of the quirky things about Bipolar, II is that your reaction to antidepressents (SSRIs) is not as expected. My husband was diagnosed when he finally went to see an expert psychopharmacologist because a third variety of antidepressant let him down (two did nothing much, the third created a sense of rage that he lived with for months, waiting for the meds to ''start working''). He was taken off the SSRIs and put on a mood stabilizer, and then later -- once he was stablized, the Dr reintroduced an SSRI which improved his baseline.

Before we got into this adventure I'd never heard of the disorder or the treatment. My husband is a brilliant and loving guy who makes big contributions to society... I don't know what his life would have been like without this intervention. He still has the occasional bad day (don't we all?) and seems to react to changing seasons and shorter days... but he is functional and happy and here for me and for his kids.

I'd urge you to see the best doctor you can, and to follow the advice that doctor gives you, even if it includes trying a medication... You'll never know how much better you can feel, unless you start feeling better. I'm only Depressed and Distracted.


Cyclical as in; starting a week or so before your period and ending as your period start? If so, it's probably PMS or PMDD. I know I suffer from one and/or the other and what you describe sounds very familiar. I suggest you read up on those; there are many great sites on the Internet. Talk to your therapist about this too; mine gave me great references.

Of course, if you don't need medication that's great BUT if you need it don't hesitate to take it. Whatever you do though get professional help. I struggled with depression for 25 years before I decided to go for a long-term treatment.

I've been taking meds for a little over a year which is by far the longest stretch ever. There were some side effects to manage but I have never felt this free. Finally, I'm not controlled by my moods, emotions, and hormones anymore. Good luck! Finally free


do you think you might have PMS? You might try charting your mood swings vs your cycles. If it looks like it is the week before your period, try exercise, Vitamin B6, St. John's Wort or even Prozac during the last two weeks of each cycle. Or talk to your Gyn about it. it happens to the best of us
Could this be pms or pmdd? anon
Yup, I had a similar kind of experience, for about 25 years of my life, but since I've been taking a combination of a mood stabilizer and an anti-depressant (for the last 10 years) I don't get hit by those moods that come out of left field with no warning.

I know exactly what you mean by ''depression attack'', and it's one of those things that is difficult for someone who hasn't experienced it themselves to really understand. It's vastly different than the normal ups and downs of life.

What you're describing is a mood disorder, they are biological disorders, and susceptibility to them is now known to be genetic. There are many kinds of mood disorders involving depression, and it takes a skilled and experienced psychiatrist to correctly evaluate a patient and make a well-considered diagnosis.

In my long years of chronic depression, peppered with clinical depressive spells and less frequent hypomanic spells, I did years of therapy. I believe in therapy, it gave me a lot, but I always knew instinctively that something physical was driving my depression and instability, and that therapy couldn't remedy that underlying problem.

I'm not going to push medications given what you said, but I want to share some of my experience with you, and to suggest that you keep an open mind about meds. I think that you'll be selling yourself short if you dismiss them out of hand without getting some real education about them. They've restored thousands of people to a place where life is in proportion and can be enjoyed, and they've (literally) saved the lives of many people.

Even if you remain firm in not wanting to take any medication, please make an appointment with an experienced psychiatrist, get a diagnosis, and get a medical understanding of what's going on with you. Like you've said, it's very scary to be attacked by a debilitating mood and have no idea what's happening or why.

What you decide to do with the info you get is entirely up to you. Knowledge is power. Simply having some info, having a name for your condition, and understanding what's happening with your body chemicals will allow you to do some research on your own, and to seek out support groups.

Good resources to know about in our area are Langley-Porter Institute, (the psych part of UCSF medical school), and Stanford medical center. Both have mood disorder clinics, are cutting edge in terms of being up on the latest research, and offer very thorough evaluations.

If you have Kaiser, I can highly recommend Dr. Jeanne Leventhal in the Oakland Psych Dept. I found her through a post on this list, and she has been the one who has most successfully addressed the depressive aspect of my disorder. She is also a specialist in women's hormonal issues, and includes looking at their influence in her diagnosis and her treatment recommendations.

Hang in there, and take care of yourself! Anon


I know you do not want to take medication, but you may want to consider it. You have been in talk therapy for years and your depression is recurring more frequently making it harder for you to get through each day. Unless there is a new factor in your life like job, relationship, or financial stress that might explain these episodes, I think you should see a psychiatrist. I am not a proponent of medication, but when talk therapy is not working, it may be necessary. Anon

Depression and anxiety - non-drug options

Dec 2006

I am struggling with mild-moderate depression/anxiety. I was on Prozac for 2 years, then recently got off (under MD supervision) to try to get pregnant. Things are going well in my life now (as opposed to when I first got on the drugs). Yet I'm still feeling the depression and anxiety coming back (worse also in these short, winter days), unrelated to any particular external circumstances. I'm funcioning o.k., but hate feeling this way. I know that going back on meds is an option, even while trying to get pregnant, but I want to exhaust all other non-drug options first. Does anyone have advice on alternative ways to manage mild- moderate depression and anxiety? I have already taken some measures such as getting more sleep, cutting out caffeine, exercising more, and trying to cut down on unnecessary work responsibilities. But I still feel bad. Also, I was thinking of seeing a professional to help me in this. My MD will only prescribe drugs. I would like someone who can give practical advice and support, rather than drawn out psychotherapy. Ideally, it would be an expert in these issues who could help coach me in using nutrition, light, stress- reduction techniques and other practical techniques to deal with the symptions. Any advice or recommendations of professional help would be appreciated anon


have you tried acupressure? i wasn't that sympathetic to trying it, but anasuya batliner (www.mybodywisdom.net) showed me a lot of ways to feel a lot better. the huge curtain of depression choking me (and the feeling of being drawn downwards into complete sorrow if i let my guard down) lifted amazingly with her help. maybe try a session? it isn't psychotherapy but it does help your body calm down. good luck, it will get better! anon
Here are some ideas about what is supposed to work with depression/anxiety: Strenuous aerobic exercise where you are breathing hard for at least 1/2 an hour at least 3x a week. (More is better.) Short term cognitive therapy where you identify the thoughts that are making you feel depressed and learn new thought patterns. Daily meditation. Fish oil pills with high concentration of DHA. It might be easier to implement these habits while you are on medication and then wean off them. been there too
Your situation is more common than you think. I have to agree with you not taking antidepressent. It is only a temporary solution. What I can recommend is put in a conscious effort changing how you feel. How we feel is always our choice. Depression begins inside of you, in your mind, in your consciousness. You can start changing by making an agreement with yourself every morning: ''I will let go of depression and negative feelings. I will feel and be happy today.'' When you start feeling bad, just stop yourself. Step back, detach from those feelings and observe them. Do not judge them, do not attach to them. Just sit back and let them pass by peacefully. You are not those feelings. brightmindsbooks
I empathize with you. Here's some things that have helped me: meditation (there is a good class with James Baraz on Monday nights at the Northbrae church-look at www.spiritrock.org. Also there are mindfulness classes at kaiser, and I think alta bates, which are very helpful in dealing with anxiety and depression, finding another way to be with your thoughts and feelings. Rosen method bodywork has also been helpful. The Center for Cognitive Therapy is good-has very specific techniques to deal with negative thinking. Acupuncture also. I recommend Carla Dalton, who is in Berkeley. There is a lot of help out there, it just may take a little time. Good luck a
My situation is very similar to yours -- having been on Prozac for two years and recently making the decision to not be on medications. Besides doing the things you are already doing (nutrition, exercise, etc.) -- I have been getting acupuncture with Marti Lee Kennedy (martileekennedy.com) -- and have found each session to be helpful in combatting my blues. Hope that helps some. Good luck! Going through the same thing...
Hello, I have some things to recommend for mild depression and anxiety. I've been taking GABA, a neurotransmtter in powder form for help through what is an extremely difficult time. I researched it thoroughly and my acupuncturist recommended it, as I'm very sensitive to meds and was scared to take anti-depressants. It is a brain balancer and studies show there's no side effects as long as you take the recommended dosage. I'm one of those people who normally NEVER takes anything, but I was desperate. It worked immediately for me and I have no side effects. It simply calms the anxiety, for me, in the most powerful yet gentle way. In addition, same-said acupuncturist, Elizabeth Padron Vos, has me on some herbal and homeopathic formulations that are really working. You might want to check her out at 510.308.2155

There are two books I'm reading and following the exercises that have also helped me immensely. They are by the late Australian doctor Claire Weekes. Don't be misled by the fact they were written in the '50s and have some dated language, or by the simplicity of the approach. The approach works, and started working for me right away. One book is called ''Hope and Help for Your Nerves,'' and the other ''Essential Help for your Nerves.''

I wish you the best in getting through your challenge and completely believe you can. Help is out there


I found about 1/2 hour a day in front of a light box very useful for seasonal depression. They are not cheap, however (not the kind that work, anyway). I think it was around $200 -- I got mine from a company called Alaskan Northern Lights. Some therapists will loan them out to try. Might be worth looking into.

On the topic of light and melatonin, don't ever sleep in during the fall and winter months. Get up early and go outside even if you had a late night. You don't want to miss what light there is.

I was also helped by very intense aerobic exercise even though previous regimens of more limited exercise had only modest effect. This may or may not be a practical suggestion for two reasons. First, it takes a lot of time and energy to exercise that seriously. Second, I don't think it's conducive to getting and staying pregnant, at least it wasn't for me. Still, something is better than nothing, so I'd stick with what you're doing. Also, I think outdoor is better than the gym. And massages are great.

Finally, I think the people who tell you to regularize your day (eat, sleep, exercise, etc. at the same times) are right, though this can be hard to do in real life. But try moving in that direction to the extent you can. And good luck. (BTW, I did not have to do much of anything to stay happy the winter I was pregnant, so know that it's possible for the hormonal changes to work in your favor.) Anon


I have suffered from depression most of my life going on and off drugs any number of times. The last time I went off my doctor suggested I start taking Omega 3 fish oil. I was skeptical but went along with the idea ordering three boxes of Omega Brite. I dutifully took three a day until I ran out, then I stopped. About 10 days later I noticed I was anxious and unhappy. I went back on the pills and haven't missed a day since. I am a real believer in their power. I have also noticed I am happier when I cut out sugars in my diet and have regular aerobic exercise. Good luck Been there
I have greatly benefited from doing Solution work, as can be seen at www.thepathway.org. It is a developmental skills program, where I am learning to nurture myself and set limits from within. I don't believe it is a treatment for depression per se, but many of the skills I am learning are tremendously beneficial for my mood. The program began at UCSF and seems credible. Without investing in the program, perhaps you could read one of the books by Laurel Mellin, and perhaps you could seek counseling from someone with this orientation (check out the website), and get some of the benefits that way. anon
The Women's Therapy Center in El Cerrito is an excellent resource for professional help. The therapists there are interns, but are highly skilled and well-supervised. I've been getting therapy there for over a year and I started out very skeptical that an MFT intern would be able to help me. Fees are sliding scale--very affordable. (510) 524-8288 www.womenstherapy.org anon
I have always found exercise to be an effective tool for managing mood and lifting depression. I did my masters thesis in exercise science on depression and exercise and all the recent scientific literature says that intense aerobic exercise is NOT the best type of exercise in terms of mood enhancement. In fact, intense exercise is more likely to enhance your anxiety. Moderate and light intensity exercise: ie, walking, yoga, etc., are extremely effective methods for treating depression. Good luck! get out and walk!
I just had to respond. 10+ years ago I had terrible depression and tried Paxil and Zoloft. They weren't working and I had horrible side effects. The psychiatrist wanted to put me on Lithium, which would have included weekly blood checks to monitor my levels. That freaked me out. At the same time, during a very long sinusitis that wouldn't get better with drugs, I tried a homeopath as a last hope. He was pricy and it was out of pocket. Homeopaths treat the whole person, not just one symptom. He discovered that I had a hormone imbalance, which was caused by birth control pills in my case. Homeopathic remedies can take longer for healing (sometimes a few months), BUT... they actually work. He gave me some stuff, which made my chronic, months-long sinusitis as well as depression evaporate and brought me back to balance - I haven't needed depression drugs since. I'm so glad I was open to trying it echinaceapepperfoot
I would totally say ugh if someone said this to me... eating a wide variety of healthy foods is more likely to keep you from nutritional deficiencies, which contribute to depression. If my eating isn't balanced, I don't feel as well. Buy the best quality food you can afford. Keep the skins on the root veggies (beets, potatoes etc.) because that's where all the minerals are. Eat whole grains (and mix in unusual healthier grains like quinoa, millet, amaranth, buckwheat, & teff if you are able). Make sure you are rotating through every vegetable the store offers, not just sticking to what you know and like the best.

Finally, too much time spent with the TV and computer leaves me less joyful. It's usually mindless entertainment where I zone out. It dulls my creativity, and stops me from thinking, feeling, enjoying, playing, etc. Why not detach somewhat and try gentle walks enjoying the beauty of nature, breathing the fresh air? Also, take up a craft/hobby that you can really get into and do with your hands.

We all need to pursue our creativity, in ways that fill us with joy. Otherwise, it's easier for hopelessness and depression to sneak in. Good health and mood to you!


Depressed when the sun's not shining

August 2006

When the sun is out, I'm happy and optimistic, for the most part. But when it's foggy (most of the summer here) I get more and more depressed as the days go on. Besides moving away (can't do right now), medication (tried it), and physical activity (which I'm working on increasing), does anyone know of anything specifically to combat SAD? Sunlamps? Yoga?
SAD at the sight of fog


I'm the same. What has worked for me is to use a dawn simulator alarm clock. Somehow it tricks my brain into thinking that the sun is rising. When I actually wake up, it is of course disappointing to find fog outside, but by then I am not as depressed anymore. Bright lights also help a lot. Keep your work area as bright as possible (e.g. add a desk lamp, if you work at a desk, or brighter ceiling lights). Yoga and exercise can of course make you feel better as well, but I thinks bright lights are the key. There are special lamps made for SAD, but I haven't tried them foggy but not depressed
I know exactly how you feel. I too suffer from depression when there is not enough sun. I was born and raised in sunny southern California. I never had this problem when I was living in L.A. until I got married and moved up here 10 years ago. When we bought our house in El Cerrito, one of the things that was never mentioned to us was just how foggy it gets here (I think the seller should have disclosed this fact). I had no idea that the fog would effect me in this way.

And with the long rainy springs we've been getting lately, it makes dealing with the fog all the more difficult. I have never tried lights to combat Seasonal Effect Disorder, but I've heard they are very helpful. Another thing that helps is to get outside as much as possible on those foggy days. Just bundle up and go for walks out in the open where there is mostly sky above you. You will get more light that way. Don't wear a hat or sunglasses. Avoid dark woodsy walks through redwood tree groves, they can be very dark and very wet on cold foggy days. Avoid spending too much time indoors. Keep all your curtains and blinds open as much as possible when you are inside. Always sit by a window. If you just can't take another day of fog, then try to visit other areas of the Bay Area that are sunny and warm. Go for your walks and run your errands in the sunnier locations. Your mental health is worth the extra driving.

Another thing that might help is to try to wear more cheerful, sunny colors. I find that most people in the Bay Area, especially in Berkeley, tend to wear dark, drab colors, and are very casually dressed. This just adds to the foggy depression. Around here it's hard to dress warmly and also stay in touch with the season with the sunny colors. Try to find light and bright colored sweaters.

Mail order might be your best bet. I find that I usually feel much better if I ''spruce-up'' a bit, put something a little nicer and brighter on, and wear lipstick. I may not fit in with the look around here, but at least I feel better. Laurey


What you have is Seasonal Affective Disorder. Lack of sunlight makes you depressed. You can get a ''sun box'' that has full-spectrum lighting, and sit in front of it for a prescribed period of time each day. You can also find full-spectrum lightbulbs to install in the house as well Stephanie
get outdoors, exercise more, get a warm jacket and sit in the fog. Even on foggy days you can get plenty of sunlight, if that's truly the issue. And if you're taking hikes or otherwise getting exercise, you'll warm up more quickly, be more inclined to get out AND feel better, both from the exercise and the sunlight. I have heard of sunlamps, but I bet you'll still do better just focusing on getting out, and it seems easier too
Well, where do you live? If you live in North Berkeley, you should know that only minutes away, there are microclimates that are not as foggy. Oakland, for example. I live in West Oakland and it is not foggy everyday in the summer, and when it is, it burns off by noon. Otherwise, you could try Orinda and points east. If you go out to Walnut Creek, you will never have summer fog.

If you don't want to move, maybe you could just go to these places on foggy days, if you are a stay at home parent. If you have to go to work, I guess you have to go no matter what. I would also recommend going to a gym. Exercise will improve your mood and you will be inside, so the weather won't really matter. Coffee also helps. anon


SAD is a recognized disorder affecting many people. The National Institute of Mental Health recommends using a light box of at least 10,000 lux of light for at least 20 minutes daily. You can get deals on line or at Costco. The one at Costco is called GOLITE and is portable but not as effective as a bigger ''sunbox'' but it is half the price. Even some people in Hawaii can get SAD when it is overcast.
been there SAD
Do try a light box. You'll have to research how to use it ( duration, times of day, how close to sit, etc)but it's worth a try. Get one that is designed for depression, they have a lot higher lumens that a regular light. THey can be pricey. You might Google ''Northern Lights'' as they are one manufacturer JM
Sunlamps do work and the anti-depressant, Wellbutrin, was recently approved for SAD. Sometimes SAD is a type of bipolar disorder and these 2 treatments could trigger hypomania, (an up mood that can interfer with functioning). Try getting up the same time each day, take walks and be outdoors even though it is foggy. The exercise and be quite helpful even though it can be challenging to get started Judy
I too have felt the foggy depression and I cannot tell you how much light therapy has helped me. After putting off investing in a good sunlamp for years since I had little $, I finally was able to buy a Sunbox light (the Sunbox Company is a high- quality, reputable brand) for about $225. In the past, I was denied coverage by my Healthnet insurance company for that expenditure, despite having a letter from my psychiatrist recommending the lamp as an alternative to drugs. (go to sunbox.com for info. on prices - it's a great site with lots of info. and occasional sales.) I sat in front of my lamp for 30-60 minutes every day in the morning (I sat about 14 inches away from the bulb) while reading the paper, eating breakfast, etc. It was tough to do that, but it did help. You may want to investigate taking Omega-3's too, (I like Nordic Naturals) and visit a health food place with a helpful person on staff to find out more about that.

Also check out Dr. Norman Rosenthal's landmark book on SAD ''Winter Blues'', which is an inspiring and informative read. You can get it from the library. Good luck and feel free to email me Dyane


I had this for a while but seemed to kind of grow out of it towards my mid- to late-twenties. Maybe you will too?

The thing that worked somewhat well for me was 1) having a regular sleeping schedule (yes, random!) and 2) turning on every light in the house IMMEDIATELY when I got up. Getting the light right away when I woke up seemed to help switch ''on'' something. Go figure.

It is annoying!
-send me to san diego


Why Am I So Unhappy?

Nov 2003

I am not sure if Iím looking for advice, a recommendation or just an outlet for what Iím going through. I have, what would appear on the outside, such a great life. I have a loving husband, a wonderful house and an absolutely adorable son whom I adore with all my heart. Why am I so unhappy? I feel so trapped in a life that is not what I want. And, part of the problem, is I donít really know what I want. I guess I thought that I would have accomplished so much more with my life than I have. I am depressed almost all the time. I want to sleep all the time. I feel like Iím sleepwalking through every day. The only thing that makes me happy is being with my son - I want to be with him all the time. But, Iím starting to feel like I am unworthy of my son who is so full of life and energy. I have no energy for him. We are strapped for money, mortgaged to the hilt and I have to work full time when Iíd rather be with him. But, I almost feel he is better off in preschool without me because even if I was home with him, would it be any better for him? Would I be any better or would I just continue to be depressed and have a negative impact on him? Now Iím looking for work again and I cannot muster even the slightest desire to find it, even though I know we absolutely need me to work in order for us to just pay the bills. I would love to see a therapist, but we have no extra money to spend on one and I hate taking any time away from my time with my son. I feel completely selfish and childish for feeling this way when I know so many people are much worse off. I feel like there is something terribly wrong with me that I can be so completely unhappy when I really shouldnít be. I donít know what kind of advise anyone can offer. I just didnít know where else to turn. I have great friends, but have a hard time talking about this with them (and my husband) because my unhappiness seems so unreasonable. I feel so overwhelmed with it all. anon


First, you should know that what you are going through is definitely depression AND that many, many women (and men) go through bouts of depression for weeks, months, or years. So, please don't feel alone.

Secondly, there are some excellent free or sliding scale services in Alameda County. Check the following website:

http://www.berkeleyfreeclinic.org/download/COunseling%20update%202.pdf for specific information, phone numbers, and contacts. Another place to check would be your local church, synagogue, or mosque. Even if you are not a current member, if you go into a rabbi, priest, or imam, they would be unlikely to turn you away. Generally, there are peer support groups in religious communities that are free and confidential.

As for taking time away from your son by seeking therapy - try to think of therapy as a way for you to be a better parent. It will increase your sense of self and therefore, your confidence in raising your son the way you want to. Think of the time you are unhappy now, while you are with him. Wouldn't you rather take an hour a week to turn this time into time you feel is well spent?

I'm sure your son loves you just the way you are. It sounds like you are a very caring and loving mother. But you need to take care of yourself and work through the important issues that are causing you confusion, sadness, and lack of energy. Also, you may have a chemical imbalance that can be treated through a variety of methods (not necessarily pharmaceuticals) and this could very well turn things around for you.

You have the right idea - talking about this to other people is a great start. Don't stop now! anon


You sound clinically depressed, but I am not a doctor, and I encourage you to at least talk to your GP about this. Many health plans include mental health benefits, and will pay for a therapist, at least for a few sessions. You may need meds, and that is not an inherently bad thing. You may need more exercise, a different diet, something, but until you talk to a professional about it, things may only get worse. I think it's OK to be selfish in this, you want to be there completely and contentedly for your family, and might need help to get there. Donna
You really need to find a therapist. As much as you want to be with your son every free moment, you have to take care of yourself before you can take care of anyone else. Your son will be happy with a happier mommy. There are plenty of therapists who will negotiate a sliding scale with you.

I would also suggest trying Bach Flower Essences. You can read about them at Whole Foods or at Vitamin Express (Shattuck and Rose). They might help your state of mind. Good Luck. anon


Please, please see a therapist or a doctor. If you have a limited income, there are many places where fees are determined on a sliding scale, and are very reasonable for lower-income families. If you have good health insurance, it might pay for some therapy and/or antidepressants. But what you describe sounds like absolutely classic depression (which is a physical illness, not a case of your being ''unworthy''), and you need help. If nothing else, talk to your primary care physician and get a doctor's advice about the problem. Karen
It sounds like you have a lot weighing you down. I have been reading a lot about depression lately and it sounds like you may be suffering from that. Maybe you should see a counsellor to help you figure it out. Besides that, be completely honest with your husband about how you feel. Perhaps there is a way that you can ease your financial burden and give yourself some more options. It sounds to me as if you have built a lifestyle that you are not that happy about. As far as being at home with your child full time, until you feel better about yourself it won't make you happier. In fact, I think that being at home can be very isolating if you don't put a lot of effort into getting out and joining activities. Good luck. Joan
First -- I think most of what you feel is very normal. But this is my advice: you say you have a huge mortgage and that you want to spend time with your son. You should sell your house - take advantage of the market and cash out! Then buy someplace much cheaper, or rent. And you should quit your job and do what you want: be with your child! I bet everyone would be happier. Your child deserves you! And you deserve to be happy! anon
Hey there- Do you think you may want to stay home full time and raise your son? If so, and if your husband is wonderful, don't worry about sitting down and talking to him about it - he'll probably understand and be open to doing what you guys need to do to make that happen, even if it means moving. I'm sure HE wants you to be happy, and probably senses you're not.

I was working part time from home and had a nanny come in to help out when I had to work. It wasn't my ideal, but we ''needed'' the money. I always wanted to stay home. She was wonderful and like a grandmother to our son, but I still felt bad. 3 months after she started, my company shut down their West Coast operation and though I looked for an interviewed in other jobs for which I was qualified, none of them panned out which I believe (due to my religious faith) was no accident. We had no idea how we would live on only my husband's income, since it was less than half of what we were taking in, but we managed. We did even talk about moving, but in the end, due to the lovely refinancing rates, didn't have to. We re-organized our lives, and though are very tight on money, have never been happier.

Just to ice my cake, in a weird way, 2 months after I became a full time mother, my son got the flu and had a seizure from the dehydration. We were at the hospital most of the day having tests run on him, and he wanted nothing but mommy all day. He loves his dad and his dad is VERY involved, but he just wanted his mom. As we sat there throughout the day, we talked about how it just really cemented that what we were doing was right, and how we would have felt getting a call from a nanny or a day care to tell us our son had gone into the ER. (He seemed to have been on the mend for a day the morning it happened, but the docs said this sometimes happens)

So perhaps this is what is bothering you? How you feel is totally OK, what you do about it next is up to you. Susan


I really feel for you, all the more so because I do not think you are alone in your feelings. I think many women experience these feelings off and on but feel so guilty about having them that they are unable to express them or to know how to begin to alleviate them.

First of all, you sound like you are a very caring and good parent, so you deserve tremendous credit for that. It also sounds like you could use an outlet for yourself--a realm in which you can feel good about yourself apart from being a wife/mother. Although you say that you do not wish to burden your friends and husband with your feelings, they are the cheapest (and best!) form of therapy. It seems very important that you open up with them to get some support. Do you fear rejection? Do you think you will be thought less of because of these feelings? Perhaps you have a standard for yourself that is perfectionistic and not reasonable. You also sound very torn--that on one hand you should be advancing your career for financial reasons, but on the other hand you really enjoy being a mother.

I can understand how looking for work sounds depressing when perhaps it is not what you really want. Is there anyway for you 1) to accept that perhaps you are not interested in advancing your career as you think you should be and 2) can work part- time so you can spend more time with your child? If you really need to work full-time, perhaps some career counseling could be useful. Could you be having a bit of a mid-life crisis? It really seems that you are judging yourself very harshly, that you think that you should want other than what you have and yet what you have actually might be what you want. It might be helpful to find a way to explore what you think you should have accomplished by now as well as where that might be coming from. Perhaps you could find a support group through a church or other organization that would not cost you any money. In order to find some joy in your l! ife, and to help you address the question of ''what DO I want?'', think back to what you have enjoyed doing in the past (pre-child--perhaps even pre- marriage). What were your hobbies/interests? Is there some way for you to get plugged into something you enjoy doing? To help you with the depression, if you are not doing so already, I would also suggest some kind of do-able exercise--maybe you can incorporate walking with a friend with talking about how you are feeling right now. It is a known fact that endorphins help combat depression.

I have gone through feelings very simlar to yours--especially around the time when I turned 40 and realized that my life was sort of ''set'' in place. I had to accept that it was okay that I had not written a novel or published a scholarly paper or sat on a board or made a 6-digit income. Our culture puts terrible pressures on us all. Sometimes I think we have all the ingredients to be happy, but we don't know it because it does not fit the American ideal of what we think it should be, and that is sad. I hope you can find the answers to your questions. You certainly are not alone. Been there


I remember feeling that way after I had my son. Consider reading a book that's helped me called ''The Purpose-Filled Life''. It gave me a lot of direction. Try networking with other moms, you'd be surprised that they can be a great resource and release. Anonymous
I'm so sorry to hear that you're having such a tough time. I don't have children (yet - due soon), but have also struggled over the last 5 years or so with ''my life is so great - why am I not happy?'' and ''what do I really want in my life''. I believe I have a lot to be grateful for, yet am really missing some direction and fulfillment...which sounds so pop-psychology it makes me queasy, but its true.

I read a book recently that helped me think through a lot of my issues with what I want from life -- wish I could say it was a magic bullet, but I don't think there are any. Its called ''I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was'' by Barbara Sher. She works from the premise that you have a lot to offer and are inherently talented at something (even if you don't think so) and are totally capable of having any kind of life you want; the only trick is to find what you really want (she helps with that) and how to go about achieving it. Idea is that if you apply yourself and find the help you need, you can get there. Its pretty concrete too - not just touchy-feely stuff. I found the book really enlightening, and enjoyed the website/bulletin boards the author set up for discussion. I'm taking a detour right now - got pregnant before I could really focus on finding the career I reall! y want - but still think this book helped me a lot, and the site is FILLED with supportive people who've been (or are) where you are, no matter what your goal or present situation. I wish you luck! Rebecca


It sounds like you have several symptoms of serious depression. I would seek out a psychiatrist (who can prescribe drugs) at once. I have struggled with this disease for two decades and was terrified about its effect on my now 1 year old baby. A combination of medication and talk therapy has helped me enormously, and i'm sure it willhelp you too - specifically about feeling not good enough for your baby. You are the best thing that's ever happened to him, and a good doctor and the right meds can help you realize that. I took an SSRI through my pregnancy and continue to use it while breastfeeding with no ill effects for the baby, so please don't let that be a deterrent. As for the cost, if you have health insurance, there's probably a way for you to be covered. I have had a great deal of experience getting therapy paid for by a variety of insurance plans who clai! med it wasn't covered. If you would like me to help you out with this, just let me know. Please don't give up. trumbore
It definitely sounds like you are depressed and should treat this as the medical condition that it is. That being said, it might help for you to believe and remember the following: 1) you have plenty more time to accomplish things in your life; while your kids are very young is not necessarily the best time to be ''accomplishing'' a lot of other stuff. So cut yourself some slack on this. 2) It is not selfish or childish to have the feelings you do. You didn't choose to have those feelings. And the poorest and most unfortunate in the world are not the only ones who have the right to be legitimately unhappy. Judging yourself for having your feelings is only adding to your unhappiness. 3) It is clear that however wonderful your situation is in many ways, you are not getting certain fundamental needs met. Somehow through your job, fr! iends, husband, family, other activities you are not getting the enjoyment, validation, sense of purpose/accomplishment that we all need. I'm not sure what the answer is for you. For me, when I found myself in a similar situation after about 9 months of unemployment I decided to get involved in a cause or organization that I believed in. For me, volunteering helped a lot. So did eventually finding a good job with a very supportive boss who makes me feel valued and appreciated. Other things might be finding an activity that brings you joy (extra bonus points if it is active and helps you get some exercise) and making time for the people in your life that help you feel valued and special. Good luck! Frances
Oh my dear, you do sound very unhappy. In fact, depressed. My partner has suffered from depression for years, and you should know that it is NOT a ''character flaw'', but an illness. I think most research shows that a combination of medication (carefully selected for yuor own needs) and talk therapy are most helpful for people with depression. This has helped my partner immensely. Do you have any insurance? Even if you can't see a specialist (psychiatrist), at least talk to your doctor. Even if it means taking some time off from work, or from your time with your child, it is worth it to be yourself again. If you don't have a personal doctor, there must be social service agencies that can help you find low-cost care (though unfortunately, that often means a long wait). I'm afraid I don't know the specifics of that; maybe another poster will.

You won't necessarily needs medicine forever (though many people do), but even a while on it can help you see past the never-ending unhappiness and address whatever ''life issues'' might be adding to your depression. Remember you are not alone. Wishing you the best. anon.


your email brought tears to my eyes. i don't have any real concrete advice (hopefully others will) but i just wanted to write with support for what you are going through. you aren't alone-- i know there are a lot of people in the same boat-- i'm in and out of it myself-- and you are doing A LOT. just being a mom is huge, and working full-time on top of that is double and triple huge. regardless of who else you know who pulls it off seemingly effortlessly, i know it is super hard. you do not have enough time to nourish your own self and spirit, let alone cultivate friendships and spend the time you deserve with your son. so just know that you are in a hard place, and give yourself a big hug just for coming this far and for reaching out for support. i don't know what to suggest besides therapy-- i do think there are some group therapies that may be free or lower cost, maybe even t! hrough kaiser? or maybe someone here or on another website knows.... also i find browsing the self-help or spiritual sections in bookstores sometimes is helpful for me. as for taking a little time away from your son for these things-- it is tough but may help you be a better mom in the long run. try doing things that lift your spirit with him-- go on a picnic at the marina. or if there is something you can do after his bedtime or take an hour off of work instead.... i know it is hard to reach out to others when you are depressed, but i do know that if there's any way to do that, it can be a salvation. also praying, however to whatever or whoever, for guidance on your path.... mostly i just wanted to send you much strength (which you clearly already have) and good loving thoughts. you can do it. good luck. anon
I'm really replying to three posts: Feeling Trapped/Unhappy, Isolated Single mom, and Getting Over Having Baby. They really are all part of the same problem as I see it. Having spent so many years wanting a child then finally adopting. Now realizing that my life before the kid was really good, if I'd only been able to see that then. Feeling priced out of the Bay Area Housing Market and frustrated with living in a small apartment. All and all: it's difficult being a parent, all the more so in our modern disconnected society, yet that's what we all somehow dream will make us finally feel fulfilled. I don't think many of us really can have it all, at least not in the Bay Area. -Considering Relocation
I don't know what to tell you to make you happy, but I do know that you shouldn't be ashamed of feeling the way you do, or discount your needs because you think others may have it worse. You sound to me like a caring and considerate person who loves her family very much. You deserve to explore all the reasons for your unhappiness and all the options at your disposal until you find a way to be happier. I also used to feel very trapped and pretty unhappy in similar circumstances. I wanted to quit my job to be home with my new baby; my husband had a lot of anxiety about what it would mean for our finances, but finally I made the break and we are spending some of our savings for a while, which might not be the smartest thing but I'm so much happier. In the end, when my husband saw how unhappy I was becoming, he was supportive. I'm getting some part-time consulting work! to help out a little, and we've reduced our expenses. If need be, we have agreed we will move to a smaller house to reduce our mortgage. Some of these things may not be options for you, but the specifics aside, you need to be able to see that there are options available to you. One thing I did when I was feeling really trapped is I wrote down every option I could think of, even ones that were undesirable or seemingly outlandish, like sell our house, or borrow money from parents. At first, not working at all seemed outlandish and unrealistic, but then as I kept making the list and asking myself ''how bad would it really be if we...(sold the house, had only one car, etc)?'' I realized that the most important thing was that I we were happy as a family and provided a healthy emotional environment for our daughter, and the rest of it would just have to work itself out. And I persisted in talking to my husband about it even thou! gh he was uncomfortable and anxious. Not working may not be your answer, but committing to understanding and pursuing your highest priorities should show the way to some change. Ultimately, I guess all I'm saying is you deserve to be happy and the guilt you feel about being unhappy is wasted energy. Spend that energy instead finding solutions, large and small, and talking to your husband about what you're feeling and asking for his emotional support. I'm so glad I did. You will find your way through this.

PS, there was an article in the NY Times magazine a couple of weeks ago called The Opt-Out Revolution which might interest you. Been there, wishing for better for you


Dear anon, My heart goes out to you and I can't say this strongly enough....you MUST make the time and find a way to get some counseling at this time. All the feelings you have are what most of us mothers have or are struggling with so much of the time. You are so not alone. But you do sound, as you wrote, depressed and the best of us need help sometimes. This is your time. With help and support you can climb out of the overwhelmed pit you're in. You didn't mention the age of your son, but it may be postpartum depression. I struggled with it for a while and abslutely needed help, Now life gets overwhelming sometimes, but I have the tools to pull back into myself and recover and the strength to find peace again. If you have health insurance, then counseling services are probably available to you through that. My husband and I are getting marraige counseling right now through our insurance. If you don't, then although I don't know them off hand, I'm sure there are some low cost resources out there.

Go to your doctor or clinic and talk to them about how you feel. One of the most important lessons I've learned in motherhood is that we absolutely have to stop the world sometimes to take care of ourselves. It's not selfish in the slightest. It's truly what we have to do. Hang in there. Life can look much brighter. Good luck in you journey. anon


I wish that I had some great advice for you. Mainly I can just tell you that you are not alone. I feel like a hampster on a wheel, mainly because we have to work so hard to stay afloat in this crazy expensive area. What about looking into some low cost therapy or finding some free/low cost activities? This site is great for finding both. It sounds like you are not working so I was wondering if you could set aside some time every week where you keep your son out of preschool and the two of you do something together. Getting out and enjoying time with him may lift your spirits enough that you can have more energy for your job search and other stuff. I started taking off work early on Fridays to take my son to a free music class with a girlfriend and her kids and just that little outing lifts my spirits for the weekend. For me, when I feel super trapped and depressed, setting one small, manageable goal per week helps to break the cycle--rather than setting up a long, unrealistic list (''exercise regularly, join a club, meet two new friends, etc). When you meet that one goal hopefully you will get enough strength to add a second one and build on success. Also frequently trapped
My heart goes out to you. It sounds like you need some help but might not know where or how to find it. Start with your doctor. Your regular M.D. Tell him or her what you are feeling, and listen to the advice. Most doctors will be very understanding and assist you in getting the help you need to feel better. It sounds, too, like you need to talk with your husband. if you are that strapped for cash because of a mortgage, perhaps you need to reevaluate things. Or perhaps you could take a short time off to help yourself through the difficult waters, then get back to work refreshed. Don't disregard therapy. It may really help you get some perspective on your life and what you have accomplished so far and how you can achieve what you want to do next. ! But most important, don't ever think your son would be better off without you. He needs you. And he needs you to get the help you need so that you can be there for him. I send my prayers to you. I was there once too
Dear Trapped & Unhappy: So ... You're tired, broke & would rather frolic in the park with your beautiful little boy than slave away in a cubicle somewhere? You work 24/7 for the most high-energy, demanding, unreasonable, temperamental & unpredictable ''boss'' EVER, with no vacations or breaks & feel dissatisfied? You spend all your ''free time'' engaged in a perpetual & futile war against the evil forces of chaos & entropy (also known as housework) & at the end of the day feel you haven't accomplished anything? And you think there's something WRONG with you for not loving this life, when you could be earning a paycheck like a real person? Heh. Sounds pretty normal to me! :^)

Alas, ''normal'' for first-time, stay-at-home-moms with young children these days can often mean ''depressed.'' We're often alone all day because our partners work long hours, our families live far away, & our friends all have jobs & we can't talk with them anyway because they think we have no right to complain when their biological clocks keep ticking & they haven't even found a partner yet & will never be able to afford a house around here. Oh, & by the way, you don't just ''feel like'' you're ''sleepwalking,'' you ARE sleepwalking! Sleep deprivation does that to you. Why else do you think human rights organizations define it as a form of torture? There's nothing ''wrong'' with you as a person or as a mother. The reason your son is so ''adorable'' & so ''full of life & energy'' is because you're a loving mom who basically enjoys mothering. But you do sound awfully depressed & really do need to take care of yourself. Depression isn't some fake, trendy disease for wimpy whiners & folks who watch Oprah. It's a serious but entirely treatable illness & people who feel for whatever reason that they should be able to deal with it themselves without resorting to therapy suffer needlessly. For what it's worth, here are my scattered thoughts:

(1) PUT THE JOB SEARCH ON HOLD FOR NOW: To hell with money. Sure, it sucks being broke, but some things, like you & your family's well-being, are way more important. Financial worries can really distort things, especially when you're feeling depressed. If you've managed to survive on one income until now, maybe you can squeak by a little longer so you can sort things out. A job might not even help your financial situation much, since working outside of the home can prove quite expensive in terms of commuting costs, daycare, tax liability, added stress, etc.

(2) DO TALK TO A THERAPIST: A therapist can help you talk things out, see things more clearly & help you find ways to cope. They can also prescribe medications, & although it's not for everyone, I must admit that Prozac has helped me a LOT. I haven't undergone a magical transformation from a sloppy, moody, hyperactive art chick with a bad attitude to a cheerful, orderly Stepford wife. But it sure does take the edge off things so I have a little mental space for keeping things in perspective & deflecting those corrosive, negative thoughts. And my ability to communicate my feelings in a constructive way, know my limits & solve problems has improved greatly as a result of seeing a therapist.

Most health insurance plans offer mental health benefits. If you don't have insurance, there are sliding scale programs & teaching hospitals that offer affordable options. Since finding a therapist & navigating the health system can prove overwhelming, I also recommend having your partner or a trusted friend sit down with you for moral support & to help you stay on task with your researching & phone calls, etc. The logistics of keeping appointments are challenging, but do- able. I try to schedule appointments for when my husband can stay with my daughter or after school when I can hire a reasonably-priced teenaged sitter (who can either stay at my house with my daughter or come along & play with my daughter in a nearby park). I also often wind up taking my daughter with me for appointments & my psychiatrist, therapist & the office staff are really cool about that. Although this isn't ideal, it's better than not going at all.

(3) GET OUT OF THE HOUSE & MEET OTHER MOMS IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD: No matter what kind of social circles you moved in before, you ABSOLUTELY NEED mommy friends with kids who are about your child's age. One cool mommy friend with whom you can visit, plan outings, trade favors, laugh with & talk about pretty much *any*thing can make a world of difference. Even more casual friendships with other moms with kids of similar ages can make your life much more fun. Eventually, you & the mom you keep seeing at the park will take turns watching the little ones while the other one sneaks off to grab a couple cups of coffee or actually use the restroom ALONE. Finally, the day will come when one of your mommy friends drops by during one of those dreaded late afternoons that drag on & on & the two of you enjoy adult conversation & a nice glass of wine or cup of tea while the little monsters trash the living ! room. From that point on, everything somehow gets much better. It's hard to drag your sorry a** out of the house, take your child to the park or library or wherever stay-at-home parents hang out, strike up conversations, exchange phone numbers & call people up for outings & play dates when you feel so horrible you want to crawl under a rock & die. It was even hard for me, & I'm an extremely extraverted person. But the effort is well worth it. I've made some wonderful new friends & I didn't know a single one of them when I first moved here a couple of years ago. And now I can enjoy hanging out with friends from my previous life without wishing they understood what I'm going through.

If you're scared of rejection, try to remember that most new moms feel isolated & enjoy being invited to do things (even if they can't go or have trouble getting out of the house) & also feel shy about reaching out.

(4) LIVE CHEAP, LIVE WELL (SORT OF): Some moms really need to work outside of the home for personal as well as financial reasons. But going back to work often feels conflicted & wrenching even for women who totally love their jobs, have strong career ambitions, AND really need the money in order to pay the rent & put food on the table. In your situation, I think going back to work would stress you out & make you more unhappy. I would sit down with your husband to work out a budget & cut as many corners as possible so you can afford to stay home. Do you really need Cable TV? Or to buy books instead of borrowing from the library? Or new clothes, toys, housewares, etc. when you can buy them from a thrift store or yard sale? Can you lower your monthly bills by conserving energy, changing your calling plans, switching insurance providers, etc.? Can your husband brown bag his lunch instead of grabbing! a sandwich from the deli next door? Can you save more on groceries by buying in bulk, taking advantage of sales, etc. Can you buy memberships to museums & facilities you frequent (like SF MOMA, Habitot or Lawrence Hall of Science) so you don't have to pay every time? You'll be amazed at what you can cut back on or do without & still live well. Although rents & mortgages are insanely expensive around here, we're blessed with lots of beautiful parks, good public libraries with fun programs for kids, free or inexpensive events, etc. for grownups as well as kids.

(5) FIND SOME AFFORDABLE PART-TIME DAYCARE: It's good for toddlers & preschoolers to socialize & enjoy activities & learning opportunities within a structured & regular settings. And it's good for you to have some free time that you can count on each week. Options include trading off with another mom, a good home daycare provider in a less expensive neighborhood, a daycare coop, or a coop playgroup are all good options.

(6) SLEEP IN ONCE A WEEK: On Saturday mornings, have Daddy take your son out for a couple hours so they can bond while you catch up on some sleep or burrow under the covers & read.

(7) DO SOMETHING FOR YOURSELF ON A REGULAR BASIS: You need to re-energize & have something to look forward to every week. It can be something simple but luxurious, like a massage or manicure, or hanging out with the girls, sipping coffee in a cafe while scribbling in your notebook. Or you can take a class. Your local YMCA has lots of exercise & yoga & dance classes & a Child Watch program where you can drop off your son & where he'll have a good time. I've also heard about a Yoga school with Child Watch services. Or you can take inexpensive courses in things that interest you through your local community college or adult education program in the evenings when your husband will (hopefully) be home.

(8) CUT BACK ON HOUSEWORK AND/OR OTHER TASKS YOU HATE OR THAT TAKE AWAY FROM YOUR TIME WITH YOUR CHILD: Your floor doesn't need to be clean enough to eat from -- after all, our kids do need to build up their immunity systems ;^). It's okay to serve macaroni & cheese, peanut butter sandwiches, frozen pizza or pre-prepared skillet meals for dinner sometimes instead of making everything from scratch with fresh, organic ingredients all the time. Try using an online bill-paying service (usually available free or cheap from your bank) to automate some of your payments.

Have your son help you with some tasks. Of course this makes tasks take 10 times as long than doing them yourself, but it'll make household chores way more fun & will pay off down the road. I've been pleasantly surprised to find that a toddler (my daughter is 22 months old) can cut soft fruits & vegetables with a blunt plastic knife, put some types of dishes & utensils in the dishwasher, sweep stuff into your dustpan with a tot- sized broom, pick things up from the floor & toss them into a wastebasket or other container, stir things, transfer spoon or cup fulls of ingredients into a bowl, weed the garden (though they may also pull up plants you want along with the weeds), & wipe off a small spill or stain with a sponge. Our house usually looks like a bomb hit it, but at least my daughter & I have fun & I'm (usually) cheerful but exhausted when my husband comes home.

I think that since many of us moms had successful careers before having kids that we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to achieve an unattainable level of perfection & that we set goals for ourselves in our new roles as homemakers even though we lack the years of housekeeping, cooking, & childcare experience required to set realistic goals. The fact is that 10, 20 & 30 years from now, you & your family will fondly remember good times spent together & meals & experiences shared, not the sparkling cleanliness of your house or the timely handling of your bills & paperwork. I hope this helps! Believe me, I've been there & have (mostly) made it through. And please feel free to email me. if you want or need to chat. Been There, Done That!


Although you've already received many responses to your post, I had to chime in. You describe exactly how I felt when I suffered from clinical depression. I have taken anti- depressants twice (for 6 mo.- 1 yr.) in the last 10 years to combat feelings like the ones you described. I went to talk therapy at the same time. The first time I took medication, I felt very ashamed -- like I had failed or should be able to make myself feel better. All I can say is: I wish I'd done it sooner. I had to lose a job and feel almost physically incapacitated before I took medication. I can't imagine feeling how I felt then and having a child, as I do now. The change with medication was practically instantaneous and seemed miraculous to me at the time. I haven't been on medication for years, and I still have ''issues'' and go to the! rapy, but my outlook is generally positive. I feel hopeful and happy and love my life, even though it's not exactly the way I want it to be. When I was depressed, it wasn't so much that I was sad, as I felt hopeless, disinterested, exhausted and like there was really no point in living. I didn't feel suicidal, but started to understand why someone would want to check out. More than anything, I felt absolutely powerless to change the way I felt. This is not a character issue; it's a mental health issue. Please consider being evaluated for depression! anon
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