plus i got depression

by tinglyfeeling on February 21, 2009

Im the guy who sucks. Plus I got depression.

"I'm the guy who sucks. Plus I got depression."

How do people with Multiple Sclerosis know when they’re depressed? I mean, what’s the difference between being seriously distraught over living with MS versus regular depression? Is there a difference at all? It seems to me that being periodically depressed over having MS is a pretty rational response. So is it really depression?

Last night, I started crying and couldn’t stop. Sitting on the bathroom floor sobbing and talking to myself. Then more crying in bed and in the shower this morning.

Usually, when I feel the urge to cry, I snap out of it by telling myself I don’t have time for it. So I guess I had a lot of pent-up cry in me. It just keeps spilling through the floodgates now.

I called my best friend last night and she suggested I might be depressed and could possibly benefit from a drug like Zoloft. I’m resistant to that idea. I already have MS. Do I want to claim depression, too? How do I know what I really need? A doctor would probably just prescribe something without really considering what’s best for me, right? I know anti-depressants are commonly prescribed to MS patients. So I’m afraid to  even ask, for fear of a knee-jerk medical reaction.

I’ve talked about this with my regular therapist, whom I’ve been seeing for the past three years. She’s not qualified to prescribe meds, but she has suggested I ask my doctor about it, even though she thinks I’ve been dealing with this very well, all things considered.

So what difference would it make? Would my life be significantly better if I took a drug to smooth out the occasional rough spots? What do other MSers do to treat their low points? Is there a popular opinion amongst MS patients regarding anti-depressants?

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  • http://www.bigjen.vivii.com/ Big Jen

    I’m on antidepressants as I had a nervous breakdown and self harmed due to the MS, I wouldn’t be without them and can’t understand the stigma that is still associated with mental illnesses like depression. If you have pain you take a painkiller, if you have a brain illness you take a brain tablet – what is the problem. Admittedly the first ad’s I took didn’t work and my brilliant GP had to change them. I still have some tearful episodes and think about increasing the dose but as exercise is a known remedy for depression too I try to walk regularly. You could discuss the use of St Johns Wort with your MS Nurse if you fancy something a little more natural, but check it doesn’t react with other meds.

  • http://www.bigjen.vivii.com Big Jen

    I’m on antidepressants as I had a nervous breakdown and self harmed due to the MS, I wouldn’t be without them and can’t understand the stigma that is still associated with mental illnesses like depression. If you have pain you take a painkiller, if you have a brain illness you take a brain tablet – what is the problem. Admittedly the first ad’s I took didn’t work and my brilliant GP had to change them. I still have some tearful episodes and think about increasing the dose but as exercise is a known remedy for depression too I try to walk regularly. You could discuss the use of St Johns Wort with your MS Nurse if you fancy something a little more natural, but check it doesn’t react with other meds.

  • http://brassandivory.blogspot.com/ Lisa Emrich

    I have to tell you that I was diagnosed with depression years before MS and Zoloft helped tremendously to establish a level place. That was over 15 years ago. I just wrote something which touches on the topic of inflammation (like the kind in MS) being related to depression. Read here – http://www.healthcentral.com/multiple-sclerosis/c/19065/60240/mood

    There are two different types of depression which MSers may experience. 1) reactionary, such as is related to grief and adjusting to the many changes occurring with our lives. 2) organic, which comes from body chemistry like perhaps inflammation or lack of serotonin.

    I know many MSers who wouldn’t be without an anti-depressant. I’m one of them, however I have recently switched meds because Zoloft had stopped working for me. Like Big Jen, I hope that someday the stigma will be removed from depression and anti-depressants.

    Also, there have been studies looking into the benefit of Omega 3 (fish oil) on depression in MSers. I have started taking Omega 3 for arthritis and perhaps it is helping with mood. I don’t know, but Omega 3 acts as an anti-inflammatory.

    Please don’t feel alone in this experience. Many of us have been right where you area now. Be well.

  • http://brassandivory.blogspot.com Lisa Emrich

    I have to tell you that I was diagnosed with depression years before MS and Zoloft helped tremendously to establish a level place. That was over 15 years ago. I just wrote something which touches on the topic of inflammation (like the kind in MS) being related to depression. Read here – http://www.healthcentral.com/multiple-sclerosis/c/19065/60240/mood

    There are two different types of depression which MSers may experience. 1) reactionary, such as is related to grief and adjusting to the many changes occurring with our lives. 2) organic, which comes from body chemistry like perhaps inflammation or lack of serotonin.

    I know many MSers who wouldn’t be without an anti-depressant. I’m one of them, however I have recently switched meds because Zoloft had stopped working for me. Like Big Jen, I hope that someday the stigma will be removed from depression and anti-depressants.

    Also, there have been studies looking into the benefit of Omega 3 (fish oil) on depression in MSers. I have started taking Omega 3 for arthritis and perhaps it is helping with mood. I don’t know, but Omega 3 acts as an anti-inflammatory.

    Please don’t feel alone in this experience. Many of us have been right where you area now. Be well.

  • http://kelleysmsblog.blogspot.com/ Kelley

    In my humble opinion, I err on the side of taking as little medication as possible, unless absolutely necessary. I took Celexa for awhile when I had what my dr. & I called “situational depression.” This was pre-MS. I stopped taking the drug (with full support of the dr.) after a couple of years.

    If your therapist feels you are coping well, ups and downs are very normal. However, if you get to a point where you are down most of the time, find a psychiatrist. A psychiatrist will know best which medication will work for you, although it is a trial-and-error thing.

    About a year after my mom was diagnosed with MS, she went into a clinical depression. We got a psychiatrist for her and after a year of fine-tuning the drug levels, she has returned to “normal”.

    Since my diagnosis, I have not opted to go on antidepressants. Although I have had down moments, they have not been persistent, only lasting a day or two at a time, then returning to normal for a couple of months.

    Ascertain if your downs are pervasive or passing and then make the best decision for you. If your depression seems pervasive, please do not hesitate to find a psychiatrist.

    Peace,
    Kelley

  • http://kelleysmsblog.blogspot.com/ Kelley

    In my humble opinion, I err on the side of taking as little medication as possible, unless absolutely necessary. I took Celexa for awhile when I had what my dr. & I called “situational depression.” This was pre-MS. I stopped taking the drug (with full support of the dr.) after a couple of years.

    If your therapist feels you are coping well, ups and downs are very normal. However, if you get to a point where you are down most of the time, find a psychiatrist. A psychiatrist will know best which medication will work for you, although it is a trial-and-error thing.

    About a year after my mom was diagnosed with MS, she went into a clinical depression. We got a psychiatrist for her and after a year of fine-tuning the drug levels, she has returned to “normal”.

    Since my diagnosis, I have not opted to go on antidepressants. Although I have had down moments, they have not been persistent, only lasting a day or two at a time, then returning to normal for a couple of months.

    Ascertain if your downs are pervasive or passing and then make the best decision for you. If your depression seems pervasive, please do not hesitate to find a psychiatrist.

    Peace,
    Kelley

  • http://www.tinglyfeeling.com/ tinglyfeeling

    Big Jen – I totally agree with you about seeking a remedy when there’s a problem. I also don’t understand the social stigma attached to anti-depressants, going to therapy, and any other form of self-help.

    But what I’m wondering is, how do you know when there’s a problem (before you get to the point of a nervous breakdown)? I have MS. That bums me out and occasionally I have a crying jag. Does that mean I’m depressed and need meds? Or is it normal behavior? Can a doctor really answer that question for me? It seems subjective.

    Glad to hear meds have made a difference for you, though–and exercise is certainly a help, too.

    I know getting help for depression is a huge step for most people. I suppose I could just “rip the band-aide off” and see what happens….

  • http://www.tinglyfeeling.com/ tinglyfeeling

    Big Jen – I totally agree with you about seeking a remedy when there’s a problem. I also don’t understand the social stigma attached to anti-depressants, going to therapy, and any other form of self-help.

    But what I’m wondering is, how do you know when there’s a problem (before you get to the point of a nervous breakdown)? I have MS. That bums me out and occasionally I have a crying jag. Does that mean I’m depressed and need meds? Or is it normal behavior? Can a doctor really answer that question for me? It seems subjective.

    Glad to hear meds have made a difference for you, though–and exercise is certainly a help, too.

    I know getting help for depression is a huge step for most people. I suppose I could just “rip the band-aide off” and see what happens….

  • http://www.tinglyfeeling.com/ tinglyfeeling

    kelley – thanks for the feedback. i don’t even like to take cold meds, so anti-depressants would be a huge leap for me.

    you wrote: “Although I have had down moments, they have not been persistent, only lasting a day or two at a time…”

    that’s been my experience so far. but i will continue to monitor my low moods to see if they do persist. i don’t want to let it get to the point where it’s debilitating for too long. i suppose that’s when the drugs would come in.

    i think i just needed a good release from all the stress i’ve been experiencing lately and it sort of freaked me out because it seemed to go on and on and on. i’m still kind of down, but i haven’t felt like crying (yet) today, so i think i’m on the upswing. keeping busy certainly helps.

  • http://www.tinglyfeeling.com/ tinglyfeeling

    kelley – thanks for the feedback. i don’t even like to take cold meds, so anti-depressants would be a huge leap for me.

    you wrote: “Although I have had down moments, they have not been persistent, only lasting a day or two at a time…”

    that’s been my experience so far. but i will continue to monitor my low moods to see if they do persist. i don’t want to let it get to the point where it’s debilitating for too long. i suppose that’s when the drugs would come in.

    i think i just needed a good release from all the stress i’ve been experiencing lately and it sort of freaked me out because it seemed to go on and on and on. i’m still kind of down, but i haven’t felt like crying (yet) today, so i think i’m on the upswing. keeping busy certainly helps.

  • http://www.tinglyfeeling.com/ tinglyfeeling

    Lisa – Thanks for your comment. I actually just saw your article on this subject today and was going to update my post with a link to it. Lots of enlightening details–sort of made my head spin a little. heh. But definitely a good, recommended read.

    What you said here was a nice summation:

    “There are two different types of depression which MSers may experience. 1) reactionary, such as is related to grief and adjusting to the many changes occurring with our lives. 2) organic, which comes from body chemistry like perhaps inflammation or lack of serotonin.”

    I don’t know where I am neurologically with my moods & personality changes yet. I think I’m a #1, but I’ll have to check with my doctor when I see her in June about #2 (which should give me ample time to pay more attention to my changes in mood and do a lot more reading on the topic).

    Thanks for reading! I really value yours and everyone’s insight.

  • http://www.tinglyfeeling.com/ tinglyfeeling

    Lisa – Thanks for your comment. I actually just saw your article on this subject today and was going to update my post with a link to it. Lots of enlightening details–sort of made my head spin a little. heh. But definitely a good, recommended read.

    What you said here was a nice summation:

    “There are two different types of depression which MSers may experience. 1) reactionary, such as is related to grief and adjusting to the many changes occurring with our lives. 2) organic, which comes from body chemistry like perhaps inflammation or lack of serotonin.”

    I don’t know where I am neurologically with my moods & personality changes yet. I think I’m a #1, but I’ll have to check with my doctor when I see her in June about #2 (which should give me ample time to pay more attention to my changes in mood and do a lot more reading on the topic).

    Thanks for reading! I really value yours and everyone’s insight.

  • Amelia

    I am on anti depressants – Ciprelax. Just a low dose, but I tried an experiment of coming off them and I felt I really went down quite a bit. I started them again and am on a more even keel.
    I, like, everyone, didn’t want to go down this route and when it was suggested I wanted to resist. But it is true that with pain you take a painkiller etc. I guess everyone is different, but for me it just takes the edge off.
    That’s not to say that I don’t cry any more or get upset or still get frustrated!!
    Hope that helps!
    XxXxX

  • Amelia

    I am on anti depressants – Ciprelax. Just a low dose, but I tried an experiment of coming off them and I felt I really went down quite a bit. I started them again and am on a more even keel.
    I, like, everyone, didn’t want to go down this route and when it was suggested I wanted to resist. But it is true that with pain you take a painkiller etc. I guess everyone is different, but for me it just takes the edge off.
    That’s not to say that I don’t cry any more or get upset or still get frustrated!!
    Hope that helps!
    XxXxX

  • http://beyonditall.net/ carla

    I have been taking an amino acid call 5-HTP (L hydroxytryptophan)for about eight months now and its helped tremendously. I am scared to death of antidepressants (the dependency and side-effects risk) so I was able to avoid it so far…

    I hope you are able to find what works for you.

  • http://beyonditall.net carla

    I have been taking an amino acid call 5-HTP (L hydroxytryptophan)for about eight months now and its helped tremendously. I am scared to death of antidepressants (the dependency and side-effects risk) so I was able to avoid it so far…

    I hope you are able to find what works for you.

  • http://www.bigjen.vivii.com/ Big Jen

    Hi again “tingles” I’m sure your GP or ideally your MS Nurse can help with the problem of depression. It is a common problem with MS as Lisa says either reactive or endogenous (terms I learnt when working on my psychiatric placement during Nurse training)
    It is worth knowing that the newer drugs for depression SSRI’s do not have the same dramatic side effects as the older style drugs and certainly are not so addictive but they can take up to a month to kick in. St Johns Wort has been proven to be effective in mild to moderate depresion and the following link might be useful, (just don’t be put off by the fact its about cancer, the depression side of it is very similar)
    http://www.cancerhelp.org.uk/help/default.asp?page=29443#why
    just don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it,
    Symptoms of depression can be found on a link from that page or here
    http://www.cancerhelp.org.uk/help/default.asp?page=13399
    Take care
    Jen
    xx

  • http://www.bigjen.vivii.com Big Jen

    Hi again “tingles” I’m sure your GP or ideally your MS Nurse can help with the problem of depression. It is a common problem with MS as Lisa says either reactive or endogenous (terms I learnt when working on my psychiatric placement during Nurse training)
    It is worth knowing that the newer drugs for depression SSRI’s do not have the same dramatic side effects as the older style drugs and certainly are not so addictive but they can take up to a month to kick in. St Johns Wort has been proven to be effective in mild to moderate depresion and the following link might be useful, (just don’t be put off by the fact its about cancer, the depression side of it is very similar)
    http://www.cancerhelp.org.uk/help/default.asp?page=29443#why
    just don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it,
    Symptoms of depression can be found on a link from that page or here
    http://www.cancerhelp.org.uk/help/default.asp?page=13399
    Take care
    Jen
    xx

  • http://www.tinglyfeeling.com/ tinglyfeeling

    @ amelia, carla & big jen — thanks for all your comments.

    i think for now i’m just going to stick to what i’ve been doing (try to eat better, get better sleep, hit the vitamin D hard, etc.) and just monitor my moods to see if i experience any proloooonged dips. since the weekend i wrote the original post, i’ve been, more or less, fine. no meltdowns, no blue days, pretty upbeat. i talked to my therapist and she doesn’t think i’m depressed, but she agrees it’s something i should pay attention to. i might also check out other natural “remedies” like st. john’s wort, to see if that gives me a lift.

    thanks for reading!

  • http://www.tinglyfeeling.com/ tinglyfeeling

    @ amelia, carla & big jen — thanks for all your comments.

    i think for now i’m just going to stick to what i’ve been doing (try to eat better, get better sleep, hit the vitamin D hard, etc.) and just monitor my moods to see if i experience any proloooonged dips. since the weekend i wrote the original post, i’ve been, more or less, fine. no meltdowns, no blue days, pretty upbeat. i talked to my therapist and she doesn’t think i’m depressed, but she agrees it’s something i should pay attention to. i might also check out other natural “remedies” like st. john’s wort, to see if that gives me a lift.

    thanks for reading!

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