Date: March 11, 2019 06:16PM
I've dealt with vicious, chronic, treatment-resistant depression and anxiety since my teens, i.e., for over 40 years. Yours sounds a lot like my case. What beanhead said about a bad situation--or experience--is probably at the root of this. Depending on your body/brain and how long the situation has lasted, or how long ago the experiences were, your brain chemistry may--may--have changed permanently. What Rubicon said about the testing is excellent advice.
Whatever options you choose, make sure to read about them as thoroughly as possible. I agree with the recommendations for the book The Feeling Good Handbook by David Burns. It's better than his other one, which is also helpful. Neither one is a cure-all, but lots of things in life (Mormonism for sure) can mess up our thinking.
Any information I give about pharmaceuticals, herbs, vitamins, etc. can be researched and verified. I encourage you to do so. Do not assume that anyone is so expert that s/he knows everything. <--This last bit is very NOT how mormonism works, so it's worth writing down. You're re-educating your mind, retraining your thinking habits.
SOME natural remedies do have lots of good data behind them, such as St. John's Wort, but it can increase anxiety. Also, most studies are only 'scientific' because Big Pharma bought and paid for the definition of 'scientific', for a part of Congress, and for essentially all of the FDA. These studies lasted for typically only 2 to 6 months (sarcasm: yeah, that's adequate for a med you may be on for years, and they haven't done any long-term studies since getting FDA approval); serious reviews of the literature find that an average of only 30% of patients get _any_ help from these sometimes quite dangerous meds. And some of that is likely placebo effect. There are many herbs and herbal combinations with better stats and fewer negative effects.
Yes, kava can be dangerous, if your kava isn't from a reputable company and if you don't follow directions for safe usage. It's the same rules as for aspirin: el cheapo brands are more often contaminated than name brands, and you should read the directions and follow them.
Aspirin, by the way, was originally an herbal remedy, a tea made from willow bark. Chemists at Bayer isolated the primary compound, salicylic acid. First the company extracted the acid from willow bark, then began synthesizing it. These processes turned it into a convenient, standardized dose, but also into a harsh chemical without all of the balancing factors in the willow bark, so that it causes stomach bleeding and even stomach ulcers in many users.
Pharmaceutical companies are still studying and extracting the 'active compounds' from natural plants. They have medical doctors, botanists, anthropologists, etc. traveling the planet and talking to folks in remote villages to find out which local herbs the people have been using for what.
Wellbutrin causes fewer negative effects in fewer people than other anti-depressants in these short-term studies. It's still a harsh chemical with potentially serious negative effects that may build up over time.
If you buy herbs, buy from decent companies, and buy herbs that come in standardized doses. If a company standardizes its herbs so that a capsule always contains X% of a compound, its not going to be a fly-by-night fraudster. There are also voluntary but good and responsible certifying/compliance organizations. People who say herbs have only placebo effects really aren't knowledgeable about the topic. My allergic responses/sensitivities to pharmaceutical drugs as well as other factors mean I have had to learn about my options and my limits. You can learn a ton for free online, and can study the labels and common ingredients buy spending time on Amazon. I agree that Traditional Medicinal Teas are good quality and effective. I also like Yogi Teas. Herbs are not the sledgehammer approach that pharmaceuticals are. It's like the difference between yoga and Marine calisthenics.
Yes, bingeing/eating lots of carbohydrates has an anti-depressant effect as well as a calming effect/helping a person sleep. We crave these foods because our bodies know they can help somehow. They might not be the best answer, but our brains will push us toward what we already know. For example, if you crave chocolate, it's probably because your brain knows it as a source of theanine and/or magnesium. Better nutrition will also help against the cravings.
I need more help, but I take:
Melatonin -- it'll probably work on sleep sooner, but give it two weeks to start noticing real change in depression.
5-HTP -- it's the natural precursor to serotonin, the main chemical our brains make to prevent depression; it's now really inexpensive, hurray!
A high-quality (best you can afford) multivitamin/mineral supplement; good nutrition plus enough sleep are the two key points to the foundation of our health.
Be sure it contains:
lots of all of the B vitamins (important for your nerves)
plenty of Vitamin D3
which works together with
plenty of calcium and magnesium and zinc
Clean (no mercury) fish oil is nice if you can afford it. Do NOT go on a low-fat or low-cholesterol diet until your brain chemicals are balanced the best you can get them (unless a doctor orders such a diet b/c of life-threatening illness) because our brains are made of lots of cholesterol, which is made primarily from healthy fats. Don't be afraid of eggs, which are good for Vit D and healthy fats. Spend a bit more and get the organic, free-range ones. You can feel better by knowing you've been kinder to chickens, and you'll get a lot more useful nutrition from the egg as well as fewer weird chemicals and hormones that your currently imbalanced body seriously does not need. All of that anti-egg/anti-cholesterol 'research' was sparse and BADLY done.
Get enough sleep. The melatonin should help. Our brains detox/clean themselves while we sleep. Use the gentlest supplements/teas you can find that work for you. Herb combinations with Passionflower work best for me. Valerian, skullcap, kava, tryptophan, and GABA are also good, and ALL have verifiable scientific evidence to support them. Just as aspirin doesn't relieve all pain, so pharma companies invented Tylenol/acetaminophen, Advil/ibuprofen, and others; what works best for you may not be exactly the same as for anyone else. This is true no matter which route you take.
Once you've got the sleep in reasonable order, a cup of green/white tea for a bit of caffeine as well as theanine and other ingredients/functions may boost your mood. Be careful not to throw yourself into high anxiety, and don't expect to feel great all day. It may be good only for a temporary improvement when you've got an especially challenging day. For me, a cup or two of mild green or white tea a day works well. I need the tea for other reasons, anyhow. I also take the occasional 'day off' so I don't build up tolerance.
If you can pay for one, find a medical doctor (MD) or doctor of osteopathy (DO) who is ALSO a naturopathic doctor (ND). There are getting to be more and more such 'combination' doctors. DOs often think more about a person's whole body instead of seeing us as just a collection of separate parts, which is the standard MD view. Psychiatrists think only of pharmaceuticals in my experience, especially the ones at the county mental health agencies. HOWEVER, if that's the route you want to take, then do it.
The important thing is that you do something. No matter how rotten your situation, it will not get better unless you, and only you, try something different. You've done great by asking here. If you do go to psychiatrists, read ALL of the instructions, warnings, and potential 'side' effects; ask lots of questions; don't be afraid to call the psychiatrist/nurse assistant/pharmacist with even the tiniest question or concern; read up about the medicine(s) online; TRUST yourself and how you are feeling.
Whether with herbs/nutrition or pharmaceuticals, the change will probably be gradual. You won't notice a difference from one day to the next, but one day you'll think, 'Wow, I feel better than I did last Thursday' or 'I've had this same headache for 3 days' or 'That's twice now that fried chicken upset my stomach' or 'Hey, I feel like taking a walk'. Write this stuff down. Start now. You have to keep track of what's going on and for how long, to convince a doctor to switch meds, to help yourself make decisions about what's working and what isn't, whether the negative effects outweigh the benefits, etc. Write it in a little notebook, in an app on your phone, whatever works for you, but do keep track. Start now. Maybe you're always a bit congested when you get up or your ankles are often a bit swollen by late afternoon, but you've never noticed before. Notice. Take note now, so you've got a clearer idea of what your baseline, your starting point is. Some good effects as well as negative effects can begin and then go away, or increase in strength. It's a new way of getting to know yourself (probably), and you'll be surprised at how many ways your body can change from day to day. You don't want to be thinking an herb or a med is having a bad effect when it's really because you started putting sugar on your cereal instead of honey. You don't need to be obsessive, just analytically attentive. Herbalists, doctors, psychiatrists -- they aren't mind readers. They make informed guesses. Give them the best information you can to make the best guess they can.
Therapy is a VERY good idea, especially for people who've had long-term problems (more than a couple years), but be aware that many therapists do push the meds. If you're trying herbs first, tell them and expect them to respect it. But, do read up on the herbs. It stinks, but no matter what your preference is, you're in the big leagues now. You've gotta step up to the plate and be an informed consumer. One step at a time, and you can do it.
If the directions for a med or an herb say do not also drink alcohol, be a sensible adult and don't drink the alcohol. That can be a lethal mistake.
Nothing works for everybody. Only you can decide whether it's worth trying something else, whether a certain set of side effects is better than how you feel now. You can start taking melatonin, 5-HTP, and vitamins while you're waiting for whatever appointments you make. Talk to somebody. Don't try to do this alone. If you meet unhelpful twits, then they're unhelpful twits and that's got nothing to do with what it's OK for you to ask for. Talk to someone else. Read the Feeling Good Handbook to help you out. Do not give up on yourself, please.
TRUST YOURSELF. BELIEVE YOUR BODY. BELIEVE YOUR EXPERIENCES. BE GENTLE with YOURSELF.
I tried to write less; sorry. My VERY best wishes.